Canadian Woodworking

Hinged Storage Panels

Author: Cynthia White
Photos: Cynthia White
Published: June July 2013

Using wall space efficiently plays a key role in keeping a small shop running smoothly and safely. These panels can be customized to the size you need, and almost any smaller tool can be housed on them.


I’ve discovered that no matter how much space I have in my shop, it’s not enough. I needed a way to organize some of my most-used tools, which were previously hanging willy-nilly everywhere. Here’s an easy project that greatly increases wall space for hanging tools. Hang panels vertically, hinge them on the wall like the posters in a poster shop, and you can let your fingers do the walking.

I used cheap, good-no-side 1/2″ plywood, and the cheapest 2x4s and 1x6s I could find. You, on the other hand are free to make your project look like a museum piece. I splurged on some pieces of trim that I glued to the outside edges of the plywood because I wanted something smooth to grip when moving the panels back and forth.

I hung three panels, with plans to hang more as needed. So far, where there was two lineal feet of wall space, I’ve increased the wall space to a sorely needed 12.5 lineal feet. Two of my panels are 48×32″, and one panel is 48×24″. I’m not very tall, so I didn’t want my panels too big, but you can make your panels any size you want. My panels were hung with their tops at 6-1/2 feet from the ground. I also wanted to minimize my cuts on the plywood, so by making the panels four feet tall, it was easy to just make a few horizontal cuts on a 4×8’sheet of plywood. Before you decide on some dimensions, give some thought to the size of your tools that will be hanging on the panels.

Make the Cuts
White placed Styrofoam on the floor, then laid a sheet of plywood on top of it, in order to cut it with her circular saw.

Solid Foundation
White already had some plywood and 2x4 material attached to the wall so she decided to work with its location. You don’t need the plywood, and you can space the 2x4s according to your situation needs.

 The hinges need to be strong, as they are carrying the weight of the panel plus the weight of all the tools. This is not the place to skimp.

Strong Enough?
White added 1x6 material to the 1/2" plywood wherever she was going to add hangers or hinges. Screwing through the plywood alone wouldn’t be strong enough.

Cut the panels to size

For the novice, take note that it’s not easy to cut down full sheets of plywood. I laid my sheet on the floor on top of some sheets of Styrofoam. I could climb right on top of the plywood and use a circular saw safely. One sheet cut horizontally gave me three panels measuring four feet by 32 inches.

To hang the panels, I first used lag bolts to fix 2x4s horizontally on the wall into the studs. You may notice that my 2x4s are not evenly spaced. That’s because I had already attached the 2x4s previously for a different reason, so I wasn’t going to move them to make it pretty. You can, of course, space your 2x4s any way you like. I had previously put a piece of plywood on my wall under the 2x4s, but that’s not necessary.

Heavy-duty hinges

I bought some heavy-duty two-way hinges that were rated for hundreds of pounds. You probably don’t need hinges that strong, but I don’t want those panels falling off the wall even if there’s an earthquake. These kinds of hinges give you maximum flexibility if you’re going to make use of both sides of your panels.

Plywood doesn’t hold screws as well as solid wood. I decided against 3/4″ plywood, and used lighter 1/2″ plywood, so I added 1x6s on both sides of each panel wherever I was attaching hinges or hooks to give the screws something to bite into. All my screws were 2″ and went through the two boards plus the plywood in the middle. All the boards were glued and screwed to the plywood.

Plan the layout

For the purposes of this article, I used a variety of gizmos to hang tools, just to show you some of what’s available to organize your tools. How to hang your tools is limited only to your imagination. For hanging brooms I used broom handle clips, for squares I just used some screws slightly proud of the wood they were screwed into and for clamps I used some coat hooks that I found lying around. There’s a magnetic bar for holding any metal hand tools and some fancy pegboard with some great hooks (found online) that don’t fall out or require extra pieces to secure them.

There is a very inexpensive plastic quasi-pegboard found at some Canadian stores that works pretty well, as long as you don’t hang very heavy things from its hooks. There’s a nifty little socket holder that I lifted from my husband’s shop. (Please don’t tell him.) Sockets are not typical woodworking tools, but I find that I need to use them occasionally. I have some Weir screwdrivers that came with their own little holder. These are the best screwdrivers I’ve come across, by the way.

Be sure to attach most or all of your hooks and hanging devices and your hinges to the panels before you hang them. It’s much easier to screw into the panels when they’re lying flat rather than when they’re already swinging in the air. I also laid on my panels my largest and most awkward tools, to space some of my hooks exactly how I would need them before screwing in the hooks. In general, it’s a good idea to think about what you would hang on your panels for the most efficient use of space. Tool hangers can always be added, removed, and changed.

Hang them high

Hanging the panels is a two-person job. One person needs to hold the panel, which is reasonably heavy even before you add any tools to it, while the second person screws the hinges into the 2x4s. A third person, who can bring coffee and donuts to the shop, is also helpful.

Cynthia White - [email protected]

Cynthia’s table project is dedicated to her shop dog, who died during its completion.

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