Tool Cabinet Drawers - General purpose or custom usage?

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Forum topic by phlepper posted 08-31-2010 12:54 AM 2531 views 1 time favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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25 posts in 4583 days

08-31-2010 12:54 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tool chest rolling chest tool drawer tools design feedback question storage

I am planning the design of a rolling tool chest. This would be similar to the rolling cabinets auto mechanics use with a bunch of drawers. However, this is specifically for my hand and power tools.

My question is whether anyone has created drawers that are customized for their specific use versus general purpose drawers. In the latter case, I can see having a bank of drawers that are the same size (width and depth), but varying heights from shallow (for small hand tools) to deep (for power tools and bulky items).

However, I’m intrigued by the idea of creating “custom-use” drawers that store the tools and their corresponding accessories all in one place. Currently I have most of my power tools in the plastic cases they came in. I could see creating drawers that held these tools and their accessories. Some examples:

1. Random Orbit Sander: Drawer with spaces for the sander, sandpaper, sanding blocks, etc.
2. Cordless Drill: Drawer with spaces for the drill, bits, driver sets, Kreg jigs, etc.
3. Router: Drawer with spots for bits and router accessories (router seems too big to fit, but possible)
4. Nailer: Drawer with spots for the nailer, air hose, different sized nails, etc.
5. Jigsaw: Drawer with spots for the saw and blades
6. Biscuit jointer: Drawer with spots for the tool and biscuits

I’m not thinking of something as specific as a “tool silhouette” insert (which limit the storage space), but could see creating an insert that is more “squares and rectangles” like a silverware drawer divider. For the sander drawer, I would envision a square spot for the sander (perhaps with a section next to it for the cord), a square spot for the circular sandpapers (maybe three: for coarse, medium, and fine). A rectangular spot for sanding blocks. Etc., etc.

I’m not concerned with growing out of a specific drawer configuration since I plan on making the cabinet more “utilitarian” and can easily replace a given drawer (if not just the drawer insert) occasionally to handle new tools or a new configuration.

What are people’s thoughts on this? Pros and Cons? Any good examples of “custom use” drawers I could “crib” from?


-- "A hammer in search of a nail..." (

2 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 4399 days

#1 posted 08-31-2010 03:03 AM

I do something like that in my cabinet business. One of my questions to the customer is about any special storage needs thay may have. From their answer, I often design a cabinet with that in mind. My last kitchen included a pullout for a blender and breadmaking machine – and another for their wireless network router.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1530 posts in 5456 days

#2 posted 08-31-2010 04:16 AM

As a Festool fan I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that they use “Systainers”, which are rebranded from general purpose Tanos boxes. They come in a couple of different heights, but all have the same width and depth, and the clips that hold the boxes closed can also clip to the box above so that you can stack a couple of them for easy carrying by the top handle. There’s a Festool branded (and priced(!)) cabinet sold that has drawers for them, but every Festool addict I know has built their own. And if I’d been a slightly more experienced woodworker when I built mine, I’d have set up a set of holes at the standard different heights so I could move the slides around.

So back to your point: I’m thinking that I’ll build a bunch of 3/8” or 1/4” plywood cases for my non-Festool tools with the same exterior dimensions, so that I can build one size of cabinet and rearrange the slides as I figure out what the right order is. And, yes, that way I have room to store my pins and oil with my pin nailer (Really, Bostich/Stanley? Your case doesn’t have room to hold anything but the tiny samples that come with the nailer? Yeesh).

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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