During a trip to Germany, Steve Shanesy snapped some pictures of a utilitarian, but also clever, rolling tool cart used in one of the woodworking shops he visited.
The cart was designed to hold your tools so your bench or assembly platform remained tidy. It had doors and drawers on the lower section, plus wings that opened on top to reveal three tool wells that kept things orderly and prevented items from falling onto the floor. When not in use, the cart closed to a nice size and could even be locked.
The staff agreed that the idea was a good one, but we decided to put a Popular Woodworking spin on it. We divided and detailed the lower drawer space some more and added a tool till inside the center well with magnetic tool holders.
Plus we made sure the construction was simple. Mechanical fasteners do all the hard work. You could easily build this cart with a circular saw, a drill and a router, making it a great project for beginners or even a professional cabinetmaker in a production shop.
While we didn’t start out worrying about price, the finished bill is worth talking about. Using two sheets of good-quality 3/4″ shop-grade plywood and one sheet of 1/2″ Baltic birch ply for the drawers, wood costs came in at about $125. The necessary hardware (there’s a lot more than you might think imagine) comes in at less than $150 if you build it exactly as we have. So for $275, you’re still getting a lot of storage for the price and the space is arranged to be exactly what you need, unlike a store-bought toolbox.
- The veneer edge tape is easy to use and quickly adds a finished appearance to the cabinet. Even though we ended up painting the exterior, the paint still applied better to the veneer tape than on a bare plywood edge. You’ll need to notch the tape with a file at the dado locations in the left case side.Next use either screws or Miller Dowels to attach the back to the center assembly. Check the spaces to ensure they are square, then add the bottom shelf to the back, holding the back flush to the bottom side of the shelf.Clamp your center assembly between the two sides, drill the appropriate holes, add glue and assemble the rest of the case. It’s a good idea to trim the dowels flush to the case side before flipping the case onto that face: It’s more stable and there’s less chance of messing something up.Add the front piece to the front edges of the sides, holding it flush to the top edge. The front will overlap the top shelf, leaving 1/4″ of the shelf edge exposed. This allows room to attach the front to the shelf with brad nails. The exposed edge will act as a door stop once hinges are installed.The wings go together like simple versions of the case. The side closest to the cabinet on each wing is 3/16″ narrower than the other. This creates a recess to house the hinge to mount the wings to the cabinet.We recessed the captured panels 1/4″ in from the outside edges to avoid any alignment problems. Using the stepped dowels, attach the wing sides to the wing panels. Attach the fronts and backs to complete the assembly.
- Storage Details
The last steps are adding a finish (we opted for two coats of dark green latex paint on the outside; the inside was left as-is) and then some sturdy 2-1/2″ casters to the case and placing and organizing your tools. The photos will show you a couple of storage tricks and items available for sale to help keep things neat and tidy.
- Download the full project, including drawings and the cutlist:
Download the plywood optimization chart for the work box:
- – David Thiel
Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.