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View Paul D's profile

Need advice - building shop & garage cabinets

by Paul D
posted 02-21-2008 03:12 AM

22 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3788 days

#1 posted 02-21-2008 03:24 AM

I would suggest that you go to your local library. They should have a number of books on cabinet design and construction. With your skills you should not have any problem following them.

Another option is a set of plans that the New Yankee Workshop sells for a miter saw bench and storage. These plans are pretty straight forward and provide not only a miter saw stand but also a bank of storage cabinets as well. The cost is about $16.

Hope this helps.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3734 days

#2 posted 02-21-2008 03:35 AM

I agree with Scott. Do some research looking through books. Once you understand the basic constuction techniques, changing the size to fit your needs is no big deal. I also wander through stores (new and antique/used) looking at pieces for inspiration.

I usually think of future furniture projects. I use the pieces I build for the shop as a way of trying new techniques before applying them to more expensive wood used on furniture.

Good luck.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View DaveH's profile


400 posts in 3745 days

#3 posted 02-21-2008 03:49 AM

Check out,, and videos on this site.

-- DaveH - Boise, Idaho - “How hard can it be? It's only wood!”

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 3988 days

#4 posted 02-21-2008 03:50 AM

Scott’s idea is the best one.
There is no way we can give you the amount of info a well written book can and more over it’s a pretty tall order for us too.
When you have browsed a few ideas come back and we will all try to anser your questions.
here’s agood one to look for:

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Paul D's profile

Paul D

2131 posts in 3715 days

#5 posted 02-21-2008 04:26 AM

Thanks for the suggestions so far. Perhaps I should have included a few more details.

Library – I have gone to my local library looking for a book but they have a really poor selection of these types of books.

Bookstore – I went to my local Border’s a few nights ago and spent some time looking through Taunton’s Furniture & Cabinetmaking Illustrated book and a couple others they happened to have. I will check out the Danny Proulxs book suggested by Bob.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the Wood Whisperer site and it is very helpful. It’s how I found LJ :)

I also bought this guy’s book and have gotten some great ideas from it.

Perhaps buying a plan as Scott mentioned would get me going in the right direction.

Keep the ideas and help coming :)

-- Paul D - Lawrenceville, Georgia

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4281 days

#6 posted 02-21-2008 04:51 AM

One of the first choices you need to make are…European or face frame….what materials do you want to use…cost or looks? Don’t just pick a book and follow their guidelines.

View cpt_hammer's profile


133 posts in 3779 days

#7 posted 02-21-2008 03:06 PM

I just recently got a copy of Shop Notes at Lowes and it has some easy designs for a shop upgrade that I’m thinking about building. I figured for a around $1000 I could roughly make all of it. Sadly, most of the expense is in the hardware and not wood. You can check it out at Look at Issue97. It might not show you how to make kitchen style cabinets, but it does look nice in the magazine.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3841 days

#8 posted 02-21-2008 04:00 PM

Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets by Danny Prolux is a good starter book. It talks about face frame and frameless cabinets, all kinds of different shapes and sizes of cabinets, and includes cut lists for standard cabinets.

-- -- --

View TampaTom's profile


74 posts in 3720 days

#9 posted 02-21-2008 04:25 PM

I’ve got to agree that Danny Proulx’s books are an awesome place to begin. Building Woodshop workstations has an excellent chapter on shop cabinets, plus lots of other plans for tool stands, workbenches… the works.

-- Tom's Workbench -

View ShropshireRay's profile


3 posts in 3729 days

#10 posted 02-21-2008 04:26 PM


I was (still am) in the same predicament as yourself, but I found 2 books that were really helpful, “Workstations and Tools Storage” from the editors of Fine Woodworking and also “Workshop Idea Book”, author Andy Rae published by Taunton Press. You may also want to visit the Fine Woodworking website, and look for the New Fangled Workbench, it’s very versatile and may help with your objective….
Good Luck

-- Ray

View Paul D's profile

Paul D

2131 posts in 3715 days

#11 posted 02-21-2008 10:55 PM

Great ideas, books and magazine articles. This should help me get started and I can always post some follow up questions as I need to (and I’m sure I will).

-- Paul D - Lawrenceville, Georgia

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3728 days

#12 posted 02-24-2008 09:44 PM


Obtain a copy of “Workbenches and Shop Furniture” The Workshop Companion series by Nick Engler. Engler has written 60 books on woodworking. Among all the shop furniture plans there is a very nice 4’ tall x 3’ wide hand tool cabinet that can either be put on a stand or mounted on the wall. I plan to build this one.

