Picture of Under Desk Tool Drawer [Modeller's Delight]

The perfect way to store your sharp tools under your desk. Made from re-purposed kitchen cabinet runners and some scrap wood. This Instructable also expands on how to do this with no specialist power-tools for low cost.

WHY I MADE THIS: I just moved to London (to start working at sugru). London is clearly more expensive than Bristol, so my 'workshop' is now in one corner of the kitchen. Space is a premium and I needed not to leave my sharp tools all over the place when not in use. I looked around for ready-made solutions to store tools under my desk, but they were either around $40 (and not deep enough) - and certainly not reconfigurable.

SCAVENGE: The solution came when I was at IKEA's Bargain Bin and saw two (really smooth) kitchen cabinet runners going for 50p each. I grabbed a bit of scrap wood and knew this was going to save the day!

NO POWER TOOLS REQUIRED: I appreciate this is not 'hard-core innovation', but I thought I should share it with people as firstly, it seemed to impress some of my friends - and secondly, it surprised them that I didn't use any heavy machinery to modify the runners. THIS is the focus of this Instructable, and I will show you how to cut metal with Nibblers (yes, really they are called that) and how to chisel out a slot with a screwdriver (if you don't have a circular saw). [Zona Saw is optional, as Junior Hacksaw will do too.]

SHARE THE LOVE: If you are familiar with my website Design Modelling, you'll know that although I often have access to fabulous workshops and facilities as a Design Engineer - I get kick out of being able to do things cheaply, safely and well... so please let me know how you get on with this Instructible - and of course share any pro tips of a similar nature!


OMG I need this in my garage NOW. Nice work.

Hey Jude (author)  craftclarity1 year ago

OMG, I need a garage NOW ;o)

You have my sympathy. It's only by luck and happenstance that I ended up with one. I lived in SF for a loooooooong time. Garages are in very short supply there, particularly ones in which a shop space is a potential reality.

BTW, I just saw that you do product design....I should have figured something like that by realizing that this toolset is for modelmaking....!!

buck22171 month ago

Great idea

domenic312 months ago

neat storage !!!

abenavente1 year ago

looks like Dexter´s tool box XD nice work!

Hey Jude (author)  abenavente1 year ago


Ha, my tackle box of modeling tools has an inordinate number of dental tools. So when I'm making models with friends I'm always asking them "is it safe?". Nice instructable makes me almost wish I wasn't using a tackle box.

This is random, but how come more people don't utilize all the space in between wall joists, or even use a wooden floor as storage space- like on a boat deck. I always wished for a hidden staircase or bookcase when I was young.

paqrat1 year ago

Perhaps if I had built more items I might not need to ask this question but why use the nibblers to take part of the metal off? Can't the guides / runners be used as they are? This instructable could be a lifesaver for me. I've been looking for a replacement for a file cabinet that would allow me to put my tools in an area where they would be more easily accessible. Everything I find either doesn't fit in the space I have or is excessively expensive.

Hey Jude (author)  paqrat1 year ago

Hi paqrat, not a silly question at all. The runners were designed to mount to vertical surfaces (wall of a kitchen cabinet unit), so I needed to chop this bit off, as i was mounting it to a horizontal board (my desk).

The great thing about the Nibblers is that I was cutting through 2mm galvanised steel, without power tools.

If you are lucky enough to find a runner that fits as it is, go ahead and use it, though removing any excess keeps the profile down.

Thanks :)
cchurch3 made it!1 year ago

I like this idea..so much so that I made it for my desk (before I saw this article). Here are the images:

Hey Jude (author)  cchurch31 year ago

Nice work! Like the use of the wire trays.

Let me know if you make a V2.0!

Thanks for sharing :o)

foobear1 year ago

Cool, does it take a lot of hand strength to use the nibbler? That's a cool tool I didn't know about

Hey Jude (author)  foobear1 year ago

I'd say it takes effort for sure, but I was able to do two cuts of around 400mm length in around 20mins. Sure it takes longer than a power saw, but is less dangerous and is cheaper. If you are having difficulty, you could always challenge your most buff friend to do it for you :o) or if you are feeling really cunning, you could slot two lengths of tube over the handles to multiply the force?

kbc21 year ago
excellent work! i will use this on my desk in my garage. i have sharps, smalls, and specialty tools. though i think i will use foam and cut out slots and such.
Hey Jude (author)  kbc21 year ago

I guess you could laser-cut out a pattern or just use 'Pick'N'Pluck' Foam?

foam 2.jpg
kbc2 Hey Jude1 year ago
That would work fine and is probably easier to obtain. I was leaning towards a more dense material and either use a hot wire or razor knife ( in hopes not to injure myself with them). I will find what I am looking for and try to attempt an i'ble on it. My desk is in need of straightening up, so when I get done with my "honey do list" it is next!
Hey Jude (author)  kbc21 year ago

"honey do list" - love it!

crazypj1 year ago

I used similar technique to make drawer dividers for kitchen, didn't
like any 'off the shelf' steel or plastic ones (plus they didn't fit

Been intending to make a fold up case/workbench for small projects, shallow drawer would be a good addition plus the extra depth will great;y add to stiffness of top/cover. Good job I haven't started yet, design keeps changing

Hey Jude (author)  crazypj1 year ago

Cool - best of luck to you!

Very nice!

I've toyed with similar ideas for the 'pull-out'/keyboard drawer runners from old computer desks, but have never quite managed to finalise my plans well enough. Having seen this, though, I may well have another go in a month or two.

billbillt1 year ago

great idea...double plus good....

JON-A-TRON1 year ago
Great project! It never occurred to me to add such a low profile drawer under an existing table- you get your knee-room and storage at the same time. Well done.
Hey Jude (author)  JON-A-TRON1 year ago

Yeah, a lot of the commercial stuff is about 70mm or more in depth, where as this was about 40mm, so I'm please with it not digging into my knees! Also butting it off-centre helps I think. If I had more I'd consider doing 2 mini drawers...

brmarcum1 year ago
I'm really liking this. It just needs a lock to keep little fingers out. Good job!
Hey Jude (author)  brmarcum1 year ago

Good idea - you might try something like this.

bergerab1 year ago

Sooo awesome! Thank you for sharing your ways and knowledge.

I like seeing an instructable with good hand drawn sketches. Takes me back to the good ole days.

killer storage space.....it rocks!!