Reclaiming Some Space

The last few months, I have been [very] slowly making a wall-hung tool cabinet. While my dutch tool chest holds all of the tools I could ever need (and quite a few I don’t), I have recently added a No. 6 to my everyday kit and there was no room in the DTC for the new plane. I have also gone back to using a No. 4 1/2 smoothing plane (instead of a No. 4) and, similarly, the DTC didn’t have room for it. Even with the No. 4 back in storage.

Bench planes from left to right: 7, 6, 5, 10 (jack rabbet), and 4 1/2. That’s a small router and rabbeting block plane up top.

It also started to feel cramped in the workshop. The DTC lived on the left wall of the shop, near the leg vise. The chest (and the platform it sat on) took up significant floor space that I couldn’t get back. The area below the cabinet is now free for a saw bench that is otherwise blocking my sharpening station at times.

I have never built a wall-mounted tool cabinet before. So this is just a prototype of white pine, poplar and cheap birch plywood; the usual materials for figuring thing out. And I have in fact figured a few things out in this project so that. If I ever make a better one out of my nice, reclaimed genuine mahogany, it will be better.

What I struggled with the most was the saw till. The backing board for the plane till is pretty steep (to accommodate the 9″ case sides) and therefore a regular saw till didn’t do the trick. The saws just fell out of them. And, unlike with the planes, there is no quick fix with rare earth magets.

I thought for a while and realized that my three back saws are all of the same make and therefore the totes should all be roughly the same shape. I could hook them onto something (like a 1″ dowel) and then use a till block to keep the plates aligned and safe.

Like so.

I started with dovetailing together a U-shape out of some 1/2″ poplar. The sides each took a 1″ hole to accommodate the dowel, which was screwed (but not glued) into place so I could easily get to the screws attaching the hook to the backer board.

I ultimately changed out the oak dowel for a pine one, which will be easier on the saw totes.

I then located a till block (with a 1/2″ thick tongue on it for ease of attaching to the backer board) so it supported the saw plates without breaking the plane of the carcass. The kerfs in the till block (which is 5/4 material) which hold the saw plates are cut with a fine panel saw. I wish I had left more meat below the ends of the kerfs. But poplar doesn’t split like pine or oak, so it should be okay. I will report back if it ever splits apart.

The tongue is lapped and screwed into the till block for a strong joint. Not that it takes any great strain.

The overall saw till assembly has usable space around it. I’m no Henry Studley, but I was able to fit some tools into the available crevices. My 3/4″ dowel centers, which I use quite a bit for bench-making to reuse existing benchtops that attach via pegs, sit above the hook. Under the saws are a few machinist squares I don’t use often and also some brass calipers. My pinchrods hang off the side of the saw till between it and the case wall. And a 12-1 tool rests in a free nook.

As you can see, there is an unused area at the top of the case. I’m not 100% sure what to do here. I’ll hang another panel to the right of the main cabinet with racks for chisels, screwdrivers, gouges, raps, and other handled tools. So that just leaves my panel saws, a mallet, a hammer, and the boring tools (braces, auger bits, etc.). I could hang a shelf up there and pile the boring tools in (like with the middle compartment of the DTC). That feels a little like cheating.

Let let me think on it some more and revert.



  1. I’m trying different layouts because I want a “thing” at arm’s length from the bench… and these pictures are quite inspirational. I’ve just been tempted to shameless “borrow” your ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too have been thinking about how to handle DTC overflow! Note to self: you have accumulated too much s***!
    My walls are starting to look good to me too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the DTC because it forces you to have that realization if it doesn’t fit do you really need it. I fortunately have a full size English tool chest with overflow so that nothing gets too cluttered I just put it in there and forget about it


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