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Thread: New Tool Cabinet Build questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    New Tool Cabinet Build questions

    I am in the process of reviewing several designs of hanging hand tool storage cabinets.

    The question is what goes into one of these and what does not? Where do you draw the line?

    Example one neander cabinet i see has files hanging on one side along with twist drills. Then the hand drill traditional type and brace also included.

    Another has carving tools and chisels.

    I am stressing at what to include and what not to include. I am not specifically concerned about what is tradditional but one can get to the point where all tools are in the cabinet.

    Is this the time to cut the herd down? Example i have several squares. While they are in draws i tend to grab the first one I come across. But in reality i feel if i had to face the open tool cabinet with only one in and it was a small adjustable then that would get to be the go to square. The issue then becomes what to do with the others.

    Same goes for chisels.

    I thought this would be a straight forward solution to tool storage but its proving to be anything but.

    Example i dont ever use a old school handdrill. Have three. One the chuck has issues the other is huge one i had handed down and the third i recently got given by a friend helping a friend of his clear her dads shop and it was going in the bin if i did not take it.

    Some other thoughts.....thinking aloud.......perhaps some duplicate or not used hand tools should become wall art.

    I dont want to make loads of cabinets each dedicated to a specific tool. Seriously i dont intend to have a tool collection of every one of LV and LN tools. For me and my hobby use one dovetail saw is enough.
    Problem is I was taught with a tenon saw, did not get taught there are several variants for different purposes. So yeah i would like to have a true tenon saw as well as my dovetail saw.

    I dont intend to have 100 planes in a collection but thats what i thought long ago the trouble is the herd keeps growing even when i dont buy them.

    I am also not straigt strict neander.

    Then the question is what to do with home diy tools like say a channel lock pliers and sidecutters hacksaw...? Make another seperate cupboard?

    I can see myself going full circle on this and getting back to the cupboard being pure neander woodworking tools.

    I know my wife keeps telling me to enjoy the journey, but i been travelling long enough i want to get down to making stuff and getting organized is first. I cannot find stuff because its all in draws on top of each other and just not conducive to good organization.

    Next question is how the heck does one move a tool chest after you loaded it up. I suppose its like crockery you got to take it all out and pack it individually and then unpack again.

    Another thought is the opening of the cabinet with the tools showing is good mental therapy from an inspiration point of view. You dont get that when your tools are in draws out of sight and i find i often end up being stupid using the wrong tool for the job just because i dont want to go scratching for the right one. So i am thinking the cabinet will help with that.

    Its kinda like having a dedicated sharpening station.

    Anyone got ideas or thoughts to throw in the pot ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    I have a thought or two. Having to condense my tools into a manageable weight as well, the first thing is to separate the users from the collectors. And set aside the duplicates, triplicates, etc. For now, box the collectors. Take a hard look at the extras. Sometimes it is good to have two of something. Box the extras.

    Now sort out tools dedicated to a bigger tool; like table saw blades with the table saw with its assorted tools and accessories. Dedicated cabinet with drawers to store all that stuff. Sometimes [as often as possible] the cabinet also supports the tool. Example band saw on a mobile storage cabinet. Likely you will have extra storage. Make note of it.

    Now sort out by function. I have a marking section [all things that measure, draw, square, etc.] Then chisels with a sub set of carving tools. And so on.

    Jigs are the hardest and they are the most awkward.

    One more thought has to do with where your cabinet is to go. It needs to be closest to where you use those tools. Hand tools, chisels, drill bits, measuring tools, etc. close to your bench. That helps separate the users from the collectors.

    What to do with the collectors and extra's? Sell and spend your money at Lee Valley. Or give to a worthwhile woodworking candidate along with some instruction.

    That's a start.

    Have fun.

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    So I am FAR from the best person to give advice based on my current layout, but perhaps you can learn from my disaster

    I've grown to prefer organization by purpose. I would put the channel locks and sidecutters in another toolbox dedicated for house maintenance. They have little use in the cabinet shop and when you do need them - rarely - you'll know where they are.

