Tool Storage Ideas: 15 Clever Ways to Organize Tools (So You Can Find Them)

If you need help getting your workbench and garage clutter under control, use these clever tool storage ideas so you can find everything when you need it.

Getting the garage organized and the garden tools in order were major steps in making my life easier (I love it when I can find what I’m looking for easily!). These tool storage ideas were the next big hurdle in my de-cluttering and re-organizing process.

15 Clever Ways to Organize Tools (So You Can Find Them)

Tool Storage Ideas

It seems like I am always trying to find ways to organize my tools so that they are easy to find…and even more important? Easy to put away.

To me the success or failure of any tool storage plan is whether or not I actually put the tools back where they are supposed to go. And I have to say I’ve had a few failed attempts 🙂

So a couple of years ago, when I implemented some creative tool storage ideas that would make my DIY fold-down workbench more efficient, I wasn’t sure if they would be successful in the long term.

Having completed quite a few DIY projects since then, I’m happy to report that I finally came up with some tool storage solutions that actually work! The best part? They are all really inexpensive to do!

Keep reading to find out what they are.

The “Before”

Workbench before being organized
“Before” workbench

Just so you know where I started…this was my old workbench.

I very rarely got to use it for anything because it was always covered with the leftover bits from my previous projects. And I could never find those leftover bits if I needed to use them for another project (so I usually ended up buying another one…which added to the clutter).

Small pegboard on garage wall
The original pegboard space was way too small

My little tiny apartment-sized pegboard has been with me since I lived in a townhouse where the only storage space was under the stairs. It worked perfectly for that space…but now that I have a double-car garage, it definitely needed an upgrade!

Keep reading to find out all the tool storage ideas I used to clear this clutter!

Other Storage Ideas You Might Like

Use a Pull-out Tie Rack

Store wrenches and paint brushes on a pull-out tie rack
Store wrenches and paint brushes on a pull-out tie rack

A pull-out tie rack* is a compact way to store tools (like wrenches) that are long and narrow and have a hole for hanging.

Because you can pull it out, you can store more in a space that might not be usable otherwise…and the tie racks are less expensive than buying pegboard hooks for all of those wrenches!

Hang pull out tie racks in the garage for tool storage
Hang pull out tie racks

Because I am using a wire shelf as part of my tool organization (read on to see more about that), I was able to hang the tie racks directly from there. But you could also use large hooks to hang them from the bottom of a shelf.

Use Pegboard With Clips For The Hooks

Pegboard with tools hung on it

If you have read any of my other posts (like my craft room organization tips or my armoire desk conversion), you know that I am a big fan of pegboard. It’s one of the most versatile organization tools out there! So my list of tool storage ideas wouldn’t be complete without it.

I used a multi-purpose package of pegboard accessories* to hang up a lot of my hand tools on the pegboard behind my workbench.

Use pegboard hooks with tie downs
Use pegboard hooks with tie downs

One thing that makes a HUGE difference in how easy the pegboard is to use…these pegboard clips*! They keep the hooks from moving around, and totally solve the problem where the hook comes out every time you take the tool off the board.

The pegboard hooks* that I bought came with them, but you can also buy them separately if you already have the hooks.

To make pegboard work well when installing it against a wall, make sure to use spacers between the peg board and the wall. You can buy a special pegboard mounting kit* which comes with everything you need. Or make a DIY version. I used some spacers from a flat-screen TV mount…they usually provide a lot of different sizes of spacers and you don’t need all of them. But you could also use a stack of washers or a piece of wood to keep the pegboard away from the wall.

Having said that, there are other pegboard installation options that are a little more work to make but fit more usable pegboard space into a smaller area.

Pegboard fold up cabinet for tool storage

Pegboard fold up cabinet via familyhandyman.com

At familyhandyman.com, you can find the instructions for building a fold-up cabinet that has pegboard inside and out…a great way to extend your storage area!

Pegboard "book" for tool storage

Pegboard “book” via woodsmithtips.com

At woodsmithtips.com, they have the instructions for building a pegboard “book”, which lets you easily get to your tools and can be expanded to have as many “pages” as you need.

Here are my slightly simpler instructions for the pegboard “book”:

What You Need (for each “page”)

2 – 18″ x 24″ pieces of pegboard
2 – 22½” x 2″ x 2″ boards
2 – 16½” x 2″ x 2″ boards
3 – 3″ hinges

How To Put Them Together

Pegboard "book" measurements

1. Make a frame out of the 2″ x 2″ boards.
2. Screw the pegboard on to both sides of the 2″ x 2″ frame.
3. Screw the hinges onto one of the 24″ sides of the frame at the top, bottom and middle.
4. Screw the other side of the hinges onto the wall.

Add Pegboard Baskets

Baskets hung on a pegboard for tool storage

The next entry on my list of tool storage ideas is to use pegboard baskets.

