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  1. #1
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    Default Tool Cabinet - WIP

    I've got a problem: Whenever shed time is hard to come by, I tend to look for second-hand tools to satisfy the itch. I've got more tools than space to store them as the result, hence the decision to make a tool cabinet. It would also be a good skill builder and a chance to practice my dovetails.

    The cabinet will be made mostly out of bit & pieces and scraps that I already have, which means plywood for the carcase. The dimensions are dictated by the size of the nook where it resides.

    IMG_20210403_170346876.jpg

    The boards are finger-jointed.

    IMG_20210213_103042392.jpg

    After glue up...

    IMG_20210215_150306866.jpg

    Check if it fits in the nook. Just.

    IMG_20210320_105358701.jpg

    I have no clear plan on the tool arrangement inside the cabinet yet, so decided to start by allowing for drawers at the bottom. Inevitably at some stage I'll regret where I put the dividers. But after countless thinking, planning, re-planning, and searching the web for inspiration, I was none the wiser; so decided to just take the plunge and modify it later if need be.

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  3. #2
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    Default

    Hi Andy. I feel your pain. Looking forward to how you go (so I can possibly pinch some ideas).

  4. #3
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    Andy, having made at least a half-dozen tool cabinets over the last 40 years, I've concluded there is no really logical & foolproof way to figure out how best to arrange the tools within them. And even if there were, your tool collection will grow & change, so for someone early in their career like yourself, it's a given that you'll need internal modifications & re-arrangements down the track, so don't stress too much about how it all fits to begin with.

    The best way of organising it all evolves over time, along with your tool collection so my advice is to keep the insides as flexible as you can. Dividers are a mixed blessing, if you fix them in place, you have more hassles modifying them, but if you use a press fit, no matter how neatly & firmly I fit them, the darn things work loose. (The solution I eventually came to is to use a couple of fine brads to hold the dividers down. These can be punched through for least-destructive removal if it becomes necessary.) But dividers quickly become obsolescent & limiting, & you end up with drawers full of unrelated objects & much wasted space: Divider style.jpg

    So I started modifying things, using scraps of attractive wood that were too small or odd-shaped for other purposes & cutting-out spaces for the tools. This is a hybrid drawer, with dividers that worked well on one side & the "French fit" style on the other: Squares b.jpg

    In this drawer, there are about 6 different scraps put together like jigsaw pieces as a result of at least 4 modifications over several years during my gauge-making obsession: MG drawer.jpg

    The fitted cut-outs do take a bit of time to make (much of it spent figuring out how to have the minimum amount of wasted space), but the big advantage is that having a place for each tool shows instantly if something is missing, which has saved more than one small tool from being swept up with shavings! And it's fr & away the easiest system to modify as necessary: Titans.jpg

    I hope this current toolbox will see me out - thanks to numerous re-fits it has lasted about 23 years and my rate of new tool acquisition has slowed to near-zero. Another 20 years, will take me to 95, by which point I may not remember where it is, let alone what the contents are for....

    Cheers,
    IW

  5. #4
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    I meant to add a warning to be careful about what woods you choose for cut-outs, if you go that route. Make sure it's as dry as it can be for your locality, and that it's not likely to contain substances that react with steel. I used some scraps of Silky oak once (both northern & southern) and wherever they touched bare steel I had a band of rust in no time. Eucalypts and some other woods rich in tannins also react with iron with the least hint of moisture.

    Somewhere I read that camphor-laurel contains compounds that protect rather than damage steel, and since I had endless scraps of that wood, I started using it exclusively. You can still get staining if it's not properly dry (damhik!), but by & large I've not had any rust problems like I got with the SO. As an added precaution, I apply a couple of coats of shellac followed by a good waxing, on any surface likely to contact metal.

    Back in my 'working years', when I often couldn't get to the shed for weeks on end, I used to have a constant problem with rust during our wet summers unless I took great pains to oil or wax everything thoroughly & put it away in a cupboard or box. But my "new" tool cupboard, which has reasonably close-fitting doors plus having as many tools as possible in close-fitting drawers has greatly alleviated problems. It also helps that I'm in the shed almost every day now, using the tools & keeping an eye on things. However there was one unfortunate incident when I worked late to finish something, didn't clean up before closing the shed for the night as I (almost) always do, and forgot to close the window in front of the bench! You know how this story ends - we had a storm during the night & the rain blew in all over the bench....

    I double-check that all windows are firmly closed before leaving for the night now!
    Cheers,
    IW

  6. #5
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    MA, there may not be any worthy ideas but no doubt there'll be plenty of things for the not-to-do list.

