Posted on Leave a comment

How to build a clamp rack | DIY shop organization

A dedicated storage solution for clamps in my shops was way overdue. I threw my clamps in the corner behind my workbench and always stumbled over them. I wanted to build a clamp rack that saves space, is close to my bench and can hold a variety of clamps.

Tools I used

Here you can find a complete list of my tools.

Materials and supplies

  • 18mm (3/4″) birch plywood


Formatting the plywood

Since getting a sheet of plywood into my basement is quite a hassle, I started to break it down in our driveway. To lift the plywood off the ground I laid out rigid foam insulation sheets. For the whole project, I used 18mm birch plywood. With my cordless plunge saw, a guide rail, and a right-angle guide rail square, I established a clean and square edge on one side. I measured from there and cut the panel for the back of the rack to size, already.

For the other pieces, I only cut the sheet roughly to size to get it into my basement easily.
Therefore I had to rip the second sheet. My tracks are too short for that, but with a little connector, I was able to join two tracks together.

However, down in my shop I formatted all remaining pieces on the table saw.

If you want to build a clamp rack yourself, I have a full set of plans available for this project. For free. You simply sign up for my newsletter and you get the plans straight to your inbox. They include all measurements and a cutting diagram to efficiently make use of your plywood sheets. You can easily re-position the individual holders to tweak the design to your specific needs.

After all parts were cut I also made a series of spacers in a variety of sizes. They help me to align all the parts as you’ll see in a minute.

At the top left of the rack I wanted to have a shelf to put some accessories. Below the shelf they are 5 holders for parallel jaw clamps and each holder is able to hold 4 clamps.


For the joinery I decided to go with Dominos, which are floating tenons. Therefore I had to mark where to register the Domino.
Marking the top of shelf was easy and placed all Dominos in this project without measuring. The Dominos I used were 8x40mm and hence routing 20mm in each part would end up with proud Dominos on the parts where the slots are routed into the face side, since the plywood is only 18mm thick. To accommodate for that I routed 25mm into the edges and only 15mm in to the face sides.
I set the fence of the Domino to the closest of 18mm which was 16mm, attached the vacuum and plugged it in. Routing the recesses was pretty foolproof at this point, since I only had to align it to my marks. Before routing into the face sides I switched the depth setting to 15mm.
What I really like about this joinery method is the fact that dry fitting is pretty comfortable and I can temporarily assemble the piece. Granted getting the dominos out can be a challenge sometimes. But with a set of pliers, they all come out eventually.

To position the shelf I used a pair of spacers and put the shelf board on top of it. I stroke a line, where the base of the Domino will be registered against and some tick marks with the head of my combo square.

I registered the Domino against my line and routed the slot. After switching to 25mm and flipping the fence over I made the counterparts.

No surprise as they fitted perfectly. To really hold everything in place I used a parallel jaw clamp. I positioned the shelf unit flush against the top and side, made my marks and routed the slots to attach it to the back of the rack.

Clamp holders

I stroke another line that indicates the bottom of the holders for the clamps. With the help of the spacers I could temporarily put the holders in to place and mark them as well as the back for the Dominos. I did this with the whole row of holders.

Then it was just a matter of batching out the Domino slots. In the back panel as well as the holders themselves.

On the right side of the rack I positioned another two holders for my pipe clamps.

In the center I wanted to have a bunch of different holders for all my special clamps, like one handed clamps and band strap clamps. I marked a couple of slots on a cut-off piece and turned to the table saw, where I set up the jig I use to make dovetails on the table saw. If you haven’t seen that video you might want to check it out. It’s a pretty cool way to batch cut dovetails. Anyways I lined up my marks with the blade, set the stop in place and made my cut. To widen the slots I put a wood strip as a spacer between my workpiece and the stop. That strip is exactly as thick as my saw blade.

To the side of the holder I attached small squares that make it more rigid. I used the same techniques as before to attach the holders to the back panel.

For the band strap clamps the holder was fairly easy. Just two cut-off strips glued together at 90° which function as a hook for up to 4 clamps. I know this step is absolutely not necessary but I wanted to position the holder precisely square to the edge of the back panel. I made a tick mark where the holder roughly should be. With a large square I drew a line square to the edge and in the center of the holders new spot. With a triangular ruler you probably remember from math class, I could mark the outside edges of the holder. Then it was just a matter of following the same process as for all the other holders.

