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  1. #1
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    Dutch chest? English chest? Wall cabinet? Shaker-style bench? Aaaagh!

    Hey folks.

    I'm reaching a point where I might actually manage to get my garage turned into a year-round workshop this summer, and I'm starting to think about tool storage.

    Right now I use a Dutch-style chest, which I quite like. The only problem is that, well, I've gotten some new tools since I built it, and it's really not quite big enough. So I'm looking at a few options, and they all seem to have substantial drawbacks.

    1) I'm already planning to build a more or less Shaker-style bench, so there will be a lot of storage there. I'm figuring the base will be somewhere between six and seven feet long, which is a lot of storage space. On the other hand, that storage space is also potentially limited by things clamped to the bench, which might not be ideal. I could certainly put less-used tools in the bench and keep using the Dutch chest, which is likely what I'll start out doing anyway.

    2) Build a bigger Dutch chest. I build the smaller of the two sizes from the article, and another shelf might solve the problem. Or it might not... it's always hard to tell. The big downside to this is that I'm not likely to have a good place to put the chest right up next to the bench. It would likely end up on an adjacent wall, five to six feet away. I'm not sure how much of an annoyance that would end up being.

    3) Build an English-style chest. Like a lot of other people, I read The Anarchist's Toolchest, and immediately wanted to build a chest. Since my workspace is not quite six feet by six, I really didn't have space for one, but I will in the new shop. It could easily sit on the floor behind me, where I could just turn around and grab something without taking more than a step or two. The downsides, of course, are the time to build it and the fact that my back isn't great, so that much bending might be a problem.

    4) Build a wall mounted cabinet to hang over the bench. On the face of it, this currently looks like the best choice to me. I should be able to make it big enough for all the tools I have, plus reasonable expansion space, and I've got about 7 feet of wall space clear, so it could certainly be large enough to hold a lot of tools. I know that I hated working off pegboard, but that was mostly an issue with the pegs coming off all the time, and how dusty everything got, both of which would be dealt with by a cabinet with doors. The probable downside is height: every time I see a photo of someone with a wall mounted tool chest, I find myself wondering if they EVER use the tools mounted high up, or if they just keep them there to look nice. And a shorter cabinet holds a lot fewer tools...


    If anyone has thoughts on any of these, I'd love to hear them. I've only ever really worked off pegboard or out of the Dutch chest, so I have no real basis for looking at other options.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Andy McKenzie; 05-09-2016 at 11:52 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McKenzie View Post
    Hey folks.

    I'm reaching a point where I might actually manage to get my garage turned into a year-round workshop this summer, and I'm starting to think about tool storage.

    Right now I use a Dutch-style chest, which I quite like. The only problem is that, well, I've gotten some new tools since I built it, and it's really not quite big enough. So I'm looking at a few options, and they all seem to have substantial drawbacks.

    1) I'm already planning to build a more or less Shaker-style bench, so there will be a lot of storage there. I'm figuring the base will be somewhere between six and seven feet long, which is a lot of storage space. On the other hand, that storage space is also potentially limited by things clamped to the bench, which might not be ideal. I could certainly put less-used tools in the bench and keep using the Dutch chest, which is likely what I'll start out doing anyway.

    2) Build a bigger Dutch chest. I build the smaller of the two sizes from the article, and another shelf might solve the problem. Or it might not... it's always hard to tell. The big downside to this is that I'm not likely to have a good place to put the chest right up next to the bench. It would likely end up on an adjacent wall, five to six feet away. I'm not sure how much of an annoyance that would end up being.

    3) Build an English-style chest. Like a lot of other people, I read [i]The Anarchist's Toolchest[i], and immediately wanted to build a chest. Since my workspace is not quite six feet by six, I really didn't have space for one, but I will in the new shop. It could easily sit on the floor behind me, where I could just turn around and grab something without taking more than a step or two. The downsides, of course, are the time to build it and the fact that my back isn't great, so that much bending might be a problem.

    4) Build a wall mounted cabinet to hang over the bench. On the face of it, this currently looks like the best choice to me. I should be able to make it big enough for all the tools I have, plus reasonable expansion space, and I've got about 7 feet of wall space clear, so it could certainly be large enough to hold a lot of tools. I know that I hated working off pegboard, but that was mostly an issue with the pegs coming off all the time, and how dusty everything got, both of which would be dealt with by a cabinet with doors. The probable downside is height: every time I see a photo of someone with a wall mounted tool chest, I find myself wondering if they EVER use the tools mounted high up, or if they just keep them there to look nice. And a shorter cabinet holds a lot fewer tools...


