A Basement Tool Wall, Part 1.

I say Part 1, because as it stands, there are few tools on the wall.  This post is just a quick one to document a long overdue shop modification.

Those of you who have basement shops have experienced the difficulties related to making good use of poured concrete walls.  Before I moved into the space, I painted the walls white (there’s a ‘basement’ paint for this very purpose, I think it’s sold at Home Depot) to brighten the space.  I didn’t address the need for wall storage at the time, because I wanted to live in the shop a while to see how I’d want to use it.

On one side of long walls of the shop, there’s a buttress wall poured to support the fieldstone foundation of the original house, with about 2′ of storage space (30″deep) above it.  I’ll be filming a shop tour video shortly and I’ll show how I opted to use that space. On the opposite wall, there is nothing but 24′ of white concrete wall.  This was the side I decided needed to be made useful by mounting some  wood on which cabinets, tool holders, shelves, or whatever else I might wish to add could be mounted. I ran electrical conduit along the wall about 4′ from the ceiling, so I chose to just sheath above it.

Here’s a shot of most of the empty wall, after I’d pulled away the machines and tables, etc.:


A bit on materials and methods:

My first choice would have been to use some ship-lap or tongue and groove pine planks, but that would have required a planar surface with horizontal strapping.  Because the imprints of the forms in the concrete left a not-entirely-flat surface along the length, it meant that running horizontal strapping would have required alot of extra work to make the run co-planar.  This meant that I needed to use vertical strapping and run the planks horizontally, or use sheet goods, instead. I had a few sheets of birch ply left over, so opted to use half sheets (to keep the grain vertical).

I have a Ramset powder-actuated nailer (hammer-fired variety), but it almost never succeeds in setting the nails in the concrete of the foundation walls (not sure why), but I have had good luck using the Tapcon concrete/masonry screws (the blue ones).  These require pre-drilling with a masonry bit, and if you have a corded-hammerdrill, it’s the way to go.


I started by laying out center lines every 16″ on center for 20′. I then installed furring strips (1×3’s, and 1×4’s where the sheet joints would be) plumb at each line. I used 4 concrete screws for each strip. At a shear strength of something like 4000 lbs for each screw, they won’t fail in vertical loading, but I used 4 in the case where one might want to pull out under load.

Once the furring strips were installed, I simply screwed five 1/2 sheets of the birch ply, butt jointed, along the length of the wall, pushed everything back against the wall, and began to think about just how I’ll fill up the now-useful space with clamps, tool cabinets, shelves…almost limitless possibilities! This picture was just before putting up the last sheet:

In Part 2, I’ll show you how I will fill the space. It may take a while before that post, since it’s an evolving project.  If you have wall-mounted tool racks that you really like, please comment and add a link, I, and other readers would love to see how YOU used that empty wall space!  Readers would really love to see your ideas for clever tool mounts, clamp racks, and other storage solutions for your walls.


About Nick

Nick Roulleau is founder, craftsman, designer, joiner, finisher, floor-sweep and all of the other roles at Mansfield Fine Furniture. A woodworker for more than a decade, Nick started the company with the goal of filling the need for heirloom-quality furniture hand-made from premium woods. Every piece is designed to suit the customer's needs and desires, hand-picking each piece of wood, and built one piece at a time, using both modern and centuries-old traditional methods to yield furniture to last for generations.
  • Dyami

    Well done, Nick. Looks like it’ll be a very functional wall.

  • Shannon

    This is exactly what I have in mind for my own shop.  In fact I already the furring strip lumber and I’m going with beadply.  I’m also using the same concrete screws but since my wall is cinder block and feels more “crumbly” than poured foundation, I’m going to add some construction adhesive to the mix.  My issue is stopping production long enough to do a major shop renovation.  .