Wargaming Tradecraft: Organizational Holders (and hanging tips)


Organizational Holders (and hanging tips)

 I found some magnetic holders at a dollar store not to long ago, so I documented the steps I took to put them up. Whatever type of hangers you want to put up to organize your hobby area, this article will give you some helpful tips. Mostly, it's straight forward, but you'll find one step here quite useful when working with thin wood that will prevent you from destroying shelves.

I talked about some other magnetic holders in a post about my work area. The ones I cover in this article are a little bigger though.

Here they are, two strips with 3 large magnets in each and anchor holes on the sides. I think each cost me $2.
The first thing that I do is hold it in place and mark where the holes with go with a quick dot from my drill. You could also use a pen or a punch tool - either way, mark where the first hole will go. Get some help if whatever you're hanging is larger and clumsy.

Next, drill in what's called a pilot hole. (unless working with dry-wall)

That means you want to drill a small hole a little deeper than the screw will be going into the wood. You can hold the drill bit next to the screw and put some masking tape on the bit at the point you need to stop drilling.

The drill bit should be about as thick as the screw's body - meaning if you hold the bit in front of the screw, all you can see are the threads. (or teeth) ERR on the side of too small! A smaller pilot hole usually isn't a problem, while a larger one is useless.

Why use a pilot hole? I happen to have had a bunch of extra moldy wood laying around that I can show you on. If you don't drill a pilot hole, then the wood the screw is penetrating has nowhere to go so it pushes everything outward, cracking your wood. When working with metal, a pilot hole will give you the start you need to easily penetrate the surface.

Note, that you don't need a pilot hole when working with smaller screws because there isn't a lot of wood displaced.

What happens if you don't use a pilot hole - see how the wood finds its own way to make room for the screw.

Now that we have a pilot hole, screw the screw in enough to hold part of the hanger, but not all the way. This lets you swing the other side of the hanger up, mark exactly where the second hole should go, drill its pilot and then screw both screws in tight.


Before you mark extra (or any) holes, why not use a level to make sure things aren't on an angle. It'll look much nicer. While smaller things can usually be eye-balled, a level is critical on longer items like shelves where crookedness will be obvious.

Just place the level on whatever you're balancing (taping it down if necessary, though some also have magnets) and watch the bubble to make sure it's evenly between the two center lines.

I usually work with the minimum number of screws required to hold something against a surface until I'm satisfied that everything matches up and is level. Then, I'll screw the rest of them in to secure everything.

Stud and Electricity Finders

The LAST thing you want to do is drill or screw into a wall and hit an electrical wire. Aside from the expensive repairs, you could kill yourself. If you're anchoring anything in a wall, go to a hardware store and buy a stud finder WITH a built in electricity sniffer. This is basically a tool for finding the wood / metal studs (supports) in your walls.
  1. Place the stud finder against the wall.
  2. Turn it on and wait for it to calibrate.
  3. Move it slowly along the wall, and it should indicate where the supports are.
  4. If there's electricity, you'll get some sort of alarm or light if your stud finder supports it.
Sometimes, for heavier shelving and cabinetry, you'll want to find the studs so you can screw directly into them. (Try to find their centers) Other times it's just so you don't electrocute yourself. They're not expensive - maybe $15-20 or so.

Stud finders usually only work on thin walls, like dry-wall. If you're having trouble finding studs, try starting the stud finder over a foot or so - it's possible you're starting on a stud and calibrating to it.

Funny story... I used to work at a store in the electronics department and I sold a guy a wired router.
"What's the difference between the wired and the wireless routers?" 
*blink* "No wires." 
"Oh, that's not a problem. I'll just drill a hole through the floor." 
Wife: "Maybe we should get the wireless one..." 
Needless to say, they returned a few hours later to exchange it for the wireless model.
Wife: "Tell him why... *pause* The whole kitchen is dead. I have a fridge full of bad food now AND a hole in my floor." 

Not that a stud-finder works through floors, mind you. Just an inspirational tale of why you should be careful of these things.

Different Types of Screws

There are different types of screws for different applications, usually determined by their threads. I won't go into a whole lot of detail, but here's a quick rundown of some of the more common ones you need to know:

  • Metal Screws
    • The threads on these are usually very close together. Since the screw isn't meant to go into a thick piece of metal, it's the tightly spaced thread that holds things in place.
  • Wood Screws
    • These threads are spaced further apart. Things are sturdy and well supported because all the threads dig into the wood and hold the body of the screw in place.
  • Dry-Wall Screws
    • These threads are spaced further apart than wood screws because dry-wall can be pretty crumbly. By being spaced further apart, they can dig into the drywall without shredding it.
    • If you're working with dry-wall and not using plastic anchors make sure the packaging says "Dry-Wall". Otherwise you'll just be punching holes in your wall as normal screws chew up the drywall.
  • Concrete / Cement Screws
    • These are a pain to work with. They're usually blue and their threads will have teeth.
    • You ALWAYS have to drill pilot holes for concrete screws using the proper concrete bits.
      • Concrete drill bits look like they have an arrow-head on the tip and have to be replaced as the tips wear down.
      • The packaging for the screws will tell you the size of the bit you must use.
      • Drill the pilot hole about 1/4" deeper than the screw will be going.
      • While drilling the hole, pull back periodically to allow dust to blow out.
      • If your drill has a hammer mode, use it.
  • Anchored Screws
  • plastic anchors. source
    • These screws usually look similar to metal or wood screws and are designed to dig into metal or plastic anchors. Using anchors in dry-wall will give you more support if you're putting up heavier objects or can't use as many screws for anchoring.
    • You can also take a screw out of an anchor a few times and reuse the hole.
    • There are different types of anchors.
      • Some are simply a piece of plastic that you stick into your wall after drilling a pilot hole for them. (The packaging will tell you the drill bit size to use)
    self-drilling. source
      • Other anchors are threaded and designed to be screwed into the wall first. The tip is usually spiked, so wiggle it gently into the wall first, then once the threads reach the wall, screw it the rest of the way in. These are much stronger and can support more weight. (Packaging will often say how much weight)
      • Either way, once your anchor is in the wall, the screw just screws into it. Anchors will have specific screws designed to work with them.

1 comment:

  1. Another great post chock full of good info. I would be a little wary of putting my hobby knife on one of those magnetic holders but it's brilliant for less dangerous tools. I also did not know about the stud finders with electricity sniffers. I might have to find one of those at some point.


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