Making a simple wall-mounted rack for wood turning tools

I recently took up wood turning when a friend offered me his old lathe before he put it up for sale. I did some turning in my younger years of both wood and metal but nothing since my late teens and I’ve been reluctant to take it up because it is so ingrained in my family heritage in terms of both art and engineering. The hypocrisy of this is not lost on me because I’ve tried most of the other creative and artistic pursuits that previous generations of my family have done professionally.

The lathe is a perfect beginner’s machine, a small hobby machine from Axminster but it has variable speed control within each belt range selected so it is surprising capable. Coupled with the low “mates rates” asking price, I would have been foolish to say no. These machines have been superseded by the new “Craft” range but this one has plenty of life left in it and is more than sufficient for a novice like me.

My only successful piece so far is a little bowl but it’s a solid starting point and it was great to find that I could still remember some of the techniques from 30-something years ago. Of course my second bowl exploded, so I’m taking nothing for granted.

My Dad gave me a few tools to get me started, including some he’d made himself. I had no idea that old files and rasps get reworked in to turning scrapers. The one on the far left in the picture below works brilliantly.


I quickly discovered that I had nowhere safe to store them and decided to make a wall-mounted rack before I injure myself by constantly moving the tools around when I’m trying to work on other things. The goal was to get this done as fast as possible.

I found a couple of pieces of scrap white deal and cross cut both to identical lengths. One is as warped as hell but this timber is so soft that it can be pulled straight easily enough.

The rack will be a simple L shape - with a slotted hole for each chisel handle to rest inside. I marked up the wider base piece with equally spaced divisions for the seven turning chisels I own and a few more gaps to allow for some later additions. For each I marked two circles and the position for a slot through which the tool can pass horizontally.

I measured the varying diameters of the tool handles and settled on a combination of a 35mm Forstner bit to drill an outer recess and a 22mm Forstner bit to drill the through hole for each one corresponding to the two marked circles. The exception is the small spindle gouge, which I drilled out to 25mm so that the handle could sit with a little more stability.

Then I used my bandsaw to cut the slot for the outer three holes on each end and used a hand saw for the rest because the bandsaw couldn’t reach any further. I ran glue along the edge of the narrower rear piece, which will be used to mount the rack on the wall and then used clamps to hold this in place while the glue dried. This pulled the warped base back into shape. I flipped it over with the clamps still in place and set five 10mm dowels for additional joint strength.

I cut the dowels flush after the glue cured. Then I sanded the whole thing to just 120 grit - gave it a couple of coats of wax and she’s up on the wall. It’s so light that just two wall plugs with screws was plenty to hold it firmly. For the time being I’ve popped my two traditional marking gauges into two of the spare holes. A couple of hours work and the work space is a little tidier and safer.

Fergus N