I begin by building pretty simple bases. They’re designed so that boxes are able to stack on top of each other. The slat on the top fits into the bottom of the box.
I start with 2’x4” pieces of plywood. (I always have the 4×8 sheets cut down at my dealers.) I use my Festool track saw to achieve a straight and true edge before moving to the table saw. (This gets rid of any course, splintered, and possibly not straight, edge from the panel saw at the dealers.)
Once I have a straight and clean edge on the 2×4 panel I cut the slats to the proper width on the table saw. Although solid wood edging will later be applied to these slats I don’t run them across the jointer. I find that with plywood this tends to do more harm than good. A good quality, sharp blade with a properly tuned table saw gives me a clean enough edge to attach the edging. Once the 8 slats are cut to the proper width, I use my miter saw with a flip stop set to the correct length to insure that each piece is exactly the same size. This is very important because if they are not all exactly the same size it will not only cause the assembly to be out of square but will also make fitting the miters on the edging a nightmare!
Next I cut the solid wood strips for the edging. These are thin strips that are likely to bend or twist. You could just start with a wide board and cut off the 5/8” strips, but I’ve found that this tends to make them act up a little bit. I start with 4/4 rough stock cut into 2” wide strips. I then flatten one face on the jointer, then I run them through the thickness planer to the exact thickness of the plywood. (I tried in the past to oversize them and then trim them down using a router or a hand plane without much success, it seems to work better for me to just get them to the exact same thickness as the ply) After they are the correct thickness I joint both long edges, then I set the table saw fence to the 5/8 width. I put one of the jointed edges against the fence and make the rip, then rotate the board around to the other jointed edge and rip the other 5/8 strip. This seems to be the best way to keep the pieces straight. I also use quartersawn or straight grained plain sawn boards to help reduce bowing and twisting. (Also, this process gives you one clean jointed edge on a 5/8×23/32 thin strip that I would not want to try running across a jointer! Apply this clean jointed edge facing in towards the plywood to achieve a nice seam)
The plans call for these pieces to be applied with a stub tenon, which I do when I’m building with solid wood but with the ply I use biscuits.
I cut right and left miters on the edging and leave them over-sized and hanging out in back. (The plans call for cutting these to size but I’ve leaned its better to leave them long. More on this latter) Its pretty tricky to glue up these pieces while keeping everything lined up and square, with the exact proper space in the middle to receive the top slats. To make this a lot easier, take a moment to construct a simple scrap wood jig with a spacer nailed to slats to elevate it a bit to help with the clamp alignment. This also keeps the piece elevated and keeps glue squeeze out from gluing the piece to your bench.
Once this assembly dries apply the front piece of edging, cut it slightly over sized and then “sneak up” on a perfect fit by trimming on the table saw or using a shooting board with a hand plane to get the edging to fit just perfect between the two miters. Using biscuits on this front piece helps a great deal with the alignment.
On the next post I will route the edges and apply the 1/4 plywood bottom on the bases as well as a small 1/4 solid edging strip that acts as a door stop, as well as hiding the plywood edge.
-- Craig, Springfield Ohio