To give the holders for the parallel jaw clamps a bit of a nicer look I decided to cut-off the bottom corner at 45°. Since I like to mess things up, I marked every single piece. Over at the table saw I set my miter gauge to 45° and cut two pieces at a time.

Parallel jaw clamps are pretty heavy as you might know. I am not very keen on having them rain down on me because I bumped into them. I small hook on the holder should do the trick. I made a rough, very rough sketch on how they should be. I positioned my fence of the band saw according to my mark and clamped an off-cut as the depth stop to the table. That gave me the first part of the hook. I removed the provisional depth stop and made the second cut.

Surface prep and finish

For this project I opted to put finish on the parts before the glue-up. So many inside corners make it really hard to get finish in there. I sanded with 220 grid to get rid of my pencil marks and have a smoother surface. I made sure to not sand through the layer of ply. Been there, done that, not cool.

With the router I gave all edges a small chamfer.

For the finish, I went with Osmo’s TopOil (or PolyX depending on where you’re located). When applying it with the hand pad I avoided the areas that became glue surfaces later on, since the glue wouldn’t stick as well.
I applied just one coat since this is a shop project.
Make sure you are subscribed to my channel and turn on the notifications by hitting the bell icon. I have a bunch of cool projects lined up. For the shop as well as furniture pieces.


After letting the finish dry overnight, it was time for the gluuuueee-up. I know it’s paradox but I pre-drilled holes for screws that act as clamps, so I won’t have to clamp the parts of my clamp rack. It would have been a pain to get clamps on for all the holders…
Glue in the Domino slots, insert the Dominos, glue on the holder, spread it a bit and then put the holder in place. Through the holes I drilled earlier I pre-drilled the holder as well. Notice the stupid look you have to put on when eyeballing the angle. Super important! I drove in 2 screws per holder.

With the rack on my workbench again I glued the remaining holders to the back.

When gluing the shelf to the back it was at this point I realized I forgot to put glue on. So I put glue on and gave it another run. Somehow I struggled a lot to get that thing together. But a few taps with the mallet and hammer made me a happy wooodworker. Again I used screws from the back.

I removed the squeeze out with a paper towel. Not too carefully since it is shop furniture…

Hanging the clamp rack to the wall

To hang the rack to the wall I used a french cleat at the top. Two strips of ply cut at an 45° angle that interlock. I pre-drilled and countersunk one of the strips to accept the screws that hold it to the wall. I positioned it on the wall making sure it is level and marked the screw hole locations with a pencil. Hammer drill time!!! After the holes were drilled I inserted wall anchors and screwed the strip to the wall.

I glued the other french cleat strip to the back of the rack. Held it in place temporarily with a clamp and again secured it with screws.

At the bottom of the rack I attach a regular strip of ply to the back to accomodate for the distance to the wall the french cleat creates. After lifting the rack on the wall I drilled throuh the back panel and the wood strip to get marks on the wall for the wall anchors.

You might have wondered how I got the rack on the wall. Well that’s how. Let me first tell you that sucker is heavy. I leaned it on one corner in order for the other corner to get on my bench. Then I pushed it on my bench. Went around the bench, hoping it doesn’t fall over. With one foot on the bench and my elbow on my thigh, I could use my leg to lift most of the weight. Unconventional but it worked!
The last step of attaching it to the wall was to drive the screws through the bottom strip.

Finally, it was time for the best part of the build. Putting all the clamps in their new place. Parallel jaw clamps, Parallel jaw clamps, more Parallel jaw clamps, and one more Parallel jaw clamp. One-handed clamps, the band strap clamps and the pipe clamps.
And the accessories for the parallel jaw clamps

Posted on Leave a comment

How to build a Flip Top Tool Stand

I was running out of space in my small basement shop and still wanted fit in more tools. So a flip top tool stand should do the trick.

Tools I used

Here you can find a complete list of my tools.

