Tool chest with 1/2" plywood walls?

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Forum topic by TomB19 posted 01-07-2015 11:20 PM 5452 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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52 posts in 3309 days

01-07-2015 11:20 PM

I want to build a classic tool chest to hold some tools. It will be fairly large and primarily contain an air compressor and a 10” miter saw.

It seems to me, the sides ought to be fine out of 1/2” plywood. All of the boxes I’ve seen appear to use 3/4 material, either plywood or solid. From there, they also add another band of 3/4” solid wood which I think is a good idea.

Has anyone tried to build one with 1/2” walls? If so, how did it work out?

I saw a build on YouTube in which the walls were 3/4” plywood and the top was 1/2”. That strikes me as opposite to how it ought to be. If something heavy is set on it, or someone sits on it, it might warp a bit if made out of 1/2.

8 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 3628 days

#1 posted 01-07-2015 11:41 PM

If it were me, I’d just glue up some pine 1×8’s and make the whole thing out of that with a 2×4 frame. Half inch plywood is not very strong.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

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5475 posts in 3330 days

#2 posted 01-08-2015 12:59 PM

I have made several rolling cabinets with 1/2” plywood and used some 2×4 plAned to make internal farmers. You can see them in my projects.

The plywood is plenty strong but you need to use some frames to help. I have put my DeWalt 735 planer on these cabinets and it weighs around 100#.

Plywood like all other materials has a place…

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52 posts in 3309 days

#3 posted 01-13-2015 06:29 AM

Thanks for the responses.

I’m not interested in using solid wood. This is not going to be a piece of fine furniture with fine planes and heirloom quality hand tools. I love those tool chests and admire them greatly. That’s not what this is about, though.

It’s going to be a rough and tumble job box, although I plan to make it slightly nicer than necessary. Still, it’s going to take some bumps and scrapes.

Primary contents will be: air compressor and 10” non-sliding miter saw.

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347 posts in 4942 days

#4 posted 01-13-2015 09:03 AM

A lot of it depends on what type of plywood you use. 1/2” Baltic Birch will be plenty strong. You haven’t said how you plan on joining the pieces together, that is probably more important than whether you use 1/2” or 3/4” ply.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

View iamwelty's profile


265 posts in 4457 days

#5 posted 01-13-2015 12:51 PM

I made this tool box out of redwood, walnut and willow. Really looked sharp. Design plans on the Woodsmith Project website session 607.

-- There is a fine line between eroticism and nausea...

View MrRon's profile


6260 posts in 4585 days

#6 posted 01-13-2015 04:47 PM

3/4” plywood is strong enough without internal framing except for under the top. 1/2” will need internal framing.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6833 posts in 3650 days

#7 posted 01-13-2015 07:28 PM

Hard to say, how big is fairly big? Is it going to pretty much sit in one place or you going to be moving it around a lot?

Any particular reason you what 1/2 over 3/4?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View TomB19's profile


52 posts in 3309 days

#8 posted 01-14-2015 03:29 PM

Welty, that is a beautiful piece of furniture!

I plan to use fir plywood from the home center. Joints will be 1” finger joints, cut on the band saw.

Bottom and top will be 3/4 plywood with battons.

Plywood box size will be 40×20 x 20. Exterior trim and battons will bring dimensions to 42×22 x 22.

1/2 is preferred because I want to keep the box as light as possible. I need it to hold 150# of materials but most of that weight will be resting directly on the bottom (Rolair JC10 – 39# and Hitachi C10FCH2 – 24#).

It will be a job sitet box. I expect it will be moved every couple of weeks.

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