I didn’t know that these baskets* existed until I went to buy the hooks for my pegboard.

Even then, I didn’t really know what I would use them for but I bought them anyway. Now that I have them up there, I think I need some more!

Everything that doesn’t hang well from hooks makes its way into the baskets 🙂

Make A Pegboard Shelf

Use a pegboard shelf for storing screwdrivers and plier
Use a pegboard shelf for storing screwdrivers and plier

A pegboard shelf is a great way to add extra storage and save some wall space. Not to mention that this DIY tool shelf is much cheaper than buying pegboard hooks to hold all of these tools!

Make pegboard holes bigger
Make pegboard holes bigger

To make this, cut a piece of pegboard about 5″ wide and about 18″ long.

Then use a drill to make the holes bigger.

For most of the holes, that will hold screwdrivers, nail punches and long drill bits, I used a 3/8″ drill bit.

Then I drilled some of the holes with 1″ drill bit, which is where the pliers fit.

You can hang the shelf up with pieces of wood underneath (like I did), corner brackets or pegboard shelf supports*. Depending on how long your shelf is, you may need to add a support in the middle as well to keep it from sagging.

Hang Hammers

Hang hammers on screws for easy access
Hang hammers on screws for easy access

I think this is my favorite one of all the tool storage ideas on this list! I can always find my hammers. And put them back easily (a key component to keeping the tools organized!)

All you need to do is screw some long wood screws (mine were 2 1/2″) into the side of your workbench, or the wall.

Then hook the hammers on for easy access.

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Tool organizing ideas

Use Wire Shelving For Power Tools

Wire shelving works well for storing power tools
Wire shelving works well for storing power tools

To help keep power tools (and their cords, if they have them) organized, I used wire shelves.

Wire shelf used for storing circular saw

The parts of the tools that prevent them from lying flat on a standard shelf (eg. the blade of the saws, the end of the drill, etc.) can fit right through the spaces in the shelves.

Removing a section of the wire shelving will allow drills to fit
Removing a section of the wire shelving will allow drills to fit

For tools that have larger ends, like drills, you can cut out one of the sections of wire with a wire cutter, and then the drill fits perfectly!

Hang Chargers

Hang chargers to get them off the work area
Hang chargers to get them off the work area

Allocate space for chargers with easy access to a plug…that way the chargers are always ready to be used when the batteries for your cordless tools die.

I hung mine on the shelf supports for my workbench. This keeps them handy but off the workbench top. If you are a fan of Ryobi cordless tools like I am, you are in luck! The Ryobi chargers* come with screw mounts on the back so they are built for this purpose.

Build a Narrow Shelf

A narrow shelf is perfect for storing spray paint
A narrow shelf is perfect for storing spray paint

DIY projects seem to use a lot of things that are stored in tall thin cans and bottles (spray paint, glue, glaze, etc.)

These cans are hard to store on regular shelves since they get knocked over so easily. Which is why the next item on my tool storage ideas list is a shelf built specifically to store them.

Area between 2x4's is a good size for a small shelf to store spray paint cans

When I saw this unused space between the legs on my workbench, I decided to I could put a back on it and install a narrow shelf that is perfect for storing cans of spray paint or bottles of glue.

A shelf that is 3½” wide (the width of a 2″ x 4″) is more than wide enough to store these types of products.

If you don’t have drywall in your garage, this would fit perfectly between the wall studs.

Backing installed across the backs of the legs with a small shelf
Backing installed across the backs of the legs with a small shelf

I nailed a 1/4″ piece of plywood across the back of the space, and then added shelves made from 1/2″ plywood.

Nail a small board across the front to keep the cans from falling over
Nail a small board across the front to keep the cans from falling over

Finally I added a 1″ x 2″ across the front (about 3″ up from the shelf) which prevents the cans from falling forward off the shelf.

Hang Spray Bottles

Hang spray bottles from a round pole or wire shelving
Hang spray bottles from a round pole

The other benefit of using wire shelves? I can use the front bar to hang spray bottles…another thing that tends to fall over all the time on regular shelves!

If you’re not using wire shelves, this will work just as well with any other kind of round tube…copper plumbing tube, PVC pipe, curtain rod, clothes rod, wooden dowels…you get the picture.

If you have extra space left on your rod, you could use S-hooks to hang other tools like paint brushes.

Organize Screws and Nails By Size

Bins with labels for storing screws and nails
Bins with labels

I already had bins that I was using for this kind of thing…so the organization system was in place. The problem that I had was that I never put the leftover screws from my projects into the bins!

Most of the time, trying to figure out what size the screws were so that I got them into the correct bin wasn’t going to happen at the end of a project.

Stick the screw to the front of the drawer for easy size matching
Stick the screw to the front of the drawer

So I’m hoping that upping my organization game with these 3 tips will help:

1. Label the front of every bin with what is in it. I used an inexpensive label machine* to make these.  Although if you have neater handwriting than mine, masking tape and a pen would work fine, too!

