33-Drawer Shop Storage Cabinet

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Project by lightweightladylefty posted 06-20-2014 07:58 PM 4983 views 16 times favorited 33 comments Add to Favorites Watch


This is another of those years-long projects. I started this cabinet about 25 years ago after seeing a cabinet made from WWII munitions boxes. I have always liked small drawers for organizing things. Originally, I had planned 40 identical drawers. I first made the two end panels, using the leftover ¼” oak plywood from a kitchen remodel, hence the dark finish. At that time I began making the drawer boxes out of plywood. Before I completed all of the drawer boxes, I moved to the country and decided not to bring them with me.

The project sat on hold for years while I concentrated on completing more important projects. In the meantime, I decided to redesign the cabinet to better contain various items in the shop. The only parts I had were the end panels and my only criterion was that it needed to fit on a wall where I had open shelving that I wanted to remove. (I really hate open shelving in the shop because everything on it collects dust!)

I am not fast at woodworking, so dovetailing 33 drawers with my rinky-dink dovetail jig took a long time. Then because the winter was S-O-O-O cold, I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars in astronomical gas prices to heat it 24 hours a day when the cabinet only cost me a few dollars to make, so I waited until the weather warmed to varnish it. (I generally turn the heat down to 52 when I’m not working and only turn it up to 62 when I am working which obviously wouldn’t work for finishing.)

And the varnishing took FOREVER! I had purchased 2.5 gallons of Minwax for a bargain $19.95 last year. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was not their fast-drying poly, but rather high-build poly. Well, there is a world of difference between the two and I really hate the latter. I don’t like the color; I don’t like the consistency. I thought this cabinet would be a good way to use up a bunch of it but I still have over a gallon left. (I need to think of some more “junk” projects on which I can get rid of it!)

I had wanted the rails and stiles to contrast the panels and drawer fronts but I didn’t manage to match the drawer fronts to the panels. I still had the 33-year-old stain from the kitchen remodel, but what was left was too thick and then I thinned it too much. And the high-build poly is so dark that almost no contrast is visible on the front.

The only purchases I made to complete the cabinet were a 4’ x 8’ of ¼” lauan plywood and the #1 screws for the nameplate pulls. I ordered a package of 100 screws, knowing that I needed 99 and hoping I wouldn’t break any. The package arrived with only 96. (Note the missing hardware on right end of row 6.)

The eBay vendor was kind enough to send me the missing screws plus 2 extra. Miraculously, I never broke or lost any. (I had purchased 40 nameplate pulls 25 years ago and the heavy duty casters were purchased years ago – 50% off at HF.) All the rest was made from scrap plywood (drawer bottoms), scrap oak and a conglomeration of poplar that includes some curly and spalted pieces. (The fun grains and spalting were too sporadic to be used for any sizable project. All of the lumber was milled off our property years ago so I consider it free!)

Originally I was going to use oak for the drawer boxes but decided the weight would be prohibitive. I’m hoping (praying) that the cabinet is sufficiently engineered and will not collapse once it’s filled. (I’m not filling drawers with heavy hardware.)

Because of my lack of precision, there are no two drawers which are identical so each drawer had to be marked with its position. (The wooden runners attached to either side are not aligned correctly with the center runners and drawer boxes differ by up to 3/32” in width.) I also marked the drawer fronts so I could get them back onto the correct drawer boxes.

Since the cabinet is only 15” deep, I attached it to the wall so it won’t tip over. I needed to be able to easily move the cabinet when I want to run longer stock through my drum sander so I made a simple wall cleat. The cabinet is 40” wide and 62” tall, (any taller and I wouldn’t be able to see into the drawers!)

I’m hoping that this cabinet will help me get my shop better organized (wishful thinking). I’ve at least gotten a start at it!

Posting this on dial-up took almost as long as making it! LOL
Thanks for taking a look.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

33 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8967 posts in 3615 days

#1 posted 06-20-2014 08:19 PM

VERY NICE CRAFTSMANSHIP! As my wife would say “Looks like you bought it!” LOL! Really nice touches abd balance in your design! And it’s functional!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

426 posts in 3840 days

#2 posted 06-20-2014 08:36 PM

Absolutely love your long term thinking, and the story of the build. Great job, and I trust you will enjoy your organized, beautified shop!

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View Woodwrecker's profile


4239 posts in 4348 days

#3 posted 06-20-2014 08:39 PM

25 years for a project has to be a record !
It came out quite nicely.
Thank you for sharing your talent.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30551 posts in 3111 days

#4 posted 06-20-2014 08:52 PM

Very nice work. I will say, congratulations on the top 3 because it is going to be there.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24792 posts in 3878 days

#5 posted 06-20-2014 09:09 PM

WOW….............that is a beautiful cabinet full of drawers. Nice going!!!!!!!
That is a super project.Yyou sure did fine job in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!..........................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2961 days

#6 posted 06-20-2014 09:17 PM


25 years! Way to go! It looks awesome! Love the contrasting wood tones, the story and the piece itself. Your cabinet already has a great history and it’s brand new.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View shipwright's profile


8555 posts in 3570 days

#7 posted 06-20-2014 10:19 PM

Lots of patience in more ways than one.
What a great looking cabinet!
If you are like me, this will really clean up your shop …......... for about a month. Then you may find that all the drawers are still full but you need more ......... or maybe you are better organized than I am.
Congrats on a great build and on your tenacity with your dial-up connection.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2905 days

#8 posted 06-20-2014 11:21 PM

Very, very well done and certainly has great utility. Organized and almost dustless tool storage. I like it a lot/

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View CFrye's profile


11005 posts in 2612 days

#9 posted 06-20-2014 11:57 PM

You give me hope, LW! I stretched out a sewing project for about 15 years before it was completed. This is a great storage/organizer! So often when projects drag on (around here, anyway) they just get slapped together to be done with it. Kudos to you for finishing it and thatnks for sharing the project and the story.

-- God bless, Candy

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3561 posts in 4485 days

#10 posted 06-21-2014 12:16 AM

Wow! Thanks, guys, for the encouraging response. I hope my next project doesn’t take 25 years. I may not have that much time left! I’ve got a to-do list a mile long for organizing the home and shop. Maybe I’m just too disorganized to get to them!

Paul, I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to organize even a small portion of the shop. A month? I’d feel pretty good if it lasted that long! LOL

Candy, I still have the pieces to a corduroy bathrobe that I designed in dress design school (I won’t say how many years ago!) that I keep thinking I should complete some day. I guess it’s my short attention span . . . and not being able to throw anything away!

Mark, now you know why I still haven’t gotten around to the upholstery projects. I’m pretty slow!


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3065 days

#11 posted 06-21-2014 12:20 AM

Great looking cabinet and great storage/organization project.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3463 days

#12 posted 06-21-2014 12:38 AM

I love it!
The only problem I see is that it really is too nice to be in the shop! It would look good in my house.
Great job on it even if it did take a bit longer than planned.
And those spalted drawer boxes are too pretty to hide.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2848 days

#13 posted 06-21-2014 01:03 AM

Wow! Great project and good story to go with it.
You’ll have lots of fun filling the drawers.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 3553 days

#14 posted 06-21-2014 01:22 AM

I’ll swap you one tri-level silverware drawer organizer for it.

This is wonderful. It has an extra special charm when the epic saga is added in.

Great work. Great perseverance.


View gsimon's profile


1318 posts in 2886 days

#15 posted 06-21-2014 02:17 AM

I have a penchant for small drawers too
Love your dedication and patience – it serves you well

-- Greg Simon

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