    If anyone has thoughts on any of these, I'd love to hear them. I've only ever really worked off pegboard or out of the Dutch chest, so I have no real basis for looking at other options.

    Thanks!
    If you are like most modern humans, the of amount junk (or tools, jigs, wood, finishing supplies, etc. in this case) you need to store will naturally and unavoidably expand over time in accordance with the law of sideways entropy to fill all available space. This is a little known facet of the Laws of Thermodynamics that explains why the Universe is expanding, but still doesn't have enough decent storage space. Just ask Scully.

    Therefore, if you live long enough, and continue to have the means, you will eventually need to at least test all these storage systems during your lifetime.

    I made a shaker-style bench a long time ago. Sorry I don't have pictures. The key, as I learned from others, is to leave a gap between the underside of the bench and the top of the cabinets tall enough to accommodate clamps, dogs, and holdfasts. Without this gap, the utility of the bench is significantly reduced.

    Stan
    Last edited by Stanley Covington; 05-09-2016 at 11:44 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley Covington View Post
    If you are like most modern humans, the of amount junk (or tools, jigs, wood, finishing supplies, etc. in this case) you need to store will naturally and unavoidably expand over time in accordance with the law of sideways entropy to fill all available space. This is a little known facet of the Laws of Thermodynamics that explains why the Universe is expanding, but still doesn't have enough decent storage space. Just ask Scully.
    Love it Stanley!

  4. #4
    I'm in the same boat and bouncing around a couple ideas maybe this will help you.

    Its going to depend on personal taste, how anal one is about putting tools away, the nature of the project, size of workbench, etc.

    The drawbacks of under-bench storage are obvious: 1) Remembering which drawer holds which tool, 2) drawers could be obstructed by clamps, boards, etc.

    I couldn't work out of a chest. All that bending, searching, etc. Stuff would come out but wouldn't go back in until project completed.

    I actually am building a chest similar to the Gerstner but 1/2 way through the build I realized it will be way too small so I am giving it to my wife for her tools and parts. She restores antique sewing machines.

    Wall mounted cabinets are the way to go IMO. There are numbers of designs out there.

    I have two benches in different parts of the shop its a pain keeping track of tools so one idea I am working on is a mobile tool cabinet. It will basically be a shortened version of wall-mounted type design in order to keep the center of gravity low.

    One other idea is a small benchtop "tool till" that would hold chisels, combo squares, marking gauges, pencils, etc.
    I get really tired of having 3 or 4 chisels rolling around the bench - or falling on the floor (thank God for mats!).

    Of course all of this relates to your methods of work and how diligent you are about putting tools away.

    Me, I am not good at putting tools away. I waste tons of time looking for tools. I simply cannot train myself to keep my tape measure on my person, so I have one at every saw and even then, I loose them. I also tend to end up the the bench covered with tools and no room to work. I don't like wearing a shop apron.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stew Denton View Post
    Andy,

    If you aren't in a hurry, "The Toolbox Book" by Jim Tolpin, is a great book on the exact subject you are discussing. It is a fun read, and reads fairly quickly, but it must have not sold extremely well, because I see used copies, hardbound in good shape, at very low prices. He has photos of mobile tool chests, discussions on the same, etc. Many of the boxes and chests he shows are primarily or only for hand tools. He also has photos and article on all kinds of other woodworking tool chests, cabinets, etc. Great pictures of some incredible chests, cabinets, carts, etc.

    Stew
    Have it, read it, loved it. That and Landis' "Workbench Book" have been sitting on my nightstand for a few weeks where I can looking things up as they occur to me at night.

    Quote Originally Posted by William Adams View Post
    Agree w/ Stanley — Ars longa, vita brevis — which is carved on one of the chests featured in Tolpin’s book, which is an excellent resource on tool storage.

    If you like the idea of fitted cabinets, then you might want to get the new book on the H. O. Studley tool cabinet: http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/pag...,46132&p=73086
    Fitted cabinets are not gonna happen. Partly because I know my tool set is going to change over time, partly because I don't have anywhere near the patience to do something like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Engel View Post
    I'm in the same boat and bouncing around a couple ideas maybe this will help you.

    Its going to depend on personal taste, how anal one is about putting tools away, the nature of the project, size of workbench, etc.

