Need advice - building shop & garage cabinets

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Forum topic by Paul D posted 02-21-2008 03:12 AM 18693 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Paul D

2131 posts in 3922 days

02-21-2008 03:12 AM

I just joined LJ today and have posted a few of my pieces. As you will tell from the pics, my woodworking experience has been limited mostly to smaller scale projects. I want to learn how to properly build cabinets and starting with my woodshop and garage seems somewhat safe (if I mess up it doesn’t really matter much). Better organization and storage would be a big help. I would also like to make some nice tool cabinets/stands to replace the 2×4 ones I made 5 years ago and a new workbench/assembly table and perhaps a new router table.

So, for the total cabinet newbie, how should I get started? With woodworking there are always 10 ways to do something it seems so I’m a bit intimidated by this. These ‘bigger’ projects cost way more if you mess it up :) I have most of the tools I probably need except for a stacked dado but I could do dado’s and rabbets with my router. I guess my real issue is that I want to build some that are custom for my space and use but I have no idea how to even properly build a cabinet so I don’t know how to properly design cabinets customized to my needs (kind of a catch 22).

Any and all help is GREATLY appreciated !!!

-- Paul D - Lawrenceville, Georgia

22 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3996 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 3941 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 3952 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

3810 posts in 4196 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 3922 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 4488 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 3986 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 4048 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 3927 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 3936 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 3922 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


1586 posts in 3935 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 3978 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 3943 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 4335 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,

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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