Finishing-Supply Cabinets

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This article is from Issue 100 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Adjustable shelves, custom cubbies, and add-on door racks maximize your storage capacity

When it comes to workshop storage, I find that one of the biggest challenges is corralling finishing supplies. It seems that with every project, I accumulate yet more cans, cups, bottles, and brushes. I needed a better system to organize this stuff. Using a combination of full- and half-depth adjustable shelves, custom cubbies, and a variety of door racks, I designed these two specialty cabinets to wrangle my unwieldy collection of finishing goodies. One cabinet is outfitted to store the finishes themselves (as well as various adhesives), while the other cabinet holds mixing containers, applicators, and other related supplies. A place for everything and everything in its place makes my shop time more efficient and enjoyable.

The cabinet construction is straightforward, with glue and screws holding the parts together. As shown, a couple of inexpensive commercial jigs simplify the drilling of the shelf pin holes and hinge mortises. The shelves and door racks shown are sized for standard finish containers, but you can customize dimensions to suit whatever items you like.


Watch Brad build these cabinets, and get the full cut list at

Order of Work

  • Cut case parts
  • Assemble case with interior of choice
  • Make shelves and/or cubbies
  • Apply finish 
  • Hang doors
  • Build and attach door racks
  • Install cabinets, and load ‘em up

Same outside, two interiors

These Baltic birch plywood cabinets are simple to build and easy to customize. The sides, top, and bottom are identical for both cabinets, and assembled using pocket-hole joinery. The backs are fit into rabbets along the rear edges of the side pieces. The finishes cabinet features adjustable, half-depth shelves on the right side that hold pints and quarts. On the left, shallow shelves with notched lips hold spray cans. The supplies cabinet is outfitted with shelves and dividers to store finishing accoutrements—gloves, masks, mixing cups, rags, brushes, etc. 

Assemble and divide. Fit the center divider in the cabinet flush with the rear edges of the top and bottom. Hold it in place with a long clamp and check it for square. Drill 1⁄8"-dia. pilot holes through the top and bottom into each end of the divider. Countersink the pilot holes, and attach the divider using 2" woodworking screws.

Finishes cabinet

Cut the case parts to size. Drill four pocket holes into each end of the top and bottom pieces, and saw 1/2 × 1/2" rabbets in the rear edges of the side pieces. Assemble using 1-1/4" pocket screws and glue. Cut the center divider and the back to fit the case. Install the center divider and attach the back into its rabbets with glue and 18-gauge, 1" brad nails. Drill shelf pin holes in the sides and center divider, and cut the adjustable shelves to fit (about 5" × 13-7/8"). For the spray can shelves, add a strip to the front edge with routed notches to keep the cans from rolling.

Drill shelf pin holes. With the cabinet resting on its left side, use a shelf pin jig to space the holes, locating a row along the rear edge of the left side. Then use a 3"-wide spacer between the jig and back to drill the second row as shown. Flip the cabinet and repeat the process to drill the opposing holes in the center divider.
Double space. To drill the holes for the shelf pins in the right bay, use the same jig-then-spacer process, but add a second spacer at the top to offset the holes from those in the left bay.

Rout the notches. Cut a 4"-wide piece of 1⁄2" plywood the same length as your shelves. Chuck a 45° chamfer bit into a palm router, and set the cutting depth to 1⁄4". Plunge into the edge as shown to make notches where indicated in the drawing on p. 47. Rip that edge free and attach it to the front of the spray can shelf using glue and brad nails. Repeat for all spray can shelves.

Mating slots. Set up your dado stack to make a slot 1⁄4" deep and wide enough to snugly fit your divider material (inset). Referring to the drawing on p. 47, set your table saw fence to cut the slot nearest the end of the workpiece. Then rotate the workpiece 180 degrees and repeat from the opposite edge. Continue in the same manner, adjusting the fence and working toward the center.

Finishing supplies cabinet

Cut the case sides and top to size. For the bottom and middle shelf, start with a piece 28-1/2 × 23-1/2". Saw the slots for the dividers in the lower cubbies and then rip the piece in half to yield a mating bottom and middle shelf. Drill the pocket holes and assemble the case with the shelf 12" above the bottom. Add shelf pin holes to the upper portion of the cabinet using a shelf pin jig as demonstrated on the facing page. Cut the shelf (about 3/4" × 11-1/2" × 28-1/2) and dividers (about 1/4" × 11-1/2" × 12-1/2") to fit, and install the back before moving to the doors.

Rip to create a pair. Once the slots are cut, rip the piece into two 111⁄2"- wide lengths to yield a mating bottom and middle shelf.
A middling glue-up. After gluing and screwing the top and bottom to a side, use 12" spacers to locate the middle shelf, and attach it as shown. Then upend the assembly and attach the parts to the opposite side in the same manner.

Drilling for hinges. Drill the round mortises for the hinge cups on the doors using a drilling jig for concealed hinges.

Hang the doors & finish up

Now make the doors. I like to cut a pair of doors from the same sheet of plywood to display continuous grain across both. Referring to the drawing on page 47, lay out the hinge locations on both doors and the case interior. Three hinges per door will hold the extra weight of loaded door racks. Drill the hinge mortises, then the pilot holes for the mounting brackets inside the case per the manufacturer’s instructions. For a finish, I brushed on a few coats of Minwax Polycrylic. Between coats, I used a small section of folded craft paper to smooth the surface. When the paper picks up white dust, the finish is ready for another coat. Finally, install the cabinets, hang the doors, and attach the handles.

Door racks

The racks are made from 1/2" plywood. For a refined look, lay out a curve on the top corners of the sides using a small section of 1-1/2"-diameter PVC pipe. For efficiency, tape a pair of sides together before bandsawing the curve. Then sand to the layout line using a disk/belt sander. The remaining pieces are cut to size and then assembled using glue and 18-gauge brads. Attach to the doors using 1" corner braces.

Note: These racks won’t fit on the lower portion of the supplies cabinet.

Brad Rodriguez is a hobbyist woodworker who quit his corporate job to become an online content creator. His mission to educate, inspire, and entertain others with his projects has grown large followings across Instagram, Facebook, and his website

He’s also gained over 1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, with custom shop storage projects, DIY home renovations, and unique builds.


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