    For the rest I'd take roughly the same strategy. Sort out your tools and look at each one asking yourself "do I use this frequently" if the answer is "yes" it needs a spot in the chest. If the answer is "rarely" then put it either lower/in the back of the chest or in auxiliary storage. If the answer is "never but it looks cool/its sentimental/ want to keep it for whatever reason" its wall art. If the answer is "never and what was I thinking when I bought it" then its time for it to go. The hand drills are a good example of item #3 and #4. Keep the friends one and the huge one (sentimental and imho hard to replace/possibly useful - those old hand drills have their uses), put them on the wall and unless there is some good reason ditch the one with the messed up chuck. It helps to have someone else there when you do this.. I find it easier to be honest with my usage when someone else asks "really do you even know what this is?? much less use it??" than it is when I ask myself the same question (loml and I use this same strategy to clean out the closet.. you know that hasn't fit you for 5 years and you never even wore it then...).

    Personally I find having the tools I need to use all of the time near to hand to where they are used to be the best strategy... For example I'm starting to look at my chisel herd differently nowdays. For years I had ~4 old chisels sharpened and re-sharpened and used/abused. They served me well.. during a good sale I picked up a nice set of narex bevel edge chisels and another set mortise chisels. After ~2 years of use I find that maybe 6 of the whole set get frequently used. They are still all in a drawer together, but am thinking maybe a chisel rack with room for perhaps 8 chisels where I can mix/match for what I'm working on might be smarter and the rest stay away from the workbench.

    As for moving it, I've seen folks just slide it across the floor (put wooden runners underneath) or put it on casters. In practice they didn't actually get moved around that much. If you stood it up a little bit off of the floor with the runners (good idea anyway - make them so they are replaceable so if/when they rot you can just replace them saving the chest bottom) you could also I think get a dolly under it pretty easily and move it that way (the weight distribution is.. suboptimal.. but with a strap around it seems doable).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    I'm envisioning the Studley Tool Chest of Cordless power tools here Rob.

    I think you've got good suggestions above for a bench cabinet.

    I know you're like me though and have to tinker (not just in the shop). The thing I always end up using on projects to get what I need to the job is a 5 gallon bucket. So I've had it on my list to build a well organized tote to get my tools to the job, the tote will be on a cart in the shop to roll over to the work, but can be grabbed with everything I typically use in it to drag to the house or where ever to make things go more smoothly. I've bought several tote bags over the years and each have worked well for a while until I added new tools or a tool needed to be replace, then things got weird trying to fit things in, so I'd upgrade again to a larger one. I'd like to have one I can re-configure over time and will hold up.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Rob, just a quick response for now. I am working on a home project and just stopped for a break. Considering that you are in a temporary shop, I would suggest that you do not build a large wall unit, but several smaller ones that would allow more easier moving, when that time comes. I have finished my tool chest and will be posting pictures later today after my chores are done. Although, I will probably build a wall cabinet in the future, I am finding the chest to already be a great improvement. It consolidates all my tools in one area, which is a very noticeable improvement in efficiency.
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Good info so far. Carol's new adventure has put her in the position of doing what I have been gravitating toward for the last couple years;
    • Items used daily go near to hand
    • Near to hand items go near the station where they are used even if this breaks up nice OCD groupings of certain items
    • Items used several times a week can go a few steps away, the less they are used the farther they can be
      • Power hand tool are generally a few steps away for me
      • Odd-ball clamps that are good to have but, get used rarely can require a ladder to retrieve
      • You get the idea

    • Duplicates, consumables, tools I can't bear to part with but don't use and tools I forgot I even had must leave the shop.
      • They can go to the attic
      • They can go to the shed
      • They can go under the guest bed
      • They can even go into the closet in my home office
      • They just can't eat up valuable real estate in my shop where I need room to work

    Before contemplating wall cabinets ask yourself this; "Do I have any machines that are standing on something that does not provide storage?". If the answer is yes, let the wall cabinet percolate while you build some machine bases. A couple recent additions of mine, one a modification to an existing stand, another is new, built from scrap:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Work surfaces can stand on cabinets versus legs, sides of stands can be paneled in pegboard and hold all the paraphernalia that goes with the machine, etc. Once you are ready to go to a wall mount, I would follow the path you are already on; review everything, ask everyone and percolate, percolate, percolate. Take some comfort in the fact that whatever you build, it will need to be modified or replaced some time before you eat the worm sandwich so, don't stress. If you didn't watched Michael Pekovich's build of his replacement for his last wall hanger, watch that and the other articles filled with ideas on wall hanging tool cabinets / storage. Most of all, have fun.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Man i just love you guys. Where in the world can a person get such excellent advise and support as good and as quick as you guys respond to my plea for help. Thanks a ton.

