Mobile Storage Unit with Drawers Workshop Projects

One of the biggest problems I have is how I will always load up horizontal surfaces with whatever I’m working with, until they become so cluttered I can’t use them. This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to find a practical solution, and I think that now I have one.

Basically, instead of trying to force the mess into organization, I’ll give in to it and actually add more space for it to occupy. The trick is to keep it off of the usable surfaces where it won’t get in the way of doing stuff.

To get started I drew up a rudimentary drawing in SketchUp and then got to work cutting out all of the parts:

The bulk of the cabinet is made from 1/2″ plywood, including all of the shelves and the parts for the drawers. That simplifies the build and I was able to get everything from four full sheets.

To start on assembly, I set a piece of plywood on my table saw and clamped on “L” brackets to hold one of the side panels upright. I then positioned the main divider panel and fastened that to the side panel with brads and then screws to strengthen the joint:

Doing it up on the table saw like this makes it easier to film and also a bit easier to work on. Also, the cabinet is upside down at this point, making it easier to line up the top of the panels flush with each other.

Adding the other side and here’s one of the challenges of working with cheaper material: it’s not flat and to pull the side in tight, I made a temporary clamp that’s just a strip of wood with two screws driven in to hook over the ends:

With that much done, I could then set it down on the floor. Still upside down, I added the bottom shelf that spans the full width:

Again, working against the warped plywood, I clamp on the 2×4 temporarily to straighten the end of the shelf before fastening it to the side panel.

The drawer dividers are installed next and they already have the tracks for the wooden full extension drawer slides I’ll be using for this project:

The bottom stretchers are next and these are doubled – two layers of 1/2″ plywood glued together for extra strength. The heavy duty casters are attached to these stretchers:

With the unit upright, I installed the fixed shelves:

They are fixed because there are a number of specialized storage ideas I want to employ on this side. The lower shelf space is big enough for a rack that will hold these clamps:

To give the from a better appearance, I cut and installed a solid wood trim on the front edges of the cabinet and shelves:

With the body of the unit mostly finished, I could get started on building the drawers:

Nothing fancy here, just glued and nailed butt joints and the entire drawer is made from the same 1/2″ plywood.

Installed in the space:

A bit of a mistake on my part, I made the centre bar for the side too narrow and it wouldn’t be able to support much weight in the drawer. So I made new centre bars that are three times wider:

That cost me a full day, since I had to move the upper tracks inside the cabinet as well. Live and learn, right?

All three installed and my typical drawer pulls installed at the top:

Decided to get a bit tricky with how these drawers operate and try out an idea I’ve had for a while. It’d a second drawer that’s mounted at the top of the lower one that slides sideways:

While overall this in not the most practical way to do things, it does have advantages. One is that t5he upper drawer runs on short slides than the lower one, so there’s a cost saving:

Another is that the drawer only has one face and therefore only one handle to pull it open, which can be important if looks are an issue. Also the contents of the upper and lower drawers could be related, so you would be able to access both at the same time.
And lastly, it looks neat, which is probably just as important as all of the other reasons.

Last thing to do is to install the wide shelves on the back side of the cabinet, and here I’m reinforcing the edges with scrap strips of plywood left over from cutting up the rest of the parts:

These shelves are movable, but I doubt I’ll ever change the spacing:

I used #10 biscuits as the shelf pins, as I did on another cabinet successfully:

Easy to do, just cut the slot in the panel and then cut a corresponding open slot in the bottom of the shelf:

Locks the biscuit in place and give more support that the typical round shelf pin.

The drawers:

The one in the middle is slightly shorter than the two on the outside to clear the wooden drawer pull.

I decide the best place for the cabinet is in the back corner of the shop beside the tool board:

At the time of finishing the cabinet, this is the state of my workbench:

All of it easily fit on the shelves with tons of space to spare:

The next step is to load up the drawers with the appropriate stuff and start building specialized storage solutions for the front of the cabinet:

I made a video of the build that goes into detail on things not shown here:

If you want to build one of these, here’s the SketchUp model that gives the basic dimensions:

Mobile Shelf Unit