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Grab-and-Go Tool Storage

Updated: Jun. 02, 2022

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FH10NOV_TOOLST_01-2Family Handyman
Store all your power tools, hand tools, paint and other supplies in this compact, efficient storage unit. It has shelves, drawers and a pullout table for sorting tools and doing small repairs. It's handsome and easy to build, too.

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Overview: Time, money and materials

Bins, drawers and a rollout table

The drawers are removable so you can carry everything to your project or repair site.

Do you spend too much time looking for tools on shelves scattered around your garage? If so, this grab-and-go tool cabinet is the answer. You corral all your power tools and accessories in one place and roll them around your garage or shop. The pullout table is great for doing quick repairs, prepping tools and sorting parts. The drawers are removable totes that you can carry to your work area.

You’ll also like how easy it is to build. All the parts are glued and screwed together with simple butt joints and overlays. Just build the top section of tool bins first, then build the lower shelving unit to slide under.

You can easily build the cabinet in one weekend and then apply the finish and install the hardware the next. Figure on spending about $375 for the entire project including hardware and finish. We chose 3/4-in. birch plywood for the main structure and 1/2-in. plywood for the backs and drawer sides. You’ll also need hardwood for the drawer fronts and the edges of the pullout work surface. You can dress up the look with simple moldings to cover the exposed plywood faces.

Figure A: Tool Cabinet

Overall dimensions:
60-1/2“ tall x 61-1/4“ wide x 17“ deep

You can download and enlarge Figure A, a Materials List and a Cutting List in Additional Information below.

Meet a Pro! David Radtke

David is a custom cabinetmaker, home design consultant, freelance editor and home restoration specialist in Minneapolis. He enjoys archery, bow-making, woodturning and cycling— whenever he’s not standing behind a table saw or sitting in front of the drawing board.

Step 1: Build the upper bins

Photo 1: Build the bins

Position the shelves with spacers and tack them in place with a brad nailer. Then add screws for strength.

Photo 2: Join the bins

Line them up on a flat surface, then glue and clamp them together. A homemade squaring jig holds the bins square until the back is on.

Photo 3: Add the back and top

First, glue and nail on the back. Then sand the front edges of the bins so they’re flush. Finally, glue and nail on the top.

Cut the plywood parts according to the Cutting List above. Assemble each of the three bins as shown in Photo 1. To make assembly faster, we used self-drilling screws, which means you won’t need a pilot hole or a countersink. However, drill a shallow starter hole with a 3/32-in. bit to keep the tip of the screw from wandering off the mark as you start to drive the screw.

When you join the three bins (Photo 2), you’ll need a work surface that’s absolutely flat; an old flush panel door on sawhorses works perfectly for this. Finish the bin unit by gluing and nailing the top into place (Photo 3).

Step 2: Assemble the drawers

Photo 4: Build the drawers

Tack them together with nails and glue, then add screws. A squaring jig makes square assembly easy. Drill holes through the back of each drawer to act as a handle.

Measure the openings in the bottom of the bins and then downsize the drawer about 1/8 in. in total height and width. Since the drawers don’t have slides, this will give you just the right clearance. Take into account the thickness of the plywood drawer bottom. Sometimes “1/4-in. plywood” is actually 3/16 in. thick.

Step 3: Build the lower shelving section

Measure the width of the top assembly and then cut the parts for the lower shelving unit so it’ll be exactly the same width. “Three-quarter-inch” plywood isn’t exactly 3/4 in. thick; it’s actually 23/32 in. That’s why it’s critical to measure. Use the Cutting List as a guide, but measure carefully to be sure.

Screw the sides to the shelves using Figure A as your guide. Install the lower partition (H) halfway between the bottom and middle shelf. Cut the 1/2-in. plywood back and check the assembly for square, then glue and nail it to the back of the sides and shelf.

To reinforce the bottom shelf, rip 3-1/2-in. strips of 3/4-in. plywood (parts P and Q) and glue and nail them to the bottom of the assembly. Screw the casters to the strips.

Step 4: Combine the two sections

Photo 5: Mount the slides for the pullout table

Glue and nail spacers to sides, then add the slides. This is a lot easier to do before you attach the sides to the bins.

Photo 6: Combine the upper and lower units

Slide the lower unit into the upper unit until it makes contact with the spacers. Screw the lower unit to the sides.

Mount the drawer slide that will support the pullout table (Photo 5). Then lay the upper unit onto its back and glue and screw the outer sides (R) to the bin sides (A). You may need to shim underneath to bring the sides perfectly flush.

Next, slide the lower unit into the upper until it contacts the spacers (W). Align the faces of the lower assembly with the outer sides (R) and drive the screws from the inside. You’ll need nine screws per side.

At this stage, the project has acquired considerable heft, so get someone to help you tip it upright.

Step 5: Assemble the pullout table and trim and apply a finish

Photo 7: Cover exposed plywood edges

If the trim is a bit too wide, you can shave it slightly with your table saw. Glue and nail the edging into place.

With the unit nearly finished, you can now make the pullout table. Carefully measure the distance between the side spacers. Subtract 1 in. from this measurement (1/2-in. clearance for each drawer slide) and build the table to this precise width. Now you can cut and screw the drawer faces to the front of the drawers. Be sure you have 1/4-in. clearance between the bottom of the drawer faces and the pullout table. Align the edges of the outer drawer faces so they’re even with the table front.

Tip: To make sure your drawers don’t get trapped inside their openings before you install the fronts, press a strip of masking tape onto the inside front of the drawer and let it hang past the drawer. You can pull on the tape if you accidentally close the drawer.

For a fast, easy finish, use a wipe-on polyurethane or Watco oil. Use a brush to get into tight areas and then a lint-free rag to wipe the finish. Let dry and give it a second coat.

Additional Information

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Brad nail gun
  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Drill bit set
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Framing square
  • Miter saw
  • One-handed bar clamps
  • Orbital sander
  • Table saw
  • Wood glue