AW Extra – Small Shop Solutions

Small Shop Solutions

Great ideas from space-challenged
woodworkers just like you.

Sliding Wall-O-Tools

By Sue Brunclik

I built this 8-ft.-long shelf system to take
advantage of the narrow space in the corner
of my garage. When the unit is “closed,"
I’ve got ready access to the tools hanging on
both doors. By sliding one or both doors, I
can get to every inch of shelf space behind
them. I got everything I needed to build this
unit at a home center.

The key was to mount the pegboard doors
at least 5 in. apart, so I could load the back
door with tools and still have it pass behind
the front door. I bought two 96-in. Overhead
Bypass Door Sets (Stanley #403080) so each
door could slide on its own track. Each kit
contains a single length of track designed to
hold both doors, two pairs of door hangers
and a tracking guide designed to keep both
doors in line at the floor.


How I Built It

I installed the shelves first, leaving enough
room underneath to store my lawn mower
and other garage essentials. All
three shelves came from a single sheet of plywood.
The upper shelves are 11 in. wide and
the bottom one is 20 in. I used 11-in. doublemount
brackets for the upper shelves and
14-in. double-mount brackets with support
arms for the wide bottom shelf.

I mounted the sliding-door tracks on a
2×10 header that I anchored directly above
the wide shelf with lengths of slotted angle
extending from both the ceiling and wall
(upper right photo).

To make the sliding doors, I cut a single
sheet of pegboard in half and framed both
pieces with 1×2 stock (each door has four
vertical stiles for rigidity). I suspended each
door from four hangers (center right photo)
and fastened the tracking guides, one per
door, on the wide plywood shelf (lower right
photo). After installing the doors, I blocked
the open end of the tracks with a stop.

Click any image to view a larger version.

The doors hang from widely spaced
mounted on a 2 x10 header.
Lengths of slotted angle hold the header
securely in place.

The doors glide smoothly on
roller-equipped hangers. Each track has
two grooves, so you can easily change the
spacing between the doors and shelves, if

Each door has its own tracking
. My system uses two sliding-door
hardware kits. Each kit contains one guide
designed for two doors. I customized them
with a hacksaw.

Pantry Door Tool Cabinet

By Ernest Blair

Inspired by the pantry cabinet in the
kitchen of our new house, I built this
compact version for my workshop.
It has the same deep double-hinged
doors that make everything inside
easy to reach. I used 3/4-in.-thick
stock so I could use screws to hang
tools inside. The thick back made it
easy to fasten the cabinet to the wall.

I used less than a sheet of
3/4-in.-thick plywood and two
4-ft.-long continuous hinges to build
my cabinet. I got everything I needed
at the local home center.


Build It

1. Cut the cabinet frame pieces to
size. Rabbet the sides (A) for the
ends (B) and the back (C). Rabbet
the ends for the back, too.

2. Glue the cabinet frame and back
simultaneously. Make sure the
assembly is square before you drive
the nails and screws.

3. Install the shelves (D). Drill holes
for router bits and other accessories
before installation. Bevel the shelves’
back edges to match the slope that
works best for you. Screw the shelves
from the back and nail them from
the side.

4. Cut the door frame pieces. Rabbet
the door sides (E and H) for the
ends (F and J).

5. Cut or rout grooves in the inner
door frame pieces (E and F) for
the dividers (G).

6. Assemble the inner doors. Make
sure they’re square.

7. Round over the edges and rout rabbets
around the outer door faces (K).

8. Assemble the outer doors. Make
sure they’re square.

9. Cut the hinges to length with
a hacksaw.

10. Lay the cabinet on its back to
install the doors. Clamp the inner
doors in position on top of the
cabinet. Then attach the hinges.

11. Clamp the outer doors on the
inner doors and attach the remaining

12. After hanging the doors,
install magnetic catches and
mount the latch.

Overall Dimensions

Instant Surface

By Tim Johnson

In my compact shop, everything has to be portable
and stowable, including my work surfaces.
Whenever I need tabletop space for processing
parts, milling boards or even assembling
a project, I whip out this little gem. It’s easy to
maneuver because it folds flat for storage
and weighs less than 25 lbs. It sets up in seconds
and is surprisingly rigid.


Build It

1. Cut the legs (A) and rails (B and C) to size.

2. Cut the hand hole and mortises for the
270-degree hinges in the back rail.

3. Cut half-lap joints in the legs and rails.

4. Lay the back assembly on your bench
and clamp the swing-leg assemblies on top
of it in the open position. Make sure the
top edges and outside faces of the swing-leg
rails (C) are flush with the top and outside
edges of the back rail (B).

