Hand Tool Cabinet

Several years ago when setting up my new workshop, I built a pair of hand plane cabinets. The cabinets were designed to house hand planes exclusively. At the time, I had relatively few other tools so the design was appropriate. It did cross my mind to have deep doors to keep other measuring and marking tools, but I was just setting up shop and this could wait. Instead, I opted for simple frame and panel doors.

The premise was to keep dust away from hand planes in the cabinets. A feature of the original doors were dry erase front panels. These panels served me well over the years as I could maintain a list of steps in a furniture build and check them off during a build. Earlier images below show frame and panel doors with dry erase panels. The door frames were oak.

Hand Plane Cabinets

Hand Plane Cabinets

Fast forward to December 2020. Over they intervening years, I acquired a good selection of measuring and marking tools. Since I had little dedicated space to store these tools, I would leave them on my workbenches. The problem with this approach is the tools sometimes get buried under work in progress. So it became an endless search for the tool I needed. Sometimes I would instantly spot it, other times it became a time-consuming chore to find the tool. This began to slow me down as well as frustrate me. I had to do something and revisited an earlier plan to build up the hand plane cabinets with deep doors. As well as adding the new, deeper doors, I added a center section to house new hand plane additions. This section was custom as it had to fit perfectly between the existing pair of hand plane cabinets.

The new, deep doors would be strong yet light. I also wanted to incorporate the existing dry erase panel into each door. Another criteria was not too deep a door to maintain the work space to the workbench directly ahead. A few days later and with some ingenuity I had the new doors built. The original doors were disassembled to retrieve the dry erase panels (re-purposing). The new door dimensions were identical to the old frame and panel doors aside from the increased depth. I also allowed an extra thickness behind the dry erase panel to attach tool holders. I had just completed a furniture project so this new shop addition was a nice, short project that only took 3-4 days to complete. It was an enjoyable build and used cherry offcuts I had accumulated over the years. New door images below.

Hand Tool Cabinets

The individual tool holders are created from cherry offcuts I had lying around. This part was actually fun, coming up with clever ideas to hold each of the tools. A couple of detail images follow.

Hand Tool Cabinets

The exteriors of the new doors are shown below. The dry erase panels are carried over from the original oak frame and panel doors. As well, the small brass pulls and the piano hinges are carried over from the original cabinets. I am very pleased with this hand tool cabinet upgrade!  A short video of the new hand tool cabinets available at WoodSkills

Hand Tool Cabinets

Quiet Woodworking: In An Unquiet World

Discover how hand tools create a quiet, peaceful, dust free woodworking experience. Read about the dichotomy of hand tool woodworking in a modern world. Attain a more fulfilling, better quality of craftsmanship. Improve your hand to eye coordination and gain tactile feedback. I delve into how my furniture pieces are created using hand tools. Find out why you should introduce hand tools to your woodworking.

Learn how to transition your woodworking and furniture making from machine intensive to either a full hand tool workshop or a combined machine and hand tool workshop. Hand tool woodworking is ideal in smaller and medium sized workshops. Over time, you will become efficient with hand tools and will think nothing of picking up a chisel or hand plane over using a machine. Benefits include a tranquil, quiet, dust-free environment.


180 Pages, 8.5 X 11 in. $15 (Digital version)
Quiet Woodworking: In An Unquiet World  (eBook, Softcover 182 pgs.)
Print version available through Amazon (Softcover, 184 pgs., 8.5 X 11 in., $35)

Norman maintains a blog of ongoing projects in his studio: Blog (woodskills.com) as well as having written and published three books in the past year. Books, magazines where authors furniture, work methods and philosophy have been featured:

Quiet Woodworking (New Art Press)
Hand Tool Woodworking (New Art Press)
Start Woodworking (New Art Press)
Craftisian Interview (Norman Pirollo)

HackSpace Magazine – Make With Wood  April 2020
Woodworking: From Design To Making (New Art Press)
Woodworking With Hand Tools 2018 (Fine Woodworking)
The Wood Artist: Creating Art Through Wood (New Art Press)
From Hi-Tech to Lo-Tech: A Woodworker’s Journey (NAP)

Start Your Own Woodworking Business (New Art Press)
Rooted: Contemporary Studio Furniture (Schiffer Publishing)
IDS15 (Studio North)
IDS14 (Studio North)
Canadian Woodworking magazine Jan. 2015
Our Homes magazine Fall 2014
IDS14 (Studio North)
NICHE Magazine Winter 2013
Fine Woodworking Magazine – 4 Bench Jigs for Handplanes
Fine Woodworking Magazine  – Essential Shopmade Jigs
Woodwork magazine
Wood Art Today 2 (Schiffer Books)
500 Cabinets ( Lark Books)
Studio Furniture: Today’s Leading Woodworkers (Schiffer)
Canadian Interiors Design Source Guide
Ottawa Life magazine (Profile,work) 2012
Panoram Italia magazine
Our Homes magazine
Craft Journal
Woodworker’s Journal (2006)