Tool Cabinet and Surround
Comments 6

New Tool Cabinet: Getting Started

I HAVE HAD a lot of travel time since the last update on my new project (see an overview of it here). Travel time means time to think about what the first step for getting underway should be. Sometimes all this thinking isn’t a good thing. For example, I decided the first item to build is what Fine Woodworking calls the ultimate dado jig (see a video about this jig by clicking here).

I am going to need tight-fitting dado joints in my new tool cabinet and I sure could use a really good dado jig. As I began looking at this jig in detail, I decided it was just too much; too complicated. There are t-tracks and star knobs and springs and such. Building this jig would be too much of a delay. So I’m not going to build it, at least not now – it’s a fine jig, but for now, I envision a more simplified dado jig for my workshop.

I then did some more thinking. Next, I came to the conclusion that building a mock-up of the bottom drawer would be good. After all, I have never used the substantial under-mount drawer slides I bought, and there are very specific ways the drawer needs to be built in order for it to work properly. I sure would feel better about the design if I had this totally figured out (for example, I added a 1/2″ depth to the cabinet to ensure there was enough interior space).

But, I decided against this idea as well. Instead of over-thinking how to begin construction, what I decided to do is just get started.

First up in construction: Cut the sides and bottom of the cabinet to final size. Last weekend, I had already bought a full sheet of 3/4″ birch plywood at Home Depot – got them to rip it in half. Something I thought was good to do, but not typical for me was creating a cutting diagram for the plywood using SketchUp…

Plywood cutting diagram #1.

Plywood cutting diagram #1.

I’ll need a second sheet of plywood and I have a cutting diagram for it as well. I’ve never attempted this in SketchUp before; I am following the example Jay Bates often uses.

Cutting the sides and bottom to length was a simple process of setting up a guide and making the cut using my decades old Craftsman circular saw. Yes, I still use Craftsman tools even though they are frowned on today. My circular saw was inexpensive and still cuts like a champ.

Cutting the right side to length.

Cutting the right side to length.

Adding this auxiliary fence to my table saw.

Adding this auxiliary fence to my table saw.

The auxiliary fence makes cutting sheet goods safe.

The auxiliary fence makes cutting sheet goods safe.

The auxiliary fence you see above is such a big help. It makes ripping large panels a breeze. This is yet another item I saw in Fine Woodworking. In case you did not know, I am a big fan of this magazine.

To bring the case sides and bottom together, I decided on using a lot of biscuits and a lot of screws. I know that biscuits are not as structurally sound as dovetail joinery, but I can get a pretty good joint using biscuits, glue and screws. Plus biscuits and screws are pretty quick to make.

Making the bottom to sides joinery.

Making the bottom to sides joinery.

Biscuit joint completed.

Biscuit joint completed.

Note the screws. Base and sides attached.

Note the screws. Base and sides attached.

Off to a good start.

Off to a good start.

Add in a few more components and this thing is starting to take shape. In the photo above, I have added the casters and lower base, front thing – not sure what to call it. The two upper cross members are temporarily attached. I wanted to get to this point to see how the basic case fits within the opening in the wall surround. I’m pretty pleased with it so far.

Next for construction: I’ll add the back next; this will ensure the case is square and will give it resistance to racking. I am then thinking about building the face frame – a step I am really looking forward to. With the face frame temporarily attached, I’ll be better able to zero in on the exact location for all the cross members. Good stuff coming up; stay tuned…

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Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).

6 Comments

  1. Guy Lovelace says

    Jeff,
    Before you put the back on think about all the drawer installations you have to do and assure yourself that you will have adequate access with the back in place. I have had some situations where I wished I had put the slides in place before the back went on.
    Guy

    • Hey Guy,

      Yes, I’ll put the back on with screws which will make it removable. It would be a big mistake to permamently attach it without all the web frames in place. 🙂

      Good to hear from you… Jeff

  2. I really like the way you think Jeff and I totally agree with you. Nothing wrong with biscuits and screws to get the job done efficiently. And nothing at all wrong with your circular saw either.
    I enjoy watching your work….

    • Thank you Art. I do want to get to where traditional joinery is commonly used in my work, but right now, that is far off in the future. If it weren’t for the back log of woodworking projects I want to complete, maybe I could fit a smaller project to test hand cut dovetails or a hand chopped mortise into my skill set. 🙂

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