I’m Going Modular

I’ve been following Ron Paulk’s build of his “Awesome Rolling Toolbox” on YouTube. He owns a home construction/remodeling business and has very creative solutions for organization and workflow.

Right now he is building out a new trailer for his work. Using Sketchup he is trying different designs and configurations to get the best possible layout for his tools.

Borrowing his ideas and the principles of a modular system I think I’ve found a system of shop furniture that will “go the distance.”

After a couple of years of failed organization attempts I think I’ve found a solution that will make my life in the workshop easier. It can also be transferred to a mobile work area if/when needed.  It is a basic cabinet that I’m going to build a lot of.

This cabinet will be the basic building block of my shop for the foreseeable future.  The hardest thing, for me, was to figure on the base size that would be the most efficient.  I chose the DeWalt Deep Pro Organizer as my base size for my modular system.

I bought one on a whim at Home Depot, and I love it.  I have two of these; one for most of my screws, and one that I’m using for my router bit storage.  They lock securely and stack on one another.  So I plan on adding more to hold and organize different tools.  The bins are removable so you can remake the inside to fit whatever purpose you desire.  Using their size I found my basic size needed for my modular system.  However there was one problem.

The problem is my Craftsman 165-piece Mechanics Set.  It’s case is slightly bigger than the DeWalt Organizer.  I’m going to quit storing my tools in their supplied cases and size their boxes accordingly with my new system. However the supplied case for over 150 sockets, wrenches, and ratchets is one I’m not willing to part with.  Therefore, I sized up my minimum shelf size to fit this set.

For everything else that wont fit in a DeWalt Organizer I am going to build drawers to fit them.  My space between dadoes is 5 inches.  So I can build custom drawers five, ten, or fifteen inches depending on the tool.  Instead of using drawer slides and hardware I’m going to let the bottom of the drawers/shelves slide into the 1/2″ Dadoes.  Since 1/2 ply is less than 1/2″ they will slide in and out easily enough.  This will also also make it possible to quickly remove the entire box and take it to the work when needed.

modular 1I decided to size the boxes to 31.5 inches.  This way when I when I brace for casters, add casters and a top I can get it to 36″ which is a good working height for me.  I’m also left with about a 2 1/2 drawer on the top of each box where I can put small supplies and equipment specific tools.  I can stack the boxes for tall cabinets, bolt them together for a workbench base, or have them as independent workstations for power tools.  Also with this design if I ever have to move I can nail a piece of hardboard to the front and load the boxes straight on a truck.  I’ll probably have a mess when I get to the new place, but it will be easy to layout a new shop.

You’ll see from the model of my shop that I do have some dead space in places.  That is a negative of a modular system verses building for the exact space.  But I feel that I’ll end up with less dead space overall by each cabinet’s efficiency

modular 9

I’m building the tops and sides from 3/4 ply and the back and shelves will either be 1/2 or 3/8 plywood (I’ll probably go with 3/8 for cost savings.)

That’s pretty much it.  I’m going to build a couple of these and see how it goes.  Then, I’ll gradually build out the rest of my shop.

This system wont work for absolutely everything, but I think it will make a good foundation.  When I combine this system with french cleats, peg board, and a lumber rack I think I’ll finally have an organized shop.

What do you think of this system for cabinets?

5 thoughts on “I’m Going Modular

  1. I came here from Jay Bate’s website.
    I think this modular approch makes a lot of sense if you plan on having to move to a new house/workshop in th enear future, or move frequently over the coming years. There is a lot of merit in the whole approach of having every bench at the same height, and having stuff on casters. All in all, the benefits of having stuff somehow organized far outweigh any suboptimal use of space. Worse case, the modular system may help you settle your thoughts and be a stepping stone to a better system later. My 2 cents from France. Cheers !

    • Thanks. As a minister there is always the possibly of moving in the future. Having a shop that I can load on a trailer and quickly set up was a big consideration. So far I’ve built two cabinets. I modified things slightly once I could see how it would actually come together. (Post coming in January). I’m going to purpose build a few to different heights. The bigest advantage is the drawers are completely swapable. I can also pull it out and take just the drawer box inside if I need to. Combined with the best of other systems I think I’m going to love it. Now I just need $500 in plywood

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