Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Easy Tool Rack - Part II

In the last post I wrote about the joinery I used for this tool rack. Now that all the parts are ready, I choose to finish it before nailing it together.
I found a new kind of milk paint from the Czech Republic.
I want to finish it before knocking it together. I think it will be easier to paint some parts while leaving the parts that see sharp tools natural with a coat of wax.

This will leave future repairs to (hopefully) the bits that just will need some wax.
The first coat of milk paint is always scary.
The reason I chose milk paint is mostly due to the fact that I would like to try this black over red finish that Curtis Buchanan uses on his Windsor chairs on my rocking chair. I find it always beneficial to practice on a piece of shop furniture before committing to a new finish.

I watched all of Curtis' YouTube videos on the subject a couple times. The idea is to put a really nice undercoat of a color on, with two or three coats. Then, a couple coats of a thinned out black wash, followed by a thorough rubbing down with steel wool to bring up a nice sheen.
The undercoats went on beautifully in the end. The black wash is started in this pic.
I'm not sure if my technique was bad, or if it is the different brand of milk paint, but my results were remarkably different than what I was going for.  I was hoping the piece would be black with a hint of green underneath, and maybe some stronger green on the edges and places where the black wore down a bit more.

Instead, as soon as I started with the steel wool, the black started to completely disintegrate. In fact, the green would have, too, if I hadn't had stopped.

I wound up just lightly going over the black with the steel wool, trying my best not to obliterate all of the paint that I had spent so much time putting on.

Once that was done, I added some of my special linseed oil followed by my home-made soft wax. Even though the finish isn't what I expected, I think it is kind of cool. Especially for a piece like this.
The top shelf after rubbing down, oil and wax.
Curtis explains in his video with the black that you really need to rub hard with 000 steel wool. The effect the video shows is a real burnishing of the paint, with just a tinge of his red undercoat showing through. When his chair is finished, you would definitely say it is black with a little red.

I think mine came out more like a green with a bit of antiquing to it. I'll definitely have to experiment with this finish some more. I really liked this brand of milk paint, but perhaps using the same brand that Curtis uses will be a big help.

Moving on...

I used some long 60mm Roman nails to attach everything. Before I started, I made a test joint to see how big of a pilot hole I would need in order to avoid splitting the wood, being that it is now only 1/2" thick in those places and very close to the edges. I found out that the top board gets a 4mm pilot hole followed by a tapered pilot hole in the endgrain to be joined.
4mm pilot holes.
I drilled the holes so the nails are at different angles in one direction. This will hopefully add a bit of strength. Not that I'll need it, the Roman nails hold like no other fastener I've ever used, being square and tapered in both directions.
Roman toe nails.
I thought that workholding for this assembly would be difficult with my limited clamping ability, but my joints were tight and held themselves which allowed me to get the nails in and driven home with no problems.
Funky workholding, but there were no problems.

The pilot holes even prevented splitting this close to the edges!
All in all, I'm really pleased with my Easy Tool Rack. It was easy, even though I made it a bit more complicated. Thanks to Christopher Schwarz and Popular Woodworking for the idea.
Tool rack on the wall.

Another artistic photo of my completed project.

A view of what looks like a shrine to Christopher Schwarz. You can see at least four (maybe five) of his projects in this shot.


  1. I taught of building this rack a while back, but instead ended up recycling a previous ahem unfinished project repurposed as a tool rack.

    Bob, with no shortage of stuff to repurposed :-)

    1. Hey, Bob! I've resigned a long time ago that it's OK to start a new project if the one you're on has stalled. I'll have to get better at getting back to those old projects, though.

      In other words, you should build this rack!


  2. Very nice Brian. I have done the black over red finish on my chairs (learned from Curtis) using milk paint from The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company, I believe that Curtis uses the same. I have had great success using the nylon scotch brite type pads rather than steel wool.

    1. Hi Ray, Thanks for the comment!

      I'm pretty sure it was the paint. Next time I'll try the Old Fashioned stuff. I have a bunch in the freezer in Munich.

      I did try to use a maroon pad, but I was getting the same results. I'm just glad that I didn't do this to a chair!


  3. Nice job, Brian! I really like how it turned out with the milk paint. You have been on a roll lately, completing one nice project after the other - nice work!
    I have been meaning to make a wall rack for my woodturning tools for some time now, might have to bite the bullet and just do it. This Schwarz rack would probably work well for them. Too many projects too little time...

    1. Hey Rudy!

      This rack would go well in your shop. I think it would be perfect for turning tools.

      It's a pretty simple project, and the good news is it means you get to go back out to the lumberyard!