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Build It | Tool Storage Shelf


In this edition of DIY Smarts, Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor build a tool storage shelf out of leftover lumber from other Build It projects.

Steps for building a tool storage shelf

Cut the plywood into 5 sheets until you can frame a cabinet to the desired dimensions, with one board as a divider. In this case, Tom cut the plywood to form a 3-foot x 4-foot x 1-foot cabinet.On the bottom shelf, measure and mark good locations for the fingers. Make them evenly spaced.Drill holes at the peak of each finger using a forstner bit to ensure it has a rounded edge. Tom advises putting a sacrificial board underneath the bottom shelf to prevent blowout, and another board on top to act as a straight edge to ensure each finger terminates at the same depth.To make the outside edges of the fingers round, take a cup and trace the curve on the board.Cut out the rest of the fingers using a jigsaw.Cut the dimensional lumber to size to act as shelves.Layout the shelves inside the box of the cabinet and determine their heights. Each shelf can be slightly different to accommodate specific tools you wanted stored in the shelf.Dado one side of two shelves at the same time to accept the ¼-inch plywood dividers. Add as many dados as you want dividers.Assemble the cabinet using wood screws. Since it’s just going in a garage, butt joints are fine. It will help to slide some of the ¼-inch dividers in place before screwing in the top and bottom of those shelves.Attach a back to the cabinet using any leftover plywood.


Tom built the tool storage cabinet out of leftover materials from previous Build It projects, including ¾-inch oak plywood, 1×12-inch select pine, and ¼-inch birch plywood. These can all be found at home centers and lumber yards if you don’t have enough material in your scrap pile.

To cut the boards to the correct dimensions, Tom used a TS 55 circular saw from Festool (www.festoolusa.com). He then secured everything together using GRK #9 2-inch multi-purpose screws from GRK Fasteners and some wood glue from Gorilla Glue.

The kit that Tom and Kevin referenced and used as inspiration for their tool storage organization was the M18 18V Cordless Combo Tool Kit by Milwaukee Tool.

Shop Tool Storage Cabinet Materials at The Home Depot

Shopping List:

5/8-inch plywood for cabinet¼-inch plywood for adjustable dividers1x10 or wider lumberCupWood screws(Available at The Home Depot


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