RUST Tool Cupboard: The Basics

Master basics of the tool cupboard

There are few words more soothing during a raid than “Got TC” uttered by the breach team, but from the outsider’s perspective, what does that even mean? What could be so game-altering during such a chaotic event that can calm a group of raiders so much?

For the uninitiated, the Tool Cupboard (TC) is the heart of any base design in RUST. It takes the form of an oversized armoire. The TC and its subsequent range limits the building, deploying, and all-around player-altering abilities of those with or without authorization to a player-built structure.

Simply put, a grass field is just that until someone places a secured TC down on a foundation. At this point, and only at this point, does a building truly exist in RUST.

With its conceptual origins sparked as early as Devblog 33 in November of 2014, no player-based building on a vanilla server has since existed without a TC hidden within its halls.

Let us explore some of the general functionality of the tool cupboard, such as building privilegebuilding blocked, and authorization. These are all words thrown around frequently in RUST guides, but you rarely get clear-cut definitions of these things.

What is building privilege?

Building privilege, also frequently referred to as “priv,” is a game mechanic in RUST that allows individual players to become authorized and possess building privileges within the proximity of the tool cupboard and the base it’s connected. 

For players to become authorized and gain building privileges, they must first position themselves directly in front of the tool cupboard and press the E key while the TC is unlocked (if you don’t have the code.)

RUST Tool Cupboard Authorization

Once complete, the player will become authorized (authed) on that tool cupboard. Unlike other RUST entities, such as Auto Turrets, players cannot be authed to a tool cupboard by proxy.

The difference between privilege and being building blocked is simply having authorization on the TC. Having privilege is required for players to build within range of that tool cupboard’s proximity, or else they remain building blocked. 

In addition to being allowed to build blocks, place entities, and alter various entity configurations, players with “priv” are also excluded from being targeted by mechanical base defense systems like flame turrets, and shotgun traps.

How building privilege applies to traps

Mechanical (meaning non-electrical) base defenses, such as the Flame Turret and the Shotgun Trap, expressly use the tool cupboard’s authorized list to determine at whom they discharge when a player is within range. 

The basic concept is that a properly loaded trap is pointed in a specific direction to prohibit or slow down entry beyond that point. 

An authorization check is performed when a player passes within the conical visual range of said trap. If a player passes in front of the trap without proper authorization, it discharges, damaging anything (including players that may be authed) in its path.  

How building privilege affects entity interactions

Aside from the mechanical traps mentioned, players may not authorize inactive auto turrets without having TC privilege. They can, however, authorize with them via the person wiring them (loophole). 

Furthermore, players without building privileges are prohibited from interacting with any other electrical entity with internal, programmable features, such as the Electrical Branch or a Counter

Brandishing a tool such as a Hammer or Building Plan will quickly reveal whether or not a TC is present at a structure, either showing your auth status and current upkeep, showing Building Blocked in big red letters, or in the event of no TC at all, revealing nothing.

What is the building blocked status?

RUST Tool Cupboard — Building Blocked Status

Non-prohibited blocks & entities

Being building blocked is literal to its meaning. Players may not build or upgrade foundations, walls, windows, or most other roof structures within this area’s tool cupboard when this status displays.

Players also may not deploy or pick up any already deployed entities within the area without authorizing first with the TC. The confusion comes from several wildcards that skirt the edge of these rules. 

  • Any player may construct twig floors, either square or triangle (as stability allows), solid or frame, on any base regardless of authorization status. 
  • Any player may place a Wooden Ladder on any base irrespective of auth.
  • Any player may remove any door (including ladder hatches) that has not been secured with either a Key or Code Lock
  • Any player may remove locks applied and left unlocked or, in the case of the code lock, reprogrammed and secured by non-authorized players. 

Protip: Always lock your tool cupboard. More on this later.


The actual measurable range of tool cupboard coverage is contingent on the size and shape of all foundational structures directly attached to the structure of that tool cupboard. 

What some call the “bubble” or “radius” of the privileged area encompasses both the horizontal and vertical axis, meaning that height and outshoots from foundational structures extend the range further in their particular direction.  

