Tool Cabinet, doors

I have a case I built some time last year, or maybe the year before.  I had originally thought to put it in my bathroom at my house, but I wasn’t thrilled with the way it turned out.  My work area still needs a fair amount of storage and organization, so I thought I would re-purpose the case into a tool cabinet.  There are a couple of sub-projects for this re-purposing: install a base so the cabinet can sit on top of my side bench (it was originally going on a wall), and change the door into a pair of smaller doors.

So I removed the door I had on there, because it was one wide panel and seemed to tip the case when I opened it.  This wasn’t a big deal when the case was going to be securely attached to a wall, but for a free-standing cabinet, it is a design flaw. First thing to do then is to make two smaller doors.  It was a beautiful day outside, so I dragged my new saw bench, rip saw and stock out to make some saw dust.  This would be my first time using the saw bench, so I’ll also get a chance to see how it works.

I marked both pieces of cherry with 1 1/2″ for the stiles and rails.  I had enough length to make two of each from each piece of stock.  I picked the edges with the straightest, rift grain, though one did have a bit of sap wood.  But I don’t mind sap wood on cherry, and since I’ll be the one seeing the cabinet the most, I decided to keep it.

I think my rip saw is just a couple inches too long for me with this saw bench.  Since the bench is based on my stubby legs (despite being a 6 footer, I am more torso than legs.  Sitting at a table I am taller than my bro, who is 6′ 4″), and I’ve mostly used this rip saw at my work bench.

Like a geek, I counted how many full strokes it took me to rip this down on a couple of the rip cuts.  One was 200 exactly, and the other was 152, both of which were on the same piece of stock.  I’m not sure what the difference was except that each was in different directions on the stock.  I did find that the angled legs seemed to get in the way when ripping down the length of the bench, so had to change positions pretty often to get an interference-free cut.  Since I still have to make another one, I think I will change the design and perhaps only put the angled legs on one side.  My other idea is to make a trestle saw bench, which would remove the angle problem.  The paint got its just desert–some saw marks and chip outs.  Now it is starting look like something useful.

I then brought everything inside and worked on the stiles and rails.  First I ganged them together and marked the stile length, which I made 1″ over-long in both directions.  My plan is to do through mortises and wanted a bit of extra length for the ‘horns’.

After cutting them to rough length, then keep them gang-clamped together and plane them all to width.

And cleaned up.

I then had to lay out the doors and used a story stick to mark the length for the rails, the shoulder to shoulder length.  I then added 2″ to each side so I’d have plenty of length for the through tenons.

I forget the actual measurements, but it didn’t really matter.  I just marked 2″ from the end of the story stick, measured the story stick for the between shoulder measurement, and added 2″ to the second mark.  For actual rails,  I used the shooting board to shoot one end of the rails, then marked the length on all the rails using that end as the reference.

I flip the shooting board over and pull out the cross cut saw and viola, rails cut to length.  I kept the saw cut side straight off the saw as it will then be easy to see which end was shot square on the board for using the story stick to lay out the shoulder cuts.

All my rail and stie stock was just a 1/32″ shy of 3/4″, so I decided to center the grooves on the rails-stiles.  I’m going to use some 1/4″ baltic birch ply for the panels, so I set up my marking gauge to 1/4″ and mark a line on all the stiles and rails.  Then re-set it for 1/2″ and do the same, from the same reference face.  I read about this in a Roy Underhill article in Pop Woodworking (for a tool chest), and he suggests this ensures your plow plane will stay in the groove without accidentally changing  settings, which does sometimes happen when using my plow.  I plow the groove, and use my non-optimal wood holding system: a pair of small wedges and a batten to press the piece up against the planing stop.  At the end I use the small router plane just to clean up any gunk in the bottom of the groove, though it is generally pretty good.

Tomorrow I’ll cut the tenons lay out the mortises, then chop them out. Yes, that is the order I tend to do this operation, even though most people say you should cut the mortises first.  I’ve had better results using the actual tenon to layout the ends of the mortise.  I’ll then size the panels and cut them, so hopefully I’ll also be at the glue-up stage tomorrow.

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  1. Al (Thomas)

     /  September 18, 2011

    Joe, Nice to see your cabinet getting a new lease on life. 🙂 Now your saw bench looks “right” with a few saw marks down the legs. In a recent issue of Pop Woodworking Ron Herman goes over the design elements of his saw bench with straight sides. Makes sense to me.
    Your cabinet case is complete however as an FYI – Garrett Hack FYI made a small tool cabinet in Fine Woodworking a year or two ago.
    I look forward to following your progress on the doors and the base for the cabinet.

  2. Very nice writeup!

    I have legs shorter than you (I’m about 5’6″), if I recall my sawbenches are only 20″ tall. Even panel saws can be tough to keep off the floor… but I figure if 14 year olds were apprenticing with these tools, a permanent dwarf like myself can make do, too.


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