I just got the tool cabinet up on the wall, it took my wife, my son and met all together to lift it up high enough. But I’m getting ahead of the story.
I sanded the outside of the cabinet with 220 then brushed on three coats of amber shellac. It’s not fancy, but it will give it a bit of protection from dirt. By the time I’d done three coats on all the exterior surfaces I was pretty comfortable with brushing shellac.
Three coats of amber shellac
First door drying
I also slathered the inside of the cabinet with a coat of Tried & True Oil/Wax finish, except for where the drawers will go.
One coat of oil/wax mix inside
Then I had to hang the doors. I made some little stands to hold them at exactly the right height, which made getting the hinges on a piece of cake. The #4 screws that came with the piano hinges were pretty short (1/2″) so I picked up some longer 1″ screws.
Then I screwed the french cleat to the wall, I drove 3″ deck screws into 3 studs that I was able to span. Below that I have another strip of plywood that I’ll screw into through the back of the cabinet (behind the drawers) to help support the weight.
(off camera, heavy lifting noises)
No ominous creaking sounds. I drove in the support screws and started loading in tools. I still need to make the drawers and hang tools on the inside of the doors. I’ll work on that this week. It feels pretty good to have this much finished. Something about the perspective in this picture make the cabinet look smaller than it is. It’s big, and heavy. It’s about 48″ square by almost 18″ deep with the doors.
Tools Moved In
So, it’s taking a little longer than I’d hoped to make the doors for the tool cabinet, about two hours to cut all the parts, lay out the locations for the biscuits and cut the slots, test fit and finally glue it up. Honestly, I think the glue up took the most time.
I used the large (#20) biscuits veery 8″ all the way around the perimeter to align and support the edge strips. I also use the smaller (#10) at the four corners between the edge strips. I should have taken a picture of all the slots, but I was in a hurry to get this done, and let’s face it…it’s not what I’d call “fine woodworking”, it’s just utilitarian.
One Door Mocked Up
Thinking ahead (just a novelty, I won’t make a habit of it) I cut one of the long edge pieces .175″ narrower to allow for the piano hinge.
Instant Hinge Mortise
The glue up was a pain. I put glue in the slots then used an acid brush to work it in (and get the excess out) way kind of fussy…and time consuming with 36 slots to work glue into. After I got this done I remembered that I bought a special biscuit slot glue bottle years ago (and never used it). I dug though my junk and found it. Maybe the second door will go a little more quickly.
Anyway, it’s “in the clamps” and I have to go run a few errands. I’ll get the other door knocked out this afternoon for sure.
One down, one to go
I picked up some more plywood tonight to make the doors for the cabinet. I’ve been buying “shop grade” birch ply, which, frankly, is junk. Lots of voids and it seems less stiff than I would have expected. I got a 5′ x 5′ sheet of real baltic birch ply today, for about the same cost as the 4′ x 8′ sheets of shop ply. It seems like it’s much nicer stuff. More plus, no voids so far.
I got my son to help me cut this up carefully. I cut both door faces and several 3″ wide strips for the edging — the doors are going to be 3″ deep. That will be plenty of room to hang all of my miscellaneous tools. That’s deep enough to hang my braces which I think are about the biggest (depth-wise).
I think I’m going to put this all together with biscuits. I dug out my biscuit joiner, which I’ve used exactly once before, 12 years ago. I’ll make some practice joints to make sure I have everything set up properly. I should be able to knock these out pretty quickly tomorrow. The end is in sight!
3″ wide strips for the sides of the door boxes
Comparison of Baltic Birch ply (left) to Shop Grade (right)
I added the guts to the saw till, nothing complex.
I used a 1″ dowel to support the handle, it goes through one internal divider and fits into a pocket in the outside of the case. I made a little jig to get the holes lined up properly.
Drilling a Recess for the Support Dowel
Then I cut some saw kerfs in strips of 3/4″ plywood on 1″ centers. I put three blade supports in, which covers all of my saws. I’ll have room for two or three more saws once I’m “moved in”. I’ll probably hang my dovetail saws on the doors, although they could fit here too.
A Few Saws Test Fit
I got a little time in this afternoon on my tool cabinet. I got the dividers in for the drawers and cut some separators for the plane cubbies and and got the plane till in. It’s starting to look like something now.
Ramped Till and Drawer Dividers In Place
With all of my “regular” planes put away I have a bit of room left over for a few more.