Although the official in-game item description of the Tool Cupboard states that the protective radius is 50 meters, in reality, it is closer to half that, right around 30 meters. 

I like to think of it as the 6 / 12 metric. I can place precisely 6 square foundations between the edge of a tool cupboard’s ending structure and the edge of the build privilege being cut off. 

Conversely, I can place, in a straight line, 12 connected triangle foundations outward before reaching the edge of building privilege. While seemingly trivial, this information is vital to know for anyone building a multi-TC base.

Equally important is knowing this range when placing defensive structures like high external walls and gates. These entities, while under the ‘effect’ of a tool cupboard’s privilege range, will not decay. 

However, when one of these entities is placed away from building privilege, it begins to take damage over time almost immediately until its health reaches 0 and it falls to pieces.

How does building maintenance work?

RUST Tool Cupboard — Upkeep


Another commonly used phrase unbeknownst to most starting out is upkeep and what it implies. Upkeep is a tax per-structure system that ensures that bases don’t get too large. 

The larger your base becomes, the more precious metals are required to upgrade it, and that base will cost more to ‘upkeep’ per second. Entities, such as doors and windows, also increase this taxation. 

For more information, be sure to check out our complete Upkeep guide. So long as the requirements of upkeep are met, the base in question will not ‘decay.’

Because server configurations are so customizable, some owners elect to modify the upkeep requirement, decreasing it exponentially or making the server itself ‘No Decay,’ meaning upkeep is disabled.

Passive Healing

As a side effect of being provided with the resources listed as part of upkeep, bases will passively ‘regenerate health’ when damaged from sources such as raid attempts or Patrol Helicopter takedowns. While this passive healing doesn’t impact all entities under priv, it is immeasurably handy after your base sustains an MLRS attack and survives.


Now that we understand the importance of upkeep, we must focus on the byproduct of failure in this regard; decay. 

Decay is damage over time to a base. This concept is like the advanced degeneration of a house that isn’t maintained. 

When buildings in RUST begin to decay, they begin at the outermost layers and highest levels and almost wilt in a way. The areas and entities, such as doors and walls furthest from the tool cupboards location, start first. 

It is possible that if a base is composed of several materials, such as stone and metal, just one of those resources may exhaust. In this scenario, such as the TC running out of metal fragments, only the metal portions and entities attached to the base would decay. 

However, if you had a Sheet Metal Double Door on a stone doorframe and that frame decayed completely, the door would break as a byproduct.

Potential Grief Protection

Referencing a critical statement made earlier in the guide, we cannot help but reiterate:  Always lock your tool cupboard.

When the rules of the tool cupboard were drafted, a little-known but important grief-protection method was installed with them. This protection comes in the form of resource absorption.

Any TC that must be forcibly destroyed by a raiding party to gain access will absorb (when available) 24 hours of resources upon its destruction.  

This built-in feature means that unless otherwise griefed by placing doors and walls, the original base owner has 24 hours from the tool cupboard breaking to log back in before decay starts on the structure. 

Walls, doors, and the like added after the breaking of the TC will NOT be maintained with this absorption and will often decay completely before the original structure unless the raiders replace the TC and add their own upkeep.

Final thoughts on the tool cupboard basics

As a general rule of thumb, planning out your base ahead of time is essential to maximize protection for your tool cupboard and your more important loot and bag area. 

We encourage everyone to hop on a build server, sit down with some youtube videos, and explore the world of RUST building. Learn a few handy tricks from teammates, and never stop pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

Please keep those suggestions and begrudgingly witty comments coming back to us directly in our Discord. We love hearing different perspectives on this and all other topics. It keeps us thinking.

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About No Limit Llama

An aspiring woodworker and web designer. Father, husband, and Rust veteran. Llama has written op-eds and official game documents for over two decades. The earliest writings were on Asheron’s Call, followed by World of Warcraft and eventually Rust. The vast majority of his indoor time is spent running Rust servers or helping friends with their Rust-related projects. He enjoys working around the house, continuing his education when time permits, and creating new processes to simplify activities of daily living for his friends and family. He has an incredible wife, a dog, three children, and one granddaughter.

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