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Upper Storage Cabinets

by Lorenz Prem
published on January 20 2011 9:02 pm

It is true that one can never have enough storage in a shop. I decided to make a dent into the chaos that is my shop and build storage cabinets.

The cabinets follow the same design as wall cabinets found in kitchens. In fact, these are kitchen cabinets. They are just as much practice for my upcoming kitchen remodel as they are a necessity.

The Design

The carcass is made from pre-finished 3/4" plywood. The face frame and doors are paint-grade poplar.

My design dedicates the entire wall opposite the garage doors to cabinets. In this location they are out of way and still useful should my woodshop return to being a garage in the future. Two cars will fit into their spaces without touching the cabinets.

Like in a kitchen, the design includes a row of wall cabinets with base cabinets beneath. To add a visual interest there are two sizes of upper cabinets, each with a different depth.



  • 3/4" pre-finished plywood
  • 3/4" solid stock for the face frame
  • wood glue
  • brad nails
  • pocket screws

Carcass Construction

Box construction is straight forward. I used the cabinet calculator on Hingmy to create a cut plan for my cabinets. My table saw made short work dimensioning the plywood.

Panel work can be exhausting without the right equipment. Make sure you have good infeed and outfeed support. All dimensions need to be cut within 1/32", or better yet, 1/64". Any more than that and the cabinet will not be square.

Next I switch over to my dado set to cut the required grooves into all pieces that needed one. The carcass is assembled with glue and screws. More detail about carcass construction can be found here.


The shelves are reinforced with 1" solid wood strip running along the front. If the plywood is not strong enough to stand up to the weight I am going to load onto the shelf, the solid poplar strip will be. Plus, the shelves look better. The strip is held in place with glue and biscuits.

For perfect results the clamping axis must go straight through the strip and along the center of the shelf (when viewed from the side). Otherwise the clamp will lift one side of the strip away from the shelf creating a void. In other words, make sure the strip is clamped in place perfectly flat.

The shelves are held in place by cleats on each side. The cleats are screwed and glued to the cabinet walls. I decided against having movable shelves. I have yet to use the feature on my kitchen cabinets. Why would I move my shelves in my woodshop?

Instead I opted to plan my storage needs in advanced. The spacing between shelves is different depending on where the cabinet is installed on the wall. The resulting cabinet wall has shelving space of all types.

The Face frame

Next the face frame needs to be built. It is made from hardwood, polar in this case, and attached to the front of the carcass with glue and nails. Since the cabinets will be painted, nail holes are not a problem. If the cabinets were made for a kitchen and finished instead of painted, biscuits would be the better option.

The pieces of the frame are easily dimensioned on the table saw. The pieces are joined in each corner with glue and a screw in a pocket hole.

Kreg ( makes a number of machines and jigs for cutting pocket holes. The finished frame is attached to the carcass with glue and nails. A lot of clamps are needed for this task. One every 10" ensures a perfect result.

Hanging the Cabinet

The finished carcass is attached to the wall with a French cleat. The doors are made using rail and stile construction and a floating panel. The details on how to construct the door are described here.

For hinges I used European cup hinges. These are easy to install and a pleasure to use. You can read up on the topic in this thread.


Between my new wall cabinets, and the row of base cabinets my shop now contains more space than I need. At least for the moment. Before long every nook and cranny will be filled up with tools, consumables, jigs, ...

For more on the topic of cabinet building, check out the Build your own kitchen thread.

About the Author
"Lorenz is the founder of Hingmy. When he is not reviewing power tools or improving the site, he is building things in his workshop or playing hockey."