You can probably find this book on several internet sites, such as . The last time I looked books in this series were quite inexpensive.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 3771 days

#13 posted 02-25-2008 12:40 AM

One other suggestion is to go to a salvage store and see if they have any cabinet bases. Sometimes you can buy these cheaper than you can make them.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View matter's profile


210 posts in 3736 days

#14 posted 02-25-2008 01:15 AM

Or buy one, and dissect it.

-- The only easy wood project is a fire

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4128 days

#15 posted 02-25-2008 02:06 AM has a large number of books on the subject, so you should be able to find a few that will give you what you need. You can even order through the Lumberjocks Woodworking store, and help out Martin as well as yourself.

Let us know how this comes out.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Paul D's profile

Paul D

2131 posts in 3715 days

#16 posted 02-25-2008 03:26 AM

Thanks for even more suggestions. The more I think about this the more I think my actual problem is that I am trying to figure out how to build shop & garage cabinets customized to suit my needs but don’t fully understand the process and what makes a well built cabinet in the first place. Sure, I’ve watch Norm do it plenty of times on tv, put a dado here a rabbet here, make a face frame this way and biscuit it this way. Watching him do it is one thing, actually getting the tools and materials out and doing it yourself is another thing. I’m still considering buying one of Norm’s plans and building it and perhaps out of doing that I will have a good understanding of how I could make something customized to suit specific needs. Am I on the right track with this?

-- Paul D - Lawrenceville, Georgia

View IowaWoodcrafter's profile


280 posts in 4043 days

#17 posted 02-25-2008 04:21 AM

I’ve been reading Designing and Building Cabinets, a Taunton book in their “The New Best of Fine Woodworking” series. It is approximately 150 pages and seems to cover everything needed to know about cabinet making. I’ve never made cabinets either but my goal is to be able to make built-in entertainment centers/bookshelves.

-- Owen Johnson - aka IowaWoodcrafter

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 3719 days

#18 posted 02-28-2008 06:33 AM

I have found that may get you some shop cabinets for a lot cheaper that building your own.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3957 days

#19 posted 02-28-2008 03:08 PM

One thing for certain is that you need to design them with the fact that you never have enough space! I built mine twice and am now contemplating doing them all over again…bigger! So plan ahead and plan for the future. Cabinets are not hard to do. Also look up the “French cleat” style of hanging them. I think you’ll like that.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View tooldad's profile


660 posts in 3681 days

#20 posted 07-24-2008 08:24 AM

I know this post is a tad bit old, but I have been looking at tool cabinets and chests and still want a wood version instead of a mechanic’s tool box. Anyways, the toolbox I want is roughly $2000. My wife would never understand why someone would spend that kind of money on a tool box. So it is to the drawing board.

One note on Norm’s so called plans. Nothing wrong with them, however they are referred to in the shows as “measured drawings” and that is what they are. There are no step by step instructions or very little. You get more info from the video that accompanies the plans.

Things I have learned from building tool base cabinets, is use a 5 1/2” toe kick instead of a 3 1/2” or 4”. Makes it a lot easier to get a broom under. Use full extension ball bearing slides instead of white 3/4 extension.

As far as drawers go, I like to use norm’s technique mostly. On the back piece of the drawer, I raise the table saw up after cutting the groove, and cut off the bottom and slide it in. This makes assembly pretty easy, and it allows me to staple the bottom ply to the box frame and I have had better luck with drawers being square this way since the plywood is typically square. Now I do use dovetails on all 4 corners, even though norm uses dados, it seems that the dovetail machine is already setup, why add one more setup to a task that is usually tedious and just necessary, drawer building.

View edp's profile


109 posts in 3927 days

#21 posted 07-25-2008 02:36 PM

Here’s a vote for the neanderthal method of cabinet construction. I have been building cabinetry commercially for about 6 years now and never felt the need to resort to reading. The basics can be learned form observing how your existing cabinetry is fabricated. Break it down into logical sections like door, face frame (if utilized) and box. Then determine how you would like your box to be assembled. I use dados for the shelves and bottoms, rabbetts for the back and top. I finish the boxes and face frames seperately and then assemble with pocket screws. A little tthought and some paper and pencil work will take you most of the way and experience, always the best instructor, will round out your skill set. Just don’t be intimidated. Once you get under way, ask some specific questions and wade through the responses until you get what you feel is your answer.


-- Come on in, the beer is cold and the wood is dry.

View Michael Brailsford's profile

Michael Brailsford

248 posts in 3560 days

#22 posted 07-25-2008 02:40 PM

Udo schmidt wrote a book called Building kitchen cabinets, published by Taunton (the Fine Woodworking people). It will give you all you need to know about building cabinets.

-- Michael A. Brailsford

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