An hour’s work

That’s all it took.

I’ve been getting more and more annoyed by the need to constantly shift things out of the way when I want to use the entire top of my cutting table. I pinned elaborate storage concepts on my Pinterest ‘Sewing Room’ board for inspiration, I tried finding homes for everything, but it was all a bit haphazard. The last straw came last week, with the self-inflicted black eye. One more example of what I call ‘the blind animosity of inanimate objects’. Something had to be done.

I looked at pegboard sheets in Bunnings, our Australian DIY superstore. I was aghast at the cost of what was basically a large sheet of masonite with a lot of little holes drilled in it. I could, I thought, do better than that. And I have. Here is the result:

Pegboard & contents

That big yellow thing on the right was responsible for my black eye…

In case you are tempted to whip up something similar yourself, here’s the shopping list:

1 x sheet of 6mm MDF, 120 x 60cm (or ¼” MDF, a 48″ x 24″ sheet)
1 x 120cm length of 6mm dowel (or 48″ of ¼” dowel)
2 x 120cm lengths of 1cm batten (or 2 x 48″ of ½” batten)
6 x 20mm (7/8″) wood screws

Total price: approximately $12. (I already had the screws and batten)

And here are the tools you’ll need:

Cordless drill/screwdriver
1 x 6mm (¼”) drill bit, plus one smaller one to fit your screws, and screw-head to fit screws
Jigsaw or tenon handsaw
Spirit level and pencil

Pegboard & cutting table

My cutting table is raised on extra ‘feet’, which makes it a good 13cm (5″) higher. Now I won’t have to bend for the tools either!

Lay the sheet of MDF flat on a table. Arrange on it the tools you want to hang there, and mark with the pencil the location of the holes they’ll hang from. Either take a photo to refer to later, or draw lightly around the item to remind you of what goes where. NB: Hang the heavier items at the edges, near the mounting screws, to prevent bowing of the MDF.

Next, locate the studs in your wall (if timber and plaster-board/ gyproc), since this is where you’ll need to drive in the mounting screws. If your wall is brick or block-work, just choose three equidistant screw locations, and you’ll need to add wall plugs/anchors to your shopping list. Mark the locations of the studs and translate the spacing onto your MDF sheet. Place the battens behind the top and bottom edge of the sheet, and drill through both sheet and batten using the screw-sized drill bit. Drive in the screws from the front till the tips just come through the batten at the back. Determine how high you want the pegboard to hang. Mine’s on the other side of my cutting table, and I can only reach a height of 71cm (28″) above that, so that’s how high I hung it. Mark the top edge, check it’s level. If you are fixing to a brick or block-work wall, now is the time to drill the holes to receive the screws and place the wall plugs/anchors.

Take the larger drill bit, and drill holes through the MDF sheet in the marked locations where you want pegs to hang things on. Mark 5cm (2″) lengths along the 6mm (¼”) dowel, and cut through with the jig- or tenon-saw. Now it’s time to hang the sheet. This is the only part where you need 2 people. Get someone to hold the whole thing straight and flat against the wall while you drive in the screws. It’s not heavy, so a large child will do in a pinch (I held it up while the Husband of Chiconia did the drilling). They can now go back to whatever they were doing while you finish it off.

Basket trick Let there be lightDrive in the bottom 3 screws. Push the 5cm (2″) lengths of dowel into the drilled holes; it should be a nice snug fit. Hang the tools on their pegs. Step back and admire.

You could go all Homes & Gardens and paint it. I’m not bothering. You’ll see there’s a couple of baskets there. Two pegs for each, through the mesh on the side, and a couple of rubber bands stretched tightly between the pegs hold the baskets in place. High tech, eh? I’ve also used the rubber band solution to hold my folding LED work light up there, so I get better lighting when I’m cutting at night. I’m rapt with the result.


And yes, it all took just an hour.


