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Simple All-Purpose Shop Cabinets


Simple All-Purpose Shop Cabinets

Organize your shop in a weekend, for less than $20 per cabinet!

By Jean Bartholome

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Walk into a typical small cabinet shop, and you’re likely to find simple, functional cabinets made of inexpensive sheet goods. Not that these pros couldn’t make furniture-grade cabinets for their shop if they wanted, but when there are customers waiting and bills to pay, shop cabinets get built fast, cheap and solid.

These cabinets are right out of this tradition. They’re fast to build, so you can move on to building real furniture for your home. They’re sturdy and flexible, so you can adapt them to all sorts of storage needs, even heavy tools and hardware. And best of all, they’re cheap. All the material and hardware should be available at your local home center.


Multi-purpose cabinets

These basic cabinets can be used on the wall, on the floor, on wheels, backto- back—any way you want. As you can see, we used them as the foundation for several basic pieces of shop furniture. The drawers range in size from a bit more than 1-in. deep, for small tools, to almost 6-in. deep for heavy stuff. The drawer design is so simple you can easily modify the dimensions and customize the sizes.

You can also use these cabinets as outfeed support for your tablesaw. With a 3/4-in. top and casters or a base underneath, the total height of the cabinet will be 34 in., a common height for tablesaws.

Click any image to view a larger version.

Rolling shop carts are always handy. This one uses two cabinets, and is the same height as our tablesaw. You could also use four or six cabinets for a larger rolling assembly table or an outfeed table.

A rolling tool chest is made from two drawer units, with a top and casters. Because this chest will carry a lot of weight, reinforce the bottom with braces.

Support a workbench with two or three cabinets. This bench has a plinth to raise the cabinets up off the floor, and a top of MDF edged with hardwood.

A wide cabinet is easily made from one of the basic cabinets. Flip the cabinet sideways, cut a new, longer nailer, and use double doors in front.

A miter saw stand is built from four or six cabinets with a shorter box in the middle to support the saw. A narrower base ties all the units together and provides a toe space.

Make extras for the laundry room, garage, or wherever you need utility storage.


This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 2001, issue #87.