Router Bit Storage Upgrade

A recent foray into a new-style hidden, homemade hinge had me into my router bits…and finding I was lacking in what I needed. Well, not totally lacking, but I ended up buying a new bit or two. Regardless, as with so much stuff in my shop, that little diversion sent me down a rabbit hole (rabbet hole?) with my bit storage.

I don’t have a ton of router bits, and honestly many of them came from the obligatory new-woodworker router bit set purchase made many many moons ago. But, I have enough of them, and am OCD enough that I need organized storage. When I built my table saw ‘center’ years ago, I included a router table in a wing extension as well as as much storage as I could manage. That meant a cabinet under the router table and a shallow side cabinet especially for bits and tools for the router table during use.

At that time, I had an idea to use flat plywood ‘plates’ that could slide into slots cut on the sides of the cabinet as a way to store bits. It was fast and easy and fit the bill. I hand wrote bit names and sizes on the ply and so it went for a long time. And it wasn’t a bad solution!

Over the years I upgraded the spindle in the table to something larger, which opened up 1/2” shank bits and larger profiles…not that I’ve taken much advantage of that, but it’s available. Well, the new bits I picked up are a bit beefier and like the 1/2” shank. My old trays don’t have 1/2” holes, and some of the 1/4” holes are kinda blown out. So…I envisioned a new bit storage that was a ‘bit’ more user friendly, including tilt out options for easier access, sleeves for the smaller bits and some cleaner marking. 

I set off to build a prototype to test some theories. I used an old straight 2x4 since I wasn’t planning on keeping it, eventually planning to make these new racks out of maple or something nicer. I milled up the 2x4 and dimensioned it, and luck had it that it came out essentially perfect for what I wanted with enough sections from the original milling to make all the racks I wanted. Huh. Weird. 

Anyhoo, my idea was to use adjustable shelf pins as axels that would fit (conveniently) into the existing slots cut into the sides of the cabinet so many years ago. Huh. Weird again. 

I cut a 30° relief on the back of the test rack to allow it to pivot down and stop. Figuring the pin location was just physics. It needed to be inset from the junction of the relief cut and the back wall of the rack. Easy peasy. Marked out and stuck into place, the mockup worked so well I was compelled to continue. 

At this point, too many things had lined up right and I convinced myself I didn’t need clear hardwood router bit racks that live in a closed cabinet. So I pivoted to using the construction lumber and away I went!

Spaced out and drilled holes, transferred the marks with dividers and kept on a-drillin. At this point, the first failures of my choice to stick with construction lumber came to light. The varying grain densities made the holes shift a bit, and tear out was more of an issue than I’d anticipated. Again, reminded myself these are router bit racks, not Queen Ann’s coffee table. 

At an interlude, I fired up the 3D printer and drafted up a quick 1/2” sleeve to make my 1/4” bits happy. Love my 3D printer. Good to within about 3thou in dimension. Not bad for melted plastic! The prototype fit just right, so I started a batch…ended up needing two batches, but that’s no biggie. 

So, my original intention was for these racks to be held upright with magnets. The prototype worked ok, but router bits aren’t light…especially a rack of them. The relief cut, axel in spacing and bit placement in the racks meant that about half the weight was over the axel, but the other half was forward of the axel and that just proved to be too much lever for the magnets. So, another pivot. As luck continued to have it, the randomly dimensioned lumber fit perfectly flush with the side of the cabinet’s interior walls. So I figured all I needed was some latches. I noodled them out then fired up the laser and made a couple options, setting on a simple design that (as luck would have it) ended up giving me more capability than I’d anticipated.

For laser junkies, here’s some perfect drop-out porn. Daaammnn!!!

So, when slipping the axels of the racks into the slots, the length of the slot allows them to rock around. I fixed that by inserting cut down 1/4” dowels to backfill the space. I considered mounting locations for the latches and noticed that if I moved the latch down just a bit I could rotate it to 90° and the rack pivoted as designed. Cool! BUT, if I rotated it another 20°, the locking dowel pops out and the whole rack can be pivoted out. Wow! So now the racks are easily removed for choosing a bit size away from the table, whatever. Just a neat unexpected feature. 

Neat! Now to figure out some spacing and then labeling. After mocking and moving around the spacing I went back to the laser for labeling.

 I cut out some name plates and used double sided tape to secure them to the racks so they can be removed and changed if needed.

I’ve got a little bit more work to do, but I think it came out ok! A good upgrade. Before and after. 

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".


I love organization and this is the pinnacle!!!  So cool!  Well done!


nice setup ryan !

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

Some fine design work and implementation excellence!
The long and skinny format is perfect for otherwise unusable spaces.
Your display looks real professional! Lot of work. All my some dozen or so are displayed in boxes. I don't use them much. There was a time I did but pretty much all hand tools now. My venture into making moulding planes is unintentionally replacing them one by one. 

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Very nice Ryan.  Nice way to pack them all in a restricted space!
Thanks fellas. I’ve got a little bit more work to do, then I’ll probably spray them out with lacquer just because 👍🏼

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

Nice deal, love how that works. I don't have that degree of organization though. Currently I need a change from what I do have. Plastic tubs with bits sorted into similar types, all still in their little protective storage tubes, and sleeves.

My plan is to make a cabinet that lives within my Kreg setup, plans from Wood magazine IIRC. Inside of the storage cabinet I will have these foam trays (already purchased, sale with free S&H, yada yada) They will be, see and identify, which for most is pretty easy, but between bits like DT, and Chamfer they come with several degrees of angle, knowing what I am grabbing would be nice, but I'm not sure of how to mark these pads? Or do I really want to??

Having a home for stuff is pretty easy, I already have many of the varied things done. My issue is remembering to bring items back to their little roost spot. Instead I have a way of making new roost spots. I'm not sure but this could be that way down inside I am not thrilled with the roost spot I made as a home for my belongings???? Probably need a shrink, for sure need better organization. Sorting through endless piles of stuff looking for what you want is very time consuming. I often wish the "plastic tub" was never invented, but I'd probably be back to pop trays, and other cardboard boxes. When it comes to organization, I am perhaps the worlds best procrastinator. 
Great design and execution Ryan.
That's a great solution, Ryan! It looks like you faced some of the same design issues I did with the sewing thread storage rack I just completed. I wish you had posted this before I got started. I would probably have used the flanged shelf pins for pivots like you instead of wooden dowels.
Ron, your thread rack was what got me thinking about having the racks pivot in the first place!

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

Hah! That's funny. I assumed we both started working on something similar coincidentally.
Nope, you were the lead for sure!

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

A lot of work to mke!, but you will be glad with it! 

A nice solution.

It looks really nice and good design. I want one for my drill bits!  

No name noobie here

That's really nice and all but I am a little disappointed that you didn't add automation to automatically tilt the correct row for the bit you want.  "Alexa, find the Roman Ogee router bit".

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

Nice neat and tidy. I like the little labels
Organized for sure, nice design. 


What I really need Nathan is a tool changer for the router like on the big CNC mills! That would solve all these issues. 

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

So nicely done!! Great organization!

Great idea and write up, R'Gi...

Those pivot pins... are they the shelf support pins?... OD?


surely not to make it lighter.

Love your double sided tape overlays,

sure beats my manual effort,

and people wonder why I steer clear of handtools.

 commented 20 minutes ago
What I really need Nathan is a tool changer for the router like on the big CNC mills! That would solve all these issues.
  • Option #1, Eliminator Chuck (aka Musclechuck)
  • Option #2, Xtreme Xtension router bit extension,l
Primarily sold as a bit extender, I use it for the simple bit change function
Both the above chucks use a 5/32" hex key.

If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD