Shop Helpers, Workshop
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Saying Goodbye to my Old Tool Cabinet

This post won’t be about me losing an old shop friend; a fixture which has been in my workshop since 1990. All the way back to the early years of my woodworking life. Now that I have my new tool cabinet tucked under my basement stairs and the even newer tool cabinet tucked under the top of my new workbench, it is time for me to get rid of something old – my original tool cabinet. This tool cabinet is a reminder of where I started but the new cabinets I’m using are soooo much better.

Once setting up shop in our current home, I quickly realized I needed a better way to store my growing tool collection. I spotted this tool cabinet in the pages of a woodworking magazine and immediately set out to build it. A year or more ago, I completed an extensive search of the internet hoping to find the cabinet’s original construction plan. I was confident it came from the pages of ShopNotes magazine or Woodsmith magazine. Sadly, after several attempts, I never found the article. My next woodworking plan will be based on this cabinet, but will include updates based on my experiences with the cabinet.

Now that it is going to a new home, I had to clear out decades of junk from the drawers, clean it up and add a coat of some left over paint.

So, let’s talk about shop organization for a minute. Or lack thereof because there was a bodacious amount of junk in both the drawers and the open area below the drawers. And dust; thick dust. In all the time I have had this cabinet, I can’t remember taking the time to re-organize it or clean it up. It has stain splattered on it from a spilled can of Minwax dark walnut stain. There were cobwebs clinging to the four casters. And I threw away three garbage bags worth of odd screws, bolts and all manner of speciality fasteners, paint supplies, odd plumbing things, etc. etc. I promise to do a better job of keeping my shop in good shape.

The Humble Construction Details

This cabinet currently is 28 years old. It won’t win any awards for how it was built. I used exterior grade plywood – I’m not sure why I picked such a rustic material. Selecting this plywood was probably based on cost. As this plywood has aged, its wild grain has become even more pronounced, and more of an eyesore – the reason for the paint.

Drawers slide in dados let into the sides and center divider.

Nails used for drawer joinery.

I had forgotten how basic the construction method was. Virtually all of the joinery is by way of nails and glue; even the drawers components used nails and glue. At times the drawers were so full of stuff that items inside the drawer made it hard for them to slide open. So the drawers were subject to considerable pulling force and even though the joinery is nails and glue, these joints are still tight.

For those out there who think such rudimentary construction techniques don’t hold up for the long haul, remember this tool cabinet because it contains no dovetails, no mortise and tenon joints, nothing that would bring me praise from my peers. Just nails and glue and this tool cabinet is still doing its thing well. I am sure it will be serving its purpose for many years to come.

With a fresh coat of paint, it will be on its way to my brother’s new home. I sent him a text yesterday asking him if he wanted it. His reply: “Yes!” So, it will not win any awards for construction, but this tool cabinet is a solid winner as a shop fixture.

My Next Project

All of this was done to make room for my next project – a clamp wall. Since I accumulated a lot of new clamps while building my workbench, I need a better way to store them. Also, I recently received a ton of Woodpeckers tools from my very generous brother-in-law. These Woodpeckers tools will be mounted to the left of the clamp area in the image below.

The proposed clamp wall.

Plus I have a custom woodworking plan underway. A woodworker contacted me asking “Can you make a SketchUp model of this dining table.” I said yes and it has turned into a paid custom woodworking plan. I have another plan floating around in my head which I need to start and I have an even bigger project that will be coming soon. A lot going on now!

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Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).


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During the week, I sell flooring products for The Dixie Group. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.

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