    The drawbacks of under-bench storage are obvious: 1) Remembering which drawer holds which tool, 2) drawers could be obstructed by clamps, boards, etc.

    I couldn't work out of a chest. All that bending, searching, etc. Stuff would come out but wouldn't go back in until project completed.

    I actually am building a chest similar to the Gerstner but 1/2 way through the build I realized it will be way too small so I am giving it to my wife for her tools and parts. She restores antique sewing machines.

    Wall mounted cabinets are the way to go IMO. There are numbers of designs out there.

    I have two benches in different parts of the shop its a pain keeping track of tools so one idea I am working on is a mobile tool cabinet. It will basically be a shortened version of wall-mounted type design in order to keep the center of gravity low.

    One other idea is a small benchtop "tool till" that would hold chisels, combo squares, marking gauges, pencils, etc.
    I get really tired of having 3 or 4 chisels rolling around the bench - or falling on the floor (thank God for mats!).

    Of course all of this relates to your methods of work and how diligent you are about putting tools away.

    Me, I am not good at putting tools away. I waste tons of time looking for tools. I simply cannot train myself to keep my tape measure on my person, so I have one at every saw and even then, I loose them. I also tend to end up the the bench covered with tools and no room to work. I don't like wearing a shop apron.
    Thanks! I have a "short term storage" rack on my bench now, which is fantastic. After an incident with a chisel in November (pro-tip: Don't try to catch the screwdriver rolling off your bench. It might actually be a chisel), I (almost) always use it for tools that aren't in my hand already. I've gotten a lot better at actually putting the tools away when I'm done, too.

    I've also discovered I love having a shop apron, if it's not the kind that loops around my neck. I have one of the Duluth Trading Co "Improved" aprons, which I love. It maybe has too many pockets, but I just don't use all of them.



    Thanks again to everyone... I still haven't made a decision, so more opinions are welcome!

  6. #6
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    Build a tool tote, and just carry what you need, back and forth
    side view.jpg
    This one will hold a couple full sized handsaws. Besides, you can work on making dovetail joints while building one. Much better than the nailed together ones St. Roy carries around.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrey Kharitonkin View Post
    Interesting discussion. I'm also a beginner and for me it is a new hobby. I decided on wall cabinet because it is out of the way when it's open, I don't have to bend down to get a tool out of it and tools are very visible. At least that is what I expect.

    From theoretical point of view, I think this question should include set of tools and set of tasks to be performed. Then it is possible to minimize time needed to find the tool and put it back and maximize time using it. Lean and six sigma systems try to do something like this for mass production. And it should also include human being perspective. How to effectively perform the tasks with less time and energy. In Japanise culture human factor is usually much more accounted for than in western culture. How to hold hand plane is equally important to how to set it up. Japanise sharpening system includes body posture and what musculs are used for what. Can be there something along this way for storage system, too?

    Obviously, I have too much time for thinking and theories. As an attempt to compensate for luck of experience :-)
    I think there are a lot of us here who have more theory than experience. That's what makes it fun!

    I think you're right, and Western woodworking has moved more and more in the direction of moving the wood over the tool, and not putting much thought into how the human part of the system works. I'm inclined to say that historically there was probably about as much thought given, but it got lost somewhere. I'm not really qualified to comment on any of it, though, not being even a very good amateur historian.

    I definitely think the wall chest will be more efficient for my particular body, which is one reason I'm leaning away from the floor-chest model.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Parkis View Post
    Late to the party, but there are a lot of good ideas here http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...age7&p=2249647 One I was particularly taken with is the rolling cabinet by John Schtrumpf. No matter what you do, it won't be long before you're adding another cabinet.
    Oh, hey, I'd totally missed that thread. Now I have something to read at lunch tomorrow! Thanks!

    I'm working really hard at limiting my tool accumulation. There are some categories (files and rasps) where I hardly have anything, but others (like bench planes) where I don't plan to buy anything new unless it will replace something I'm already using, or I have a very specific reason for buying it. It's working better than I thought it would, largely because I keep being distracted by camera lenses and RC planes.


    Quote Originally Posted by steven c newman View Post
    Build a tool tote, and just carry what you need, back and forth
    side view.jpg
    This one will hold a couple full sized handsaws. Besides, you can work on making dovetail joints while building one. Much better than the nailed together ones St. Roy carries around.
    Probably a good call... We'll see how things go.