    You're right Ian, it will eventually get modified. I still haven't worked out where each tool would be stored. More ideas emerge as the build progresses, and the plans tend to change on the fly. That's part of the fun I guess.

    Thanks for the words of warning on the types of wood to prevent staining and rusting. I wasn't aware of that. My current hardwood is limited to spotted gum, NG Rosewood and SO. Might use spotted gum, or maybe just pine off cuts.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  7. #6
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    Andy, I'd avoid spotted gum, it's a Corymbia & not a eucalypt, but very very closely related and from the way it reacts with bare nails, I think it would be safer to cross it off the list. NG rosewod seems ok, I have some in my toolbox, and pine should be ok too, as long as it's nice & dry. To be (almost) 100% safe, seal any surfaces thatt are going to be in contact with bare steel & apply a dose of paste wax before you put any tools in & you are very unlikely to have any problems..
    Cheers,
    IW

  8. #7
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    Thanks Ian, will cross spotted gum off the list.


    The build continues with the drawers - made of leftover pines from the workbench build (picture below), and blackbutt from the BGS decking range for the fronts. The design is based on Paul Seller's free drawer-making videos on Woodworking Masterclass website.

    IMG_20210303_221512012.jpg

    I was tempted to run the stock through the thicknesser but couldn't be bothered with setting up and end up using a scrub plane instead (#4 with cambered cutting iron). It was a good way to practice stock preparation as the pieces are quite small, with the added benefit of being able to work on it at night

    After squaring the four edges and planing down to uniform thickness (or so I thought, as we'll see later on), I cut the half-blind dovetail about 1-2 mm away then paring to the line. Paring across the grain (green dashed line) wasn't too bad, but paring along the grain (blue and red dashed lines - but especially red) was a challenge. The chisel kept wandering from the intended line, veering erratically following the grain's path of least resistance instead.
    IMG_20210411_155008049.jpg
    Derek Cohen's Half-blind dovetail kerfing tool seems to be useful for this type of joint, but I wonder if there's other ways which do not require a specialised tool?



  9. #8
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    Continuing on....

    I marked the depth of the half-blind based on the thickness of the side piece using a marking gauge, producing a tight joint.

    IMG_20210411_154338098.jpg

    But here's where I made a mistake: Being (overly) confident that all the pieces had been planed to uniform thickness, I used the same setting on the marking gauge to mark the depth of the half-blind on the other side. The other side piece was actually considerably thinner, resulting in gaps large enough to drive a proverbial truck.
    IMG_20210411_154403563.jpg

    The outside view of the joint looks ok, though there is plenty of rooms for improvement as shown below... Since the pine side piece is soft, I could force it into the half-blind with a bit of encouragement by means of firm mallet taps (at the expense of bruise edges around the tail). I'm not sure if this joint is accurate enough if the side and front pieces are both made of hardwood.
    IMG_20210411_154425778.jpg

    The grooves for the masonite base were made using Record #43 plough plane, bought from a forum member (thanks SG!). The #43 is a joy to use! It is much easier to keep straight while cutting the dados, which is impossible to do (for me at least) with my Record #50 combination plane.

    The first drawer took nearly a full day to finish. But two drawers are now done, two more to go.
    IMG_20210403_170225004.jpg

    Cheers,
    Andy

  10. #9
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    Ciao Andy,
    I'm following your tool cabinet build. I find it is looking very good.
    For half blind dovetails, I use an ordinary card scraper for completing the cuts along the grain, as many guys do; I pay particular attention to side pins and can be a very good idea to clamp the piece for avoid possible splittings.

    Also I use to cut a shallow rebate on the sides before cutting the tails. This rebate helps to close better the joint on the inside and could be useful when there are little mistakes in the joint layout.

    QNUO9202.JPG20200616_200322.jpg20200617_165034.jpg20200618_203613.jpg

    Regards
    Giuliano

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_B View Post
    .......The chisel kept wandering from the intended line, veering erratically following the grain's path of least resistance instead.
    ...... I wonder if there's other ways which do not require a specialised tool?....
    Well, you are up against it using radiata. As you've discovered, it's far from an ideal paring wood. Try to get an "off saw" fit so you don't have to pare anything. This should be possible for the through D/Ts at the back of the drawers with a little care & practice. I assume you are marking the "pin" board off the tails with a scriber of some sort? When you saw these, take great care to saw on the waste side, juuust leaving the line. If done accurately, this should give you a bump-in, seamless fit. It's easy to say, but it takes a bit of practice and a good saw that tracks straight (which your D/T saw should do, if not, I'd have a few words with the bloke you got it from! )

    Of course you can only saw half of the sides of the sockets for the fronts. I think using a "kerfging tool" (or a scraper as Tage Frid used to do) is your best bet for extending the cuts in Pine, at least you are chopping down along the rings. Paring across the rings id difficult for anyone, it takes a very sharp, well-prepared chisel & much care to prevent the hard latewood from deflecting the edge as you push it across.

