Beginnings of a wall hung tool cabinet

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Forum topic by bluekingfisher posted 03-22-2014 08:07 PM 5727 views 6 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1333 posts in 4262 days

03-22-2014 08:07 PM

It’s been a while since I have visited LJ, mainly because I have not been woodworking, too many other chores have seen to that.
I have however had for sometime the intention to build my self a wall hung tool cabinet. Having looked at various designs I finally came up with something befitting my needs and available wall space to hang it on.

I decided to build mine from Baltic Birch ply, primarily because I wanted the convenience of not having to glue up boards and because I didn’t want to be too concerned about the overall look, which I might have done had I used expensive timber.

Anyway, the dimensions are 42×36 x 14”

I made a start on it today and will post some pictures as the project progresses. Today I cut down the ply into the required dimensions by use of a track saw and table saw.

I decided to use dovetails as the connecting joinery for the carcass.

I marked out for 7 dovetails using the chisel to gauge the size of the pins.

I clamped the two sides together to make Mark up quicker.

Chopping out the waste to form the tails.

Once you get into a rhythm it doesn’t take long to form the tails. I found it quite therapeutic, having a sharp chisel makes for clean quick work.

I used the completed tail board to mark out the pin board.

Keeping to the waste side of the pin. I have been guilty of cutting out the wrong section In the past so for me marking the waste with an ‘X’ is essential.

Finally I got all the joints cut. It took me most of the afternoon.

I even managed a dry fit before dinner, it turned out not too bad.

The boards laid out for glue up tomorrow. I’ll update as the project progresses

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

24 replies so far

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 3415 days

#1 posted 03-22-2014 08:18 PM

Fantastic start! I’m impressed, especially by hand cutting dovetails in plywood.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

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1333 posts in 4262 days

#2 posted 03-22-2014 09:10 PM

Hand tooled – I didn’t really have any concerns with cutting the ply by hand, to be honest I would have been more concerned if using power tools, blow out would have been my worry.
Besides it was a lot of fun and much less noisy or messy doing it by hand.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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22806 posts in 4958 days

#3 posted 03-22-2014 09:29 PM

Looks great David. I would have never thought dovetails would work in plywood.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Jim Rowe

1133 posts in 3595 days

#4 posted 03-22-2014 10:59 PM

Very impressive dovetails. 18 mm ply?

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Belg1960's profile


1153 posts in 4348 days

#5 posted 03-23-2014 12:39 AM

real nice looking work David. Will be following along. My only suggestion might be to make your half pins a touch larger. Pat

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4086 days

#6 posted 03-23-2014 10:57 AM

Good to see you back in the shop David. This is gonna be a nice one, I know. Very nice dovetails, and gr8 picture explanations.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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1333 posts in 4262 days

#7 posted 03-23-2014 05:44 PM

Thanks for the feedback fellas.
Bob – I would only contemplate dovetails in hardwood ply such as birch where there is little in the way of voids. The veneer can be a touch tricky as it does break out, but only managed to do that once, so far at least.

Jim – yes 18mm ply, or 17.40 as it turned out. Lol

Pat – yes, you are correct. I would have made the half pins 16mm rather than 10 as as when I routed the rebate for the front and back panels today there wasn’t a great deal left which made me tetchy thinking they were going to snap off.

Roger – pleased to read you liked the way I posted the pictures and subsequent explanation. I was in the shop this afternoon and did a little more so I will show what I managed to achieve today.

Photos to come later.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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1333 posts in 4262 days

#8 posted 03-23-2014 06:59 PM

The first job this afternoon was to create the rebates for the front and back panels of the box. I figured in laying the panels in rather than just tacking them onto the front and back respectively, this would ensure a robust construction. I created the rebates on the two sides, top and bottom panels.

I cut the rebates at the table saw with a dado cutter, using a hold down to ensure a consistent thickness of cut. Unfortunately, The two photographs below highlight my error. As Pat pointed out, I made my half pins too small. Although pins should traditionally be approx half the thickness of the board, in this large heavy box they should have been a little more stout, maybe even the thickness of the board? I also made the rebate 12mm deep which again, due to the under size thickness of 3/4” plywood, is now a thinner than required side to the rebate.

