Years ago, I slapped together the tool rack pictured above to hold my small collection of hand tools. It’s served me well over the years, but I think it might be time to move on. I’m just getting started on the design process for a new wall hung tool cabinet, and I’ve outlined four core requirements.
Keep out the dust
Dust… good lord, the dust. Grabbing a tool that I haven’t used in a while off the wall is like examining an archaeological record of my most recent projects. The cherry dust is on the top, under that I can see a layer of walnut, and deeper still, there’s a layer of maple dust peeking through. Dust attracts moisture and moisture makes rust. And it makes me sneeze.
Consolidate everything in one place
My existing tool rack is not designed to hold hand planes, spokeshaves, marking tools, scrapers, etc. All of these tools need a home, and that home is currently any horizontal surface in the shop that appears free at the moment. I want to have all my tools organized in one place so I don’t need to spend ten minutes wandering around looking for my block plane when I need it.
The rack is fairly full these days; it’s amazing how tools accumulate over the years. I still remember thinking how empty it looked when I first put it up on the wall. The new tool cabinet needs to not only accommodate all of my existing tools, but have room to grow, as well. To do this, I want the interior to be fairly easy to reconfigure as my needs change.
Until very recently, my workbench sat up against the wall and right underneath the tool rack. It was convenient for having the tools right at my fingertips, but I can’t even count how many times I whacked that rack with a clamp. I’ve knocked chisels down onto the concrete floor and ruined their edges, I sent my mallet flying across the room once, and I’ve even broken and glued back many sections of the chisel holder. I’ve since moved my workbench out into the center of the shop to give me 360 degree access (which was life changing, by the way, and probably deserves it’s own blog post), but I still would like to have an enclosure of some sort to protect my tools from my own clumsiness.
I’m in the research phase right now, which basically means I’m grabbing pictures of tool cabinets from all over to gauge what I like and what I don’t like. If you have any lessons learned from your own cabinet (dos or don’ts), let me hear them! You can reach me via email, twitter, or the comments section on this post. I’ll post some updates to the blog periodically as I move forward. But first, I seriously do need to go find my block plane… I think it may have made a break for it when I wasn’t looking…