Making A Modern Office Cabinet General Woodworking
The next project for my office is a cabinet that serves two important functions in one: a file cabinet and a place to put the printer where it can be easily accessed, but won’t collect dust. Along with those it will also have large drawers on the bottom to store various things.
I got started with a full sheet of 3/4″ maple plywood and cut that down into more manageable sized pieces using a circular saw and my straightedge guide:
These are the sides, top and bottom which make up the main structure of the cabinet. I cut the side panels so that the grain runs sideways, rather than the traditional up and down to give it a more “wrap around” effect with the front.
Again using my straightedge guide, I cut shallow dados in each side panel for the two shelves in the middle:
These shelves will be 1/2″ plywood, like much of the internal components.
The way I’m putting this together is a bit unusual. I cut four pieces solid maple that will be the corners of the corners of the cabinet and here I’m fastening two to the ends of the top panel with biscuits and glue:
Two of my wooden bar clamps hold the parts in place while the glue dries.
I did the same for the bottom panel, but this time I used the edge clamps I made several years ago, but keep forgetting I have:
What the solid maple does is it replaces a miter joint or a plywood to plywood butt joint, and also gives more durability where it’s needed – right on the corner. It also makes it possible to slightly round the corner for a more modern look.
I milled another slot in the top of each side panel to accommodate the rollers that the upper door rides on:
There were a number of ways I could have mounted the door, but figured having it swing up and push in out of the way would be the neatest.
For the rollers, I took them from low cost drawer slides salvaged from my old kitchen:
With the glue dried on the top and bottom panels, I can get the sides glued on. Using biscuits again, but the glue is polyurethane construction adhesive to give me a bit more time to position the parts and get this crazy arrangement of clamps in place:
I let that dry overnight, them installed the shelves the next day:
Then the back panel which adds racking strength to the cabinet, and the centre divider which you can see in this photo (but can in the next):
After those were in, I edge banded the front edge of the cabinet with iron on veneer tape. I made a video showing details on how I do that.
Careful sanding next to clean up the plywood and flush the solid wood corners with it. The veneer on the plywood is thin and not difficult to sand through if you are too aggressive. I’m using a 220 grit disk in the sander and not staying in one place long:
Take note of the compressor hose under the cabinet, padding it off the floor.
Here’s a closer look at the corner after the edge banding was ironed on and the sanding done, and that slight round-over I mentioned earlier:
Also after I brought the cabinet outdoors to spray on three coats of water based polyurethane:
On bigger projects like this, I prefer to finish the major parts as I go, rather than wait until the end.
The file drawers next. Fairly simple, but I did use an interesting method to install the drawer slides and there’s more detail on that in the video at the bottom of this page:
The solid maple top rails are specially shaped to work with the hanging folders.
Just two and they are fairly shallow, but I don’t have a lot of files and this should be more than enough space:
The bottom drawers are simple butt joined boxes, but I did reinforce the front corners with my dovetail splines:
Mainly to show the method, since these drawers won’t see a lot of use. I figure they will get loaded up with stuff I rarely use, but need to keep.
I used full extension slides on these:
The printer sits on a tray that slides out for easy access:
Again, I used 16″ full extension slides and made the tray as low prifile as possible.
For the base of the cabinet I milled down some rough solid maple on my homemade jointer:
Cut to width and machined a recess in the top for a reveal, the corners are mitered:
And glued together, again with a fairly busy clamping arrangement:
Since the cabinet is all straight lines and 90 degree corners, I thought I’d do something to off set that. The handles for the drawers and door are a version of the ones I’ve used many times before, mostly on shop projects. The difference is that these are curved in two directions:
Solid maple again, these cap the top of the drawer fronts and curve away to nothing at the ends:
And yes, the cabinet is perched up on the top of my step stool. But it’s well balanced, at least until I pull the drawers open.
Fir the file drawers I used one full length handle and cut it in half:
I think that looks better than making two shorter ones.
And finally the swing up door for the printer shelf:
It also has a matching handle, but I had to mount it at the bottom with another strip of solid maple below it:
With all of the parts made and fitting correctly, I again took them out and sprayed on three coats of finish:
The cabinet is ready to bring into my office and put to good use.
Here’s the complete (longer than usual) build video: