Wall Hanging Tool Cabinet

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Project by Steve Erwin posted 10-13-2012 04:00 PM 32165 views 24 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

If you’re gonna invest a good chunk of money into quality tools, you should keep them rust-free. For about a year my hand tools were sitting on a shelf and I had to keep dusting them off and oiling them to prevent rust spots from appearing. This cabinet took me 3 or 4 months of slow, casual effort.

First I had to learn how to cut dovetails by hand.

Then I had to read up on tool cabinets. Jim Tolpin’s Toolbox Book and Christopher Schwarz’s Anarchist’s Tool Chest, specifically.

Then I had to plan the build, make the SketchUp model, and buy and mill the lumber.

And then, just because I’m still learning, I had to make a few mistakes. But it’s okay because I learned from each one, and that’s the whole point of this hobby.

Since these photos were taken, I’ve hung the saws on the insides of the doors, lined the drawers with felt, and made a little box to hold all the variety of extra plane blades. A nice dust free home for my tools with some room to grow. Future additions will include fitted slots for the chisels so they don’t roll around and adding a few more tools.

-- I've been creating problems to solve since I was born. -

15 comments so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3111 days

#1 posted 10-13-2012 04:13 PM

That is a great looking tool chest. Can you expand some on the details of what you used and how you mounted it to the wall? Surely there is more than just the 3/8”? plywood holding this thing, right?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Steve Erwin's profile

Steve Erwin

132 posts in 2250 days

#2 posted 10-13-2012 04:45 PM

Sure, Mike.

The main carcase and shelves are made from 3/4” thick black cherry, with 3/4” thick bookmatched curly cherry for the door panels. The shiplapped backer boards and other instances of secondary wood are 1/2” thick poplar.

I was aiming for piston-fit drawers, but the carcase isn’t perfectly square. I got pretty close for my first attempt at …well… at my first attempt at pretty much everything in this case. It was all a new challenge because it was my first hand tool project.

I used power tools to mill the rough lumber down to thickness and width and pretty much everything else was done using hand tools. Jointing, Smoothing, Grooves, Tenons, Dovetails, Hinge Mortises, Rabbets, Chamfers…

The one time I didn’t double-check my 3D model and I accidentally cut one too many on the tail boards. You can see it in the third photo, bottom rear of the cabinet. :) I guess I was impatient because I was so excited to be cutting dovetails by hand.

The finish is 2-3 coats of boiled linseed oil and 2-3 coats of Minwax Satin Wipe-on Polyurethane, and then a couple coats of some paste wax.

It’s mounted to the wall using two french cleats using 1/2” plywood (as seen here).
For added strength, the cleats are screwed onto the back of the cabinet through the backer boards and directly into the 3/4” thick wood of the shelves.

-- I've been creating problems to solve since I was born. -

View TomTinkerSum's profile


226 posts in 4032 days

#3 posted 10-13-2012 04:55 PM

Great post on this project. Total write-up including lessons learned, parts of the process and the Sketch-up incorporation is a great visual.

Very nice cabinet and I’m sure the tools are happier too. Looks great!!!

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic.... :)

View ksSlim's profile (online now)


1290 posts in 3087 days

#4 posted 10-13-2012 06:35 PM

Great write-up! Very much like the progression on the dovetail practice.
Nice cabinet.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Woodwrecker's profile


4200 posts in 3773 days

#5 posted 10-13-2012 07:54 PM

Very nice.
Beautiful work.

And welcome to Lumberjocks.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3111 days

#6 posted 10-13-2012 09:24 PM

OK, now that makes sense, and is well hidden to boot. Well done indeed! Thanks.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30049 posts in 2535 days

#7 posted 10-13-2012 10:05 PM

Welcome to LJ’s

Looks like you’re doing a good job. Look forward to your future projects.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2490 days

#8 posted 10-13-2012 10:09 PM

Very nicely done.

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

View meikou's profile


115 posts in 3832 days

#9 posted 10-13-2012 11:41 PM

Very nice cabinet. I have one designed but yet to build it as I’m still trying to sort the garage out.

One question. Do you find it awkward to reach into as you appear to be standing on the other side of the bench?

View cutmantom's profile


407 posts in 3232 days

#10 posted 10-14-2012 12:35 AM

excellent tool cabinet

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2399 days

#11 posted 10-14-2012 12:40 AM

Beautiful Looking Cabinet….. Nice way to protect your investment.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View LeslieC's profile


151 posts in 2295 days

#12 posted 10-14-2012 01:57 AM

Great job, gildedrain. You’ve got a sweet workbench there, too.

-- There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert.

View Steve Erwin's profile

Steve Erwin

132 posts in 2250 days

#13 posted 10-14-2012 04:02 AM

@meikou: It was awkward having the bench in the middle of the room and after a month or so I decided that I don’t stand on the opposite side of the bench enough to justify taking up that much space. It was mostly an attempt to prevent my wife from taking any unused real estate for herself :)

I’ve since moved the bench against the wall, and the tool cabinet overhangs that part of the bench. It’s not in the way (so far), and it’s a lot easier to get at things in the cabinet now.

In an ideal setting, the cabinet would be on that wall a few feet to the left so that it doesn’t overhang the bench at all, but I’m pretty tight on space down there. I suppose one downside to that location would be that I’d have to take steps to get to my tools and right now everything is within arm’s reach. Tough call. Only way to know what’s best is to just keep making stuff and moving it around until it feels right.

Schwarz built a tool cabinet like this (there's an article in Popular Woodworking detailing the build), and I based mine off of his to a degree. SheWorksWood did the same thing a few months ago. What I found interesting was that Schwarz has tried almost every tool storage option out there and decided on a tool chest on the floor. I really enjoyed reading The Anarchist’s Tool Chest, but my brain wasn’t ready to agree with putting my tools in a box on the floor. And given that floor space is so minimal for me, the wall was my best bet. So I did what Schwarz told me to do… “Disobey me.” ...and built a wall-hung cabinet instead.

-- I've been creating problems to solve since I was born. -

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 4020 days

#14 posted 10-14-2012 10:54 PM

This projects just show your love of woodworking and a wonderful showcase to display your tools of your craft. The Black Cherry is top notch and should age just wonderfully over the years, a project that you’ll never regret building and never stop reaching for excellent work…Blkcherry

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3349 days

#15 posted 10-28-2012 10:07 PM

Awesome work man! Looks great over the bench!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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