2. Use velcro dots* to attach a screw to the front of each bin that is the correct size…that way you can easily compare the size of the screw you are putting away to the one on the front of the bin without having to open each bin.

A sizing gauge helps to figure out which bin screws need to go in
A sizing gauge helps to figure out which bin screws need to go in

3. Hang a screw gauge* close to the screw bins. That way you can accurately measure the size of any screw or bolt that you come across and put it in the right place.

Use Electrical Boxes For Storage

Use electrical boxes as storage for tape measures and pencils
Use electrical boxes as storage for tape measures and pencils

One of the issues I always seem to have when I’m building things is that I always misplace my tape measure and pencil. Even though I own at least 5 of them, I can never find a tape measure when I need it.

The solution is the next one of my tool storage ideas.

Install electrical boxes beside all of the places where you are usually measuring things. Then place a tape measure and pencil in each one.

Electrical boxes are really inexpensive and are the perfect size for most tape measures. I put one on the side of the workbench, one beside my miter saw, and one attached to my table saw.

Electrical boxes are inexpensive pegboard storage...the nails fit into the pegboard holes perfectly.
Electrical boxes are inexpensive pegboard storage…the nails fit into the pegboard holes perfectly.

As it turns out, the really inexpensive electrical boxes (the ones that are used for new construction) have 2 nails that are exactly the width of pegboard holes.

Electrical boxes are perfect for pegboard storage
Electrical boxes are perfect for pegboard storage

So you can hang them from your pegboard to store all kinds of tools that don’t have easy to hang shapes.

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Tool storage ideas for the garage

Find Tool Manuals and Accessories Easily

Filing cabinets and small bins help with the tool organization
Filing cabinets and small bins help with the tool organization

Okay, technically, this entry on the tool storage ideas list isn’t storing tools. But it does help with all of the manuals that come with the tools.

I have a lot of tools that I only use once in a while, and when I do go to use them, I have usually forgotten exactly how to set them up properly. And then I usually spend a bunch of time searching for the manual to find out what I need to do.

So I decided to make use of those filing cabinets that used to be the base of my workbench. I now have hanging folders for each of the tool manuals. If that tool comes with any small accessories, like saw blades or sand paper, it gets stored in those filing cabinets as well. Now everything is easy to find!

Filing Cabinet on wheels

Update: I have done some garage organizing* since I originally organized my tools, and I have now put these filing cabinets on wheels…which means I can easily move them around if they’re in the way.

Hang Clamps

Store clamps on the side of a shelf or a block of wood
Store clamps on the side of a shelf or a block of wood

I believe one can never own too many clamps! They are just so handy for all kinds of DIY projects.  But in order to be useful, you have to be able to find them!

Fortunately, they clamp (I know that’s kind of obvious!) But that means all you need is the edge of a shelf in order to have good storage. Which is one of the easiest tool storage ideas on the list.

Clamp them on and they’re ready to go the next time you need them.

If you don’t have a shelf, use up some left over blocks of wood by using them for storing your clamps. Simply screw the wood blocks on to the wall or side of your workbench and tighten the clamps onto them.

Add Storage for Caulk and Paint Rollers

A shoe organizer is great for storing long narrow parts
A shoe organizer is great for storing long narrow parts

For those long, thin items like caulk and paint rollers, I used an old shoe organizer. The cubby holes are the perfect size for holding these kinds of items!

They are also great for storing things like extra boxes of screws and nails.

Use Magnets on Steel Sheet Metal

A piece of sheet metal with magnets is a perfect place to store screwdriver and drill bits
A piece of sheet metal with magnets is a perfect place to store screwdriver and drill bits

Another one of my tool storage ideas is to use magnets to hang things on the wall.

Installing steel sheet metal* on a wall or side of a shelf gives you lots of area to stick up drill and screwdriver bits with magnets*.

You could also use a magnetic strip* (the type that is usually found in kitchens for hanging knives), but you get less storage space than the DIY option.

Glue magnets on the back of containers
Glue magnets on the back of containers

You can also glue a magnet to the bottom of small plastic containers to add extra storage.

Keep your leftover magnets stuck on the metal sheet so that you know where to find them when you need them.

The “After”

The workbench with all of the tools

After adding all of those tool storage ideas, I now have all of my tools within easy reach of my workbench.

I actually know where everything is and I can’t wait to start my next project!

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Tool storage hacks

Have comments or questions on our tool storage ideas? Tell us in the section below.

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2 Responses

  • Wonder ideas! Can’t wait to try some. My tools look like yours used to look. I’m the Mrs. Fix It in my house, always have been. I’m so envious of those women that have a man to help, even it’s just to do the lifting. Thanks for all the useful information.

    • Thanks, Jauquetta! Everything is so much easier to find now that the tools are all organized! I’m the fix it person in my house, too, so it really makes my life easier 🙂

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