Tool Cabinet and Surround, Workshop
Comments 14

New Tool Cabinet: Eleven Drawers Completed!

I knew making eleven drawers for my tool cabinet would be a long process. And making all of them inset drawers would add a level of complexity absent with overlay drawers. One thing I did not count on is the paralyzing anxiety I felt when it came time to process the curly maple from long, slightly warped boards into smaller, flat drawer fronts without tear-out. Drawer fronts which fit within their drawer openings with perfect gaps on all four sides. And that is the truth: I was stressing over ruining my prized curly maple. This lead to at least a two-week break from any meaningful woodworking. But, I did move forward and here is where we pick up the story…

Firstly, let’s review the basic construction of each drawer…

Typical drawer construction for my tool cabinet.

Typical drawer construction for my tool cabinet.

I used dowels to join the 1/2″ thick oak sides to 3/4″ pine drawer fronts and backs. Then, the curly maple drawer faces are added using the process below…

Hardware is added to the bottom drawer.

Hardware is added to the bottom drawer.

The hardware I am using is from House of Antique Hardware and I selected three items: bronze knobs, bronze label holders and bronze label pulls. This is the first time I’ve ordered from this supplier and I found the hardware to be good quality. The tiny screws used to secure the label holders and pulls presented only one issue; more on that later.

In my last blog post, I carefully fitted the drawer faces within their openings taking fine cuts at the table saw and using hand planes where necessary.

Blue tape and mounting tape used in this step.

Blue tape and mounting tape used in this step.

The blue tape shown above has a sliver of a business card underneath it. If needed, I added a second sliver of business card to get the drawer face centered within the opening. Note the mounting tape on the drawer box.

Drawer face temporarily attached.

Drawer face temporarily attached.

With the blue tape assuring proper location, I simply pushed the drawer face into the mounting tape. The tape is strong enough to hold the drawer face in place while I drive screws through the drawer box and into the drawer face as seen in the illustration above. In some cases, I had to remove the drawer face and continue hand plane work to ensure a good fit…

More fitting.

More fitting.

The photo above is a reason why I will soon begin building a new workbench. This is one of two ways I hold stock upright while I plane an edge. This works, but the process is a little cumbersome. I am looking forward to a real bench vise.

I timed the attachment of one drawer face – 45 minutes which included additional fitting which means removing screws, planning, re-attaching the drawer face and then removing it again if more stock needed to be removed. But, after working on eleven drawer faces over a two-week period, I HAVE ALL ELEVEN DRAWERS FINISHED!

The tool cabinet nearing completion.

The tool cabinet nearing completion.

Lots of storage space.

Lots of storage space.

One drawer already in use.

One drawer already in use.

The bottom drawer was sized to hold my jointer plane. What you see in there with the black plane is a Scott Meek prototype jointer plane kit which will actually be my next project. It should be a quick one and then on to my new workbench.

Concerning the hardware issue – the tiny screws supplied with the label holders and label pulls are made of soft metal. I had read a complaint about this on the House of Antique Hardware website. I carefully pre-drilled holes for these screws and even reamed them out further by moving the drill bit back and forth. In addition, I coated each screw with wax to help them enter the curly maple with the best chance of success. This worked perfectly until the very last label pull. Upon driving one screw (I used a small screw driver on each label holder and pull), part of the top literally broke off and the head of the opposite screw deformed to the point that I stripped out the screw head. I have not been able to find good replacements for these screws. I may have to order more pulls just to get the screws that come with them.

A SIDE NOTE: Just out of curiosity, I went back to the first blog post for my new tool cabinet. That blog entry was a year ago this week. I knew, with all the drawers, this tool cabinet would take some time to build process, but I also decided that I would be willing to take a break from it if needed. My goal now is to have it finished by New Year’s Day.

* * * * *

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).



  1. Mitch H says

    I’ve followed your build from its onset. I like what you have done. Looking back is there anything you would definitely change because of something you may have learned along the way?
    Really appreciate your efforts.

    • Hey Mitch, I would do one thing different – I’d use mortise and tenon joinery for the face frame instead of pocket screws. Too many of the face frame components shifted as the screws were driven in place even though I felt I had them clamped in place sufficiently.

      I did consider one design change as I neared completion of the drawers. Right now, the drawers are flush with the face frame. I thought the cabinet might look better if the drawers set back or inward by 1/8″ or so.

      Thanks for reading my blog. 🙂

  2. Mitchell says

    I would definitely have to agree about the mortise & tenon from my own experience as well. I think with pocket screws things may get rushed a bit more, although unintentional, than when I use mortise & tenon. I like the 1/8th setback idea. Maybe with a thin perimeter of contrasting hardwoods.

    Keep making dust my friend.

  3. potomacker says

    It looks as though you’ve been building yourself a 19th century hardware store.

  4. Pingback: New Tool Cabinet: 99% Complete | Jeff Branch Woodworking

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