How to build a tool cabinet


I thought I would do a retro-spective post on my tool cabinet. I was hesitant to post after I first built it, but now that I have been using it for a while and loving it I think I can share a few tips.

– The Toolbox Book by Jim Toplin is excellent. Buy it. If you plan to design your own you will make good use of it.

layout1 layout2

– Play with tool layout for a while before building. I laid out tools at least 14 different ways before I settled on the current layout.




– Group tools by purpose. This way at any stage of the build you are not moving doors and such to get to matched components – example – all rough work tools together – all joinery tools together – all shaping tools together. I hope this shows in my cabinet.




– Have moving parts. It adds to complexity, but it also is fun to build and makes the cabinet more impressive.

– Keep the size down. Mine is 30in x 40in. It is bigger on the wall than it sounds.





– Put it near your bench, but not over it. It will be at least 10 in deep and it will get in the way of working.

– Design is always a series of compromises – small enough to fit your wall, big enough to hold stuff



– Limit the tools that go inside. Seriously. Too many tools requires too large a cabinet and too inefficient to use. Only put tools in the cabinet that need to go there, for whatever reason. My reason is accessibility when working at my bench. Everything in that cabinet is used at the bench (which is just to the right). Also dust/rust prevention.

– It is ok if tools are covered by other tools, just be sure that the most commonly used tools are most easily accessible. Notice that my marking tools are inside my main doors so they are never covered by the swinging door.

– Consider building a tool chest. Seriously. I really enjoy my cabinet, but I think a chest would also work well and would be portable. Besides, The Anarchist Tool Chest is a great read.

Bob Jones

3 thoughts on “How to build a tool cabinet

  1. Pingback: Closing thoughts on the Dutch Tool Chest project | The Christian Tool Cabinet

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