I Got Rid of My Tool Chest!

For my purposes a tool chest was useless.

Chris Becksvoort, woodworker, 2001

My studio got converted into the laundry room.

The room upstairs with a south facing window is now my studio.

I spent most of yesterday moving tools and workbench up a set of narrow stairs and put everything on the floor.

A panoramic view of my new space

I've been so busy with life, work on the house and property, along with a regular day job, I haven't made much time to make proper storage for all of my tools.

Now, I am faced with the challenge of making a tool cabinet, which will a wonderful thing to make.

I pared down my tool list to what you see in the above photo, my days of tool collecting are over because I own too many tools!

I have a feeling that I will be hanging most of the every day tools on pegs on the wall and I will make a cabinet of drawers and doors to hold tools that I use every now and again.

The plan is to convert the garage into a work shop, but I don't think I can get that done until next spring or summer, and once I move in I will make a proper tool cabinet to house the tools I need. Until that day arrives, this is my space.

The tool chest in the storage shed sitting on top another tool chest and next to another

Why did I get rid of my tool chest?

Here are several reasons-

It uses up valuable floor space.

Whenever I close the lid it immediately becomes a surface on which to put things that need to be removed when I need to access it.

I am tried of bending over and rummaging through tool chest detritus.

Chris Becksvoort also wrote the following in his Fine Woodworking article in the Winter 2001/2002 issue of Tools & Shops:

I am a furniture maker, not an itinerant carpenter. I don't take tools to job sites and I'm definitely not going to sea.

I am a guitar maker.

My last gig as a finish carpenter was 10 years ago.

My tools will live in a proper tool cabinet.

Remember, to each his own.


  1. I appreciate people that go their own ways and like your sentence "I don't like making things that are currently popular in wood working magazines or what's hot on the internet"
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. As crafts people we need to focus on making what it is we want to make, not something out of a magazine! Unless, of course, the item in the magazine is really something you want to make! Thanks for visiting my blog!

  2. "I don't like making things that are currently popular in wood working magazines or what's hot on the internet."

    Hear here! I'm letting subscriptions die off.

    My garage workshop has a 15' stretch of tool holder made of 2 strips of baseboard with 1/2" spacers. It holds almost everything that will ride in a slot. The other long wall has a long cedar board (mounted high up) filled with shaker pegs, holding an amazing number of tools. No schwarz-box to be found anywhere.

    Keep havin fun, and building fine instruments.

    1. Thanks, Bob! I stopped subscribing to wood magazines ten years ago when Chris Schwarz wrote an editorial against sustainability in America's forests. Life is short, make beautiful objects!

  3. I don't do a project because it's hot or popular or because it's in a magazine. I build what feels good to me; if it is first seen in a magazine, I will do it.

    I am not letting my magazine subscription die as long as it continues to provide ideas or learning points for me.

    As for tool chests, they have no place in my shop -- no matter who promotes it.


  4. "I am a furniture maker, not an itinerant carpenter. I don't take tools to job sites and I'm definitely not going to sea."


    As one who is also short on floor space, (and I also agree about the top of tool chests tending to collect stuff) I have found that graduated drawers under the workbench offer another good tool storage solution. It is also much derided by the popular woodworking bards...with one woodworking re-enactor calling it a "Shaker bathroom vanity". In addition to organization and saving space, it also has the advantage of anchoring the workbench. The disadvantage is that one does have to bend over for tools in the lowest drawer.



  5. Wilson,

    I agree! A tool chest would be impractical for me and, I think, for most woodworkers. Shop situations and preferences vary, of course, but I do think there is a tendency among many woodworkers to copycat what they find in the woodworking media. Too bad, because one of the joys of crafting is the opportunity to put creative, independent thought into substance.

    For what it's worth, here is my solution to hand tool storage: http://www.rpwoodwork.com/blog/tag/a-practical-tool-cabinet-series/ Hey, feel free to reject it entirely!


  6. Thanks for visiting my blog, Rob! I checked out your tool cabinet on your website and it is a very nice cabinet! Wow! I wish I had made one like that when I first started down this road called wood working!


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