The standing chest is one of the most efficient (and some would say most attractive) ways to store a collection of hand tools. It is not, however, necessarily everybody's best solution. A standing tool cabinet, though relatively narrow, still demands a chunk of floor space—usually at the juncture of the floor and the wall. In a small shop, this is a particularly valuable area, as it is one of the few places where parts can be collated and stacked out of the way, or where clamped assemblies can be leaned to dry without being disturbed. The decision to take away even a little of this prime, in-shop real estate should not be made lightly.
A standing cabinet, in order to contain a decent number of tools at a comfortable working height, must be a rather imposing piece of work—as high as the top of your head (or higher) and as wide (with the doors opened) as your outstretched arms. This requirement is
Not convinced that the traditional cabinetmaker's chest of his mentors would best serve his needs, master furniture maker and teacher David Powell struck out on his own to design a standing cabinet. Decades later, he continues to enjoy the chest's superb accessibility. Photo by Vincent Laurence.
not, of course, necessarily a problem-tool storage is as good a use for wall space as any. But it does mean you must find a place for this sizable chunk of cabinetry close by your main workbench, yet not so close that it could interfere with your activities there. And once set in this location, the cabinet (with or without its doors open) should not block any natural light available to your work area. Nor should the opened doors block access to other tools or materials stored on the walls to either side. If you are lucky enough to be designing your own shop space, it would be wise to consider the placement of your standing tool cabinet as well as your major workbenches and stationary machines when developing the floor and window plan.
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