58 thoughts on “An hour’s work

  1. tialys says:

    Great idea! It looks like Mr. Tialys’ shed should look like if he were more organized 😦 I shall point to your tutorial in a meaningful manner. I recently bought a kitchen island from Ikea because the height was more comfortable than the cutting table I was using previously (even though I’m only a short arse) and I vowed to keep the top clear so put hanging rails on both ends with lots of ‘S’ hooks.
    What are those trendy boots your table is wearing?

    • katechiconi says:

      The ‘boots’ are a sort of sturdy hard plastic inverted plastic cup. They are designed to raise furniture to make it possible to get a wheelchair underneath, and come in two sizes. This is the larger size. You can also, if you’re a giant, stack the smaller size on top of this size for a really high work surface. The tops have non-slip pads to stop the table sliding about. Found in the ‘disability aids’ section of the DIY store.

      • tialys says:

        Mr. T is 6’4″ so when he took the table I had been using for cutting, he cut four large blocks and attached them to the table legs so he could use it for his leather work. Luckily, it lives in the shed because it is no longer a thing of beauty.

      • katechiconi says:

        That does not sound pretty, I must say! Too late for the trendy table leg boots, then.
        I notice that you and Mr T conform to the relationship rule that says a tall man must marry a woman of restricted height. Rather like the Husband of Chiconia and myself…

    • I have a kitchen island which is only for show and storage: this shortarse can’t work up there in the stratosphere; ditto the worktops. My only feasible space is a much lower flap that Jock added to the island, where we have breakfast.

  2. claire93 says:

    an hour and $12 well spent ^^

  3. nanacathy2 says:

    I could do with four walls like that. Neat idea

  4. What Nana Cathy said. Please come here and sort out my life for me…..

  5. marvelous organizing … thanks for sharing and good luck 🙂

  6. I am highly impressed. It wouldn’t work for me – I’d never remember to put things back where I got them from. I work best in a muddle!

  7. Lorij says:

    You did a good job. I used a half sheet plywood to make my hanging wall when I was at home and I used screws to hang things.
    Here I have a stainless steel kitchen utensil container on my sewing table with scissors and cutters in it. And for the other things always needed I purchased 50 cent pencil boxes with assorted colored tops and clear bottoms, they are on the right of the machine, so that they are easily accessible. I try to put things back where they belong when I use them because here space is VERY LIMITED. I bought a used book shelf for $15 to put fabric and odds and ends on, so I wouldn’t have to put everything on the bed each time I sew and have to move it every night. I only have the room I stay in at my daughter’s house and, sewing and living in one room is hard. I have access to the other parts of the house but not for my sewing 😄. When there’s a quilt on the hoop and a quilt being pieced, and a dress in progress and an idea taped to the mirrored closet doors it gets a bit crowded. But, I can still sew and that’s what is most important!!!!!!! Yippee 😄

    • katechiconi says:

      Sounds as if you’re as organised as you can be. I have made a deal with myself that having a whole room to sew in means that’s where the sewing stays. The only stitchery that migrates out is the embroidery, and there is a tidy sewing box for that in the living room. Like you, I have many things on the go, and I must have a clear cutting table… This solution works really well for me.

  8. anne54 says:

    Well done you! I try so hard to be organised……but usually when I am in full drawing/painting mode I just put things down wherever. It usually means that the space I am working I gets smaller and smaller as brushes, pencils etc get put down closer and closer to where I am working. Then I can’t find my glasses in the mess!

    • katechiconi says:

      Exactly! When I reached the point where I nearly put a pair of scissors into my full coffee cup, I knew something had to be done. I was moving piles from table to chair to stool to floor. Now there’s one less pile!

  9. Now, if I only had a space of my own! Hubby was looking at sheds, just for me… We can’t afford that nonsense but it made me feel good that he knows I need more space and was trying.

