Tool cabinets – Intro to design

As you can tell by the multiple posts and the title here, this is going to be a lengthy series.

The first thing I’ve done is actually grab all of my hand tools I currently have and lay them out to see what I’ve got.


The simple answer is, not a lot. I’m going to be adding another, larger square, a marking knife, and a spokeshave at the very least. This also just incorporates tools in the main section, so no chisels, etc. Although, I’m wondering just what I want to put in the main body, if I’d rather have the chisels there and have a wider cabinet. I suppose I digress. I’m still undecided, but you can see where the process is heading from the picture.

Tool cabinets – Ideas (part 2)

I feel wholly inadequate. When you look at this cabinet you will as well:

Awesome tool chest

That’s just incredible. Seamless integration of hand and power tools in the same space. It’s just…astonishing the level of detail. Museum piece, if I must confess. Chisels, mallets, router bits, cordless drills, sanding sheets, planes, glues…it really is art.

Unfortunately I don’t have that skill as to this point. And more to the point, I don’t have a space for something like that. I certainly don’t have the ceiling height. But we don’t cry over what we don’t have here at the 144, we work with what we have.

What we have is some hand tools that need to find a permanent, and organized home. I touched on this a very short time ago, but sometimes I feel the need to repeat myself to make sense of it. I have five planes currently, three regular smoother planes, a jack plane, and a block plane. I plan to add a jointer plane, and some smaller planes like a rabbet and a shoulder. What we need to plan around is the bigger planes. A #7 is 22″ long, so we work based on that for our longest dimension. I think the widest planes are 3″ wide or less. That’s 15-17″ for the long planes, given spacers. I’ll get that down to a more exact number the next time I’m in the shop. I’ll be slightly guessing at the dimensions for the jointer plane, but as long as I don’t permanently attach the spacer right next to it, I’ll have a few eighths to work with. If it happens to be the same width as my other ones, all the bonus for me. Grabbing the plane totes shouldn’t be a big deal even with a small divider.

The angle of the backer board needs to be figured out, and I’m not entirely sure what that will be at this point. I’ll have to mock something up and see what kind of depth we are looking at for the totes. Off the top of my head I don’t think I’ll need anything more than about 10-15ยบ. The only thing I don’t want is my cabinet being a foot deep, or having a huge amount of wasted space behind it. I want that space not to be missed. The smaller planes will be easily accommodated around the bigger ones. I’m not concerned about that. Only concern would be how to attach any short shelves. A sliding dovetail wouldn’t work because I wouldn’t be able to slide it in if it was truly stopped.

All of this is in the main body of the cabinet. I would have to mock things up before I know what other room I have left in the body for stuff like squares, gauges, and other stuff like that. I think I want two sets of chisels on one door, and my files and carving tools on the other.


I know that this won’t be the last tool cabinet I ever build, because I’ll eventually pick up more tools like braces that I won’t be able to plan for right now. But that’s okay. The main thing is to find a good home for my planes, primarily, before the Holtzapffel build begins. Can’t build something that big with stuff lying around.

I took some pictures yesterday of current problem areas that I’ll hit upon either in the next entry, or the one after that if I share some preliminary saw till ideas.

Tool cabinets – idea phase

Now that I’m headed down the slope slowly, I think it’s finally time to get serious about two cabinets for the shop – a plane till and a saw till.

The saw till isn’t strictly a cabinet, but a repository for my saws that don’t take up a lot of room and I can select one easily. There’s a bit of guesswork involved, because I want a fair number of saws I don’t currently have. Can be worked with because Lee Valley does a good job of putting dimensions on their website.

The plane till isn’t strictly going to be for planes. As such, it’s better to be described as a hand tool cabinet. I want to keep squares, my precise measuring tools, scrapers, etc in there. Since I don’t have a lot of that, I’m going to have to use a lot of assumptions about what I want, and how I want it arranged.

We’ll start with the latter first. I know I want room for 6-8 planes, with two spots for a #6 or larger, at least 22″ long. I want to store these planes on a slight incline, vertically. I will use bottom clips and rare earth magnets to secure them. I want room for a couple of spokeshaves and a scraper set here. On the doors I want to store two sets of six chisels on one side, and my files/rasps on the other with some room for carving tools I’ll eventually get.

Now we’ll have to see if we have room for squares of a few sizes and configurations. Also, a couple of smaller planes for more detailed work. I’ll be doing some measuring and looking while I’m out tomorrow and see what I come up with. Now that I have my #3 and #4 in hand, I can do a bit better job of laying this out.