Clamshell Tool Cabinet

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Project by Lenny posted 07-26-2009 01:07 AM 15224 views 38 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the first project I made on the new table saw I got back in May(PM2000). I saw the tool cabinet in a Wood magazine a few years ago (Issue #172, October 2006) and decided I would make it one day. While not named as such in the Wood article, I have heard this design referred to as “clamshell” for obvious reasons. I can’t remember who, but I have seen a post on this project by another LJer. As you can see from the “before” picture, I had my hand tools hanging on peg board, sprawled across a section of wall measuring about 5 feet. This tool cabinet allows storage on both sides of all four doors plus the entire back of the unit which measures about 31” square. There’s lots of storage space all within a relatively small footprint. It measures just 12 5/8” deep and houses all four doors when closed. Although only one is pictured, there are two adjustable shelves. It hangs on the wall via a 1 ½” wide cleat that has a 45 degree bevel. This gets attached to the wall with screws. I was able to catch two wall studs along its 31” length and my walls are made from T-111 panels so there was a pretty solid base for the other screws. A matching cleat is attached to the rear top of the cabinet. The unit is quite heavy with all four doors attached but I was able to stand on my wall mounted workbench and hoist it into place by myself.

The cabinet is made from one 4’x8’ sheet of birch plywood and a 4’x8’ sheet of pegboard. The plans call for ¼” pegboard but the home center only had it in 3/16”so that’s what I went with. Glue and screws hold the basic unit and the doors together and the doors are hung on lengths of piano hinge. The doors are held closed with magnetic catches. The design is well thought out and there is not much room for play when all the doors are closed. As you can see, there is quite a gap between the closed doors. This is because they are not intended to be opened simultaneously and given there 4 1/8” width, they would not be able to pass by each other without sufficient space. Below, I show how the doors are constructed.

There is a gap of about 5/8” between two sheets of pegboard. This allows room for the hooks, etc. to hang on both sides of each door.

This shows the two pieces of pegboard with the gap in between. You can also see the rabbet cut in the side piece to receive the top.

And the finished door.

I applied three coats of Minwax wipe-on poly with light sanding in between. All the tools that were hanging on the pegboard in the “before” picture, except for a few clamps, are in/on the cabinet with plenty of room to spare. I have also placed two cordless drills, bottles of glue and wood filler materials in it. I placed the most frequently used hand tools to the outside and the lesser used to the inside (drills are an exception). I am happy with the results. It makes for a neater and more organized shop.

As a footnote, this is the first project I ever made on a table saw and I learned a lot while making it. For example, I had resolved to use the blade guard and riving knife for everything. Well I learned that if you’re not making a through cut, like the grooves in the doors for the pegboard , you can’t do that on a table saw without the guard and riving knife removed. I will still operate the saw as safely as possible and employ the safety features whenever possible but that was an eye opener for me. In short, I just love the table saw! It is such a versatile and accurate tool and a pleasure to use. Thanks for stopping by and checking out this post.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

27 comments so far

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 4816 days

#1 posted 07-26-2009 01:23 AM

Great looking tool house..well made and strong. I may steal your idea and make me a few. I have one sheet of peg on a wall….but most of my hand tools are in tool boxes and my tool room. WOuld be nice to have them all closer.

-- Don S.E. OK

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 4816 days

#2 posted 07-26-2009 01:25 AM

By the way…looks like you have a nice shop with some nice tools….when are we going to see some shop pics ???

-- Don S.E. OK

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5737 days

#3 posted 07-26-2009 01:44 AM

Great job, nice organizer. I’m in the process now of cleaning up my mess and it’s been quite a challenge.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 5376 days

#4 posted 07-26-2009 01:54 AM

Lenny you outdid yourself again. Very nice cabinet.
John Gray
PS – Lenny my dust collector is finally finished, I’ll be sending you some pictures.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View SnowyRiver's profile


51502 posts in 4970 days

#5 posted 07-26-2009 02:53 AM

Looks nice. Very nice storage unit. Great job.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5163 days

#6 posted 07-26-2009 04:10 AM

Lenny thats a nice tool cabinet.

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5139 days

#7 posted 07-26-2009 04:11 AM

Lenny, this looks much better than the tools spreading across the entire wall! you’ll enjoy the organization of it as well for years to come.

looks good!

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

View Ben's profile


273 posts in 5204 days

#8 posted 07-26-2009 07:35 AM

This a great idea and you executed it perfectly. Thanks for the post.

-- Do something nice for somebody

View Lenny's profile


1752 posts in 5017 days

#9 posted 07-26-2009 10:30 AM

Thanks for the nice comments everyone. Don, I guess I never got around to posting pictures of the shop and will have to do so. John, nice to hear from you and I look forward to pictures of your DC system.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4851 days

#10 posted 07-26-2009 11:16 AM

Hey Lenny,
Nice neat job and very functional…..well done.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5312 days

#11 posted 07-26-2009 03:19 PM

Lenny, this is a nice addition to your shop. These type of cabinets are great in that they help organize a ton of hand tools while taking up a relative small footprint.

Glad to see that your are putting your saw to work! :)

I also like the wood sheeting that you put on your shop wall. This makes hanging a cabinet, like this one which I am sure is heavy, pretty straight-forward.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5708 days

#12 posted 07-26-2009 03:48 PM

Best compliment I can give you… I’v been here almost 1,000 days and have only “favorited” about a half-dozen projects. You just made that list. Thanks.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Innovator's profile


3589 posts in 4904 days

#13 posted 07-26-2009 03:58 PM

Nice use of space.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View deucefour's profile


285 posts in 4744 days

#14 posted 07-26-2009 04:34 PM

Nice, I’ll be adding this to the list of to-do’s

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5567 days

#15 posted 07-26-2009 06:08 PM

great project…this is going in my favorites…because as i re-do my shop I will build some cabinets…I love how you got to use your table saw and learned so much…

great photos so we can all learn…

By the way—-that 5 foot piece of pegboard on the wall…that is my exact set-up now…and the damn hooks always come out…sooooooon….working on my new table tops this week!!!!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

showing 1 through 15 of 27 comments

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