Materials and supplies

  • 18mm (3/4″) birch plywood
  • 12 mm (1/2″) plywood
  • 3/4″ steel water pipe, length 1m (40″)
  • Kreg Pocket holes screws kit
  • 450mm (18″) drawer slides (4 sets)
  • 250mm (10″) drawer slides (1 set)
  • 125mm (5″) casters (4x)
  • Spring-loaded indexing pins (4x)
  • Scrap pieces of solid beech
  • 5 drawer pulls
  • 2 Outlets
  • 2 distributor boxes

See the digital plan

Breaking down the plywood

In our driveway, I started by breaking down 18mm birch plywood. My daughter was supervising the whole process and made sure I stick to the plan.
After a few cuts the plywood was handy enough to continue in the shop. I ripped a clean edge on each piece with Fritz and Franz and made a second rip cut to the final width with the rip fence. Then I could crosscut the pieces to length.

Pocket hole joinery for the cabinet

With my T-Square I marked the positions where the pocket holes would go. You can skip this step and just place them by eye, which works totally fine.

Speaking of pocket holes. Kreg, the sponsor of this build, hooked me up with their K4 master system. Let me tell you it was a totally different game then the cheap pocket hole jig from the hardware store, I’ve used prior to that.

I secured the jig to two scrap pieces that form an L and could clamp it in my vise. For the adjustment of the depth stop of the drill bit, the jig offers this scale. Since I used 18mm material, I set the stop to the next larger setting of 19mm. The same applied for the drill guide in the jig itself. Then I inserted the dust collection attachment. Unfortunately, my dust port didn’t fit, but nothing a piece of duct tape couldn’t fix.
I aligned the marks of my boards with the marks on the jig and clamped it tight. Turned on the dust collection and here we go. I was really impressed by how well the dust collection worked on this jig. This doesn’t only save me the hassle of cleaning my shop, but also leads to cleaner pocket holes.

After I’ve applied some glue to the edges, I clamped the parts for the main cabinet together with the right angle clamp and added a bar clamp. With the 25mm coarse-threaded screws I screwed it in place.

I did the same for the other side and made sure the parts stay flush by holding it in position with a face clamp.
As usual when I try to make something square, it wasn’t dead on and I forced it square.

Get the plans for this build

Get the plans with detail drawings and all measurements to build your own flip-top tool cart.

The Flip Top

After the glue has dried I marked the location of the holes, where the bar for the flip-top will be. With a 27mm forstner bit, I drilled a hole half-way through. And because I found the slow-motion mode on my camera, you get this slow-mo shot of the chips flying away. In the center of the hole, I drilled all the way through with my smallest drill bit. Then I could finish the hole from the other side and end up with a tear-out free and perfect hole.

In order to make the flip-top flip, it rotates on a 3/4″ steel water pipe. I slipped it through the holes and gave it a little strength test with a couple of pull ups. Strong enough for me. To have the exact distance between the two sides, I used one of the boards that will be the top later on, as a spacer.
On one end I marked the pipe flush with the side panel and on the other side I added my material thickness of 18mm.

That day I was not in the mood of setting my shop on fire and went outside to cut the steel pipe. I used an angle grinder with a cutting disc for steel and really enjoyed seeing the sparks dance in the pipe.

Back in the shop I eased the edges with a file. The flip-top is made of two plywood panels sandwiched together with the pipe in the middle. To compensate for the steel pipe I used some solid beech I had laying around from another project. I milled it to the exact thickness of the pipes outer diameter. I ripped the beech to 60mm strips and crosscut them to length.

Two long strips hold the pipe in the center and pieces along the edges make sure it becomes a sturdy top.
With wood glue and a couple of screws I attched the beech strips to the plywood. In order to ensure a tight and wiggle free fit I lightly clamped the pipe between the center strips before screwing the remaining pieces to the plywood.
Next I placed my sander on the top of it and marked the screw hole locations. I added a strip of wood at each location to give the screws a little more to bite on, when the sander will get installed. For the drill press I could use one of the strips in the center.

After spreading the glue I dropped the second plywood panel on top of it. I made sure it is flush and added a clamp or two more then necessary.

When I test-fitted the top I realized I made the hole for the pipe to high and therefore the top was not flush with the sides. To accommodate for it I milled two beech strips to size and glued them in place with a couple of pieces of tape to apply clamping pressure.

