DIY Built-In Tool Storage Cabinets

By Autumn Hachey
Few Hours
Less Than $500

For most apartment dwellers living in the city, storage is certainly a challenge. For the longest time we’ve had no designated place in our apartment for tools, interior design samples or photography gear. As my partner is a carpenter he often reaches for tools and it became really important to have a home for them. We don’t have the luxury of keeping our tools outside in a garage so we had to get creative. I wanted to find a way to hide them out of sight, but still in a way that fit with the overall aesthetic of our home. I previously had a storage unit in our hallway between the dining room and office but it felt bulky and didn’t completely fit the space properly. Instead, we created a custom shelving unit that fills the space from floor to ceiling and looks “built in.”

What You Need for This Project

  1. 1


    • Decide where you will be installing the cabinet.
    • Measure to fit in space with a small amount of play (depending on how old the house is you may need more, new house should be fairly exact).
    • You may cut all pieces beforehand if experienced enough to do so.
  2. Steps:

  1. 2


    • Cut 2x4s and use 3” screws to attach one to another. Create 2 identical square frames (repeat process with smaller frames for upper section if you plan to build the cabinet in multiple sections as we did).
    • Use a table saw to cut the birch plywood into pieces which will be your sides.
    • Use 1 1/2” screws to attach the plywood sides to one square frame, and then the other. Repeat for the opposing side.
  2. Steps:

  1. 3


    • Measure and layout your hinge locations (8” down from top and 8” up from bottom is what we chose to do). Carefully cut and chisel out notches for the hinges.
    • Install hinges onto frame with 1/2” screws.
  2. Steps:

door hinges
  1. 4


    • Install birch plywood as backing on the right section and lower section with 1 1/2” screws.
    • Install pegboard on upper left section with 1” screws.
  2. Steps:

  1. 5


    • Any additional 2x4 supported shelves should be installed with 3” screws at this time. We chose a 2x4 supported shelf in the left section (and plywood supported shelves in the right section which should be done after the next step.
    • Install inner plywood pieces, keeping in mind to make notches to allow door hinge to swing out (you can follow your 2x4 notch).
    • Install small plywood strips with 1 1/2” screws (if you have chose to do any plywood shelves). Screw the shelf down into the plywood strips with 1” screws.
  2. Steps:

  1. 6


    • Use a table saw to cut door pieces.
    • Mark hinge holes on the door when closed, then open hinge and use 1/2” screws to install the door to hinges.
    • Mark and drill holes for handles.
    • Use a stud finder to mark a stud on the wall anywhere where the backing plywood of the cabinet will be located. Depending on your height, you may only need 1 3” screw into a stud to be secure. If you’re building a cabinet taller than 6” make sure to screw into the stud at a higher location as well.
    • Move the cabinet into place and screw stud through plywood backing.
    • Lift and place the upper cabinet section. Use 3” screws from the lower section ceiling to secure the upper section. If 6’ or above, screw into the stud in the upper section as well.
    • If shims on the ground are necessary or desired, install at this time.
    • Install the door handles and catches. Customize and install hooks, hangers, other shelves or cubbies, etc.
  2. Steps:

  1. 7


    • We chose to paint our cabinet using Sico paint tinted to Benjamin Moore’s Natural Cream OC-14.
    • REJOICE! Enjoy your new, stunning “built in” storage!
  2. Steps:

About the Author

autumn hachey author photo

Autumn Hachey

Autumn is a stylist, Youtuber, marketer, content creator and the owner of Make Moves Vintage store in Toronto, Canada. You can follow her adventures in style and design on Instagram and YouTube.

More Storage Solutions

How To Turn a Bookshelf into a Storage Bench
Icon Library / Cash Register

How To Turn a Bookshelf into a Storage Bench

Learn how to convert a bookcase into a storage bench. A perfect DIY project for your entryway or hallway, it can be used for extra storage for shoes and more. Follow step-by-step and you’ll transform your bookcase into a multi-tasking seat in no time!
3 Clever Storage Solutions for Your Mudroom

3 Clever Storage Solutions for Your Mudroom

Get organized with our clever storage solutions and design ideas for your mudroom. Maximize your space with a storage bench, coat hooks and functional decor.
Walk In Closet Organization and Storage Ideas

Walk In Closet Organization and Storage Ideas

Keep your walk-in closet organized with unique products and tools. We have walk-in closet storage and organization products for bulky winter coats and business attire to your favourite t-shirts. Learn about the newest storage solutions, organizational tips, and more!
6 Handy Home Office Organization Hacks

6 Handy Home Office Organization Hacks

Do you need to find new ways to stay organized in your home office? Our helpful guide will give you some inspiration and ideas to make your office or study space neat and tidy. From storage options and furniture to decor and lighting, these ideas will inspire you to become more productive while working from home.