how to extreme

Build a Deluxe Tool Storage Cabinet

Cabinet, Construction How-To, Storage, Tools February 9, 2010 admin


In this article I am going to show you how I built this tool cabinet and how you can customize it to your needs with a minimal investment of time and materials. This article will guide you through all of the steps required to make this cabinet from start to finish, as well as how to buy this project as a “Ready-To-Assemble Kit” (RTA kit), or as a completed unit ready to use.



About the Project

Having seen many different designs for tool cabinets over the years, but nothing that I really liked, I finally decided to design one specifically with the woodworker in mind. One thing that most tool chests lack is a large drawer that will hold bulky tools like routers and skill saws. This design is simple, practical, cost effective and versatile. Basically, if you don’t want to spend big bucks on a metal tool box, and you would rather do it yourself and have a wood tool box, then this is for you. It’s a great thing to have for work in a shop where you have your own tools and keep them locked up (not to mention all of your co-workers will be very impressed). If you do interior carpentry, this thing will make jobsite work a piece of cake, and you won’t have to worry about scratching your client’s floor. This tool box looks beautiful and works like a dream; it rolls smoothly and quietly and when you add rubber drawer liners the tools won’t move around. Polyurethane locking casters and a solid maple butcher block top keep it sturdy and mobile. It’s such a nice piece of furniture, you might want to use in your own kitchen for utensils, napkins and serving trays, then roll it to the dining room to serve guests. The possibilities are endless.

The basic model that is shown here is just the starting point. There are many additional features that can be added later that I will cover at another time. I will continue to customize my tool cabinet and share the developments on my company’s new website: by Western Dovetail.

Some of the things I will cover later will be:

  • adding tool holders to the sides and back for more storage
  • making inserts with dividers to keep the drawers organized
  • adding storage doors to the front to hold even more tools
  • adding an extension to the top that can be used as a router table
  • making a built-in vise to hold your work pieces
  • using different wood species to make fancier units

However, for now we’ll just stick to the basic cabinet as shown. If you go to, you can sign up for the newsletter and become a fan on Facebook if you want to see all the developments as they unfold.

How do I Get One?

This project can be done in a number of ways, so before you get started you should decide what’s best for you. All of the materials, hardware and drawers can be ordered directly on from Western Dovetail as well as many other sources that are referenced in this article. The tools required are basic cabinet making and carpentry tools. The skill level is advanced and requires a high degree of accuracy to ensure that the drawers function properly. If you don’t have the equipment or skills to cut the parts accurately and square within 1/32”, then you should probably get the kit.

Here are some options:

1. Follow the plan, and make it from scratch (high skill level and a couple of weekends required)

2. Order all of the materials cut to size and do the rest yourself (requires dovetailing skills and one weekend)

3. Make the cabinet yourself, order the dovetailed drawers and hardware, and then assemble it (about two half-days of work)

4. Order all of the parts cut to size and dovetailed; ready to assemble with hardware (unfinished or pre-finished, can be assembled in less than a day)

5. Buy the ready-to-use tool cabinet completely assembled and finished.


Getting Started

First, you need to decide if this cabinet is the right size for you. The height is important if you want to use it as a workbench. A comfortable workbench height is usually a little more than half of your height, but it also depends on how long your arms are. Someone who is 5′-7” might want their workbench height at about 34”, whereas, someone over 6′ tall would prefer a 37” height.

This plan calls for a 30” tall cabinet, but with the heavy-duty 4” casters, the cleat on the bottom and the 1-1/2” top, the total height is 37-1/2”.

To reduce the height of the cabinet, use a 3/4” top and 3” casters and it will come out to about 35-1/2”. If that is still too tall, you can reduce the height of the cabinet by 1” and make one of the deeper drawers 1” shallower.