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How to Turn a Closet Into Pegboard Tool Storage

Dan is a licensed electrician and has been a homeowner for 40 years. He has nearly always done his own repair and improvement tasks.

Pegboard tool storage in an under-stairwell closet

Pegboard tool storage in an under-stairwell closet

A Pegboard Tool Storage Idea Is Conceived

Recently my son and his new wife bought their first home and moved in with considerable excitement. Although he is not a great handyman, he was given a decent set of homeowner tools as a housewarming gift; the only problem was what to do with them? Where to keep them? The garage was chock full of moving stuff and when left in the house the children immediately found the toolboxes and emptied them. Tools all over the house! A pegboard tool storage area would be nice, but there was no place to put it.

As with every new homeowner, there were jobs that needed to be done that required the use of his new tools, but they were always lost and he spent more time searching for them than he did using them. Curtains needed to be hung, touch-up painting, maybe a new entrance door lock, but he never had the tools to work with. Something had to be done.

His wife finally offered a long, narrow closet under the stairwell going upstairs. Such closets are usually quite deep, but only about three feet wide, and if filled it makes the rear of the closet impossible to get to. If we could turn that area into a pegboard tool storage area it would be perfect—a place for Dad's tools, while leaving the rear of the closet still accessible for storage of seldom-used items.

Step 1: Plan the Pegboard Tool Storage

My son had seen my workshop with some 20 feet of pegboard for hanging tools on and wanted something like it. He obviously didn't need that much pegboard, but some would be nice.

A toolbox of some kind would be necessary for tools that would not go on the pegboard: preferably a roll-around type although they are usually quite expensive. It would not have to be top quality as it would never move from the closet, but needed to be of a fairly good size.

There was no light in the closet; if at all possible a light fixture needed to be added, as well as a plug-in for charging his cordless drill.

Step 2: Attach the Pegboard

First on the agenda was to attach the pegboard. We made the decision to fit pegboard onto the right-hand wall. That wall started out at about seven feet tall and tapered down to nothing at the far back of the closet, so the pegboard would also have to be tapered. Furring strips ¾" thick were purchased and nailed to the first first three studs in the area we wanted the pegboard to fit in. Each strip went from floor to ceiling, but we didn't bother to cut a perfect fit at the sloped ceiling as they would be covered anyway. Covering three studs would give some four feet of pegboard tool storage and seemed adequate.

We found three foot wide pegboard strips at a yard sale for a couple of dollars each and bought two 8' pieces. Carefully measuring the first piece we cut off the top at the same angle as the ceiling and nailed it to the furring strips with large head roofing nails. The width was cut at 32" so that the far edge fell on the center of a furring strip. The second piece was cut the same way, ending at the far edge of the remaining furring strip. As we began to hang tools the reason for the furring strips became apparent; the pegboard hooks need to protrude behind the pegboard and without the strips they cannot do so. We had purchased a variety of hooks, from straight to curved to one pair of small shelf brackets to mount a small shelf on the pegboard. The shelf brackets turned out to be a good idea as it makes a perfect place for the cordless drill and other small items.

Step 3: Do the Electrical Work

We were fortunate that there was an electrical plug directly through the left-hand wall (next to the proposed tool box) on the other side of the wall. A hole was cut into the sheetrock for an electrical "old work" box, and with the power turned off the existing plug in was removed and wire fed into it from the hole for the new plug. As we had made sure to cut the new hole in the same stud bay this was an easy task; we could reach in the new hole and touch the existing box.

One more hole was cut into the sheetrock near the ceiling for a "keyless" light fixture (a simple cheap ceramic fixture with a bare bulb and a pull chain to turn it on and off), again in the same stud bay. A more expensive fixture could be used, as could a switch for it, but it works well and cost only a couple of dollars. More wire was run from the new plug up to the light fixture and the boxes installed. The new outlet was installed into the box, as was the light fixture, with the final connections being made at the existing plug in. It turned out that the charger for the cordless drill would hang on the wall with a bracket and it was mounted near the door for easy reach and as a permanent mounting place. A cordless circular saw is planned as a future purchase; additional shelving will be added to the pegboard when it happens.

A small roll around tool box was found for under $100 and purchased for small tools that don't hang well and set into the closet. Tools were hung on the new pegboard tool storage - with time and experience their location will become fixed and the intent is to draw an outline around each tool. This way a glance tells the owner which one is missing and needs to be found.

Experience with the new pegboard tool storage idea has been very positive. Everything is easily found (at least if it's put away) and the rear half of the closet can still be used for storage of other items not often used. The total cost was well under $50 plus the tool box—a small price to pay for the convenience it offers.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2010 Dan Harmon