    Due to a recent re-aggravation of a back injury, I may be selling my motorcycles. I'll hate to see them go (if they do), but it would sure simplify shop organization.

  8. #8
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    Maybe one or three of these?
    end view.jpg
    Lids open to allow access to almosr 50 pounds of tools
    opened lid.jpg
    Stanley No. 888s were made with Walnut. Mine was pine, with Walnut dust seals. Might go research what all when into the Stanley No.888, I had to add handles on the ends, these things get heavy when full...
    closed up.jpg
    These were only made in the mid 1920s, good luck finding an original....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley Covington View Post
    If you are like most modern humans, the of amount junk (or tools, jigs, wood, finishing supplies, etc. in this case) you need to store will naturally and unavoidably expand over time in accordance with the law of sideways entropy to fill all available space. This is a little known facet of the Laws of Thermodynamics that explains why the Universe is expanding, but still doesn't have enough decent storage space. Just ask Scully.
    Stan
    I seem to be moving in a different direction Stanley; reverse entropy if you will (I have maxed out my sideways entropic capacity [or at least my wife thinks as much]).

    Randy

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McKenzie View Post
    Hey folks.

    I'm reaching a point where I might actually manage to get my garage turned into a year-round workshop this summer, and I'm starting to think about tool storage.

    Right now I use a Dutch-style chest, which I quite like. The only problem is that, well, I've gotten some new tools since I built it, and it's really not quite big enough. So I'm looking at a few options, and they all seem to have substantial drawbacks.

    1) I'm already planning to build a more or less Shaker-style bench, so there will be a lot of storage there. I'm figuring the base will be somewhere between six and seven feet long, which is a lot of storage space. On the other hand, that storage space is also potentially limited by things clamped to the bench, which might not be ideal. I could certainly put less-used tools in the bench and keep using the Dutch chest, which is likely what I'll start out doing anyway.

    2) Build a bigger Dutch chest. I build the smaller of the two sizes from the article, and another shelf might solve the problem. Or it might not... it's always hard to tell. The big downside to this is that I'm not likely to have a good place to put the chest right up next to the bench. It would likely end up on an adjacent wall, five to six feet away. I'm not sure how much of an annoyance that would end up being.

    3) Build an English-style chest. Like a lot of other people, I read [i]The Anarchist's Toolchest[i], and immediately wanted to build a chest. Since my workspace is not quite six feet by six, I really didn't have space for one, but I will in the new shop. It could easily sit on the floor behind me, where I could just turn around and grab something without taking more than a step or two. The downsides, of course, are the time to build it and the fact that my back isn't great, so that much bending might be a problem.

    4) Build a wall mounted cabinet to hang over the bench. On the face of it, this currently looks like the best choice to me. I should be able to make it big enough for all the tools I have, plus reasonable expansion space, and I've got about 7 feet of wall space clear, so it could certainly be large enough to hold a lot of tools. I know that I hated working off pegboard, but that was mostly an issue with the pegs coming off all the time, and how dusty everything got, both of which would be dealt with by a cabinet with doors. The probable downside is height: every time I see a photo of someone with a wall mounted tool chest, I find myself wondering if they EVER use the tools mounted high up, or if they just keep them there to look nice. And a shorter cabinet holds a lot fewer tools...


    If anyone has thoughts on any of these, I'd love to hear them. I've only ever really worked off pegboard or out of the Dutch chest, so I have no real basis for looking at other options.

    Thanks!
    Andy,

    Your concern about tool storage being some distance for the bench is pretty much right on.

    I just finished an English chest. It was meant to be a traveling chest and the size got out of hand . I rearranged the shop so it could set behind the bench, the chest with a couple of additional tills is working well. BTW, with working full time (my full time is really full time...many 6 or 7 day weeks) from first cut to near finish was less that two months. A person with a normal schedule should be able to finish one in a couple or three weekends. It can be a very simple build.

    With a Shaker style bench, depending on room, I would want my tills and cabinets on a wall behind the working area and the bench open on both sides. That way if a work piece was blocking the drawer from the working side it would be simple to go around the bench and retrieve the tool from the back side if the drawers were built to open from both sides.

    Remember, it is shop furniture and a work bench....As always my mantra is build it heavy, strong, cheaply, and fast....Then go to work building furniture.

    ken

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley Covington View Post
    If you are like most modern humans, the of amount junk (or tools, jigs, wood, finishing supplies, etc. in this case) you need to store will naturally and unavoidably expand over time in accordance with the law of sideways entropy to fill all available space. This is a little known facet of the Laws of Thermodynamics that explains why the Universe is expanding, but still doesn't have enough decent storage space. Just ask Scully.