Building the side compartments

The cabinet has two side compartments. The right one has a front, a back and a bottom and is accessible from the side and top. The left one has 4 drawers to the front and one to the side. The top acts as another worksurface.

I marked the pocket hole locations on all the panels and drilled them with the same settings as before. To make assembly easier I used my bar clamps as a stop and screwed the compartment together.

I stroke a line where the bottom of the side compartment should be. This is crucial since the casters get screwed to the compartment and make the center portion of the cabinet hovering just 2 centimeters over the ground. You’ll see what I mean later on.

I screwed the compartment on the bottom and the sides to the cabinet.

For the left compartment I followed the same procedure. Because the cabinet was getting too high for my low ceilings I had to attach it upright. By positioning two face clamps to my line, I could stand the compartment on top of them and hold them with just another single clamp at the top. Again screws at the bottom and sides.

The top is a bit tricky, because of the drawers that open in two different directions. The the two side panels only overlap at a small square in front. To enforce this glue joint I used a 6mm wood dowel. With the combo square set to half of the material thickness I laid out the location for the dowel. I drilled a hole in both pieces with tape as a depth stop. Then I could apply glue and attach the top to the compartment.

The left compartment is inset 18mm (3/4″) to the front of the cabinet in order to accommodate for the drawer fronts and make them flush with the cabinet. On top, where the drawer opens to the side I needed a trim to make the top flush to the drawers as well. I glued it on the front and secured it with a few screws from the back.

Building sturdy pocket hole drawers

On to the step that gave me the most headache on this project. Breaking down a full sheet of 12mm ply in my shop for the drawers. It was raining outside and I couldn’t do it in the driveway. What you don’t see: I had to roll the bandsaw out of the shop, dissamble the fence of my jointer, roll it elsewhere in my shop and clean up all the junk that has piled up on my router table/outfeed table.
And still the dust hose blocking my way. Ducked tape for the rescue. Yes I was happy this step was done!
From there on the drawers where piece of cake.
Formatting sheet goods on a slider feels so productive and I enjoyed the following cuts were much.
Alright, all the parts for the drawers where cut and it was time for some more pocket holes.
I changed the settings to 12mm on the jig and drilled holes in the fronts and backs of the drawers.
The drawers will get a glued on front anyways and therefore the holes will be hidden.

For the assembly of the drawer boxes, the young lady from quality management (a.k.a. my daughter) was paying me a visit again. This time she assisted me by handpicking the screws.

I installed the drawer bottoms right away. By making sure the sides of the drawers are flush with the bottom, the drawers end up perfectly square. I drilled some holes, countersunk them and drove in the hand selected screws.

Sanding and finish

Plywood usually is pretty smooth. So I only gave it a very light 220 grid sanding.

With a chamfer bit in my trim router I tackled the edges and really like the look of the plywood facets.
As a finish I used Osmo and in order to save some time I applied it with a paint roller. It worked great and the cabinet was finished pretty fast. The edges got an extra thick coat, since the endgrain in the plywood soaks up much more finish.

Drawer installation

For drawer installation I started with the top drawer that opens to the side. To have a reference surface I clamped a scrap piece to the bottom of the side of the cabinet. Onto that I could place my drawer slide and because it is an inset drawer front, I placed the slide to the inside edge of the cabinet front.
After screwing the silde in place, I cut a spacer that fit between the top and the drawer slide as a reference for the other side.

The face clamp provided great help to hold the spacer in place and installing the second slide went smooth.
To attach the drawer box, I clamped the Kreg drawer slide jigs to the cabinet and placed the drawer box on them. With the slides flush to the front of the box, I could screw them down.

I always have a deck of cards lying around in the shop for spacing parts equally. I fit as many cards as possible in the whole gap and then divide them up in to the number of gaps. In this case two: Left and right. The same applies for top and bottom.
I put some double sided tape on the drawer box fronts to hold the front temporarily and applied some glue.

Using the cards as spacers, I press the front onto the box.
Then I was able to open the drawer and secure the front with a clamp. A couple of screws from the back make sure this front is going nowhere.

