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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚
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 Β£240 inc vat, I phoned around and found “Brittons” in Saltash could supply the same for Β£160 πŸ™‚ Up until now I thought William Edens were pretty good but now I know different. πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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.


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 πŸ™‚
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. πŸ˜€


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 πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ As you can see both the doors are on and they fit a treat. πŸ™‚
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 πŸ™‚

Yes I got it up, I mean my new tool cabinet πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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) 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.


Two new Lie Nielsen tools :)

Yes two new Lie Nielsen tools. Bought them on Ebay, the seller said they were mint condition. They are too, they’ve never been used. πŸ™‚

My workbench build

The following story is taken from a work in progress thread I made on UKWorkshop Forum when I originally built the bench so remarks or names I might have made may not make sense as the post replies have been edited.

Work bench build

So I’ve started it, some may recall I asked what to build it with, beech was the most popular so beech was ordered.

No it’s not all for the bench, next on the books is a table.

This is the top I designed as a guide for building it, the front vice will be the Record 53 I picked up for Β£10, no design just yet for the legs.

So I sized some of the planks from the stock to 2″ x 4″ and a little over 6ft long and started glueing up the centre part of the top.

Half of the top in clamps, half already glued.

Here’s an update on the latest work

Shoulders were cut to take a breadboard end.

Then a side was added with square 3/4″ dogholes.

The agenda for tomorrow is add a length to finnish off the side for the dog holes. Then cut the shoulders on the other end.

So pieces were added finishing the side with the dog holes.

Clamped two long sash cramps down each side to act as rails for a jig to carry the router.

The jig just sits on the rails, the gap in the jig guides the router that’s fitted with guide.

Nearly done routing

and with very little sanding, one perfectly level top. πŸ˜†

Next step is to fit the end pieces.

Didn’t have time to do anything yesterday, but today I managed to make up the end piece where the tail vice will be fitted.

Bottom of end piece and side is already routed ready to take bottom and back of bench.

Poly glue on first third of top only. Six dowels will allow for any movment.

The left hand end bread board is fitted

I might rout the area where the record vice will be positioned to make the face of the vice (including wood jaw face) flush with the front face of the bench. Would anyone here recommend it being flush?

The tail vice components have been added, now just a matter of making up the box to fit it.

Even though I cut the support block that holds the threaded flange perfectly square, I had to add shims because of the poor casting, because when I screwed it tight it tried to jam up the screw action.

The bottom of the trough was sized up using offcuts when I sized the top, the first pic shows the bottom glued and clamped up. (note the bench top is upside down)

Pic 2. With the top the right way up shows the bottom in and one of the angled end pieces cut ready to insert in the tool trough.

Pic 3. A close up of the piece fitted.

Pic 4. Shows the trough finnished.

Next tuit job is finnish the Tail vice and then fit the old Record 53.

The tail vice was added today

Pic 1 shows the top and retaining slide.
Pic 2 shows the top in place and the side piece about to be fitted.
Pic 3 With the bench upside down the bottom is ready to be fitted, the slide retaining piece is already fitted to the bottom. In the far right of the pic is the end piece which will be fitted in the jaw.
Pic 4 Finnished except for cutting a dog hole.

Started to fit the Record 53 today.

Pic 1, Cut a large hole for the back of the vice to fit into.

I know it looks odd but the pic was taken with the bench on its side, the clamp is its self clamped to another bench so it can’t be knocked over.

Pic 2, Is just a close up of the same routed hole.

Pic 3, With the back in position I can now cut some beech to fit the void, remove the vice back, screw the wood to the vice and then refit the vice to the bench top. πŸ˜€

Apart from a light sanding all over, these last few pics conclude the work on the bench top.

Pic 1, Piece of wood cut to fit over the vice front and will be the rear jaw.

Pic 2, Corners cut off, more for aesthetics than real need.

Pic 3, Holes bored through to take the front jaw and a little planning.

Pic 4, All bolted in, Planed and sanded.

That concludes the work top. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

Now for a start on the base.

Pic 5, Ripped planned and glued, four legs ready for sizing.

My first design looks to short, but I tried sitting on the ends of the top (i’m 19 stone) with a timber where the legs would be and it didn’t budge, so it would be ok.

Then I came up with the idea of lengthening it on the face vice end and instead of making the area a drawer, I could have a top swing open compartment with a 4″ extractor fitting to suck up chippings and saw dust. What do you think?

Ok it’s not going to collect all the dust, but I think it would help.

(Pic 1) All the rails now have tennons cut.

(Pic 2) The lower front & back rails have been cut with a curve on the lower face.

(pic 3) 8 morices done, 8 to go. Here is one end dry fitted.

I don’t know if to make the end panels up out of beech or to go and buy some beech 1/2″ ply, what would you do?

Well I did make up the panels from beech as Andy (Dedee) suggested.

Here the right hand panel gets glued up.

You may not have noticed I chamfered all the arrises to within 2″ of the corners.

The second pic shows the chamfers better but is only dry fitted prior to drilling dowel holes through the joints.

Finally both ends panels are complete, glued up and with dowels fitted.

The base is completed just a light sanding to go.

This pic is viewed from the back (the back panel is just 1/2″ ply).

This is the view from the front.

I did think about having cupboards but I’ve now decided to put in three long drawers using full length pull slides.

The drawers are next on the agenda.

Ordered six draw runners yesterday afternoon from screwfix, this morning they duly arrived, bravo for screwfix. πŸ˜€

I didn’t want any glue or fixings on the end panel so I attached the draw support with glue on the ends only and pocket screws.

Pic 1 shows the supports and one runner in place.

Pic 2, The three drawers dry fitted and waiting for bottoms.

Hopefully tomorrow the draws will be glued up and fitted.

I finished the drawers and fitted them.

Pic 1, Just one draw front to go.

Pic 2, The front is flush with bench top and handles would get knocked off, so no handles.

Pic 3, Just a close up of the chamfer detail.

Managed to finnish the drawers this morning, and so it’s upside down time to fit the base to the top.

Pic 1 Positioning the base with bench base sitting on the tennons on the legs.

Pic 2. Making sure its spot on in position.

Pic 3. marking around the tennons (sorry for the fuzzy pic)

Well this morning has seen a big shift around moving stuff to find some more room (been there before got the tea shirt) and finally the top goes on the base.

Next and final thing is to fit the Record 53 on.

And so folks the show comes to an end, It is finished maybe a light sanding and then some teak oil, but the woodworking is finished.

So here are the final pics.

Pic 1, The vice face is fitted and I was careful enough to leave the 3 degree angle on the face to match the Record face.

Pic 2, Even though I’ve lost 2.1/2″ of jaw depth in total because of how I fitted the vice in, it’s still IMHO a whopper. πŸ˜€

Pic 3 & 4. The Final Pics.

Pic of the Bench in it’s final position under the tool cabinet which was under construction when I took the pic.

Well that’s it Folks, and for a finally (sp?) we all sing “It ain’t half heavy it’s my brother” πŸ™‚