Building a Tool Cabinet

The first pics of the design. For three or four weeks using SketchUp I’ve been drawing a new cabinet for my hand tools, these drawings have been revised at least four times and before I get to ordering any wood they may get drawn again :)

This pic shows the top cabinet that will probably end up being a floor standing cabinet on wheels, in the event of any delay in making the lower cabinet I can hang the upper cabinet on a wall using french cleats. The centre compartment with two inner doors partly open tools can hang on the back panel and both the inside and outside of these centre doors.

This second pic has the doors removed for photographic purposes only :) to show how the tools might be stored.

The third pic gives a closer view of a Veritas low angle jack to the right and a Norris near the centre and various other tools. All drawn using SketchUp, no I didn’t draw the tools I just imported the picture files into SketchUp off Google.

and a close up of the shoulder planes

Well you’ve seen the SketchUp design and there was a few changes, mainly to the overall size or I should say height. The first SketchUp was 48″ tall this was reduced to 42″ after realizing it would hit the rails of my garage doors when opened :) I also reduced the number of drawers along the bottom from three layers to two.

Here’s a reminder pic of the design.

I then thought I would need about two sheets of Maple veneered mdf to make it but I was way out. :)
The last time I used any quantity of sheet plywood I used to use optimic to do a cutlist but I lost the programme when I replaced my computer a year or so back, anyway I downloaded a 30 day trial of Smart2D Cutlistlist, I found it quite easy to use but after listing in all the pieces I needed I found out that I was limited to 30 parts per project :( and even worse than that I found out I couldn’t print out the cut list plans :(

So not to be out done I painstakingly copied each page and drew a rough plan using photoshop, here is one of the plans I drew.

So I needed four sheet or to be exact three and a quarter sheets, not the two I imagined I would need :(

I have a local stockist of sheet material “William Edens” for four sheets of 1/2″ maple veneered mdf they quoted something close to £240 inc vat, I phoned around and found “Brittons” in Saltash could supply the same for £160 :) Up until now I thought William Edens were pretty good but now I know different. :)

Here’s what you might call an artist impression of what the finished cabinet should look like.

I collected the panels this morning, I’ll make a start on it in the morning and post later with how it’s going.

So here is the start of work on the actual tool cabinet, first job using my cutlist was to cut all the sheets down to sizes I could put on my table saw using my Bosch portable circular saw, here’s a pic finishing the back panel of the cabinet using my home made saw guide, just line up the edge with my pencil marks, clamp it and cut, dead easy :)

Now here is a pic of all the sheets rough cut and labelled, some of the parts have been cut to finished size.

Next job was to rout out where the shelves will sit in the side panels, this next pic shows the two side panels clamped together the two stopped dado’s have already been cut, I set up the guide clamp using an offset guide, it makes it so easy and quick, no guess work in cutting it correctly.

On this last dado I show how I got over the problem of using a 12.7mm cutter when the boards have a finished thickness of nearly 14mm, I cut the dado as seen in this pic.

Then I removed the plastic measure in the clamp and using a tiny bit of double sided tape I stuck the rule on the edge of the clamp guide as seen in this pic

Then I did another pass with the router and a perfect fitting dado joint. :)

I then switched to my router table and routed out a rabbet on the back inside edges of the top, bottom & sides to house the back panel.

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I bit the bullet and decided 5mm for the shelf pin holes, I’ve made this jig, not yet drillied out when I took the pic. I’ve used it and drilled the pin holes in the right hand side of the cabinet.

So on to the walnut edging, can you believe I need in excess of 180 ft run 13mm x 13mm :)
this took much longer than I thought, first job was to cut slices off the 2 1/2″ plank I’ve got, then plane and thickness them to a little over the thickness of the mdf. Then I ripped them down, each time I passed the remaining piece over the planer before ripping the next piece so I ended up with three face already planed. Then lastly a pass through the thicknesser on two faces to match the mdf thickness.

Here’s a pic of all the pieces of walnut.

I thought all the housing joints or dadoes were a bit tight so I’ve eased them a little as can be seen in this pic.

I’ve started gluing on the walnut to the two side panels using just pva and #10 biscuits.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to dry fit all the main components and maybe glue them up. :D

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Because of a bad back I never got to do anything yesterday. But today I started the glue up and the first problem was how do you glue up both sides of the cabinet to a top, bottom, and three shelves all at the same time with two biscuits on every corner and keep it all square? The second problem was finding enough clamps over 5ft long ?

This pic The nearest long board is the top the upper surface is the back of the cabinet.

Well the pic shows how I’ve started the glue up, first the left hand side only is glued to the top and bottom, the right hand side is positioned in place dry but with biscuits holding it. I then used all the longest clamps I have and clamped it up. The back panel is only there to keep everything square while the glue cooks :) If you look very closely at the far end of the back panel you will see I haven’t allowed it to drop into the rebate, letting it drop in would make it really hard to get the panel out for the next step. In a hour or so I’ll remove the back panel the clamps and the right hand end, then glue in the three inner shelves before gluing on the right hand end all in one hit, then I need to glue in the four vertical shelf supports in the right hand side where my planes will be stored. Then I can glue and pin the back in place.

