shop tool cabinet - seemed like a good idea...

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Project by glen posted 09-02-2013 03:07 AM 3762 views 10 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi all – been a while since I posted things. Well, it’s been a while since I built something to post, actually – I don’t think putting a deck or replaced fence up on the forum is quite right…

Anyways – a while ago (few years) I bought these plans from wood magazine for a vertical storage cabinet with a rolling base cabinet for your bench top tools. The shelves are removable and fit onto the base. This seemed like a great idea at the time. My shop is pretty small – a 1 car narrow garage that I share with 2 motorcycles. I don’t have any “big” tools – my table saw is a contractor saw that folds up in the corner, my jointer is a small 6” benchtop one, and my bandsaw is a jigsaw. I thought with the amount of benchtop tools I have that this would be great. Specifically, I was looking to store my planer (Dewalt 13”), jointer, miter saw (Dewalt 12”), and maybe something else.

The construction of this thing was easy – it’s all half-lap joinery with some grooves for pegboard on the sides. The top and bottom are MDF. The two cabinets (base and cabinet) are constructed the same way.

The only problem with the plans was getting the casters on. I couldn’t find 4” casters with a attachment plate small enough with small enough holes to accommodate screws that would get a sufficient bite in the base. I ended up adding an extra plywood base with the wheels bolted on.

The problem with the unit is that it’s tall and tools are heavy. My jointer is on the bottom shelf, and doesn’t quite fit properly, although it’s not bad at an angle. The miter saw fits perfectly and sits at waist height since this is the easiest shelf and it will get removed a lot. Anything higher than this, however, is a pain to get out and I could only bring myself to put my scroll saw (which barely sees any use) at a height higher than waist. The top shelf is just storage now.

In hindsight, I would have made the cabinet wider so that my jointer would fit properly and so that I could maybe put my planer in the bottom of the mobile tool base. I didn’t, oh well… Looks like work is going to have me moving within the year, so hopefully I can find a place where I can set up a bigger shop. This is the first shop I’ve set up, and it’s totally a learning process. Each iteration is only going to get better (I hope!)

take care everyone and thanks for reading

9 comments so far

View Joe's profile


80 posts in 3102 days

#1 posted 09-02-2013 04:41 AM

I made this exact same project! Well done. I haven’t had a chance to post mine yet. Instead of building the mobile base the plans suggested, I built a 20×20 box on top of a metal work stand and I cut out a 32×32 piece of 3/4 plywood that can fit on top for a decent work surface for smaller projects. Will post soon. Great job!!!

-- It's better to have a tool and not need it than to need a tool and not have it.

View BrutalForce's profile


41 posts in 3448 days

#2 posted 09-02-2013 05:29 AM

I am planning on building the exact same tall cabinet for some of my portable bench top tools, i.e. Planer and jointer. I like how you incorporated pegboard on the sides. I will have to give that a go.

View glen's profile


175 posts in 3713 days

#3 posted 09-02-2013 06:12 AM

@BrutalForce – Depending on the size and weight of your jointer and planer, you might have to make it a bit bigger, as I mentioned. As you can see in the photo, my benchtop jointer has to sit on an angle. I don’t think I will bolt it down to the shelf as it’s awkward enough to lug out of there and put on the bench. Just a thought…

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4261 days

#4 posted 09-02-2013 07:03 AM

I made one of these a few years back. Probably saw the same article in Wood magazine. In theory they sure look good and handy. They look to be a great storage solution and handy to use. I found in reality that it was just a big pain in the butt. Your right, many bench top tools are heavy and pulling them in and out and in and out gets to be a drag. It never fails that you only need a certain tool for a quick use and then you need a different one. So you pull them out and set them up, plug them in and then tear them down and put them away and get out the next one.

Mine ended up in the scrap pile and I came up with a more dedicated space for the bench top tools I have. My wife says I’m always short on patience and maybe that’s why this unit didn’t work out for me. I sure get the fact that space is tight in most situations but for me I had to find a better way.

The model you built seems to fit your space like a glove and hopefully you can get used to it….....................

-- mike...............

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3348 days

#5 posted 09-02-2013 12:53 PM

I don’t know about the misgivings. Perhaps it’s the rolling base. What I do know is it looks like a good solution for me as well. Thanks for the peg board idea.

Well done!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View rustythebailiff's profile


100 posts in 3101 days

#6 posted 09-02-2013 02:57 PM

Good looking build, and good thinking on the caster problem. I looked at those very same plans about 6-8 months ago, and noticed the same thing. Good theory that the tools can be stored, but try getting them out, especially from the top shelves.

But, it looks like you have the best arrangement for the tools you have, so it should serve you pretty well

-- "Necessity is the mother of invention"

View Grumpymike's profile


2480 posts in 3475 days

#7 posted 09-02-2013 05:07 PM

Hey Glen, those cabinets are a great use of space. I built one some time back with the same problems, and the lifting of the tools became a real problem as I get older; so I started making dedicated cabinets for the planer and so on.
Now I have run out of space, so I bought another house with a bigger garage … more tools and work cabinets and I am again out of space … So, next to the garage I have built a 24’X48’ shop.

As I think back to the days of the one car garage that my pickup wouldn’t fit into when empty, and how happy I was with the little shop there, I wonder if I will outgrow my new shop … NOT!
I did leave the “tool cabinet” behind for the next homeowner because it was just the wrong size for my needs.
BTW it looks like you did a nice build on your cabinet.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Tim Roman's profile

Tim Roman

26 posts in 2947 days

#8 posted 09-02-2013 06:09 PM

Glen, I recently built one of these also, using an article from a Wood Magazine special magazine on shop organization. I also have a very small shop (10’ by 13’) and I need to optimize space however I can. I like mine so far, though I do note that whatever goes in that top shelf needs to be lighter than the others. I plan to use mine to store my miter saw, benchtop sander (and possibly add a grinder to that shelf since the sander doesn’t take much space), a small drill press, and a planer I’m planning to buy in the near future. I really like the extra pegboard storage I get with it on the sides. That comes in handy. I also like the cart that comes with it and I put my air compressor inside it with the power cord and hose coming out the back and accessories mounted there as well. It’s nice to have the compressor mobile for jobs around the house or in the yard. I like the cart so much that I plan to build one that is shorter and narrower that I can use to alternately hold my benchtop bandsaw and 6-inch jointer. I won’t build a rack to hold those. Whichever one of those I’m not using will get stored on a shelf nearby.

-- Tim, Glen Burnie, Maryland

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7167 posts in 4354 days

#9 posted 09-02-2013 10:37 PM

Stellar job on the tool cabinet….Looks like you’ve got’er filled up already….When you’re short on space, you have to be lean and tall…....Carry on….....!!!!!!!!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

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