See how to quickly turn your messy garage into an organized space for all of your yard tools using an old pallet and just a few tools in this easy DIY project.
This is a quick DIY project that you can easily customize for your tools.
And it’s free-standing, so no need to attach it to the wall!
Transcript highlights and images are below the video too!
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Tools, Hardware, and Supplies List
See all of the tools and shop supplies you need for this project
Screws – #8 x 1-3/4” construction screws. I also used one #9 x 2-1/2″ for the ice scraper.
Dowels – 1/4″ size will work fine. You can use 3/4″ if you have heavy stuff to hang.
Determine the most level end
Decide which end of your pallet is already the most level when stood on end.
We’ll circle back to actually adding the feet in a moment.
Determine the tool access area
With your pallet stood on end, insert one of your long handled tools, then remove it.
Determine how many cross rails you will need to remove to keep the tools secured while still making it easy to remove them.
The pallet I used for this project is a heavy-duty one.
It measures 45” x 45”.
You can use a smaller pallet, but you may not want to take out as many boards at the top.
I removed the top 3 cross rails. Adjust the build as needed for your pallet height.
Cut the top cross rails
Lay your pallet on the floor.
I wanted to use my circular saw to cut out the rails. But you can use a sawsall or jigsaw, if you like.
Here’s how I marked lines for a straight cut and to ensure I didn’t veer off into the pallet side structure blocks.
I propped one side of the pallet up on blocks. That allowed by right angle square to drop all the way through.
With one side flat against the side structure, I marked the top of the cross rail. You can just eyeball the lines, if you like.
Don’t count on your pallet being square!!! Mine wasn’t. But marking the top and bottom cross rails, and a few in the middle gave me enough points to mark a line to guide my saw.
I used my circular saw guide.
It served 2 purposes.
First, it gave me an easy straight line to follow.
Second, it retained a flat surface for my saw foot, even as the cross rails started falling down as they were being cut.
See how quick and easy it is to make your own accurate straight edge to use as a guide for your circular saw.
Cut your top 3 cross rails. And then repeat for the 2 middle cuts, and then the other side.
On the last board, you may need to make a plunge cut.
Level the bottom for feet
It’s important to get this part as accurate as you can because the feet we’ll be adding is how this pallet can remain free-standing, instead of attached to the wall.
You’ll have garden tools in this thing and it would be dangerous for it to tip over toward you when you’re removing a tool.
So, take your time and get this right.
In all honesty, I will say that it can be the toughest part of the project if your pallet was as un-level as mine was!
Be safe when leveling the bottom!!
I stood my pallet with the bottom up and clamped it to the support poles in my garage workshop.
You can clamp or tie it to anything sturdy you have on hand. Just keep yourself safe while doing whatever it takes to level the bottom.
So, I had to work off the high spots with my electric planer.
Use two of the cross rail pieces you cut out of the pallet for the feet, or any other scrap wood that you have that are long enough to ensure the unit can’t tip forward.
Check level with the longest one you have
Mine stuck out about 11” from the front edge of the pallet.
You can mount them flush to the side of the pallet that will face the wall. Or, you can give yourself a couple of inches to help the pallet stand away from the wall a bit, if you like.
Even though I mounted mine flush, I plan to stand the unit off the wall a bit so that the back of the tools don’t touch the wall and get it all scraped or dirty.
Clamp the each foot board in place.
I used #8 x 1-3/4” construction screws and drilled pilot holes.
I also set the clutch on my drill to 12 so that I would not overdrive the screws in, as these boards were soft wood.
Place your tall tools
Flip your pallet over and ensure it can stand squarely on its feet without tipping.
Place your long-handled tools to get an idea of where everything will go.
Try removing a few too, just to check placement.
Measure bottom shelf for axes
Since my pallet had front and back cross rails that were parallel at the bottom, I made use of that to add a shelf for my axes.
NOTE: The back of my pallet was fairly open, with only one middle cross rail. That allowed me to easily screw the backside of the shelf support boards. If your pallet is not open in the back, you may have to remove the cross rail (or two) above the bottom one where you will be mounting your shelf support boards.)
I measured the width of my largest axe head, which happened to be my pick axe. Then I gave myself an extra ¾” to make it easy to remove the tool.
That came to 3-3/4”.
And I just happened to have another scrap pallet board that was exactly that wide, and 45” long.
You can also cut down a piece of scrap plywood to use as the shelf board too.
For the lip edge, I had scrap 1x2s on hand, so used those.
Make the ax shelf
I clamped the bottom shelf board to the edge of my bench, with half of it hanging over the edge.