    Therefore, if you live long enough, and continue to have the means, you will eventually need try all these storage systems during your lifetime.

    I made a shaker-style bench a long time ago. Sorry I don't have pictures. The key, as I learned from others, is to leave a gap between the underside of the bench and the top of the cabinets tall enough to accommodate clamps, dogs, and holdfasts. Without this gap, the utility of the bench is significantly reduced.

    Stan
    I'm fond of the Law of the Conservation of Filth: It is impossible to get anything clean without getting something else dirty. Corollary: It is, however, possible to get everything dirty without getting anything clean.

    I've actually been reducing the overall number of tools I have, but that's limited... pretty soon I'll have gotten rid of all the garbage I bought when I was starting out (and the few good duplicates I don't want), and I'll go back to accumulating faster than I can get rid of things.

    I'll absolutely leave a gap. My current bench is designed to accommodate the Tools For Working Wood holdfasts, and there's no way I'm going to change that. They're fantastic. That's probably going to mean a benchtop of about 3" thick with a 4-5" gap underneath. As a bonus, that's a good place to stash things like a bench hook, small shooting board, and the like. As long as they're not under the holdfast, they're out of the way and easily accessible.

    How did you like the storage aspect of the Shaker bench?

    Quote Originally Posted by ken hatch View Post
    Andy,

    Your concern about tool storage being some distance for the bench is pretty much right on.

    I just finished an English chest. It was meant to be a traveling chest and the size got out of hand . I rearranged the shop so it could set behind the bench, the chest with a couple of additional tills is working well. BTW, with working full time (my full time is really full time...many 6 or 7 day weeks) from first cut to near finish was less that two months. A person with a normal schedule should be able to finish one in a couple or three weekends. It can be a very simple build.

    With a Shaker style bench, depending on room, I would want my tills and cabinets on a wall behind the working area and the bench open on both sides. That way if a work piece was blocking the drawer from the working side it would be simple to go around the bench and retrieve the tool from the back side if the drawers were built to open from both sides.

    Remember, it is shop furniture and a work bench....As always my mantra is build it heavy, strong, cheaply, and fast....Then go to work building furniture.

    ken
    So far I've built mostly shop stuff. I've done a few small boxes and two large toy chests. I'm hoping to change that this year and make some end tables and a coffee table.

    If I go with an English chest, I'll probably go with the two-day plywood version. I'd rather go with solid wood, but as you say... spend the time building furniture, and make shop equipment fast and inexpensive. (Though where I am, 5/4 poplar is cheap and plentiful, and I could use it to try out the "riveted" technique I've been considering for a new desk.... Hmm....)

  12. #12
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    I really like having marking and layout tools on the wall behind the bench. They are convenient to grab and easy to immediately put back in their place.

    I have often thought it would be nice to have a versatile rack on the wall for tools in use that otherwise clutter the bench. But I do not have that type of temporary tool rack. If I were rebuilding, I would add that feature.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McDermott View Post
    I really like having marking and layout tools on the wall behind the bench. They are convenient to grab and easy to immediately put back in their place.

    I have often thought it would be nice to have a versatile rack on the wall for tools in use that otherwise clutter the bench. But I do not have that type of temporary tool rack. If I were rebuilding, I would add that feature.
    I've got a small temporary rack on my current bench, and it's fantastic. That's one of the reasons I'm considering the wall mounted chest... I really like having stuff in reach over the bench.

  14. #14
    Struggling w/ this myself, but from a portable-oriented perspective. I thought this blog post https://bridgerberdel.wordpress.com/...n-and-storage/ condensed things down nicely:

    Pegboard is the lowest common denominator of tool storage.
    Fitted cases are for mature sets of tools....a static system.
    Anarchist’s tool chest.....allows for a practical amount of upgrading and rearranging....enforces restraint.
    (T)ool rolls....don’t waste space, at least not as long as the tools in them aren’t too awkwardly shaped.
    Drawers....Get enough drawers and you start forgetting what’s inside any particular drawer.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Adams View Post
    Struggling w/ this myself, but from a portable-oriented perspective. I thought this blog post https://bridgerberdel.wordpress.com/...n-and-storage/ condensed things down nicely:
    Thanks! That's a useful looking post...

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