5. Screw on the butt hinges.

6. Install the 270-degree hinges and fasten the
top (D).

7. Transfer the location of the hand hole from the
back rail to the top and cut it out.

8. Turn the table upside down, swing the legs wide open (so
they bear against the back rail) and fasten the cleats (E and F).


(Note: Product availability and costs are subject to change since original publication date.)

Woodworker’s Hardware,, 800-383-0130,
Full overlay 270-degree hinge, # C374, (2 required).

Overall Dimensions

Expandable Parts Rack

By Jock Holman

When I worked on a big project, every surface in my
shop used to get covered with stacks of parts. While
visiting a small production shop, I saw an expanding
metal rack in the finish room, loaded with kitchen
cabinet doors.

A light bulb went on in my head and this wooden
version now graces my shop.


Build It

1. Cut all parts to size and drill the bolt holes.

2. Drill angled holes for the dowel support arms (A) in both
edges of the uprights (B).

3. Attach fixed brackets (C) to the top of each upright.

4. Rout rabbets in the cleats (D) and attach them.

5. Glue and screw the legs (E) to the uprights after drilling holes
and installing the caster sleeves.

6. Attach the foot (F) to the bottom of each sliding bracket (G)
and then bolt these brackets to the scissor arm (H). The bolt
head goes against the bracket, the wing nut against the arm.

7. Install the sliding brackets between the cleats on the
uprights and position them at the bottom. Rotate the scissor
arms upward.

8. With help from a friend, stand the uprights opposite one
another and bolt the scissor arms to the fixed brackets on the
opposing uprights (again, bolt heads against the bracket).

9. Install the spacer (J) and bolt the scissor arms together.

10. Install the swivel casters and fasten a mailing tube to store the
support arms.

Overall Dimensions

Clamp Camp

By Tim Johnson

I’ve got a lot of clamps, but they
don’t take up much space. I simply
drilled 5/8-in.-dia. holes through
3/4-in. plywood at a slight upward
angle and glued in 9-in.-long
5/8-in.-dia. dowels. Each pair of
dowels holds six clamps, so I can
hang 18 adjustable clamps and four
spring clamps in only 2 sq.-ft. of
wall space.

Small Parts Carousel

By Jeff Timm

While visiting an antique shop,
I discovered a way to store all
that indispensible small stuff that
used to clutter my workshop.
On display was a rotating bolt
cabinet from an old-fashioned
hardware store. When I got
home, I design-ed this carousel
that rotates on inverted swivel
casters. It’s easy to build, because
there’s no complicated joinery.
All the parts are cut to size and
assembled with glue and screws.

My design requires 1-1/2
sheets of plywood, a quarter sheet
of 1/8-in. hardboard, six swiveling
casters, a 1-1/4-in.-dia. hardwood
dowel and a 3-ft.-long 2×4.
I used Tapcon cement anchors to
bolt this baby to the floor. I got
everything I needed at my local
home center.


Build It

1. Cut and smooth the round carousel
bottom (A) and base (B).

2. Drill 1-1/4-in.-dia. holes through the
centers of both pieces.

3. Cut out the shelves (C). Use the
round carousel bottom as a template
for the curved edges.

4. Mark the locations of the shelves
on the two narrow uprights (D) and
fasten them. Space the shelves to suit
your needs, but be sure to stagger
them, so they’re easy to fasten.

5. Attach the two shelf/upright assemblies
to the wide upright (E). Note: These
assemblies must not be mirror images!

6. Fasten the carousel bottom to the
completed shelf assembly.

7. Fasten the casters to the base
(photo at lower left).

8. Attach the six feet (F). If your bin is
going on an unfinished cement floor, use
pressure-treated 2×4 stock for the feet.

9. Attach the center foot (H) to the base
and glue in the dowel (G).

10. Position the base and level it with

11. Anchor the base to the floor.

12. Drill a 1-1/4-in. hole in the glued-up
mounting block (J) and fasten it to the
carousel bottom.

13. Mount the carousel on the base.

14. Glue and screw the shelf edges (K).
Cut them to length after installation.

Overall Dimensions

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker May 2004, issue #107.

May 2004, issue #107

Purchase this back issue.

Assembly is easy, because everything is screwed and
glued. Stagger the shelves and fasten them to the two narrow
uprights. Then fasten these assemblies to the wide upright.

The carousel rides on casters and rotates on a large
wooden pin.