The Strong, Silent Type

I recently received an email from a follower (who runs an excellent, albeit way over my head, chronicle of his custom Triumph TR6 called Bowtie6) that made me realize I had completely neglected the second most important piece of furniture in my apartment woodworking shop.  I spent so much time rifling through my tool chests, but I gave nary a mention to the rolling tool cart I built specifically to support those tool chests.


The white part keeps the red parts off the floor.

Constructed entirely of hard maple, the rolling tool cart is custom dimensioned to fit the top chest and intermediate chest.  It’s rock solid, relatively compact and was never intended to be flashy.  There is no finish on the piece (I could never settle on a color and it’s waterproof anyway).  And, just by luck, the whole assembly fits very nicely into a corner in my apartment near the workbench.

I’d like to think much thought went into the design.  For example:

  • the top chest sits (unbolted) on the top, with the handles comfortably at 36″ high (the exact height of my elbows) for ease of lifting
  • there is enough tabletop around the top chest for storing glues and putties (and other odds and ends that have no place on a bench top during a project)
  • the gap between the intermediate chest (also unbolted) and the top rails is almost 10 inches high, giving me ample room to store my machinists granite slab and my panel saws
  • the bottom shelf is slatted and floats free in rabbets in the lower rails for maximum flexibility as the piece settles under the weight of the tool chests
No one will ever know

I think aesthetics are sometimes lost on shop furniture projects.

As always, after a few months of use, there are some things I would change, in retrospect:

  • the casters are not nearly large enough to make the cart mobile, which is fine while the cart sits stationary in my apartment
  • I should have added dowels at the tops of the posts to secure the tabletop, which is currently glued directly to the frame and further secured with glued-in wood blocks (like corner brackets)
  • I measured the intermediate chest wrong and had to cut shallow dadoes in the posts to accommodate the lip of the intermediate chest (which extends out slightly to permit stacking of intermediate and top chests)
  • I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to drive nails into the side for hanging my winding sticks and dovetail markers

You can clearly see the dadoes and the tiny casters in this shot.

I built the rolling tool cart to be furniture quality (like everything I do) and I know I succeeded because my mother has already called dibs on the piece to use as a kitchen island.  If and when she finally confiscates it, I will swap in a set of larger, decorative casters and fit a middle shelf into the dadoes (there is a bright side, I guess).

In the end, like any good piece of shop furniture, the rolling tool cart does its job and fades silently into the background.



  1. Thank you for writing about the rolling tool cart. Very nicely thought of and from your description it serves very well indeed.

    Like yours, my toolbox is made by the same manufacturer. I have a top tool chest just like yours, however it sits upon a “lower” toolbox with rollers. What I don’t like about my setup is that the whole combo is very heavy and hard to roll. Having a solution like the one you have built would make it way easier to move around.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog, by the way. There is some excellent info here, that I plan to put to good use in the near future! And, thanks for the plug about my website!


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