My clamp collection has been growing for quite some time and I’ve never really had a good place to store them. They’ve moved quite a few times and the latest location was in the corner both below and on a ladder leading to my attic. I finally got fed up and decided it was way past time to get organized.
I didn’t want to be limited by a single design that would be outdated as soon as my collection grew and started thinking of ways to make it more universal and flexible. The design I came up with is a combination of my conduit wood rack and in progress french cleat tool wall.
Why French Cleats & Conduit
If you don’t know what a french cleat is, it’s a way to “hook” objects onto a wall generally using 45° angles. I won’t get much more into it than that so if you want to know more, this Wikipedia article can help. The reason I decided to use french cleats for my clamp rack storage solution is because of the versatility. I can quickly create a different holder for each type of unique clamp I have and then re-organize it however many times I want. This will make it very easy as my clamp collection or needs change over time.
The reason I chose to use 3/4″ electrical conduit is quite simple. For one, it’s strong enough in short lengths to hold up a selection of even my largest clamps. The second reason is it’s cheap! You can’t do much better than less than $4 for a 10-foot section.
Materials & Measurements
All wood materials were 1/2 & 3/4-inch plywood that I had lying around the shop. I used 3/4-inch for the cleats and glued together three layers of 1/2-inch plywood for the blocks that will have the conduit inserted into. If I had a 2×6 lying around I probably would have used that for the blocks but I didn’t so I made do with that I had.
In general you’ll want your blocks to be about 1-1/2″ thick to provide support for the conduit. It needs to be wide enough to allow for the hole(s) that will be drilled for the conduit and tall enough to extend to the bottom of the wall cleat. The conduit should be about 10-inches long giving you 8-1/2-inches to store clamps on. (Mine were 1-1/2-inches thick, 5-inches wide, and only 3/12-inches tall. If I did it again I would go with 5×5-inch blocks.)
The cleats on the wall should be about 3-inches wide and the cleats on the back of the blocks can be about 2-inches wide but should be as long as the block.
(As I write this months after completing my clamp rack I am just now realizing that I messed up on my implementation of my idea.. I intended to use my blocks in a portrait orientation but instead used them the landscape orientation… Now it makes sense why I cut my cleats “shorter” than the width of my blocks.. they weren’t actually shorter! Next time I’ll just make them 5-inches square..)
Since I was using 1/2-inch plywood, I had to laminate three layers together to achieve the 1-1/2-inch thickness needed for the blocks. When making holders for my different types of clamps I would measure the clamp and then transfer the measurements to the holding blocks. In some cases, I made templates when I needing to make multiple of the same holder.
I didn’t want to add stops to the end of the conduit to prevent clamps from sliding off so using double-sided sticky tape, I stuck a small shim to a sacrificial board when drilling to ensure each conduit had close to a 5° upward incline.
(The conduit I’m using is ¾” but the outside diameter is 15/16. Most drill bit sets won’t include this size so here’s a link if you need one.)
After figuring out the best layout for your current collection of clamps, go ahead and screw the clamp holder to the cleat on the wall. This will prevent accidentally knocking the holder off when it’s empty and if you get some more clamps, it’s still pretty easy to re-locate everything by temporarily removing the screw.
Hopefully this project gives you some good ideas on how to better organize your clamps and potentially other things in your shop.