Having now cut the rebates it was now time to cut the housing for my central vertical divider. My cabinet is just a simple box with no shelves or cubby holes but I want to create as much hanging space as possible. Also, the central divider will provide extra support to this 900mm wide cabinet. I had to create a stopped housing as the last 75mm will be cut off to create the doors.

The ply came in at 17.49mm thick. Fortunately, I invested in several router cutters some time ago to cater for varying sizes in the ply.

It was just a case of routing the housing and squaring off the rounded edge.

I actually had to take a shaving off the base of the central divider to ensure a really tight fit. It was really snug but being a cautious man, I installed a couple of screws from the under side just to be sure

It has now become a cumbersome lump and staring to out grow my bench already but at least it is starting to take shape.

It was now time for the clamps and glue up, of course my normal clamps were undersize by about the thickness of a cigarette paper so I had to assemble some pipe clamps, taking up even more space. I don’t know how many times I bumped them with my shins. No pictures of my shins….......not a pretty sight.

Gluing up something of this size is always a headache for me but after a little fettling with the clamps I got the box square.

The last thing I did before I left the shop was to cut the front and back panels from one of the 12mm ply sheets. I can only cut 30” on my tablesaw so the track saw was employed for this task. I had to lay the ply sheet on the TS as the shop floor is currently home to the glued up cabinet. I just need to make sure I set the blade deep enough not to cut into my saw top. What I like about the track saw is, apart from handling large panels, is the ability to set a button to allow it to create a scoring cut prior to making the full depth cut. This means you have a chip free cut edge.

Balancing the sheet on the TS – I could only get access to one of my extendable roller guides which I placed underneath to give some support.

Well, that’s it for today folks, tomorrow I intend to install the front and back panels then rip off the 75mm from the front to make the doors. I may use the track saw as pushing the now heavy box through the TS is going to be the devils own job.

Thanks for tuning in.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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1153 posts in 4348 days

#9 posted 03-23-2014 07:33 PM

David, sorry to be right??? LOL I was confused why you put the rebates front and back but now get that your building this as one large box and then cutting the front off to create the doors. Plz make sure that you mark the front on the outside if you don’t cut it apart right away there will be no way to tell. I hope the half pins stay put when you glue in the panels.

How did you finally decide which one of these cabinets to build? Also did you do a complete layout of all the tools you want to store in it?

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

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1333 posts in 4262 days

#10 posted 03-24-2014 07:58 PM

Pat – it was more a case of maximising the space I have available. I expect I will get everything in I need to. I have measured the largest of the hand tool, the box is designed to accommodate all of them. I will be adding internal doors to the main box and the two front doors. My cabinet is based on the project s below. The exception being I do not need cubbies or shelves as I already have those tools, such as planes etc catered for.
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The first job of today was to fit the front panel which will eventually become the doors. The panel was glued and nailed in using 16 gauge nails.

The back panel was glued and this time screwed on using 45mm screw. The top third is attached to the cabinet while the remainder will be screwed to the wall to form the French cleat.

I them temporarily added the bottom section to provide some extra rigidity to the case when cutting off the front doors.

It was now time for a repair, although I was happy with how the dovetails turned out I did have a blow out on one of them. It only being a tool cabinet my intention was only to make good the repair rather than spend time trying to conceal it. A simple mix of sanding dust and glue was used as a filler.

To ensure I made an accurate cut when lopping off the front doors I drilled a couple of small holes on the inside of the cabinet just at the base and in front of the central divider so I would know where to cut.

I then marked out the cut line all around the box using an adjustable square. The box is now very heavy, heaven only knows what it will weigh when loaded with tools. The plunge saw is very accurate and setting a thin pencil line is enough to achieve a neat and accurate cut.

I tacked on a small scrap of wood on both the top and bottom ensuring the unit would stay complete allowing me to make the cuts and not bind the blade.

With the front section off.

I was pleased with the accuracy of the cut, you can see the cabinet front if flush with the central divider

Rather than leave the exposed plywood cores I decided to band the edges with 6mm thick beech hardwood I salvaged from the scrap bin at the timber yard. I glued and used a 23 gauge pin nailer to attach the edging.

