form vs function

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by thedude50 posted 01-27-2013 12:28 PM 1143 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2440 days

01-27-2013 12:28 PM

I really need a tool cabinet and I am about to make one my decision on materials is my biggest issue I like most of you would like to make this cabinet out of some solid wood but I happen to have a boat load of birch plywood cut offs that are just a bit bigger than what I would be needing for such a tool chest. I can also accent the plywood with solid wood trim and a face frame out of solid wood I could stain it or use walnut and I can also veneer the sides of the cabinet with veneer that will look nicer than solid wood. I do want the cabinet to be nice but it is a tools chest and as such it is going to take a beating. So what do you guys think should I hold out for solid wood or should I go with what I have and what I have access too and simply make the tool cabinet and get the shop set up the way I want it to be?

-- Please check out my new stores and

17 replies so far

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3356 days

#1 posted 01-27-2013 12:58 PM

Dude, I think you should use what you have at hand….As you mention, you have many options to customize the chest the way you want.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Reddog's profile


17 posts in 1924 days

#2 posted 01-27-2013 01:04 PM

I’d say go for it with the plywood. If you’re anything like me, and you wait for the perfect solid wood, the project could get put off for a long time… Another plus to doing it now is you can use it, figure out any little tweaks you’d make to the layout, and then build version 2.0 out of solid wood later. Looking forward to seeing the finished project whichever way you go.

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

3955 posts in 2196 days

#3 posted 01-27-2013 01:07 PM

I made my “temporary” experimental 1/2” plywood tool chests about 35 years ago. They have held up surprisingly well, no repairs. They were built to be portable and they got moved on site quite a bit. It was just common pine plywood, box jointed at the corners. Interior dividers provided lateral stability. Each completed empty box weighs less than 20 lbs.

In short, use the plywood and dress the edges with hardwood if you like. I think it would look nicer if you did.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3247 days

#4 posted 01-27-2013 01:34 PM

I would also go with using the plywood and accenting with solid wood. I really don’t see the advantage of using just solid wood throughout the project for a tool chest, other then if you beat the crap out of it and ding it up, you could always sand out the boo boo’s.

For me, the fun part would be taking what I already had and build an awesome tool chest that served both form and function.

Look forward to seeing your tool chest when finished. BTW. I liked your clamp rack. After I read all the post on your thread, it motivated me to change my clamp rack that I had been using for the past 20 some years.

-- John @

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2235 days

#5 posted 01-27-2013 01:35 PM


I’m pretty much ‘Old School’ when is comes to cabinetry. I like that a carcass made of plywood stays as square as you build it, with no worries of wood movement and/or splitting.

Solid wood face frames, styles & rails and glued-up, raised panels or flat plywood panels are a personal preference.

If this cabinet is going to be a ‘Showroom’ piece and you are mounting it in close proximity to your 18th Century Bench then I may be inclined to research and build it according to the construction for that period.

Choosing laminated or glued-up panels or veneered plywood sides of the cabinets which will be exposed is a ‘beauty that’s in the eye of the beholder’ aspect.

At this juncture your “Shop Decor’ rules.

Best Regards.
Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View bondogaposis's profile


4680 posts in 2313 days

#6 posted 01-27-2013 04:22 PM

I’d go w/ the plywood. If your shop is like mine it gets cluttered pretty quickly w/ cutoffs and it is great when a project comes along where you can use them and help with the continual battle against clutter.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Joe Lyddon's profile (online now)

Joe Lyddon

10044 posts in 4014 days

#7 posted 01-27-2013 05:14 PM

Plywood is strong and does not have Contraction / Expansion problems to deal with.

Veneer is NOT rugged & will not hold up; therefore, solid wood trim 1/8”-1/4” would be better.

Now, do you want a Cabinet primarily for storage, being able to get to them when needed… OR…
Do you want a place to put tools where you can quickly what you want and quickly GET IT?

If you prefer the later, I think Ken’s recent tool wall storage system was great!

Do you have a workbench to make it on? ( LOL )

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Dave's profile


154 posts in 3159 days

#8 posted 01-27-2013 06:17 PM

If it’s your working day-to-day tool cabinet, +1 for using plywood and adding veneer or hardwood accents. If you’re building an heirloom, though, I’d go old school!

-- "I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths." - Steven Wright

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2440 days

#9 posted 01-27-2013 11:15 PM

This was the question of the day do I go with form or function. My consensuses is that the need for storage at this time outweighs the need for a beautiful cabinet this is not to say you can not make a nice cabinet out of plywood as we all know you can. So many of you have said use what you have that I will go with that I know I would someday like to have a studley looking chest but my tools are modern and I need a great place to store them for daily use. I want to thank you all for your ideas and i will start with a sketch then have Dave make me a working plan in sketch up. I have a few unique things to deal with like a break front in the wall so I can make part of the cabinet deeper than the other part this will pose a few challenges. I think we can come up with a way to show and use most of my hand tools I will be starting a blog on this both here and on my website so people can follow along.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to reply to my question I look forward to more input when I start the Blog.

-- Please check out my new stores and

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2756 days

#10 posted 01-27-2013 11:45 PM

There’s a really nice one in this month’s PWW mag. He used veneer and it looked awesome.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2440 days

#11 posted 01-27-2013 11:47 PM

Is it a wall mounted cabinet ?

-- Please check out my new stores and

View Rutager's profile


27 posts in 2266 days

#12 posted 01-28-2013 12:28 AM


No, that tool box is similar to a Gerstner machinists chest- nice, but not wall mounted.


View Joe Lyddon's profile (online now)

Joe Lyddon

10044 posts in 4014 days

#13 posted 01-28-2013 01:55 AM


If you want Quick Access to the tools in question,
Look at this.

Otherwise, LOOK AT THIS...

Build it out of anything you want… as long as it is strong enough to safely hold the tools…
... depends on what you have on hand and whether you want to use some of it…

I would lean towards mostly plywood with solid trim and wherever solid could easily go…

What kind of answer are you looking for?

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2756 days

#14 posted 01-28-2013 02:04 AM

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2440 days

#15 posted 01-28-2013 02:19 AM

Joe neither one of those dose it for me. I may build a chest for doing off site work though but for me I am thinking modern Studley wall cabinet only larger. There have been some that are quite nice but the fact remains that I need a large wall mounted cabinet I would never use peg board it looks cheesy to me . I know it is easy to do but I dont do easy I do nice and clean and organized I want great order in the chest I want structure.

-- Please check out my new stores and

showing 1 through 15 of 17 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics