Van Racking Ideas for Carpenters

by Steve Coffey  // in Carpentry, General Contractors


Van racking is a great way for carpenters to store their tools at the job site. It allows you to keep your tools organized and close at hand, without having to spend time carrying heavy boxes from one place to another.

A clear and organized racking system is important for any workplace, but it’s especially important for carpenters who often work on the go. They need to be able to find the tools they need quickly and easily without wasting time looking for them.

However, it’s not always easy to find the right van-racking ideas that will work for you. That’s why we’ve put together some of the best ideas to choose from.

Benefits of Van Racking for Carpenters

As a carpenter, you work with many tools and fixings, and you want to ensure you have them in your van whenever you are going to work. Here are the benefits of van racking.

Helps carpenters stay organized

Van racking allows you to stay organized while working on projects at home or on-site. You also get more working space as your tools are in their designated space making you appear professional.

A messy van means you will be wasting time looking for your tools and equipment that may have moved around as you were driving. 

When your van is organized, you can keep an inventory of all your tools and protect your van from the damage caused by tools moving around.

Staying organized will also help prevent accidents that can occur when you lose track of items during a project.

Proper storage allows carpentry tools to last longer

As a carpenter, you often use different types of tools for different purposes throughout the day or week. You will always be on the road with your tools. Without proper storage in your van, your tools may be subject to wear and tear. 

Proper storage will prevent your carpentry tools from collecting dust, and rust and they will perform better for longer. This will ultimately save you money as you won’t have to replace them because of damage.

Safe handling of tools and equipment

Van racking ensures you handle your tools safely, whether they are nails, claw harmers chisel or utility knives, you will know where you put them thus preventing injuries.

Factors to Consider in Designing an Effective Van Racking System for Carpenters

Here are some of the factors you should consider when customizing your van for your carpentry tools.


When customizing your van, you need to consider the weight of the material used when installing shelving in your van and the tools you will carry.

A cargo van can carry up to 1763 pounds (800 kgs) and you should balance the weight from front to back and side to side.


How you lay out the shelves on your van will determine the convenience of how you get to your tools. 

Before you start installing the shelves, you should consider questions like, what tools do you work with most? What should you keep properly secured? Which tools are heavy? These questions will help you know the exact layout that will work for you.

To get the right shelving, you also have to measure your shelves to fit your specific toolboxes and crates so that they fit neatly in your van. 


You should place the heavier tools nearer to the door so you can have easier access to them. You should also create a cabinet above the door for your small go-to tools that are not heavy. Secure the edge so the small tools don’t fall off.

Types of Van Racking Materials

What materials can you use for the cabinets in your van? The most common materials are aluminum, steel, and wood.


The number one choice material for van shelves is aluminum due to it being lightweight. Professional van interior fitters find it easy to work with and the shelves can be welded and adjusted according to your specifications. 


Steel is used in shelving because it is durable and easy to maintain. It is a good investment and installs easily while providing great protection to your tools.


Plywood is another material you can use for shelving your van. Chinese plywood is popular and cost-effective, providing you with a cheaper, lightweight option for shelving your van. 

However, wood can be heavy and may increase the payload of your van, thus it’s best if you are only planning to carry a few toolboxes.

Van Racking Ideas for Carpenters 

Whether you want to install van shelves for the first time or want ideas to further customize your van, here are six van racking ideas you should consider.

Create a false floor that can carry large materials or equipment

Creating a false floor is a clever way of adding storage space for large materials to your van. This should be the first fixture you install in your van. 

A false floor is essential in helping you load and unload plywood while making it easy to store your guide rail.  

Install your false floor in sections using removable panels to store your tools and t customize this space as your needs change. If you will be working from your van, ensure you have a high roof so you can stand straight while working.

Build drawers and/or cabinets that can be reached through the side door

Your drawers and cabinets should be easy to access and building a van-high cabinet in the side door will allow you to quickly access your go-to tools. 

The cabinets should be wide and high enough so that you can maximize the space. Measure your toolboxes so they can fit neatly. 

Use good quality drawers that you can just pull out, get your tools, and slide back without having to remove them from the van.

You should store your saw in sliding drawers for safety and to keep your van neat.

Create a slide-out bench with foldable legs

To maximize space, you should install a slide-out, foldable bench on the rear side of your van. This will help you work from outside your van. 

However, this bench will strictly be for working and won’t work as a storage unit when inside the van. When adding the slide-out bench, ensure the legs are adjustable so that you can work on a flat surface regardless of the terrain.

Create hidden storage for expensive and delicate tools

Your most delicate and expensive tools need special care, and you should dedicate hidden storage for them. 

Hidden storage for your expensive and delicate carpentry tools will help protect your tools from theft and keep them in good condition by protecting them from dust and other elements. 

Although the compartment should be hidden, it should still be easily accessible.

Install heavy-duty hooks for most-used tools

A carpenter’s tools can be heavy and a strong peg hook on your van will help store some of these tools. 

It will also tidy up the space and you will need to install less cabinetry and shelves. These hooks will help you reach your tools from the inside, rear, and sides of your van easily while they are tucked neatly and safely. 

Protect your van with custom-built rain covers

 A 100% rainproof cover will provide outdoor and indoor protection for your van. 

Without a cover, strong rains can cause some leakage into your van and if the rainwater touches your carpentry tools, they may start rusting. 

Customize a rain cover by supporting it using the rear doors so that you can continue working on your slide-out bench or worktop even when it is raining.

The Bottom Line

Your van is your workshop and should appear professional. Every passerby seeing you working is a potential customer and when they see how neatly you have arranged your van, you will attract more customers. 

Besides, you will enjoy the ease of working efficiently and you will be able to keep an inventory of all your tools. 

The right van racking will surely save you time on your job site and give you maximum productivity.

Frequently Asked Questions About Van Racking

What is van shelving?

  • Van shelving is a storage system customized for a van. It includes shelves and cabinets that line the walls, ceiling and floor of the van.

How do I build a rack for my van?

  • You should build the racking systems in a way that you can access easily and in different sizes to accommodate different tool sizes.

What wood is used for van shelving?

  • Plywood is the most preferred wood for van shelving.

How do I stop my tools from sliding in the van?

  • You should use edges or bungee cords to stop your carpentry tools from sliding.

Which type of van rack is the best?

  • Sturdy van racks are the best, wood is good but may not withstand impact while metal or aluminum are strong and can withstand impact.

About the author Steve Coffey

I am passionate about the building materials industry helping companies all throughout the channel see success and exceed the expectations of their audiences

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