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Tool cupboard build (final update)

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wallace

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Mike, that's better joinery than I did making my kitchen :D it would make a very nice welsh dresser
 

MikeG.

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Thanks Wallace. I'll be making a Welsh dresser for my kitchen in the next 6 months or so. Look out for that........the joinery (and the damn wood!) will be better than this.
 

MikeG.

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Dovetails. Lots and lots of dovetails. Starting with the two doors for the tool cabinet, of ex 3x1 PAR:





Awkwardly, the side pieces were so long that I had to mark out along the bench utilising a temporary support, rather than across the bench in the usual way:







Glue up was easy, and I thought I'd treat myself to some simple corner clamping guides in MDF before starting. They helped:





There's two:



On to the drawers. There are 10 drawers, which is twenty fronts and twenty sides. I wrestled the SCMS out from its hiding place and cut everything to length:



I've roughed out quickly the layout of the dovetails. Now it's just hours and hours of sawing and chiseling......
 

AndyT

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Mike, maybe hours and hours of sawing and chiselling will slow you down to a more normal pace - I'm feeling tired just reading about the amount of work you've got done on this project each day! :D
 

MikeG.

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I've only been part-time during the week, as I've had a bit of drawing to do. I think I've got a clear weekend, and I hope to have the drawers done and the main doors fitted by close of play on Sunday. I do need a quick visit to the builder's merchant first, though, as I'm a little short of wood.
 

Chris152

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Fantastic wip, not just the workmanship but the apparent economy of means - those lines of cut joints look great. Tho tbh, I'd be pretty happy with the original shelving unit in my workshop, no place for anything and everything out of place.
 

MikeG.

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Thanks Chris. The thing with the original shelves was that they held no tools, and I need my tools there in one place rather than scattered around the workshop.
 

MikeG.

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First job today was to clean up the door boxes and offer them up:



I had previously routed most of a rebate out for some ply:



Now that the corners were together I could complete those rebates:





Then glue and pin the ply:



And offer up into place:





You may remember from a day or two ago where I said the vertical dividers above the "worktop" would form a useful purpose in due course.....well, here it is:



With a little rubbing strip on the underside of the door, these vertical pieces will help take the weight of the door off the hinges somewhat. Otherwise, loaded down with tools over the years there would be a tendency to sag.

Right, onto dovetails. I started these at about 2.15 this afternoon. Here is an alternative way of marking out the gauge line around the ends of all the boards. As usual with woodworking, there are a dozen ways to skin most cats, and using a chisel to mark the line is extremely quick and clean. An off-cut of the drawer material is pinned to a board to hold everything together, and the board for marking is held against it, vertically. You then just pull the chisel across the scrap cutting a line on the face of the drawer board:



I almost always start with the tail boards (the drawer sides). Using this technique, I only have to mark out once, despite having 20 drawer sides (ie 40 joints) to cut. I marked out the tails on the ends of 4 boards, and cut them:



Then, marking one of the boards as "P" (pattern), I take that one off and spin the pile over, before replacing the "P" board at the other end. I mark 2 or 3 right angle lines, but that's all:



The saw then follows the kerf of the pattern board. Rinse and repeat, cutting 4 boards at a time until you've finished. Then, again with 4 boards, cut out the waste with a coping saw (I'll show later why this is unavoidable):





That saw was in the £1 bargain bin at my local hardware shop about 25 years ago. You don't need anything more than that.

This is why you need to saw the waste away. This is my narrowest chisel (1/4"). I could make a cut about 1mm above the gauge line only because of the width of the pin mortise, and if you tried to chop out waste from there you'd A/ get pushed back into or past the gauge line, and B/ jam all the waste in tightly into the triangle above:



A couple of hours of chiseling (and using a marking knife to clean up into the corners), and I'd done all the tail boards. That was 4 hours work altogether. It's like cycling........if you keep turning the pedals you get there in the end:

 

MikeG.

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My weekend didn't go exactly as I'd planned. I did half a day Saturday, and a couple of hours only on Sunday. With a couple of hours today I am still behind where I thought I might be. Never mind...... First job was to start painting the door boxes:



Four coats later:



I'm planting a false frame on the front to cover the join between ply and pine, hence the unpainted margin. Here's the start of that false frame:



....and then hours later:



That was all going on during the cutting of half a million pin boards. I reckon the pin-boards part of this is about 4 hours work:



They're all dry fitted, so of course I had to knock them all apart afterwards. If anyone here finds themselves cutting lots of drawers by hand like this, my biggest tip is to be very very organised and methodical. Keep boards in neat piles. Mark the outside of the drawer on each piece. Mark where the groove will be. Number each piece. Put a letter to each corner, in the same place. When you are offering boards up for marking it is terribly easy to lose where you are, so having a fool-proof marking system is critical. Clear your bench, line your tools up, and work methodically through the pile.

When you need to take a stretch after an hour or two of doing the same thing over and over, take on another short task. I did the painting, above, through the process of doing the pin boards. I also did the skirting board around the bottom of the unit:





OK, that also involved some dovetails, because mitred corners in a workshop are only going to get kicked open, or bashed open with a broom or a piece of wood......but nonetheless it was a few minutes respite from doing the drawers.

Once they were all made and dry fitted, I knocked all the drawers apart methodically and stacked them prior to putting a groove in the bottom edge for the ply base board:



I then set up the router table ready to run those through tomorrow. Note the stops at each end, so that the groove doesn't show through on the front of the drawers:





Yes, these drawers are going to have the dovetails visible on the drawer front. They also have a dovetailed back, with a full depth board........so how is that going to work with drawer stops, I hear you ask. I have a cunning plan for that.
 

MikeG.

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It was a quick job to clean up the dovetails and fix the skirting in place:



It was a much slower job to glue up all the drawers. Two of them didn't sit flat (presumably due to a twist in one of the components), so I attempted to counteract this by tensioning them the other way as the glue set. As it happens, one I overdid slightly, and one I under-did, but both were much better than they had been in the dry fit:





Whilst the drawers were drying I fitted the door boxes, using cheap piano hinges:





This was a bit of a fiddle, and one of the doors came off 3 or 4 times for adjusting. After that, it was just lots and lots of planing, offering up, adjusting, until all the drawers fitted:





Here's how I supported the drawers in the vice:



Some years ago I had salvaged a few commercial chests of drawers from a practice I worked in as they headed towards a skip. They yielded lots of nice stuff, including these drawer pulls of solid wood:



I'm not sure what the wood is. It has prominent medullary rays, but is much too red to be oak. Anyway, I rather like them, so I cleaned them up with some white spirit, then made a jig to locate the screw holes:



When correctly located you just push on the board and the tips of the screws, which stick out the back, leave a nice clear mark:





I waxed all the runners and sides, and I now have a completed set of drawers:



Finally, because of the drawer design traditional stops are impossible. However, there is an OSB wall just 5 or 10mm behind the back of the drawers, so I screwed a couple of screws in behind each drawer box and simply turned them in or out until they stopped the drawers in the right place:

 

sammy.se

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Lovely work Mike! And thanks for the WIP. Very informative.
 

Steliz

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Thanks for the WIP and the unit looks great.
What is the decider between this type of drawer and one with sliders? Is it just personal preference? I'm about to start a workshop cabinet myself (my first attempt) and I am trying to keep it as simple as I can so sliders seem like the obvious choice.
 

Inspector

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Great looking cabinet. I like the drawer screw depth stops. I do something similar when hanging from a french cleat. A screw hidden behind the lower corner you want to bring out squares everything up nicely especially if there are doors.

Pete
 

AndyT

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I really like this, for several reasons.
First, the way you used ordinary softwood for a functional piece. Then extra points for using those nice old drawer pulls. And the clever dividers/supports. And more still for all those functional dovetails.

In fact, the only thing I find hard to swallow is that you seem to have completed it in a few days. Some of us would have taken several months! :oops:
 

MikeG.

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Thanks guys. And.....erm.......it's not finished yet. There's all the tools to mount, and a corner cupboard to build (underway). So keep coming back for more. :)
 

MikeG.

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Steliz":3u4emj6x said:
Thanks for the WIP and the unit looks great.
What is the decider between this type of drawer and one with sliders? Is it just personal preference? I'm about to start a workshop cabinet myself (my first attempt) and I am trying to keep it as simple as I can so sliders seem like the obvious choice.
Sliders mean planted-on drawer fronts. They have their place, but simple and robust is the name of the game with workshop stuff, for me anyway.
 
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