The above photo was taken by SWMBO who came into the shop with a cup of tea for me. I think I’ll keep her.

I began to plane flush the edge banding with the outside of the box but I noticed it coming away from the edge so I will leave it overnight to trim in the morning.

Tomorrow I’ll rip the doors in two and look to install them but this is how it looks as of now. It’s beginning to look like is supposed to. Thanks for tuning in.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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5811 posts in 3575 days

#11 posted 03-24-2014 11:37 PM

Very nice work—looks like you’ll have an outstanding cabinet, and you’re moving along quite well. Glad you finally have been able to get back in your shop. Keep us posted on your progress.

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

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3788 days

#12 posted 03-25-2014 12:40 AM

Wonderful thread David !

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1333 posts in 4262 days

#13 posted 03-25-2014 08:02 AM

John and Ribs – thanks for the input guys, I should have the cabinet complete in the next few days, however as you know it’s all the little fiddly bits that take up the time. Things like making tool holders and applying finish take up the time.
Thanks again.

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View Belg1960's profile


1153 posts in 4348 days

#14 posted 03-25-2014 11:49 AM

Real nice progress buddy, I’m really looking forward to the” little fiddly bits” and the specialty tool
holders. The cabinet your using as your inspiration is a real winner.
Which track saw do you have and how do you like it?

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4262 days

#15 posted 03-25-2014 07:54 PM

Thanks Pat, the little fiddly bits are not so much fun but are required to secure the tools properly. I ‘ll take my time to make sure I maximise the space.

I have a Makita track saw, I bought it a couple of years ago as I was installing our new kitchen. I have only used the Makita although a pal of mine has a Festool track saw. I cannot see much to differentiate between the two but as far as accuracy goes I would recommend the Makita.

Well, I was back in the shop again today, the first job was to trim the edge banding I applied last night. I also pared back the slightly protruding pins and tails with a low angle block plane. I was quite surprised as to the effectiveness of planing ply wood. I forgot to take a picture to show the results . I will however take a photo tomorrow to show how well it turned out.

Next up was to separate the front cut off section into two parts to form the front doors. The depth of the of the doors was just at the upper end of the max height of my TS blade so I decided to cut it in two passes, from the base first then flipped it over. In hind sight this was not the safest way to do it as there is little support or contact with the saw table . If I had to do it again I would cut it at maximum height then complete the cut with a handsaw. I tacked a scrap to the rails to prevent it from collapsing onto the blade after the first cut.

Once done I had to complete the “box” by fitting an infill. I just cut this snug so it was a tight fit then glued and screwed it in place, no need for fancy joinery here.

I did however set the infill piece 3mm back from the front edge of the door. and 3mm below the height of the door. Because the box, or now front doors are 85mm deep I was concerned that when the doors are fitted the could bind against each other when I open them. Setting them 3mm back from the front of each door + the 3mm gap between the doors created by the saw kerf should allow plenty of room for the doors to open freely, we shall see.

Now that the doors are formed I needed to mill some hardwood for door trim and for the hinge strips. I intend to install doors or wings within the main doors and within the cabinet box to maximise hanging space. I milled the hinge strips from 15mm x 19mm stock then cut an off set groove 6mm x 6 mm with my dado set to accept a matching tongue on the additional door panel, more of this later.

While I was at the planer I milled up the trim for the front of the doors.

The secondary doors on the main box cabinet will sit 88mm back from the front edge of the cabinet. This will allow plenty of space for larger tools which will be hung on the back of the cabinet while still allowing space for intermediate sized tools to hang on the front of the secondary doors and not interfere with the front doors when they close. I used spacers to ensure the hinge strips were parallel to the back of the cabinet. The hinge strips were just screwed on, no glue

While I still had the dado installed in the TS I milled the matching tongues on the secondary doors, which is just a 12mm plywood panel. I then then fitted them into the hinge strips. I glued these in place and tacked them with 12mm 23 gauge pins just for a little added security. There is no real need for the offset other than to match the size of the stock of the hinge trim, which is screwed to the cabinet.

That is about it for today. I spent an hour or so cleaning up and putting tools that I will no longer need away. Tomorrow I will cut the secondary doors to size and set about hanging them.

Thanks again


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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