Large Hand Tool Cabinet

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Project by paratrooper34 posted 01-05-2013 07:43 PM 5961 views 15 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally finished my Hand Tool Cabinet that I have been working on. I started this project just about a year ago and it took a back seat to some other projects and languished for a while. It began when I purchased some rough quarter sawn red oak and wide pine from a gentleman in Western Massachusetts this time last year. After I had the boards in my cellar (where my shop is) for about a month and a half, I took them to a woodworking school that offers open time to use their machinery to mill it all up. I planned on making a massive cabinet with panel and frame doors, so I milled it all that way. It then went through the various phases of work until I completed it this weekend.

As stated, the doors are frame and panel. The rails and stilles are made of QSRO. The panels are flat sawn red oak. The frame was cut and milled in my shop using hand tools; hand saws and my trusty Stanley 45 to make the grooves for the panels. I used a mortising chisel to make mortises for the rails which are through mortises. The tenons are both wedged and draw bored. I initially intended to make raised panels, but opted for flat panels after doing some research and determining I liked that style better for this cabinet. Finally, the doors have windows on the top. These are old school windows with waves and bubbles that I got from an old house that did a replacement job on the windows. Unfortunately the pictures do not capture how cool that glass looks.

The carcass is made from wide pine boards. They are attached using half blind dovetails which keeps the sides clean. The overall dimensions are: 4’ high by 3’ wide by 20” deep. The cabinet sits on an old table I had hanging around which fits it perfectly. The cabinet is also attached with screws to the studs in the wall.

The drawer assembly at the bottom of the cabinet is made of pine (with wood runners!). The drawer pulls, as well as the door pulls, are made from QSRO. These are pretty good sized drawers which will allow a lot of storage for all the miscellaneous small tools. The plane till is made of one pine board with the dividers made of QSRO. This holds the planes that I use most frequently.

I struggled with adding the plane till because I have previously hung my planes as in the picture below.

I believe I could have made hanging the planes in this cabinet work. But I always liked the idea of having a plane till for ease of use. The problem I have with all the tool cabinets I have seen is the space behind plane tills seem to be wasted. So to take care of that issue, I decided to use only half the width of the cabinet for the till and leave the area behind accessible to put my hollows and rounds in. It worked. As you can see in the pictures, that area is now put to use for those planes. The space on the top of the drawers to the right of the plane till can be used for storage of some other, lesser used planes or maybe for my box which contains my Stanley 45.

There are a couple of issues I will point out that could be useful to others taking on this kind of project. First, the top of the case is bowed downward. Not sure why this happened. The boards were all straight when I started and there was lots of time in between milling and working to acclimate the wood. I guess this board just didn’t want to stay straight. Next, if you look closely at the sides of the case where the hinges are, you will see that there are patches made in the wood. The hinges that are on are actually the second set. I used a mortised in set previously and totally hated how they came out. I seem to always struggle with hardware and this project was no exception. They were not the right hinges as the doors didn’t open as far as they do now and they were just bad. I was trying to keep the hinges as much out of sight as I could, but it didn’t work. So with the new ones, which are a no mortise type, I needed to patch up the voids where I mortised in the old ones. The patches are visible, but no big deal for me. Lastly, the back panel is a simple piece of plywood. It really does not fit visually. I am thinking I may add some vertical tongue and groove beaded boards to spice it up some.

The finish on the cabinet is BLO. It only has one coat on it now and I am going to follow it up with another. I also need to use the interior vertical space to hang tools and organize drawer space. So it is not quite finished yet, but it is put to work. I am also thinking of adding a lock mechanism to the doors. Not sure why, I don’t think my shop cats will steal anything, but who knows!

I am also thinking of adding some inlay to the outsides of the doors. Not sure what yet, but am open to ideas. Maybe a compass rose? I am very happy to have this addition to my shop as the old cabinet I worked out of is very small and I have tools in multiple areas in my shop. This cabinet consolidates the most often used ones and take away step time getting and returning tools. If you are thinking of building one of these, go for it. There is no doubt that this will be very useful in my shop.

-- Mike

32 comments so far

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4291 days

#1 posted 01-05-2013 07:48 PM

Nice cabinet! I really like the doors—-the windows are a cool idea. I also love those big Record planes.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View BGW's profile


165 posts in 3346 days

#2 posted 01-05-2013 08:44 PM

Great build. I also really like the doors.

-- Bob, Indiana, "Well done is better than well said." -Ben Franklin

View farmerdude's profile


686 posts in 3379 days

#3 posted 01-05-2013 08:51 PM

Wow, loving the cabinet! I put it in favorites in hopes of giving it a try in the future. Thanks for posting this fine job.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View Don W's profile

Don W

20288 posts in 3907 days

#4 posted 01-05-2013 08:57 PM

Great design. I agree with Brandon on the windows.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4223 days

#5 posted 01-05-2013 08:58 PM

this is a really good looking cabinet! It’s nice to look at something that you can be proud of every time you walk into your shop. I agree though with your comment about the plywood back, it doesn’t really fit with the look of the rest of the cabinet.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#6 posted 01-05-2013 09:06 PM

Manitario, do you think my idea of using vertical tongue and groove boards with a bead would look good or do you have better solution? That’s why I put that comment in there, to get other people’s opinions.

Thanks for the comments guys, much appreciated!

-- Mike

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3347 days

#7 posted 01-05-2013 09:09 PM

Love the doors! And I think once you get some more stuff hung (or piled) on the right side, the plywood wont be noticible anyway.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Don W's profile

Don W

20288 posts in 3907 days

#8 posted 01-05-2013 09:10 PM

as of right now you only see the top right corner of the back, and you’re going to fill that with tools. The only one who will ever notice is you. I wouldn’t have noticed anyhow, and once filled with tools I’ll bet even the finicky of cabinet makers wouldn’t have.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5302 days

#9 posted 01-05-2013 09:21 PM

Well done. Your grandkids will love it.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Bricofleur's profile


1482 posts in 4533 days

#10 posted 01-05-2013 09:31 PM

Another good looking tool cabinet. I like the hidden (precious) storage space behind the plane rest. Well done and something to be proud of. This is great inspiration!



-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3632 days

#11 posted 01-05-2013 10:11 PM

Very nicely done—something you will always use and be proud to have crafted.

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

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4917 days

#12 posted 01-05-2013 10:14 PM

Outstanding build ,I would have guessed it was furniture not tool storage until looking inside.


View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 3530 days

#13 posted 01-05-2013 10:18 PM

great job,very nice work.also a nice collection of planes!!!

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View AKSteve's profile


475 posts in 3643 days

#14 posted 01-05-2013 10:32 PM

Oh I am jealous I want to build one so bad, just don’t have the time right now, but before the year is out I will Awesome job ! Love it.

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3938 days

#15 posted 01-05-2013 10:35 PM

Really nice looking cabinet. I also like the clear panels. Did you you glass or plexiglass?

showing 1 through 15 of 32 comments

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