Workshop Tool Cabinet

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Project by Pete Tevonian posted 09-08-2015 12:52 AM 7705 views 40 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This tool rack was based on a couple different Fine Woodworking articles, most notably by Christian Becksvoort and Michael Pekovich, as well as many other examples. It’s 13” deep and 47” tall. The front doors are 4” deep, leaving the main body of the case 9” deep. The project is almost complete made of birch plywood: the case sides are 3/4”, while the front door panels are 1/2”, and the back is 1/4”. The case is constructed with finger joints, and is made as one big box which then has the front 4” cut off, and then has the front cutoff section ripped in two to make the doors. Additional 3/4” plywood strips were added to the inside edges of the front doors to stiffen them. The front edges of exposed plywood are covered with 3/4” strips of hard maple for both strength and decoration.

Inside, there are two more 3/4” plywood doors, with a shelf above, and a plane gallery and a sandpaper organizer, and drawers below. The drawers are made with 1/2” plywood, finger-jointed sides, and 1/4” plywood bottoms. I used a 1 1/4” forstner bit to cut the holes in the drawer-fronts—knobs would have stuck out too far and may have collided with tools hanging on the interior of the front doors. I used piano hinges for both sets of doors. The finish on the entire case is two thin coats of shellac and then some wax.

All of the tool holders are purpose built for the tool they hold. In many cases, a simple strip of 3/4” ply with a saw kerf cut into the top or side was all I needed—the squares and back saws are all held that way. Many other tools are held with simple 1/4” pegs glued into a small square of 1/2” plywood, which is then screwed to the door.

So far, I have all of my peg-board tools now moved into the case, with plenty of room to grow. The inside doors, especially, have room begging for more tools! A lesson-learned from organizing the tools: Don’t put long hanging tools on the front doors—they swing and bang too much. I had to add some pads and a magnetic catch to keep things relatively stationary.

Speaking of magnets, the front doors are held closed with two pairs of 3/8” rare earth magnets set into the top of bottom edge of the case, with simple flathead screws into the doors opposite them. I can adjust the screws in or out to deal with the slightly twist in the doors. The inside doors, too, have two magnets set in the front inside edges of the doors, so that when the doors are closed, they ALMOST touch each other and hold each other in place. It’s a truly frictionless latch with just enough strength to keep the doors closed until I pull on them.

One of my favorite features is the removable/table-top chisel holder. This is based on an idea I saw from fellow LJ, Richforever, but I added a flip-out leg to hold the stand tilted on the bench top when I’m doing chisel work. When I’m done, I fold the leg back in and slip it back onto its french cleat on the cabinet door. Check the attached images to see it in action.

Finally, I also included two replaceable sheets of VCI rust inhibitor foam, with pieces placed in each plane gallery and with longer strips hanging in the cabinet. My garage in Chicago is a rust-breeding wonderland, so I’m hoping that a mostly-enclosed cabinet with rust inhibitor insider will slow the rusting process of my tools. We’ll see how well it works.

Thanks for reading!

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

11 comments so far

View gsimon's profile


1327 posts in 3165 days

#1 posted 09-08-2015 12:55 AM

wow…it’s like the tools have their own apartment
Nice cabinet

-- Greg Simon

View Chuck McIntyre's profile

Chuck McIntyre

81 posts in 2325 days

#2 posted 09-08-2015 01:17 AM

Very well done. Thanks for adding another project idea to my ever growing list!

-- Wood is a gift from God that maintains its beauty forever via the hand of a woodworker.

View LJRay's profile


106 posts in 2557 days

#3 posted 09-08-2015 02:36 AM

Very nice! I need one!

-- Ray

View Dutchy's profile


4064 posts in 3220 days

#4 posted 09-08-2015 05:54 AM

Since a year I know that such a cabinet can be be very handy and useful. Well done Pete.


View albachippie's profile


773 posts in 4087 days

#5 posted 09-08-2015 12:01 PM

This looks amazing. A real asset to your shop, nice work,


-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View Andre's profile


4450 posts in 2858 days

#6 posted 09-08-2015 01:53 PM

Very nice Cabinet, this site just keeps giving more ideas than a person has time to build! Really like the chisel holder and will be adding that to mine!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View blackcherry's profile


3345 posts in 4875 days

#7 posted 09-08-2015 02:44 PM

Pete my tool chest is over 10 years old and still is one of the best shop project Ive ever accomplished. Your going to love how this keep thing in order and all is just a simple reach away. My recommendation is to line the hand plane area with carpet remnants so that you won’t have to retract the blade during storage. You’ve made a wise choice in storage for your shop bests wishes and stay safe…Blackcherry

View Pete Tevonian's profile

Pete Tevonian

78 posts in 3970 days

#8 posted 09-08-2015 03:41 PM

My recommendation is to line the hand plane area with carpet remnants so that you won t have to retract the blade during storage. You ve made a wise choice in storage for your shop bests wishes and stay safe…Blackcherry

I think that’s a good suggestion. I had some extra non-slip padding (like you put under rugs) handy, so I cut pads out of that to protect the blades. But it’s too non-slip and tends to come out with the planes, which is a hassle. Carpet would offer better padding and easy slip-in and -out—a much better combination. Thanks!

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 4772 days

#9 posted 09-08-2015 05:40 PM

Wonderful cabinet for lots of great tools! Many nice design features. Thanks for posting!

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3013 days

#10 posted 09-09-2015 12:12 AM

Great tool cabinet. The lift out chisel rack stand is a really great idea.

View Billy Hernandez Jr's profile

Billy Hernandez Jr

44 posts in 3360 days

#11 posted 09-09-2015 03:31 AM

I love your design for the removable chisel rack. Genius!!

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