Then I glued the 1×2 edge.
I really love using a popsicle stick to spread the glue!! And I keep a plastic bag on hand to set my glue, rag, and stick.
After placing the 1×2 on the edge, I clamped it in place.
Then I tacked it into place with my nail gun using 1-1/4” brad nails from the bottom.
Careful!!! Never place your face or your hand directly over where you are shooting in nails!!
Test bottom shelf supports
I used the pallet cross rails that I had cut out of the top for the supports.
I laid them across the 2 bottom cross rails, front to back, and measured 3-3/4” of stick out. Then I marked the backside cutoff line.
Be careful about support placement!
These could interfere with where you long-handled tools sit inside. So place your support boards accordingly, or rearrange your tools to suit.
Mount bottom shelf supports
Hopefully the backside of your pallet is open enough that you can pre-drill and screw in the bottom shelf mounts.
I glued the edge of the back cross rail and used 2 screws per board to secure.
You should now have something that looks like this.
Mount the Shelf
Flip the pallet on its side so that the shelf can stand on end too.
I put the pick ax in place to ensure I had the right width.
I tried to clamp the other side of the shelf in place, but that didn’t work, so I just eyeballed it.
Then I used my popsicle stick to glue up the face of the support.
I did my best to hold the shelf square while I put in a nail at the top.
After I got that first top nail in, squaring the shelf was easy and I tack nailed the rest in.
Mark tools for dowel placement
Now that you are sure where your tools are going to be placed, it’s time to put them back in and ark both sides of each tool handle for dowel placement.
You want these to be close to the handle, but not tight.
You’re just trying to keep the tools from falling to the side.
Pre-made dowels vs dowel rods
You can use a dowel rod and cut to length instead of pre-made dowels.
But I have found that dowel rods are a little undersized and will be wobble in the hole.
Plus the premade dowels expand a little when wet with glue and that gives a more secure hold.
Drill dowel holes
Use the same drill bit size as your dowel.
If your pallet is soft wood, it’s pretty easy to go all the way through with your drill.
Maybe mark the bit with tape as a depth guide.
Glue and insert dowels
I like Titebond III glue for just about every wood project.
Put a little glue on the end of your dowel.
Insert and hammer into place.
Now all of my tools are being held upright and in place.
More tool shelves
I liked that bottom ax shelf so much that I decided to make a few more, small tool shelves.
Maybe you’re good at envisioning where your tools should go.
But I had to lay my pallet on the floor and play with placement a bit.
I decided a shelf for the gloves at the top would be handy.
And then I made the other two shelves to fit the tools I had.
Mounting the small tool shelves
Part of the selection process of where each shelf would go had to take into consideration whether or not I could get to the backside of that cross rail to mount the shelf.
Since these shelves would not be holding much weight, there was no need for a support board on the bottom. I would just be nailing them in to the cross rail from the backside.
I built the small shelves out of scrap wood in the same manner as the ax shelf.
And this is a great way to use up twisted/warped 1×2 boards too!
Then I spread glue on the bottom board shelf edge and clamped into place while I tack nailed them.
More hanging tools with dowels
On the right side, instead of shelves, I decided a few tools would be better hung.
This time I decided to try to drill the dowel holes at a bit of an angle, as they would be holding those tools in place.
You really don’t have to angle the drill much!!!
And I did end up going all the way through with the hole.
At this point, you should have something that looks like this:
I still had a few more tools left over, but no more front surface space for them.
So I decided to make use of the side blocks that the front and back cross slats where mounted to.
I had a couple of J style, screw in mounting hooks, so I used those for my dirt breakers (I don’t know what they are actually called).
With the right sized pilot hole, these hooks were pretty easy to mount.
Tip: See this post for determining the right sized drill bit for your screw.
Since I didn’t have any more hooks, on the right side I decided to just use a #9 2-1/2” construction screw for mounting the handle of my ice scraper.
It had enough of a smooth shoulder so my tool handle would not be damaged.
And then I used another piece of scrap wood to mount to the top of the block below to hang my knee pads on.
I clamped one side while I screwed the other side into place.
The board was just wide enough to be a perfect fit for my knee pads.
And I decided to make one more shelf near the top for my garden gloves. It’s a little wider than the other two shelves.
Paint or leave as is
Here’s my pallet garden tool holder all loaded up!
Garden tools get dirty.
Over time, it’s likely this storage unit will get dirty too.
So I decided to leave mine au natural.
But, a nice paint color would make it match your garage wall, or maybe even do a whitewash paint job to give it a rustic charm.