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Why build a tool cabinet?

July 6, 2018

An early sketch of one corner of the tool cabinet.

I’ve decided to build a tool cabinet.

Hi.  I’m Richard, this article will be the first in a series that follows the construction of a tool cabinet.  My tool cabinet.

Why build a tool cabinet?

As I learn more about woodworking, and as I better-learn where my place is within the woodworking world, I’m acquiring a few more woodworking tools.  When I had a few chisels, a square, and a marking knife, this could all be managed with a tool roll.

As I build speciality tools, like a beam compass, and a panel gauge, and as I acquire additional measuring and marking tools, like a combination square and compass, I have outgrown a tool roll.  And a small footlocker.  And a storage shelf.  And. Well, let’s just not even mention those few bits of interesting lumber that I’m saving, and that I will certainly use Real Soon Now!

Now I want to have a place for my tools that is a little better organized.

Why build a tool cabinet, rather than a tool chest?

I like the idea of a tool chest, like the Dutch tool chest design. The compact use of space, with multiple layers of densely packed tools, appeals to me.  On the other hand, having to move multiple layers of densely packed tools to find the one I currently require, does not appeal to me.

A tool cabinet, might consume the same amount of floor space as a tool chest. Yet a tool cabinet can extend much taller than a tool chest, and make better use of the space above where a tool chest might end.

I really like the ranks of chisel (and chisel-like object) storage in the deep doors of Tom’s tool cabinet.  This style of door design, and tool storage was the first aspect of the project that I decided that I “must have.” That, more than anything, said to me, “this will be a tool cabinet, not a tool chest.”


My tool cabinet design draws inspiration from many places. I have drawn unconscious inspiration from many web searches, woodworking books, and visits to wood shops and workshops. I won’t be able to remember all of the things I’ve seen, and designs that have influenced me.  Some of the major sources of my inspiration are:

Tom’s Tool Cabinet

Justin’s Tool Cabinet

This linen press is a substantial and serious collection of timber

Here are some dimensions from the linen press.

What’s next?

I’ll have more to say about the tool cabinet project as it continues. I hope to write articles about the design details, and about the cut list and lumber. I’ll document the building, assembly, and fitting-out as I accomplish those tasks.

Do you have questions or comments?

Thanks for joining me on this project.  See you soon.

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