For a number of years, I stored screws, bolts, and nails in a corner of my shop using a bunch of plastic bins mounted on horizontal plastic rails. This worked well enough in that the hardware was always close at hand but I got tired of all the dust that eventually coated everything. Not only that but these bins really were not adequate for storing specialty project hardware, over-sized bolts, and myriad other fasteners and accessories that accumulated over time. I had some of these items in cardboard boxes under the workbench, some sitting on shelves, and others wherever I could scrounge up storage space. I eventually decided that I needed a better storage solution. What I came up with was a storage cabinet made from 1/2″ birch plywood with pull-out shelves.
I initially planned to make just one cabinet but after inventorying all the existing shop stuff and allowing for future growth, I decided to make two cabinets. Each cabinet is 16-1/2″ wide, 24″ deep, and 72″ high. There are 13 drawers. The top eight drawers are 4″ high and the lower five are 6-1/2″ high. The interior space of each drawer is 14-1/4″ wide by 22″ deep. The upper drawers are mostly for commodity hardware – screws, nails, bolts, hinges, cabinet pulls, blades, electrical accessories – while the lower drawers are used for things like sandpaper, finishing supplies, wood dowels, shims, miscellaneous tools (routers, saber saw, hand planes), and tool accessories. There might even be a few home winemaking supplies in one of those drawers.
Drawer construction: Given the large number of drawers, I opted for fairly basic joinery. Dados were cut on the backside of the drawer fronts and the rear inner sides of each side piece. Mating pieces were glued and nailed in place. To enhance the strength of the front corners, finishing nails (3 per corner) were inserted at an angle to secure the side pieces to the front. This project was a great excuse to buy a pneumatic finish nail gun – it saved a lot of time and effort.
Like the carcase, the drawer fronts and sides are made from 1/2″ birch plywood. The bottoms are made from 1/4″ (actually 7/32″) masonite that fits into a groove on the backside of the drawer front and screws into the bottom edge of the other drawer members using countersunk wood screws. The bottom piece projects out about 1/4″ beyond the width of the drawer sides to fit into grooves cut into the sides of the carcase. This allows the drawer to slide in and out without the need for any additional slide hardware. Believe it or not, this simple slide system works quite well, although some drawers get a bit tight during the humid summer months.
Each drawer can accommodate nine standard-sized plastic screw bins with room to spare. If I need some hardware for a project, I can grab a bin or two, or even the entire drawer. Using the 4″ wide finger pull cutouts, the drawers can be extended slightly more than 3/4 of the way and still be securely supported. This really helps when trying to see what’s hidden in the back of the drawer.
These cabinets have been in use since about 2000 and are still going strong. All the drawers are intact with no signs of joint failure or sagging bottoms. The only question is: do I need to build another cabinet or is it time to get rid of some of the stuff that’s taking up valuable space in the existing cabinets?