Hand tool cabinet #1: Design... yeah right.

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Blog entry by Tim Dahn posted 02-27-2012 01:39 AM 3040 reads 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Hand tool cabinet series Part 2: Rough stock to cabinet glue up »

Since finishing my workbench a little over 2 years ago a place to keep hand tools has been on the to do list, but a final design has eluded me. The bench tote vs. tool cabinet battle has been ongoing and with every new project I would get a reminder that I desperately NEED SOMETHING!

Recently over at the blog Heartwood, Rob Porcaro did a six part series about his tool cabinet and is a great source of ideas.

Jim Bertelson’s blog on a bench tote Tommy is another good source of inspiration. I built a prototype bench tote which I have been using for about a year, it always seemed to be in the way and lately it has been moved to counter top, mostly taking up space, maybe I gave up on it too soon or maybe it doesn’t fit my woodworking style. After having built this tote I will most likely incorporate some ideas from it.

Here are a couple pics of my prototype tote:

All is not lost as I think this tote will be re-worked into a tote for card scrapers psa sand paper rolls and sanding blocks.

I have no plans, no dimensions in mind, so today I decided to just build it and see where it leads. What I have decided so far:
1. Wall cabinet wins this battle.
2. Most often used bench and layout tools, small hammers, chisels.
3. Use only existing lumber and cutoffs.
4. The option to add it to a free standing unit in the future.
5. Be able to remove a tool easily with out having to move something out of the way.

I hope you decide to follow along and please let me hear your comments, critiques, ideas and questions.

So I have a starting point, some pretty crappy oak lumber. Time to dimension some wood.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

5 comments so far

View patron's profile


13611 posts in 3395 days

#1 posted 02-27-2012 02:32 AM

hi tim

here is charles (helluvawreck)
three part tool storage build

you might get some ideas

i’m still in the place you are too
but building a new shop
so will wait till then to get better organized

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4187 posts in 3218 days

#2 posted 02-27-2012 06:07 AM

About to go to bed…......but I will revisit this…........

It seems I am always organizing and not doing much else…......

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3388 days

#3 posted 02-27-2012 10:19 AM

I love the idea of making relatively small tool holders with a French cleats so they can be hung up on the wall and easily removed as a tote while working. Of course this idea is useless to me since I have no wall space left, lol.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4187 posts in 3218 days

#4 posted 02-27-2012 02:51 PM

I agree with Mike, that the French Cleat system has a lot of potential. It is what I plan to do eventually…...whenever or if ever it ever happens. But it will be just a partial solution

I suspect designing for your own work patterns is very important. I am doing this unusual cutoff cart which should, if I have figured it out right, be a very useful part of my wood storage scheme. Some like the rolling tool cart scenario, and that can be part of a solution as well. Because of limited space, I plan to put the largest part of my tools and benches on wheels.

One thing that I have figured out about totes, they need to have permanent positions for most tools. I have two free form totes, primarily for measurement and small cutting tools. But I have three other totes that have space just for certain tools with a permanent position for each. The combination works well.

Have a good one, still below freezing here…........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3619 days

#5 posted 02-27-2012 11:09 PM

David, Thanks I will check it out, any ideas will definitely help.

Mike, I have a few of the french cleats in use in my shop now and that will probably be how I mount the cabinet. You can also use available side of cabinets for mounting a french cleat. Looking good in your new profile pic too.

Jim, Not giving up the tote idea, I hope to use a small one that will reside in or on the cabinet but be moved to the bench. Marking and small layout tools come to mind for doing this.

Thanks for chiming in.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

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