For the drawers that open to the other side, I registered the lower pair of slide on the bottom of the cabinet. Since these drawers have overlaying fronts on the left and inset drawers on the right, I made the slides flush with the cabinet on the left and inset on the right.
After installing the bottom drawer box I used a scrap piece to position the next set of drawer slides. With the bottom drawer and the slides fully extended I applied the card trick to attach the second drawer box.
I worked my way the top with this method.
Now was a good time to add some temporary drawer pulls out of tape.
Attaching the drawer fronts was very similar to the other drawer I had already installed. Double sided tape, glue, a clamp and a few screws from the back did the trick.

The cards made sure the gaps were even once again. and they did their job pretty well.

Attaching the casters and getting it off the workbench

After marking center on the fronts, I attached some drawer pulls, I had on hand.

Then I attached the casters to the bottom of the side compartments and double-checked they could swivel around freely.

Getting the cabinet of my workbench was way harder than I’ve expected. Somehow I made it work but I was definitely not favourable for my back.

End caps for the flip top with holes for the cable management

By sliding the water pipe through the top I finally gave the tool cart its coolest feature.

Remember that I made the pipe one material thickness longer than the cabinet is wide? This is for two end caps that give additional support for the pipe. I took 2 rectangular pieces of plywood and drilled a hole in the size of the pipe half way through. Then I switched to a smaller forstner bit and continued the hole. This is necessary for the power cord that will run in the pipe and a small chamfer will save the cord from wearing down.

Indexing pins to secure the flip top

The flip-top needed a way of locking it in its two positions. Therefore I got these spring loaded indexing pins. I marked their location and used a backer board when drilling the 12mm hole to avoid tear-out.

I traced the shape of the nut with my marking knife and chiseled the recess for it. The flip-top would otherwise interfere with the pertruding nut.

With a washer on the outside I fastened the indexing pin and it worked great. I used 4 indexing pin, one on each corner. But in hindsight I think the 2 in the front are enough and make the flipping operation even faster.

I wanted to be able to have both machines on the tool stand plugged in all the time and don’t worry about the stupid cords. Therefore I decided to run a main cord through the center of the pipe and hook it up to both sides of the flip-top.

Outlets on both sides of the flip top

With the cord in the pipe I hooked it up to a small distributor box that connects to an additional outlet and the extension cord that gets plugged into the wall.
Each side of the flip top received an outlet that are connected with another cord that goes through the top.

Important to note with my setup is that the top cannot turn endlessly in the same direction because the cord in the pipe would spiral up and break eventually. I can only flip back and forth.

Finally it could place the machines. I pre-drilled the holes for the fasteners and tightened them. If you are wondering why I am using these rusty bolts, it’s because these are the very same bolts my granddad used to attach this drill press to his workbench years ago.

Holders for accessories

The belts for my belt sander tend to take way to much space, so a holder for these was way overdue. A piece of scrap cut a bit longer than the belts are wide makes a great storing solution. To prevent the belts from sliding off created a hook at the bandsaw.
Some magic to make the holder look a bit nicer, two pocket screws and I don’t have to worry about these guys anymore.

For the cast iron table of my sander, I needed a holder as well. Therefore I sandwiched a bunch of scraps together to receive the thorn of the table and drilled pocket holes to be able to attach it to the cabinet. No fancy joinery here with just glue and screws. Now the table has a nice place to go to.

The top could still rotate freely around the pipe and I realized this could break the cables inside. I drilled a pilot hole through the top and into the pipe. A beefy screw connects the top and the pipe.

Third worksurface for the Kreg K4 Master System.

I designed the cart in a way to have a third worksurface on which my pocket hole jig has a permanent spot. The drawer underneath is for all the accessoires: drill bits, bits, clamps and screws.

Of course I loaded up all the other drawers as well. Drill bits, more drill bits, special drill bits and more special drill bits.
More kreg accessories and accessories for my sander.

The flip top tool cart is done!

AAAAnd here it is. Looks a bit like a low rider and I like it! The integrated cable management is so convenient, since you only have to plug in that extension cord. The flipping feature works beautifully and the spring loaded indexing pins make it enjoyable. The third worksurface with its dedicated drawers is now always ready for some pocket holes and the other drawers provide plenty of storage.

Get the plans for this build

Get the plans with detail drawings and all measurements to build your own flip-top tool cart.