Making A Deep Shop Cabinet With Drawers Workshop Projects
In my never ending drive to improve my workshop, I took a hard look at the front of the shop. It has always been a problem area, mainly due to poor planning on my part from the beginning. While looking it over, I realized that the one constant over the years since I built it, was the steel lumber rack that holds all of my scrap wood. So, I figured the best approach would be to build a better place to put all of that stock.
The front of the shop before I got started. My welding table is piled high with junk, the corner cabinet is mostly useless and the lumber rack is (at the best of times) hard to reach:
I started by tearing out the cabinet. This leaves a hole in the drop ceiling, but the new cabinet will cover that completely:
Due to the size of this cabinet, I need to build it in place and got started with the the side panels and centre divider that goes from floor to ceiling. Since the ceiling is more than 8′ high, I had to make the panels longer by adding to ends.
I’m using spruce sheathing for the carcass of the cabinet to save some money, but this material is more difficult to work with:
This video goes over the design, demolishing the old cabinet and getting started on the new one:
The bottom of each panel was notched for a toe kick that is 3″; high. Cleats are added on the inside as well, to support the stretchers:
There will be drawers in the bottom of the cabinet, so not need to put full shelves in:
A story pole is made to mark the locations of each of the shelves. It’s just a thin strip of wood as tall as the cabinet and makes laying out the shelves and drawer slides easier and more accurate:
A trim piece is added to the top of the cabinet up tight to the ceiling, and a brace is fastened half way up to temporarily to keep the panels in line:
My original design started with a full width shelf at the top of the cabinet, but I decided against that during the first stages of the build, letting the centre panel go all the way up. After taking stock of the scraps on my lumber rack, I changed my mind again and had to cut the centre panel shorter.
I screwed a guide strip for my circular saw to make most of the cut, then finished it with a hand saw:
To support the shelves, I’m using simple cleats cut from 1/2″; plywood, glued and nailed in place:
With the top shelf installed, I fastened the cleats for the rest of the shelves:
Another way to support the shelves is to use dados, but there isn’t much need to go to that extra work for a simple shop cabinet. The cleats will perform just as well and are a lot easier to do.
This video goes over the progress in a bit more detail, showing some of the methods I used to straighten the warped plywood side panels to install the shelves:
For the drawers, I’ll be using simple wooden slides. The tracks that mount in the cabinet are made from spruce framing lumber, cut in an “;L”; shape:
Hardwood would be a better choice, but these drawers will only be used occasionally, as they are meant for items that I rarely use. I made the tracks so that there will be enough space between the drawer and the cabinet for metal slides, if I decide at some time to change. Doubtful, but it’s always easier to make the drawers narrower from the start, than cut them down in the future.
The tracks are just glued and fastened with 1-1/4″; brads. I used the framing square to make sure that they were perpendicular to the front edge of the cabinet:
With the tracks and all of the shelves installed, it’s starting to look like a cabinet. I used 1/2″; plywood for the smaller shelves and 3/4″; for the top shelf. The 1/2″; ones may sag a bit, depending on how much weight is put on them, but that’s not a problem:
Before putting in the drawer tracks, I gave them two coats of waterbased polyurethane where the drawers will ride. The poly makes the drawer slide easier and adds a tough wear layer to the surface.
Next, the drawers are made using 3/4″; and 1/2″; plywood. Again, I’m using the cheaper spruce sheathing, since drawers use a lot of material. To put them together, I’m using partial dados for most of the joints. These will add some extra glue surface and help to keep the parts in line:
The sides are longer to help support the drawer as it’s pulled out:
Like the tracks, I gave the bottom edge and side two coats of polyurethane, after sanding them smooth:
The doors are made from better plywood and I used full overlay European style hinges, three on each door. Here the cabinet is loaded up with all of the scraps from my old lumber rack. I added another shelf up top to double the space for longer pieces:
The drawer fronts have a simple wooden pull at the top that is the full width. I used the same pull on the doors, just glued and nailed in place.
Later on, I realized that I could have made the pulls for the doors go from top to bottom on that edge, and that would have helped to make the doors flatter. I’ll have to remember that for the next time:
The drawers loaded up. Even with the weight of all that hardwood, the drawer still slides easily:
I added sheet storage beside the cabinet and mounted the roll out bin on the wall to use as a shelf. The bin also helps to support the side panel for the sheet storage:
I documented this build in a forum thread:
This video takes the project to completion, plus a quick tour of how it turned out at the end: