Layout Tool Cabinet

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This article is from Issue 75 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Treasured hand tools deserve a custom-made case. Use these tips to build your own version.

The technique I used to build the tool case shown on p. 52 can be adapted for a wide range of other small hand tools—like calipers, bevel gauges, straightedges, and so on. Just follow the directions on the facing page. See the Buyer’s Guide (p. 66) for materials.

Built-up panels inside rabbeted frames 

You can vary the size of your tool cabinet to suit the tools you want to store and the wall area where the cabinet will be installed. The panels in this cabinet are built up from five layers of ⅛ "-thick plywood.

1. Arrange your tools on a flat surface to determine the best layout. 
2. Gather your materials. 
3. Cut the required number of 1 ⁄8" plywood panels about 2" larger than the finished size of your built-up panels.
4. Number and stack the plywood panels flush on all sides. Clamp the stack together, then drill ¼"-dia. alignment holes through your stack in opposite corners. Place dowels in holes to keep panels aligned throughout your marking and cutout process.
5. Lay out the tools on the top panel, and trace completely around each tool. Then use a jigsaw fitted with a thin, fine-toothed blade to cut an opening for each tool in the topmost panel.
6. Reassemble your plywood stack, and mark the second panel to accommodate the thicker portion of each tool. Then make the required cutouts in the second panel.
7. Continue to make cutouts until each tool is fully housed. Incorporate finger-hole cutouts or recessed sections that enable you to reach behind a tool or push in a blade to free the tool from its cutout.
8. Sand all panels smooth to eliminate rough edges on cutout areas. With the alignment dowels in place, glue and clamp panels together. When the glue dries, cut the panels to finished size. 
9. Drill recesses for the circular magnets. Then glue the magnets in place with epoxy. 
10. Cut the frame pieces to make the cabinet back and doors. Incorporate the clear panels as shown in the drawing, and install the hinges.


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