Plane Till Finished
If I get a little time tomorrow I’ll put in the details for the saw till and start on the doors. This isn’t the most beautifyl or elegant tool cabinet, but it should be plenty functional. I’m eager to finish this so I can get back to my sconce project.
I made some decent progress today on my tool cabinet. I still need to add the dividers for the drawers, the ramp for the plane till and some sort of gizmo to hold my saws. Then I can start on the drawers and doors.
There are a couple of problems, one of which is my fault and the other I can’t quite pin down. Probably my fault too.
FIrst, I mis-read my own plans and cut a dado in the wrong place. Two, actually, but only one will show and not much at that. I’ve repaired this, it’s annoying but not the end of the world. The other problem is that the sides of the case are bowed in slightly. I haven’t figured out what’s causing that, but it’s got to be something I did. Maybe some inaccuracy some where. My first guess was the back was too narrow, but I checked that and it was OK. The case is square corner-to-corner, which is good. I’m concerned that the bow in the sides might make it tough to put doors on it. One step at a time. Given how big this case is, maybe I should have made it out of 1″ ply.
Here is my mistake. I put this dado in the wrong spot and didn’t discover it until I had the case glued up. So I glued in an off cut, and glued in a spacer to support the end of that shelf. Most of the patch will be hidden by the plane ramp, but it’s embarrassing and annoying.
- Improved Tool Cabinet Design
I slightly updated my tool cabinet design. I needed the measurements for the dados for the rest of the internal dividers so I can cut the rest of the parts to size and plow the dados. Once this is done (and after I buy another sheet of 1/2″ ply to re-make the back panel) I should be able to assemble the main case.
I added cubby dividers, which will be a loose fit so they can be repositioned as necessary. I settled on 2.5″ spacing on those after measuring my tools. All of my joinery planes will fit in either a 2.5″ space or a 5″ space. I may end up making s small horizontal sub-divider to fit two block planes in one slot.
I’m only using these between the joinery planes, not the moulding planes, to keep them from knocking into each other and to keep them from getting tangled together. The cubby dividers will be 1/8″ MDF or Masonite.
Next time I sit down with Sketchup I’ll start figuring out the doors in more detail, and probably add in the drawer details too. If you want to get the current Sketchup model you can download it here.
Improved Tool Cabinet Design
Two steps forward, one step back.
I re-cut the dados for the tongues — the joint that holds the sides together. I measured everything and the dados were about .035″ too shallow overall. I test fit the sides together and it all closed up nicely.
Then I cut a piece of 1/2″ ply for the back. Somehow I cut it out of square. I’m not completely used to the sliding table, and the miter gauge was slightly off — and slightly loose. I made a series of test cuts until I was sure it was dialed in properly, although I’m not 100% confident I have the table itself adjusted exactly right. It seems like it’s off about .030″ over the entire travel (about 6′), which seems pretty close — but it’s not 100%. I’m scratching my head about the best way to get that dialed in properly.
Anyway, I’ll have pick up another sheet of 1/2″ ply tomorrow and re-make the back. Then I can start fitting in the dividers and cutting more dados for the other shelves and cubbies. I think this will start coming together more quickly now. At least, that’s my theory.
I know, it’s a sad pun. But I made the dados for the internal dividers in the case sides tonight. I’m glad to be able to make progress on this during the week, but it’s like 30 minutes at a shot, then I have to make dinner and review homework with my son.
Success with the new router jig!
The jig worked flawlessly, and the dados are exactly the right size. I re-checked the space I need for my planes and saws to ensure this would hold everything. It will, with room for maybe one or two more saws and one or two more large planes. Plenty of room for joinery and molding planes.
Dados Cut In Case Sides
I need to re-cut the corner joints, the 1/4″ dado for the tongue ended up too shallow on a couple of the corners. I’m not sure how that happened as the other corners are OK. I suspect that I didn’t hold the board tightly enough against the router table. It will be easy enough to correct in my fractional bit of shop time after work.
Drawing stuff is easier than making stuff.
I needed to print out the layouts for the dados I need to cut into the plywood pieces for my hand tool cabinet, which is a real no-brainer compared to to getting the layout and cuts done accurately in real life. With the new dado jig I made last night this should be pretty simple to do, and with a little luck and a decent tail wind I’ll get home from work with enough time to start cutting these.
While I had Sketchup fired up, I mocked up some dividers for drawers. I think something like this would work OK. Which means more dados of course. I’m not sure what I’ll put in the drawers, but I’ll cross that bridge later.