How to Build Large Workshop Cabinets




About: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

Do you need some large cabinets in your garage or workshop? I did . . and this is how I made them.

These are basically enclosed shelves meant for holding various medium-sized shop tools that I need frequently, but don't want left out all the time.

This was not a terribly complicated project. If you're looking to add something similar to your garage or shop, perhaps there are some ideas here that will help you out.

They are strong and have been a fantastic addition to my little garage workshop. With the doors open and the tools out for use, the bottom shelf doubles as a an additional worktable too.

This is how these were made. Thanks for looking!

Step 1: Background

My workspace is a two-car garage, but I've never been able to park a car in it because my tools have always been in the way.

For the last year or so I've been slowly reorganizing with the goal of being able to move all the tools and stuff to the sides, to allow enough space in the middle to park or work on a car.

Several years ago I built some large overhead shelves in my garage. These were built with framing lumber and OSB (oriented strand board), and held together with screws.

The top boards along the ceiling are fastened to the ceiling joists using 3 1/2" long lag screws, and the lower parts are screwed to the wall studs. They are likely way overbuilt, but they hold 100s of pounds of stuff and haven't budged in 5+ years.

These aren't really the focus of this Instructable, but worth noting because my new large cabinets were partially supported by attaching to these existing shelves.

For more information on building large hanging shelves like these, check out these search results right here on Instructables. There are several fully detailed Instructables that cover similar types of hanging workshop and garage shelves.

Step 2: Start at the Bottom

The first thing I did was rip some long framing studs ("two-by-fours" as some say) in half using my table saw.

If you wanted, you could use "2 by 2s" for this (which are actually 1.5" by 1.5").

Using these pieces I built a frame to the desired size with screws fastened into pre-drilled, countersunk holes.

This simple frame was held in place and made perfectly level at the the desired height, and then fastened to the wall studs with screws.

Since your specific needs will dictate sizing for you, I'm not mentioning any dimensions.

Step 3: Add Supports

Part of my plan for these shelves was to have clear, open space beneath where I could roll my new workshop table to store it.

So all support had to come from either above, or from the wall behind. Three boards were attached along the front edge to tie the bottom frame to the shelves above. Then additional half-stud pieces were fastened between each of these vertical supports to the front edge of the bottom frame. (I was kind of making this up as I went..)

I felt that the front corner (closest to the camera position) required some additional support, so I ended up adding a diagonal brace as shown, and later a rectangular piece of particle board as well to the outside. These two things together are probably overkill, but they make this corner extremely rigid and fully supported.

Pieces of 1/2" particle board were cut as needed, slipped into place, and screwed to the bottom frame.

Step 4: Bottom Board, Closer Look

Here's a closer look at the bottom board.

Since I intended to add 1/2" plywood doors to enclose these shelves, I cut the bottom board accordingly to allow it to act as a bumper to keep the doors even with the vertical support boards when closed.

Step 5: Add Shelves

Shelves were built externally in the same manner as the initial bottom frame. These were then slipped into place, made level at the height desired and fastened to the wall studs as well as the front support boards using screws.

Some test fitting of tools was done to see where I wanted what, and how things would work out best for my needs.

Step 6: Add Doors

I cut doors from a sheet of 1/2" plywood and routed all the edges with an 1/8" roundover bit.

These doors were all shimmed into position, and then attached using simple utility hinges.

For shimming doors like this into correct position, I use little laminate (like "Formica") sample chips that I've picked up in the countertop section of large home centers. I've seen other people use small stacks of playing cards to accomplish the same task. That's a great card trick!

Step 7: Add Handles and Catches

I then added handles and magnetic door catches.

The door catches had to be attached to a small scrap block that was added to one of the internal shelves.

Step 8: Store Some Stuff

The shelves were loaded up and my shop was suddenly a lot more organized!

Step 9: Done!

I chose to not apply any finish to these and just leave them bare to keep things simple.

I love a project that can be done in just a day or two!



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    26 Discussions


    9 months ago

    I would argue that this 'ible is NEEDED in this community because it addresses a problem with an entirely different method. These are by no means "traditional" cabinets on the wall, but that's what makes this awesome. They are functional and the process you used to make them is much simpler than making a cabinet with dados and face frames and french cleats and such. Excellent creativity and problem-solving. This 'ible gives a different way to tackle this kind of project, which looks simpler than the usual way. Well Done!

    1 reply

    9 months ago on Step 9

    I don't have the existing upper shelves like you do, so can I still make this floating like you did?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 months ago

    With the form of construction I did, you would likely need to have some support from either above or below. However, if you build a common cabinet, those can be hung on a wall and "float." The cabinets I made here ( should give some guidance to basic cabinet construction. Great question!


    Question 9 months ago on Introduction

    In one of the cabinet building photos, you have a piece of equipment holding up the bottom frame. What is that piece of equipment called and where can I purchase one?

    5 answers

    Answer 9 months ago

    outfeed support. Harbor freight has them for 16 bucks


    Reply 9 months ago

    Thanks so much for your quick response. I'm going to build my kitchen cabinets myself (I'm a woman) and I don't have anyone to help lift them up when I go to mount them. Does this roller stand work for that? I guess I need something that will act like a jack to get them high enough since they will be too heavy to lift by myself. Is there a device that can do that?


    Reply 9 months ago

    I would not recommend a roller stand for that, but there are specific things made for what you are describing called cabinet jacks (or similar names like "3rd hand work supports"). Online stores like amazon will have dozens of styles, and you might find them in home improvement stores too.


    Reply 9 months ago

    Thanks again. You were a great help.


    9 months ago

    Nice work...very useful build!


    9 months ago on Step 5

    I'd have added another cross-brace from the outer edge of the top shelf down to the base of the vertical cupboard wall bracket to provide additional support for the top shelf to carry the weight of the cupboard and then screw and glue the end casing to this diagonal to form a very rigid shelf support


    Wow man these turned out awesome! I wish I had a garage to do projects like this. Sadly now garage at my townhome, only a carport. lol :)

    6 replies

    Thanks Matt! Hey, a carport works. You just need a few basic tools to start cobbling stuff together! : )


    LOL That would be hilarious. The HOA would not be impressed. lol I have already had a run in with them, because I had my garden pots on my walls of my patio. And they claimed it was against the rules to do so. Even though in my CCRs that I signed when I bought the house didn't have that supposed "rule" in it. I could have fought them. I thought it was funny they threatened me with fines and a lien on my house, if I didn't take the pots down.


    Tip 10 months ago

    when the overhead door is up, there is a gap between the door and the ceiling.

    in my old house the gap was about 9 inches. i used this to store my fishing rods.

    used two 1x3 boards. the first i put hooks every 2 inches.

    the other i drilled holes every two inches and looped rope through the holes.

    the loops held the but of the rod and the hook held the other end.