Build the base frame
Cut your 1×4 frame boards to size. Use a higher-grade pine – it’s worth the extra money to be able to work with straight, knot-free wood. Sand all the boards with 100-grit sandpaper before assembling the frames. Glue the joints and nail them with 1-1/2-in. brads, just to hold them together. When the base is assembled, go back and drive in two 2-in. trim head screws. If you don’t have a brad nailer, no problem; the screws are plenty strong on their own.
Attach the pegboard to the base frame
Photo 1: Fasten pegboard to the base frame
Attach temporary braces to hold the base frame perfectly square. Lay a 4 x 4-ft. sheet of pegboard over the frame. The oversize sheet lets you position the holes so they won’t be along the outer edge of the cabinet. Note: If you don’t have a router to trim off the excess pegboard (see Photo 2), position the pegboard, mark it with a pencil and cut it to size before nailing it in place.
Photo 2: Trim the pegboard flush
Install a flush-trim bit in your router and trim off the overhanging pegboard. Routing pegboard whips up a dust storm, so wear a mask.
Flush-trim bits can be used for all kinds of woodworking projects, and are available just about anywhere routers are sold.
To get a more attractive, solid pegboard edge on the base frame and doors, square up the frame and hold it in place with a couple of temporary cross braces and brads. Lay a half sheet of pegboard on top of the frame so all the rows of holes are inset at least 1/4 in. from the edge before fastening it down. Fasten the sheet with 1-in. brads every 8 in. or so (Photo 1), and use glue on all the unfinished sides of the pegboard.
Once the pegboard is secure, trim off the excess material with a router equipped with a flush-trim bit (Photo 2). If you don’t own a flush-trim bit, this is an excellent opportunity to spend $20 on a tool you’ll definitely use again. Trimming down pegboard creates clouds of very fine dust, which seems to get into everything, so if possible move the whole operation outdoors. Don’t even think about doing this without wearing a dust mask. If you don’t have a router to trim off the excess, just mark the outline of the base frame onto the half sheet of pegboard and trim it with a saw.
Build the doors
Photo 3: Complete the doors
A 3/4-in. spacer between the two layers of pegboard creates space for the hooks.
Use the same process to build the door frames and install the pegboard as you did on the base. Again, pay special attention to the spacing of the holes before you attach the pegboard and rout it flush. The only difference this time is that the first layer of pegboard should be facing down.
Once the first layer of pegboard is in place, rip down 3/4-in. strips of wood to act as a spacer between the first and the second layers (Photo 3). This will allow clearance for the peg hardware on both sides of the door. Align the spacers the same way you did with the frame, so the end grain cannot be seen from the sides. Tack them in place with 1-1/2-in. brads.
Tack on the outer layer of pegboard or dry-erase board (white/gloss hardboard panel board) with 1-in. brads, and then drive in 2-in. trim head screws about every 8 in. or so. Pegboard and other hardboard materials tend to pucker when you screw into them, so predrill the holes with a small countersink drill bit. Don’t attach the screen mold on the outside of the doors until the doors are hung onto the base.
Finish the back side of the base
Photo 4: Add filler strips
Installing filler strips on the back of the base will allow the doors to open a little wider.
There needs to be space for the peg hardware on the back of the base, so install 3/4-in. strips of pine on the back two sides of the base. Fasten them with glue and 1-1/2-in. brads. Next, install a full pine 1×4 on the top and bottom of the back side of the base. These are the boards you’ll screw through when you hang the cabinet on the wall. Glue and tack these boards into place, and then drive 2-in. trim head screws through the boards into the base frame.
Use another 3/4-in. strip of pine to brace up the center of the pegboard. Install this center brace between the holes. Secure it with glue and a few 1-in. brads from the front side of the base. This will prevent the 4 x 4-ft. sheet of pegboard from getting too floppy.
The doors will be thicker than the base once you add the screen molding. This means they’ll make contact with the walls before they fully open. If you add filler strips of pegboard on the back side of the pine boards you just installed, the doors will open farther, and you’ll get another cool-looking dark strip resembling a walnut inlay (Photo 4). Even with the filler strips, the cabinet doors will make contact with the wall about 4 in. before they fully open. If you really, really want the doors to open all the way, you can add another 1/4 in. of filler to the back. But if you hang tools on the front of the cabinet or on the walls on either side, 4 it shouldn’t matter at all.
Figure A: Pegboard Wall Cabinet
The overall dimensions of this compact tool cabinet are 47 3/4-in. square and 9 1/2-in. deep. A complete Cutting List and a Materials List are available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
Figure B: Cutting Diagram
Cut the pegboard so that all the edges are solid hardboard. A complete Cutting List and a Materials List are available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
Install the doors
Photo 5: Install the doors
Clamp the doors to the cabinet and install the piano hinges. A self-centering screw hole punch helps you center the screws in the hinge holes.
The cabinet is a little shorter than the hinges; use a hacksaw to trim them down. Install the hinges to the base first. Fold it over the front edge of the base at a 90-degree angle and install the screws. Clamp the doors into place before you screw the other half of the hinge. Use a self-centering screw hole punch to make sure the screws are perfectly aligned (Photo 5). The punch is inexpensive and sold at home centers. Make sure the doors stay shut by installing a magnet catch on the top and bottom.
If the gap between the doors isn’t perfectly even, adjust the screen mold on the front of the doors as you install them until it is. Fasten the screen mold with 1-in. brads.
Finish it up
After filling the holes with putty, cover the wood with clear polyurethane. It keeps the wood color light and really darkens up the edges of the pegboard. Don’t use an aggressively sticky tape when you tape off the hardboard/dry-erase board or you may pull the finish right off them. Screw the cabinet to the wall with screws that penetrate the studs at least 1-1/4 in., and try to hit at least three studs on the top and three on the bottom. You can install handles on the bottom if you like.
Now that you’re done, it’s time to shop for the hardware you’ll need to hang all your tools. Here’s a suggestion for you: Avoid 1/8-in. hooks. They fit in the 1/4-in. holes but tend to pull out when you remove a tool.
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- Air compressor
- Air hose
- Brad nail gun
- Circular saw
- Cordless drill
- Countersink drill bit
- Dust mask
- Flush-trim router bit
- Framing square
- Hearing protection
- Miter saw
- Safety glasses
- Self-centering drill bit
- Self-centering screw hole punch