    I spent the afternoon browsing pics i have saved and thinking on this subject and until coming back here for a quick squiz before i head out to a Christmas eve function and WOW in one swoop you guys put my concerns to bed. Now i can go out and enjoy myself. Thanks to each and everyone of you. What a clear collection of actions. In other facets of life i can see it all, when it comes to my hobby i think way too much emotion gets in the way.

    I have saved some baltic birch especially for the task of building Jan Zoltowski's cabinet from Fine Woodworking. With your good advice i will follow to the T i think i now see a way forward and will be prepared for change.

    Carol i really like your idea of passing on the duplicates that i dont need to a woodworker with less tools. They can bring that person some joy and spend their time cluttering their cabinets.

    This is a point i keep thinking about relating to what our family do with our tools when we pass. After seeing what was happening to another persons Dads tools some of which came to me just to avoid them going to the tip, I am more than ever intent on finding some youngsters in the local vicinity that are keen to or are studying woodworking at the local college. It turns me stone cold to think of things like this getting into the hands of auctioneers or being abused by family with no appreciation for their value.

    Glenn you have such a clear mind. Dont know how you do it. No wonder many of you guys do computer admin. Keeping track of all that is to be done and prioritizing it must make for excellent training.

    I particularly like your point about breaking up sets. Boy thats a tough one to do but its been at me to do mentally for so long. I now resorted to buying individual wrenches for the machines so there is no moving the wrench or allen key needed. But i am far from there.

    There is one thing that i would think Bill S would appreciate though and that is when one looks at a neander tool cupboard open, even if one uses sandpaper instead of that scraper plane its inspirational to have the item staring you in the face and hey someday you get to give it a whirl and leave the sandpaper where it is.

    One thing i do want to do is gravitate to more hand tool use. I am not on any production kick. So i share a great deal of what Bill gets out of his bench and tools. But it aint gonna happen if the tools are buried and i keep taking the path of least resistance.

    Thanks all and Merry Christmas to you all hope you have a peaceful happy one. Oh and Santa brings lots of new toys, i like toys.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Laurinburg NC
    Rob, I have gotten a crowd of help from these great people on here too. I have made some boo boos and I have to find someone to help me out it seems and so to this forum I go. . Maybe after a while I can get to the place where I can help others out more !! And sometimes I just need some guidance ! Thanks everybody for all your help !!! Have a Blessed, Safe and Prosperous New Yrs. !!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    I suggest buying a piece of pegboard, and a few peghooks, and nail the board up and hang your tools within arms reach.
    why build anything that wont be in your permanent shop?
    maybe an old rolling tool chest from someone at a garage sale. solve all your storage problems, and when you go, they will just be rolled right up into the moving truck and go with you.

    Ive met a few very, very successful custom woodworkers. (I dont mean 100K a year sucess either, I mean very successful living the good life)

    One thing I noticed similar in all their shops. They have little concern where they store their tools as long as they are safe and dry and ready to go.
    No fancy cabinets, nothing more than shelves and nails in the wall. (a few peghooks)

    you can get a piece of pegboard, and a rolling tool chest in one morning and be ready to work in your shop after lunch.

    I guess I dont think like so many, because I would rather spend my free woodworking time working on furniture or other projects instead of devoting months worrying about dividers in between my 6 hand planes, or the correct angle to hang a dovetail saw on when a peghook makes the most sense to me.

    rob, my feelings about shop storage arent directed at you directly, but I feel if someone really wants to take pride and build beautiful storage cabinets for their tools, great, but why waste money and time if its not your permanent shop or home shop.

    I do agree with glenn. in a home shop, where space may be limited, as most of us on here already know or experience, every surface that has room under it should have some drawers or something set up to store things.
    Last edited by allen levine; 12-31-2012 at 09:30 PM.
    Human Test Dummy

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