Shop Cabinets

by Dan Phalen

cover Scappoose, Oregon—It's always fun to build something for the shop, especially when it provides something you can put to quick use.

I had seen this cabinet system on the cover of American Woodworker more than a year before our move. After we were established in our new home, I decided to convert the right half of the garage to a shop and start with a wall system based on these cabinets.

A Wall To Hang On

The first order of business was to build a furring wall over the concrete stagger wall that forms the garage into a half-basement. No way was I going to attach everything with concrete nails. The standoff frame is 2 x 2 common pine. The T&G skins hold hanger nails and screws and hide the electrical conduits. Also gives me three outlets. Of course there's never enough outlets in a shop, but this setup works pretty well.

In the picture below you can see I've already made the upper cabinet carcases and hung them on cleats attached to the furring wall. The blue masking tape marks off where the lower cabinet will go.

Okay, fast forward about three months. The cabinets are in, and I've added planes and files to the center secton. Those big bottom drawers house my biscuit joiner (left), air hammers (middle), and miscellaneous tools (right). The smaller drawers hold sockets, screwdrivers, sandpaper, paint applicators, jig fixtures, and a mess of other things. Keeps the place half-way tidy anyway.

Also shown are a portable base for my new drill press (left) and a platform (right) for the chop saw I bought about six years before the move. Both are Ryobis, adequate but very limited. The chop saw bed is level with the cabinet top and a right-side half-wall to support cross-cutting long boards.

Shop-Made Handles

Next is an excerpt from the magazine article showing how to machine the drawer handles. For me, this was a great introduction to working with the router table and bits.


Upper cabinet with blum hinges, rail and stile doors, adjustable shelves.

Cabinet door detail. Solid 3/4" birch rails and stiles, 1/4" birch ply panel, cherry handles. Rounded edge bead on tops and bottoms of all doors and drawers.

door detail bit

Top drawer detail.

Lower drawer detail. This one is for air hammers and biscuit jointer.

lower dwr

Full extension for all middle and lower drawers.


Lots of workspace on top.

top left

Before it got cluttered...

Below, early completion. Behind the table saw is my "workbench" of MDF on sawhorses. I've since replaced it with a decent MDF/pine bench (not my ultimate dream yet) with front and end vises, bench dogs. To the right, beside the band saw, is my old router table, long since replaced with my pride and joy.

early completion

As you can imagine, the cabinet system is the center of my workshop and gets a lot of use. After many years, it's not quite as pretty as in the picture, what with glue and stain marks, a few gouges, and some scratches, but that's what it's for.

Thanks for looking.

Thanks for looking, and I hope you enjoyed your visit.



EB Cover

Before the age of kings,
 when God was a woman...

Sumer, 3,200 BC. Under the watchful eye of a deadly cobra, Nippur’s empath queen Uruna risks her life and mankind’s future to foresee an alternative to war. Torn between her longing for love and her pledge as bride to a nation, she defies a power-mad priest and his insurgent army. But her gamble demands a personal cost more shattering than her worst nightmare. Read more...

Links To Get Started