Shop Cabinets - ShopNotes Issue 59

  • Advertise with us
Project by sepeck posted 03-01-2016 01:33 AM 2602 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The start of real shop organization and hopefully less frustration. When I was participating in the last tool (shop art) swap it came to a head.

Years ago, I did some wood projects on a drive way over some wobbly saw horses and 2×4’s. When I moved into my current house, I saved up and bought a Craftsman Hybrid saw. I made some frame and panel camp boxes out of pine as an experiment almost 15 years ago with the intention of making them out of hardwood later. They are just now starting to fall apart after hard use which is not bad for temporary. Shortly after this my kids were born and distraction ensued, life, fun, issues, etc and I really didn’t touch any of my collected tools. When I did, it was frustrating.

I saw the Roorkee Chair and decided I wanted one, so moved a bunch of crap out of the way, got some wood and went to it. But every time I did something, I had to move a bunch of stuff around. I made my sons loft bed, but had to do it on the side of the house because the garage had to much stuff. So the garage got cleaned up. a touch of organization happened, but I really only had one flat surface out there (the Harbor Freight work bench I bought 10 years ago). It was piled on as a flat surface so I was still making things on makeshift tables… Frustrating.

Built one of those A frame on wheel lumber racks. That organized about 90% of the assorted wood stacks. I started on these ShopNotes cabinets and thought AH HAH! I am on the right path, I would have a home for my bench top power tools instead of leaving the drill press on the work bench and picking up and moving the other tools all the time. But sadly not really. I was fixing the symptom. I didn’t really have anywhere to put them, I was just making things more cramped. While watching some YouTube videos, I realized something, many of the work benches were not against a wall. They were in an area you could walk around and access the sides of the work in progress. Went out, cleared off all the tools to (plywood across 2×4s and sawhorses ironically) and moved the work bench to the center just after the table saw. Wow… That opened up wall space (turns out wall space really precious). And look, now there was space in the corner and I have that final 15% organization plan started. Yay.

These cabinets are modular. Primarily 2×4 and MDF, pretty big. I had a bunch of melamine covered MDF wasting away on my wood stack so I was able to use most of that for this at no extra cost (Yay). With a cabinet foot print of 20×32 inches and the top hangs over a few inches. You can in theory chain them like in the do in the Woodsmith TV series. Since mine are in the corner, I made a counter top that bridged it. The plans call for doors and a shelf on drawer sliders, but I plan on some larger tools in the cabinets for now so that will happen later. The tops are 3/4” plywood (scrap) and the melamine covered MDF glued with 3M Super 77 and trimmed with some pine.

Honestly, these are a little complicated for shop cabinets. I picked them in part for this since it would force me to deal with the complexity and I thought they looked good. I made several mistakes, only one of which is really visible and it doesn’t disturb the functionality. I also won’t be making those mistakes again so it has been well worth it. The red paint came from Steve Ramsey “Just because I am a wood worker doesn’t mean all my stuff has to look like wood” and also, a bit of color in the shop might help me think, inspire, or just make it stand out and I already had the white part for free.

The drawers…. Right now I am using them as sorts but they are big! Also my first ever drawers. One has all the drill bits I can find. Turns out I have 3 and assorted sets of Irwin spade bits… etc… grumble…. So, once those are all homed here, I will be making a drill bit cabinet for the wall. Eventually I will probably just house all my screws and sharpening supplies in them, but we’ll see. While doing this I got 4 Disston saws off Craig’s list for $15 so now I need to make a saw till and replace one, maybe two of the handles and find two replacement screws. From the medallions they are in the 1875-1910 range so that’s another project. But now I will have space. Now that I can see my tools laid out, I need to make several wall hangers or tool cabinets but now I can see what I need to make and have a cleaned off workbench to make them at.

Usage wise the right and center counter will house the drill press, sander, grinder and that big flat stone I got from Woodcraft. The left counter will be for notes, plans, drawing little things. I have an old cheapy laptop on the wall, which does PDF plans, when I need to look up something on youtube, article, etc and my music since I have an xbox music subscription.

Things I will do differently if I make more… I will make a jig for the drilling the bolt holes. Piece wise, they are located in the same spot and one jig for all cut pieces would have been better. A glue up clamping jig. Using regular wood clamps, trying to make four assemblies the same would have been eased significantly by making a clamping jig. Also, I have a friend who has expressed an interest in some himself so I may end up making a jig.

-- -Steven Peck,

6 comments so far

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 1888 days

#1 posted 03-01-2016 04:06 AM

Very cool! Good use of space. The little shop helper looks ready to clean up! :)

-- Learn Relentlessly

View sepeck's profile


440 posts in 2942 days

#2 posted 03-01-2016 07:00 AM

She likes to sweep and hand sand. If she keeps it up I will put her on the payroll.

-- -Steven Peck,

View Henri Monnier's profile

Henri Monnier

51 posts in 2667 days

#3 posted 03-01-2016 12:19 PM

I like the corner cabinet approach…. Makes better use of the corner!

FYI – For anyone interested, I have PDF’s of all shopnotes from beginning to end. If anyone is looking for a particular issue, please let me know. I can email the copy to you.

-- |~ Henrii~|- - We'll be friends till we're old and senile... Then we'll be new friends!!

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3667 days

#4 posted 03-01-2016 06:17 PM

Nice work. These will be a great addition to your shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View ravensrock's profile


513 posts in 2443 days

#5 posted 03-01-2016 07:31 PM

Great job! Can never have enough storage space…or clamps.

-- Dave, York, PA, Wildside Woodworking

View moke's profile


1573 posts in 3577 days

#6 posted 03-02-2016 06:19 PM

What ravenstock said….exactly!!!

-- Mike

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics