Tool Cabinet from Fine Woodworking

  • Advertise with us
Project by Peter posted 01-22-2014 03:57 PM 10131 views 53 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A year or two ago I hung up some of my general purpose tools (pliers, wrenches, screw drivers, etc…) on the wall. It made a huge difference in my shop. I was no longer using my adjustable wrench or pliers when I should be using a wrench because now the wrench was accessible. My shop was cleaner because each tool now had a specific place to live, and of course I could also tell when something was missing immediately.

With that in mind I have been considering building a tool case for my woodworking tools. This past September I started on the project. By the end of October I had most of the case work finished. The work slowed down when I decided to put on two coats of wipe-on poly -there is a lot of surface area to cover! And of course after that I had to start making all of the little tool holders… I still have a few more of those to make but I decided to post pictures of where I am to date.


-The case is 48” tall, 32” wide with the doors closed, and 13-1/4” deep.

-Baltic Birch plywood: 3/4” for the sides of the case. 1/2” for the doors and the back. 5/8” for two of the shelves and the inner doors.

- Hardware from Horton Brass (except for the piano hinges).

A few things I learned for those that may want to make one of these:

1. The plans from FWW are worth purchasing. However, the cabinet in the plans and the cabinet in the article are slightly different where the drawers are concerned. In the article (and in my tool cabinet) the drawers stick out a little proud. And the bottom of the “gallery” (the slots where the planes go) also sticks out and covers the tops of the upper-most drawers. This gives you more depth for planes but cuts into the space to hang things in the door. Also the drawer pulls interfere with the doors hanging space as well. So far it hasn’t been too much of an issue for me, but there is a good argument for making the drawers flush… (You can see in the 5th photo, with the left door slightly closed, how I was careful where I hung my layout tools so that they would not interfere with the drawers when closed.)

2. I had to build a box-joint jig for this project. The zero clearance insert made a HUGE difference in reducing tear-out in the plywood.

3. Laying out the tool locations is hard. I finally realized that I just needed to make a lot of tool holders and then figure out where everything should go. The tool holders are just screwed in.

4. I saw a great tip on LumberJocks to cut the chisel holders at a 5 degree angle so that the tips tilt back toward the cabinet and the handles stick out a little. It makes a big difference in getting them in-and-out without cutting your fingers on the sharp chisels above.

5. I thought I would be clever and use UHPE (Ultra High Density Polyethylene) for the drawer runners. That was a mistake. The UHPE has a little flex in them and even though I am convinced that I have them in straight, the drawers bind in the last few inches when I push them in. I had to plane down the UHPE (sanding doesn’t work -and planes get dull quickly!) and sand the slots in the side of the drawer that the drawer runners ride in, to open them up. Pain in the ass. Stick with maple drawer runners…

6. Someone mentioned that Walnut will discolor the metal on your tools over time. So I put wipe-on poly on all of the tool holders too. Makes them look nice but adds another step just when you are really ready to be done…

7. Two French cleats hold the cabinet to the wall. I have French cleats running all over my shop and this lets me move things around as I add things to the wall…

8. Depending on your shop this may not be the best way to store your tools. You do not want this cabinet hanging over your bench because even with the doors open it sticks out 10” from the wall. If you have to have your bench underneath your tool storage you are better off hanging the tools on the wall.

I am fairly new to woodworking but at least now my shop looks the part! :-)



-- ~Peter

17 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17508 posts in 3837 days

#1 posted 01-22-2014 03:58 PM


Nice cabinet, great build! An inspiration piece for sure!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6875 posts in 5199 days

#2 posted 01-22-2014 04:02 PM

Nice job on this!

Should prove pretty helpful in keeping organized.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4086 days

#3 posted 01-22-2014 04:16 PM

That tool cabinet is so nice. You’ve done a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View blackcherry's profile


3349 posts in 5042 days

#4 posted 01-22-2014 04:48 PM

You’ll be pleasently surprised on how many tools will fit inside this amazing storage unit. Mine is six years old and I’m still fitting tools inside. Enjoy this very convenient storage compartment and by the way nice work…BC

View stevo_wis's profile


128 posts in 4246 days

#5 posted 01-22-2014 05:01 PM

Very well done.

-- Stevo

View theoldfart's profile


12837 posts in 3670 days

#6 posted 01-22-2014 06:10 PM

Nicely done, you’ll have fun filling it.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View dbray45's profile


3414 posts in 3996 days

#7 posted 01-22-2014 06:16 PM

Very nice job.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View Northwest29's profile


1711 posts in 3709 days

#8 posted 01-22-2014 09:04 PM

Well done. A great way to organize a lot of wood working tools.

-- Ron, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View Gibernak's profile


124 posts in 3065 days

#9 posted 01-22-2014 09:37 PM

very nice work, I like it allot, thanks for sharing

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1515 posts in 2853 days

#10 posted 01-22-2014 09:41 PM

Pete it Sucks!!!

I’ll be happy to come over and take it off your hands while you correct all those flaws…

LOL… :-P


-- Jeff NJ

View CL810's profile


4167 posts in 4207 days

#11 posted 01-23-2014 12:48 AM


-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View SST's profile


790 posts in 5414 days

#12 posted 01-23-2014 05:22 PM

Great job, but there are empty spots…looks like you need to buy more tools. (who ever has enough, except maybe H. O. Studley)

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Schwieb's profile


1920 posts in 4680 days

#13 posted 01-24-2014 11:43 AM

Classy work.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Dan Hux's profile

Dan Hux

577 posts in 4593 days

#14 posted 01-24-2014 02:58 PM

Very nice cabinet, I made my tool cabinet like yours, Though not as detailed. I hung mine above my bench/work space so I could mount a 24” florscent light to the bottom of the cabinet. Worked well in my case, the ceiling lights are 15’ up, not very good for working with small details.

-- Dan Hux,,,,Raleigh, NC

View lateralus819's profile


2243 posts in 3109 days

#15 posted 02-04-2014 02:14 AM

Wow oh wow! I wish i saw this a few days ago. I started on a small till style cabinet for some random hand tools and such.

Fantastic job on this!

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

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