    Don't beat yourself up too much for the varying thickness of your sides. Accurate thicknessing by hand is one of the more difficult things to do and something like drawer sides is a severe test, the discrepancies show up rather quickly, as you found (iirc, Derek has a tutorial on hand-thicknessing). But the best "tip" is to make sure you gauge a good deep line all around the board, so that as the plane sheers off the last bits of wood, you'll spot the tell-tale fine flakes that form where the gauge has penetrated.

    Making "perfect" drawers isn't easy, it takes quite a few to get really slick at it, & I've known blokes who just won't even attempt dovetailed drawers. So it's better to learn on a utility piece like the tool cabinet. Another tip - try to get them as square as you can when glueing up, you can pull a slightly out of whack drawer square with the bottom, but large errors will haunt you....

    Something else that that was repeatedly stressed in our school woodwork was to properly flatten one face & roughly square the edges before gauging for thickness. Mark your face & square edge before any layout steps, and always work from these. It's really important to develop this habit because a hand-prepped board is often not quite perfect (neither is machine-thicknessed material, come to that). And face/edge sides should go inside, which makes squaring easier - the outsides of drawers are best left a teeny bit over-sized & planed to fit after glue-up...

    Cheers,
    IW

  12. #11
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    With respect to rust, once the tools are clean, providing it's a cabinet with a door, these babies are useful:

    ARMOR Shield CF33

    PITA to source, but they do work, and the cost-benefit is worth it...

  13. #12
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    Grazie for your input, Giuliano. Shallow side rebate is a great idea, I didn't think of that. Unfortunately I've cut the tails for the other two drawers. I'll use this technique for the next drawer.

    Yes Ian, I first cut the tail on the side pieces (radiata) then marked the outline of the tails for the half-blind socket on the drawer front (blackbutt). Will try sawing on the line for the next two drawer fronts - it would be a good test for the new prized D/T saw. I wouldn't dare complaining to the master saw-maker (who you'd know very well), any boo-boo would definitely be user errors!

    Thanks for the tips on thicknessing and face/edge referencing. I searched online for Derek's tutorial and found an article which was probably what you had in mind. I've added a URL link here as it may be of interest for others: Preparing Board without Thicknesser.

    Hi jpdv, the plan is to have the cabinet fitted with doors. Thanks for the Armor Shield info, will keep it in mind.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  14. #13
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    The half blind sockets on the other two drawers were sawed on the line to get an "off-saw" cut. Ian's fine-toothed D/T saw worked wonderfully for this!
    IMG_20210424_123803501.jpg

    Washers will be used and the drawer handles. I drilled a recess to allow the washer to be almost flush with the face of the drawer then drilled a smaller finger hole. All drawer pieces lined up before glue up:
    IMG_20210426_114709963.jpg

    Glued up and ready for fitting:
    IMG_20210501_151043935.jpg

    Drawer runners screwed on to the carcase:
    IMG_20210501_151054154.jpg

    The drawers were then fitted on. I needed to plane the drawer fronts to fit them in place. The carcase isn't square (there is slight bent on the plywood panels), so some adjustments were necessary.
    IMG_20210501_151225272.jpg

    I was a bit overeager while planing the top of the drawer front for fitment and didn't pay enough attention to keep the edges square. Thankfully it's slanted towards the rear so won't be seen when the drawer is closed.
    IMG_20210502_175338113.jpg

    The progress so far:
    IMG_20210501_151248171.jpg

    I haven't epoxied the washers yet, not sure about the look of the zinc coating. Soaking the washers in cleaning vinegar removed the coating, albeit at different rate for each washer. These are after four days.
    IMG_20210501_151357310.jpg

    Might stick with the zinc coating or maybe I'll spray paint them black....

    Cheers,
    Andy

  15. #14
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    Looking good, Andy, I like your inventive flush pulls, simple & economical!

    When you build your show-piece toolbox in 25 years time, you might consider these types of pulls, used on so-called "campaign chests".

    Pull recess done.jpg

    They look spiffy, but are a fiddle to fit, and a lot more expensive than washers, unfortunately....

    Cheers,
    IW

  16. #15
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    Thanks Ian, can't take the credit for the washer pull though. I stole the idea from drawers pulls made out of pipe fitting, which is quite neat and unique. Using washers is a similar idea though not as pretty, but can't beat the price!

    Cheers,
    Andy

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