    • katechiconi says:

      I am so fortunate, I know. When I lived in a tiny flat in London, I sewed in my living room. I had something like this fixed to the inside of a cupboard door, an ironing board that folded out from the same cupboard, and a big sheet of plywood covered in felt did service as a design wall and got tucked behind the cupboard between times. My living room often had a lot of fluff and thread on the floor, but I could pretend I still had a living room instead of letting the sewing take over…

  10. Nanette says:

    I’ve been doodling and pinning ideas like this for the new house, since my sewing area will be a narrow short verandah rather than a good sized bedroom! I shall have to be extra organised and tidy there. I have those boots under my cutting table, love ’em, so good not to have to bend. now that you’re organised we’ll expect to see even more finishes floating out of there *wink*

    • katechiconi says:

      You may laugh, but I walked in there this morning with a palpable sense of relief that I didn’t have to start shifting stuff around to have an area to work! This afternoon’s task is to make a start on testing Esther’s new paper piecing block. It’s a lot of pieces, but nothing too hard.

      • Nanette says:

        Not laughing, I promise…..I know just how you feel, I moved my tiny sewing cabinet out and put a folding table in, and it’s so good to have room for my sewing machine, laptop and maybe some ready to sew blocks sitting by the machine, ready to and space to spread out a quilt if I’m quilting…, and probably most important, room for the cat to sprawl out and me not encroach on her space lol I know well that sense of relief!

      • katechiconi says:

        You know what’s funny? I’m a lot tidier now too, because I don’t want to spoil all that lovely empty work surface by leaving bits around. Not that I was exactly messy before, but I didn’t have the same desire to leave it spotless!

  11. Great job! I was offline for the last week so didn’t hear about the black eye. OW! Don’t do that again, okay? 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, I saw you’d been to Cuba – what an amazing adventure! The black eye wasn’t too serious, and did at least have the positive effect of spurring me into action over the pegboard.

  12. rutigt says:

    Great idea! My problem is that there are no free wallspace in my sewingroom! 🙂

  13. EllaDee says:

    I love that you came up with a bespoke solution rather than off the rack from Bunnings, but I’m not surprised. I cannot work in a disordered space, so I’m tucking yet another bit of Kate inspiration way for future consultation 🙂

  14. Magpie Sue says:

    Excellent! Well done you!

  15. If only I had a spare wall I would certainly follow your fine example. My filing system for sewing tools is a row of increasing sized jars which I use to store cutters, scissors, pinking shears and thin rulers. They live at the back of my table. I have a hook on the back of the door for quilting rulers, and everything else, like pins, safety pins etc. are in small glass jars. How come we NEED so much stuff?

    • katechiconi says:

      People keep inventing gadgets that save time, but the trouble is that those gadgets require more and more space. I think if we tried to distil our absolute requirements down, it would be 1 cutter, 1 mat, 1 large ruler, 1 fabric shears, 1 thread snips, 1 stitch ripper, 1 box pins, 1 box safety pins, 1 iron & ironing board. I could improvise/ manage without the rest even if it’s handy!

  16. katechiconi says:

    I find the tools for those tend to be quite well behaved and stay in their respected bags and boxes. And hoops and frames hang on hooks on the side of my bookshelf!

  17. Lorij says:

    When there is very limited space, we seem to be a bit more inclined to put things back where they belong. Many years ago I sat a glass of ice water down while trying to finish cutting bridesmaid dresses out. Knocked it over by accident and, prayed the fabric would not circle. It didn’t !!! Now, if I must have a drink when I’m sewing or quilting I Try to make sure there’s a top on it. When you said you nearly put the scissors in your coffe cup it brought back the memory. When one is blessed enough to have a whole room to sew in it is absolutely wonderful. Yet, I am very grateful for the small space I have. As long as I can sew ! ! !

    • katechiconi says:

      Exactly. It’s no great hardship to put things away, and a great luxury to have the space to leave them out. I surely do appreciate my luck, and so far, I’ve kept my promise to keep all the sewing stuff in one place.

  18. The best $12 spent on craft supplies, I bet. I confess that I would go all Homes & Gardens and paint it some garish colour, but I like the neutral timber look too.

  19. Kirsten says:

    Very nifty, and a place for everything!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.