Tool Cabinet and Surround
Comments 6

New Tool Cabinet: Cutting Odd Angles

I am at the point in building the face frame for my tool cabinet where I have to cut steep angles on some prized cherry. To me, all cherry is prized lumber, but this cherry is even more precious because I have already resawn it and then fed it through my planer. I don’t want to have to do this all over again should I make a steep angle error. My planer is loud, it makes a mess and I really don’t like using it; but, I am fortunate to have one. Recently, I have found myself looking at new planers in Fine Woodworking, but my current plan for purchasing tools is to first get a low angle jack plane sometime this year. I’ll have to endure my love/hate thickness planer relationship for a while longer.

Components for cutting highlighted in blue.

Components for cutting highlighted in blue.

But, I need to cut some fussy angles for the next few steps in the build process. Like all things in woodworking, cutting the steep angles needed (see the components highlighted in blue above) can be accomplished a number of different ways. After giving the process considerable thought, I chose a plan of attack which I feel is about as simple as it gets. First, I’ll need to make a sled for my table saw. Here is what I envisioned…

My steep angle sled design.

My steep angle sled design.

I like this sled/toggle clamp approach because the left edge of the sled aligns with my table saw blade giving me the exact location of the cut. The toggle clamps enable me to move the stock in very subtle ways to achieve the precision cut needed for the angles. Also, the toggle clamps are screwed in place from under the sled which means I can move the toggle clamps as needed to cut the rails and triangular blocks.

A more sophisticated version of this sled would have t-tracks embedded in it so the toggle clamps could simply slide into the various positions needed to cut the angles eliminating the need to pre-drill counter-bored holes from underneath. T-tracks cost money and the plywood I chose is only 1/2″ thick, so I see mine as a disposable sled.

Building the sled.

Building the sled.

Getting a tight fit with the piece of hardwood which rides in my saw’s miter gauge slot is critical. I used hand planes and fine adjustments to my table saw to achieve the fit I wanted. Using hand planes is so much fun.

Marking the location of the angle cut on the second rail.

Marking the location of the angle cut on the second rail.

Making the cut.

Making the cut.

I simply mark the angle needed with a sharp pencil and carefully align the pencil mark with the edge of my sled. After making the cut, I check the angle; when I am happy that this angle is correct, I then make the square cut on the opposite end of the rail and install it using pocket screws.

Fine tuning the fit on a corner block.

Fine tuning the fit on a corner block.

With the sled’s toggle clamps I can easily position a component for fine cuts and then lock them in place. This all goes remarkably well.

Odd angles for the screw pockets as well.

Odd angles for the screw pockets as well.

Note all the bizarre pocket screw locations.

Note all the bizarre pocket screw locations.

Up to this point, I have had some disappointing pocket screw joints. Despite my best efforts at keeping the mating components aligned properly, there have been several instances where one board will be slightly proud of the mating surface. So, I decided to first glue the remaining triangular pieces in place, then reinforce them with pocket screws after the glue dries. But, clamping with these odd angles is a tricky business. I devised what I thought was a clever way to compensate for the angles when clamping…

Note the red arrows.

Note the red arrows.

By drilling sheet rock screws into the upper face frame, I now have a perpendicular point to clamp against. I thought this was pretty smart on my part. 🙂

Clamps in place.

Clamps in place.

I applied just enough pressure to get a little glue squeeze-out. Once the glue had set, I removed the clamps and the sheet rock screws. No one will ever see the holes these screws created.

The completed face frame.

The completed face frame.

The face frame attached and the cabinet rolled into place.

The face frame attached and the cabinet rolled into place.

Right now, the face frame is held in place with just five pocket screws. And note the diagonal brace which temporarily keeps the face frame square. The face frame wants to shift out of square a little. I’ll remove that when I attach the face frame with more screws.

I’m pretty pleased with how this looks. Next, I’ll put the web frames in place and then I’ll start to frame out the interior of the cabinet with things like drawer runners, etc. Then drawer construction will begin which will be a lot of work.

PS: Concerning the low angle jack plane I want to get this year – I am not sure I really need it. I am not doing a lot of face planing of rough stock which I see as the primary purpose of a jack plane. But it can shoot end-grain and can serve some other functions as well. So, right now, the jack plane is still high on my wish list.

* * * * *

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).

Advertisements

6 Comments

  1. Chuck says

    Jeff,
    This is the first time I have ever seen a writer mention this annoying problem with pocket screw joint misalignment. Good for you! Seriously, I have had this problem ever since they were introduced. Yet every time you see this method in the media they act as if this problem doesn’t exist. (Of course most of the TV shows and magazines are sponsored by Kreg in some way.)

    Here are a couple of things I have done to mitigate the problem before it happens:
    * The drill bit never completes the leading pilot hole, and that little bit of wood has to go somewhere. So I always complete the hole by driving a screw in and out of the hole before assembling the pieces. (I wonder why do they make the drill bits such that they don’t complete the pilot hole?)
    * Since the screw is angled across the joint it will pull the pieces off to the side. So, sometimes I lay down a couple of layers of tape under the pilot hole side of the joint before clamping. This compensates for the offset that you are talking about.

    I don’t like the idea of running a drill bit across the pieces like I have seen demonstrated. You lose the bite of the threads by extending the hole, and if you don’t do it exactly in line with the original hole you could just make the problem worse.

    Thanks for sharing both successes and problems.

    Chuck

    • Chuck, thanks for the tips. Most of the video I see using the Kreg jig focuses on creating the pocket. Very little on the actual joining of boards. Anyway, I have seen one woodworker actually pre-drill the hole for the mating piece. Even using biscuits with pocket screws to assist in alignment. To me that defeats the fast joinery aspect of pocket screws. I will continue to refine my process.

  2. The cabinet is looking real nice, Jeff. I’m a big fan of cherry, too.

    In my opinion, this joint requires a pilot hole. I’m a BIG fan of pilot holes – in all situations. I know it’s awkward at that angle, but worth it. This will solve almost all your problems, especially with cherry and its variable density.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s