Ok with the back removed I found it easier to glue the other side on with the unit standing on it’s side. This view is from the rear of the cabinet.

The plane dividers just to the right of the cabinet are cut and drilled ready to be glued in but I’ll have to get the mallet out and actually slide them into position before the back goes on.

A day off tomorrow, I got to go with swmbo to arrange having are Aga cooker renovated.

————-

The back is glued and pinned all around the edge, where the shelves are the back was carefully marked and pre drilled before screwing into the shelves with spax mdf screws.

First view from the front and the right way up. The small pieces between the long shelves are only temporary and were only to keep the shelves firmly in place when the back was screwed to the shelves.

Adding the walnut face frame. Because this part of the frame will be carrying the weight of the doors I thought I should add biscuits for strength, six down each side. The rest of the face frame will be just glued and pinned

Both left and right parts of the face frame fitted.

Face Frame Finished


Making the doors

Both doors edged with walnut and six #20 biscuits used down the hinge edges

Parts of the frame that make up the doors ready to go.

These parts make up the sides of the doors, all the end pieces have a #20 biscuit in place. After these were dry I routed out where the selves fit but I forgot to take a pic. :)

One of the edges glued and clamped this also is reinforced with biscuits. The other side piece is only positioned so I didn’t glue up the wrong piece :) note the housing joints mentioned earlier, this piece will be the last to be fitted after the top and bottom are in place.

Bottom and top parts of the door glued and pinned. I’ve got to wait a while for it to cook cos I aint got enough small clamps :( well I got a load of G cramps but that like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut, no I’ll have to wait a bit. :)

One nearly finished, just needs a sanding, I’m undecided about the drop down doors, I think I might just add a small fiddle rail.

I started the other door too, like the other door this first rail will be the hinge side, so it’s fixed with biscuits and glue.

Starting to sand the inside of the left hand door, I’ve not used this old sander in years but it’s the only one I’ve got that will reach into the corners. :)

In the foreground is the right hand door finished but still needs sanding. In the centre the cabinet has had drawer dividers added. In the background next to the left hand door is the plank I shall use to make up a french cleat the full length of the cabinet. :)


Fitting the doors

First thing this morning was to sand it all down and dry fit the doors. Everything in the pic looks fine but it’s not. I wanted at least a 1/8" gap between the doors, I ended up with no gap and about 1/16" overhang one end. :( So not being able to reduce the door width I’ll explain later how I’ve overcome the problem.

Here’s a pic of the dry fit.

So I fitted the left hand door flush, here in this pic you can see the solid brass piano hinge has been fitted.

Here is what I did to get over the problem of too wide a door, sorry about the focusing. I added a 3/16th thick piece of walnut down the outside of the cabinet, at least I got my 1/8th gap back :)

I could of cut the door down I suppose but it’s a lot of work for something that no one will notice or even see as it will be on the far end of the cabinet nearly in a corner.

Here is a better pic showing the door clamped to the cabinet whilst I fitted the hinge.

It’s a bit big ennit :) As you can see both the doors are on and they fit a treat. :)
Sorry about all the distortion with the pics, when it’s up in position and finished I’ll take proper pics using my SLR.

French cleat added. Two coats of Danish oil added. Don’t worry I’m not going to use that sh*t colour on the rest of it, It’s an old tin I had that’s got antique pine tint in it, all the rest will be clear oil.

I got it up :)

Yes I got it up, I mean my new tool cabinet :)

It’s had two coats of Danish oil I think it may need another two coats the way it’s soaking it up.
No brass ware like handles fitted as yet and I’ve still got the inner doors to do and the five drawers.

Here’s what it looks like from the front.

The view from the side.

Making the drawers

Beech drawer sides all dovetailed and stopped dadoes cut ready for bottoms to be fitted.

I got a piece of 6mm ply yesterday for the drawers. Today I cut the bottoms from the ply and glued all the drawers up. This afternoon I gave them all a light sanding and now they are all finished except for a light sanding and have the fronts added.

A closer view

A bit of scrap packing put in the drawer opening to stop the drawer from going too far in.

Next the drawer pre drilled is fitted in the opening the front has two pieces of double sided tape covering most of the drawer, in this pic the tape has still got the paper covering on for photographic purposes. :)

Small shims are placed and the front is firmly pressed to the double sided tape.

The whole drawer is now removed and two screws permanently hold it in place.

All the drawers with the fronts added. Just a few coats of oil needed and some handles.

Second coat of oil applied, it’s decision time for the handles, they got to be small but what do I use to look right?

Fitting the Plane Racks

Mk1 on the right is for a LV BU Smoother. Mk2 on the left is for a LV BU Jack. All the racks will be covered in this felt, it not only protects the blades but I’m sure it helps prevent rusting.

Plane racks in position in the cabinet.

Testing to see they fit ok. :)

I’m still waiting for the brass knobs for the drawers so they are a way off being finished but I have got as far as putting all the hand planes in situ and I’ve got all my Lie Nielsen chisels in. I’ve still got to make a rack for my Blue Spruce paring chisels and I’ve got to fit in numerous tools on the back board in the main part of the cabinet.

