Cabinet Basics

Enough electronics, let’s get back to woodworking…

This spring’s big project was a re-organization of the garage.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I dismantled my work bench last fall in order to create more temporary storage space in the garage.  It is now  time to get the the shop back in working order.

Earlier, I displayed my plans for my new workbench, which is basically a series of 36″ wide cabinet bases with an MDF countertop.  I wanted to take a moment to go into how I do the cabinets.

I start out with a 4′ x 8′ sheet of 1/2″ sanded pine plywood.  Cut off a 4′ x 2′ 10.5″ piece.  From this piece, make two 1′ 11.25″ pieces.  Here are the sides. 

Now consider the outside width of the cabinet and subtract one inch.  This will be the width of the floor.  My outside dimension is 36″ overall, so my floor is 35″.  Obviously, yours will vary.  Assuming your cabinet is no more than 49″ wide overall, you can continue making the floor.  Cut   1′ 11.25″ from the original sheet.  Cut the 1′ 11.25″ wide  piece down from 4′ to your calculated floor length.

The last piece is the back.  The back will be the same with as the floor, but it is a little deeper.  From the original stock sheet, cut a piece 2′ 4.5″ deep.  Cut this piece down to the width of the floor.

At this point, we can turn our attention back to the sides, since they require a little work.  First, find the nicer side of each side piece.  Note the nicer side of each piece as the inside (the same will be true for the floor and back).  The inside will require two dado cuts.  (If you don’t yet have a stack dado set for your table saw, this is a great reason to go get one.  It doesn’t need to be fancy; mine was about $10 and has paid for itself many times over in terms of saving frustration.)  Set your stack dado to a width of 1/2″ and set your rip fence to 1/2″ away from the blade.  Set the height of the blade to 1/4″.  Cut a dado across what you consider the back of the inside of each piece (this groove will accept the back).  Next, set your rip fence to 5.5″ and cut a dado across the bottom of the side (this groove will accept the floor).

The front side edge of the sides now need to be notched for the toe kick.  Cut a 4.5″ deep x 2.25″ wide rectangle out of the front corners of each side.  At this point, you should have the following:

Base side

All the parts are now ready to assemble.  Fill the dado grooves with a bead of glue and press in the floor and back.  I like to have the cabinet laying on its side at this point, but do whatever works best for you.  Set the floor in first.  The back will reach from the top of the floor to the top of the sides.  4d finish nails will hold the panels in place while the glue dries.

The carcass is now complete.  Next week: face frames!


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