Tool Cabinet, base

Since my re-purposed cabinet will be sitting on a side bench, it needs a base to make it look less dorky and more like a true piece of furniture. I’ve never done a base like this before, one which had curves and is held together with dovetails.  I figure it will be good practice for a future chest of drawers I hope to make.  A sort of trial run.

First I had to figure out what to make it look like.  Not being great with a drawing or shapes, I decided to search the web for something suitable.  I found a Woodsmith design of a bracket foot which I modified to fit my project.

From my guitar making, I like to make mdf versions of these kinds of things first.  In that kind of ww’ing, I’ll bandsaw the wood to rough shape, then break out the router or router table and use a pattern bit with the mdf pattern attached with either screws or double-sided tape.  But I’m doing this with hand tools, but I made the mdf pattern anyway.  If I like it, I can use it sometime in the future.  If I don’t like it, it is not much of an expense.

I squared off the left side so that I could use it with my 4/4 stock.  I bandsawed to rough shape trying to leave a little for the rasp work.

The mdf pattern turned out pretty good and I faired the curves with my cheap-o 4-in-1 rasp.

I then traced out the shapes on my stock (faint pencil lines, sorry).  For the sides, the depth of the cabinet is more shallow than the pattern, but I used the basic shape to lay those out as well.  I just shifted everything to the left a bit and made a bit of a ‘heart’ shape.

I start on the dovetails.  I use a technique Schwarz taught us in the Hammer & Hand class using dividers for the layout.  I decided to do tails first and skipped the little rabbet technique CS also showed us as I find it fiddly and more of a PITA when fitting the dovetails than I like. I did all my stock prep before this stage (shooting the ends, jointing edges, etc).

Tails sawn, and I’m using my chisel to remove the waste between the tails.  It goes pretty fast, but not quite as fast as using the fret saw, so I did that on the second tail board.  Having messed up tail/pin cuts in the past, I always put a little ‘x’ on the waste.

I transfer to the pin board and then saw the pins.  I’m still a little chicken to get right up to the baseline with the fret saw, so there is a bit of chisel work to do.

First corner went together OK, not great, but pretty good.  The second side went together better.

After I had both corners dovetailed up, I turned my attention to working on the fancy pattern cutting.  I used my bandsaw to do much of the rough work on the front of the base, then it decided to crap out on me.  I have a shop smith bandsaw attachment I inherited from my pop, and while it sometimes does things pretty well, it has a poorly designed connection from the headstock to the attachments.  It is a plastic piece which has some ribs that slot into a metal drive on both ends.  I’m on my third one because it tends to strip out on the bandsaw side.

So the sides got the fret saw treatment, and both the front and sides got to experience some rasp scratching.  Not too satisfied with my cheap-o rasp, I decided to spring for some Auriou rasps.  For tools, I tend to get them for specific projects, that way the pain is not so great all at once.  I got a 9″ grain 10 and a 6″ grain 15 cabinet maker rasps. They work great and leave a very nice surface.  I hit the surfaces with some 150 grit sandpaper and all the tool marks are gone.

This looks a bit like something that would be on the mud flap of a long-haul truck. Or the signature of a new line of reality TV star’s furniture.

Normal view it looks like a truncated heart.  “All my Ex’s live in Texas…”

So, all that’s left with this project is a some glue-ups, and *shudder* dealing with the hardware.  Oh I do have to figure out what to do for some door pulls.  I have a small cut-off of rosewood from a guitar fretboard and thought it might look nice with the doors.

And a bit of shooting board work.  I think they will polish up really nice.  My idea is to let them into the frame of the doors (once those are hung), likely with a dovetail shaped mortise, and have the bookmatched end grain facing the front of the cabinet.  I’ll then either add a small channel going cross grain for a hand hold, or perhaps cut a small lip at the bottom edge.  Final shaping will be a bit whimsical.

I came up for a break after dealing with the beginnings of my hardware adventure, and found a flock of turkeys in the back yard.  They seemed to find some tasty vittles in the yard.

Leave a comment


  1. Al (Thomas)

     /  October 8, 2011

    Joe, It’s looking good. I enjoy following the progress on the re-purposed chest.

  2. Joe, I can’t tell from your pictures, are you marking with a pencil or a knife? Cabinet looks great.

    • Thanks! I was looking at your current project–I need to take some turning classes, as I love Federal furniture.
      For the base shape, I used a mechanical pencil. For transferring the tails to the pin, I used a knife, which I then highlight with a pencil. For the bridle joint on the doors I used a marking gauge followed by a pencil highlight.


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: