Hand Tools Cabinet #2: Chisels on the Left, Markings on the right

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 02-07-2009 06:05 AM 9787 reads 6 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: It all begins with a box Part 2 of Hand Tools Cabinet series Part 3: All aboard the Planes »

Let me start by saying that the first part of this blog although posted earlier today, was actually made about a year ago, I just posted it today as a preceding part to the one you’re reading now… tried not to double post and ‘push’ other’s from the blog front page, so I waited half a day between 2 posts, although both were made ready at the same time.

to continue the story were I left off, what I found most difficult with setting up the box was the box joints, those are LARGE box joints in 3/4 material. my first approach was to use the router table with a 3/4” straight bit, but that proved to cause lots and lots of tear outs (even with a backer board) it was hideous! so I opted to go for the table saw instead. I did not have a dado blade at the time, so what I had to do was cut both edges of the finger cutout piece, then take it to the router table, and clean out the material between the 2 edge defining cuts. this procedure took a long time to finish, and was very hard to follow as each cut on the table saw had to be precisely on the edge marks, and the router table cleanout cut had to be precisely between those 2 initial cuts (basically manual cutting the finger joints one at a time… no repetitions much…no automation). I have since gotten a dado blade, and constructed a fingerjoint jig for my table saw that makes things much easier!

Here is the cabinet above my work bench, easy access to hand tools where and when I need them most. notice that when it’s closed it’s pretty deep, and seems like it’s in the way, but when it opens up it takes 1/2 the depth as the doors are very deep:


the next step after having a general ‘box’ was to put it to use and start organizing it.

When I had originally made the box, I routed the back pieces for the doors with horizontal t-slots all across the panels, I figured this would allow me to custom design and setup different parts to hold tools in various positions and places- this will also leave me the option to re-organize and change the layout of my tools on the doors without having to drill the doors later on. this was tedious, took a long time to route, and leaves all the slots visible on the doors – BUT – since I like modular capabilities, I’m ok with that, and so far, it has proved to be functional for me.

Here is the current stage of the doors. The chisel set on the left is finished, and there is a second setup for chisels on top of it that is currently a bit messy just cause I still have a few things with no permanent place, and I do what I can with what I’ve got. on the right door I’ve mounted my 12” and 6” combination squares in a way that their shape (45 angle) and ruler keep them locked in. Also I’ve got my (so far just 1) hand saws on that side. The middle has some drawers made with fingerjoints – this time I used my dado blade, and the fingerjoint jig that I made (very basic jig, just a backer tall board that attaches to my miter gauge and has a slot for the blade, and a slot for a finger) – while making these drawers I accidently made my Incra 1000SE into an Incta 998... (check the blog – it also shows the finger joint jig). Also in the main cabinet I will be hanging my hand planes, right now they are just standing there, but I will set them up with individual shelves (already have the design… just need the time to make it):

As you can see, the cabinet opens wide, and decreases some of it’s depth, providing easy access to almost any tool you’ll need to work with at the bench. while keeping the cabinet closed, it keeps all the tools away from dust, extra moisture (esp. if you seal the cabinet properly…), etc.

next would be drawers slides, and organizing and putting those drawers to use, and setting shelves for the planes.

one step at a time… the way I see it, everytime I’m working on a project, I’ll add another step to the cabinet. no rush, I believe this cabinet will take many steps, and many changes till it’s just how I want it.

EDIT: Added following photos of mounting possibilities with 1/4” bolts, and the T-slots:

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

14 comments so far

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 4603 days

#1 posted 02-07-2009 06:18 AM

This looks like it’s going to be a great addition to the shop. Nice work so far.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 4784 days

#2 posted 02-07-2009 07:36 AM

Very impressive… I like the idea of the slots for the inside of the doors. I have been planning to build a cabinet but have held off because I was not sure of the layout. With the slots, everything can be modular and moveable. What are the dimensions?



-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View wood_wench's profile


89 posts in 4444 days

#3 posted 02-07-2009 08:01 AM

This has got to be great to use in the shop – you did a nice design job in allowing yourself some real flex in space usage on the interior walls.

By the way I’m really jealous – I have an Incra 1000 but I don’t have a Incra 998. yet!

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 4725 days

#4 posted 02-07-2009 08:54 AM

I’d recommend Jim Tolpin’s “The toolbox book”, it’s got sections devoted to some amazing wall hung tool cabinets, along with every other kind of tool storage…and toolboxes, of course.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6873 posts in 4993 days

#5 posted 02-07-2009 11:46 AM

H PurpLev;

I started a similar cabinet about ten years ago, but never got around to finishing it. I got side tracked by building the shop.

And now, I don’t have room for it, but I do still have plenty of need for it.

Maybe I should rearrange some space a bit.

Great job.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4835 days

#6 posted 02-07-2009 02:21 PM

This is a wonderful idea. It allows you to store a number of tools in a relatively small footprint and keeps them organized.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View cabinetmaster's profile


10873 posts in 4571 days

#7 posted 02-07-2009 02:34 PM

Great looking cabinet and it is a space saver.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4686 days

#8 posted 02-07-2009 06:42 PM

Nice hand tool cabinet.

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 4801 days

#9 posted 02-07-2009 07:11 PM

Great work, I too really like the slots in the door to allow for a modular storage approach. This is a surprisingly hard project because we just don’t know what tools we may acquire in the future and want to have flexibility to keep them all safe and organized. Nice job in tackling that.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View Karson's profile


35270 posts in 5413 days

#10 posted 02-16-2009 04:45 PM

A great looking Cabinet. I’m helping a friend veneer the doors on the one that he is making.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Dave_Tool's profile


3 posts in 4104 days

#11 posted 12-09-2009 10:42 AM

Fantastic looking cabinet. I am in the process of building my own currently for my set of hand tools, but now that I’ve gotten a look at yours, I’m going to have to rethink, heh heh. Nice job, really.

-- Dave Tool -

View PurpLev's profile


8648 posts in 4662 days

#12 posted 12-09-2009 04:45 PM

Thanks Dave. glad you liked it. it keeps on going through remodeling phases, which means -reorganizing some of the tools inside, but all in all, it’s pretty much stays the same.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Greg Smith's profile

Greg Smith

8 posts in 3692 days

#13 posted 04-19-2011 04:41 AM

Great work on the cabinet. You must have considered the design very thoroughly. Perhaps some lightings in the cabinet would be useful.

-- Greg Smith -

View jennydevon's profile


4 posts in 3542 days

#14 posted 06-24-2011 06:22 AM

I am a big fan of DIY tools cabinet and have came across some rather elaborate set ups. I like yours though; it looks functional yet fuss free.

-- Jenny -

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