Most of my saws and all of my hand planes are in situ.

All my Lie Nielsen chisels are in place in the new rack (Look no slots visible) my Blue Spruce paring chisels will go above the LN’s.

A load of tools still to go in back panel and the drawers await the brass knobs.

Yes it’s finished here are the last pics with the brass knobs & handles on and all the tools in place.

pic 1

pic 2

pic 3

pic 4

pic 5

pic 6

pic 7

pic 8

pic 9

pic 10

pic 11

pic 12

pic 13

pic 14

pic 15

pic 16

pic 17

The very Final pic 18

To see these pics larger and as a slide show click HERE

I’ve been asked how I made it possible to fit chisels that are much larger then the shank size of the holes bored to fit the shanks as in my Lie Nielsen chisels.

As in this pic

First step is to drill or bore all the holes all the same size, as they are in this pic, of course some of the thinner chisels will fit. For the larger chisels the next step is to cut mortises for the larger chisels, increasing the mortise size to suit each chisel.

Then you simply put the chisel in sideways until the blade has passed through to the shank and then twist the chisel 90 degrees so the blade is facing you.

With the arrival of the Blue Spruce Butt chisel set I’ve remodeled my tool cabinet to give them a home, so here’s the latest pic taken.

Some Mods Added

I have added felt to match the door holding the chisel racks, and at the same time added the small saw rack for my dovetail saws. I have found the felt eliminates any rust attacking the tools.

After being asked several times if I had any SketchUp files of the cabinet I decided to redraw it. So if you want a copy just email me ….. at …. djbeckett(at)gmail.com just change the (at) to the @. I’ve only changed the @ symbol to stop micro bots from sending me junk emails.

I’ve now added the tool cabinet onto the google sketchup warehouse gallery. The file can be obtained there.

http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=7e6e4506c37bda4b471f4a09234f64ac

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About Lord Nibbo
Me :)

18 Responses to Building a Tool Cabinet

  1. Mike says:

    Just passing by. Btw, your website has great content!

  2. Shaun says:

    Truelly amazing craftmanship, im amazed with your work.

  3. A chum encoraged me to check out this post, brill post, interesting read… keep up the good work!

  4. Lord Nibbo says:

    Many thanks for the kind comments.

  5. Col says:

    Great work and you have a nice quality tool collection there. Well done.

  6. Dean says:

    That is a beautiful tool cabinet! I like it! Someone posted your link in a forum discussion on designing a tool cabinet. Please forgive me for asking, however is it possible to get a copy of the SketchUp file for your tool cabinet? I would greatly appreciate that. I realize this blog was posted 2 1/2 years ago so a reply may not be possible. – Thank you, Dean

  7. Lord Nibbo says:

    Your not the first person to ask, but I didn’t keep any Sketchup files after I finished the cabinet :(

  8. Dean says:

    Thank you Sir for the prompt reply. Disappointing, but certainly understandable. All is not lost of course, you’ve done an outstanding job of documenting the tool cabinet build in this blog. I thank you for that.

    Dean

  9. Scott says:

    Very nice showcase. Well done. Top shelf tools.

    My tools are good old workers no doubt, but most of their shine was lost to flaking nickel, layers of tarnish, or a century of time. I’ll keep telling myself that I prefer them that way…heheh…

  10. Lord Nibbo says:

    After being asked several times if I had any SketchUp files of the cabinet I decided to redraw it. So if you want a copy just email me ….. at …. djbeckett(at)gmail.com just change the (at) to the @. I’ve only changed the @ symbol to stop micro bots from sending me junk emails.

  11. awesome!!! i built a cherry cabinet 6 months ago, just now getting to making some of the tool holders. we have several tools in common so its easy to apply some of your ideas. great work by the way :)

  12. Lord Nibbo says:

    I’ve now added the tool cabinet onto the google sketchup warehouse gallery. The file can be obtained there.

    http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=7e6e4506c37bda4b471f4a09234f64ac

  13. Aaron says:

    Your cabinet is beautiful. I’m looking at building a cabinet that is very similar, did you use any particular type/size of screws for the piano hinges ? I’m fearful of splitting the face frame on mine.

  14. Very nice cabinet mate and an even nicer collection of items in it.

    Have you noticed any issues with the cabinet being made from mdf? I’ve often considered using it (cos it’s cheap) but I hear it doesn’t glue up or take screws to well? Is the split batten just screwed to the frame to hold the cabinet on the wall?

  15. Lord Nibbo says:

    No issues with gluing but I did add biscuits on every piece of Black Walnut as you can see in the manufacture. The split baton or French cleat is screwed and glued.

  16. Cheers for the reply.

    I might look into mdf again. Finding it in the US with a veneer face is hard to find or too $$$ but I’ll keep looking.

  17. Beautiful cabinet that probably belongs in the house as much as it does in the shop. I’m working on a similar (not as elaborate) cabinet which incorporates ideas from several sources, including yours.

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