Tool Cabinet #2: Respect to all cabinet builders...

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Sgt_Lobo posted 01-07-2008 12:48 AM 6344 reads 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Requesting input on my plans... Part 2 of Tool Cabinet series no next part

For all of you cabinet builders on this site, my hat is off to you! I never fully realized the work that is involved in making a cabinet and how even the smallest mistakes can compound so very quickly…

Right before Christmas I posted this blog asking for input on plans for a tool cabinet. Well, I took all the advice I received and have been furiously building over the holidays.

Here is where I stand—I have completed the actual “cabinet” portion of the project. The project isn’t really close to complete however, if you look at my plans from my last blog, there is still a lot for me to do. But, I wanted to get the base cabinet done so I could start utilizing it and free up some workbench space in my ever so cramped garage. I am pleased with the results so far and have already loaded this sucker up. It is working as I envisioned, and I can now see the entire top of my bench for the first time in many months…

Below is a picture story of the trials and tribulations that this project has bestowed upon me. (Pictures will be cropped from this site, you can click on them to see the full picture.) I ran into one problem (err, learning experience) after another. Most I was able to overcome, some I just covered up as best I could. The end result though is a new, extremely useful addition to my workshop.

I didn’t start taking pictures until the initial cabinet glue-up. In this first picture you can see the basic cabinet box being assembled. I went with 3/4” cabinet grade oak ply for this part.
Cabinet Box Assembly

In this picture you can see how I re-enforced the inside corners with blocks. This helped during glue-up and will also hopefully help prevent some of the twisting forces this cabinet will be subject to.
Blocked Corners

Here I decided to attach the wheels early on so I could move the project around and out of the way as I built it. I reinforced the bottom with 2×4 studs to attach the wheels to.

Reinforcing the cabinet box and trying my damnest to ensure it is all square. I also added the apron to the bottom to cover most of wheels. At this point I also used oak veneer on all the exposed edges of the plywood.
Reinforcing the cabinet

Here is a picture of me making sure all my drawers fit. Obviously this is a huge gap in the pictures. This is because I was spending so much time cussing, banging my head against the wall, and kicking my power tools that I didn’t have time to devote to the picture taking. These drawers were hell on earth to get right, and I’m still not even close to right (as you will see in later pictures). I screwed and unscrewed, and then screwed again all of the drawer slides so many times trying to get everything to line up, unsuccessfully. The best I can tell, the cabinet box wasn’t quite square, or my drawers weren’t very square, or probably a combination of the two.
Freakin Drawers!!!

Here I have all the drawer fronts attached. Thank goodness for drawer fronts, as they can cover a multitude of mistakes. I had to shim 4 out of my 5 drawers on one side or the other to get the drawer fronts to sit flush on the cabinet box. 2 of my shims were 1/2” thick if that gives you any idea of how out of whack my drawers were. The drawer fronts were made from ceder and I used and ogee bit around the edges. I chose the ceder for the drawer fronts just to add some visual interest to the cabinet…
Drawer Fronts

Finally, the finished cabinet. I used minwax polyshades (polyurethane mixed with pecan stain) for all the oak. I used amber tinted shellac for the ceder drawer fronts.
Front of finished cabinet

Here is a picture of the cabinet fully functional and in use.
Caninet in use

And finally, a picture of my biggest “oops”. This is one of the shims I was talking about between the drawer and the front.

And that is where I am at for now. Again, if you look at my previous blog, you will see that I still have a whole lot of work to do before this project is finished. But, at lease the hardest part is done and I have something I can use right now!

A couple of lessons I learned so far:

1. I am not a cabinet maker, nor could I even play one on TV.
2. If things are even slightly out of square, it all adds up.
3. Not square drawers will never fit perfectly in a not square cabinet no matter how many times you move the slides.
4. Kicking your table saw does nothing except possibly spraining your big toe. The table saw doesn’t feel a thing…

-- Sgt_Lobo -- Aurora, CO

19 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3981 days

#1 posted 01-07-2008 01:05 AM

You are now a cabinet maker whether you think so or not.

Good job.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4132 days

#2 posted 01-07-2008 01:09 AM

Sarge -

Excellent! I need to fly you to Portland to help me build the cabinet for the workbench I am building. I may need to ask for advice! I like how you do a “hot wash” of “lessons learned” . . . brings back very fond memories of my time in the Navy!



View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4212 days

#3 posted 01-07-2008 01:18 AM

Sarge, the cabinet really looks great. One suggestion I would give you: Building a seperate face frame and attaching it to the cabinet adds a lot of rigidity to the final project, especially if you added mullions between the drawers.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4070 days

#4 posted 01-07-2008 01:38 AM

I gotta say Sgt_Lobo . . . that is one mighty fine oops. Did you ever figure out how that happened?

The cabinet did turn out nice though. I liked how you added the aprons to cover the wheels.

-- BLOG -

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3815 days

#5 posted 01-07-2008 02:48 AM

Actually it is pretty good for a first cabinet. Mine (cherry wall corner cabinet) was so bad that I relegated it to a plant stand on the deck. Overall I think it is pretty good especially since it is a tool cabinet. Norm can make his shop cabinets look like first class furniture but in my opinion functional cabinets in the shop work just as well.

Thanks for sharing. I look forward to seeing your next cabinet. This is one skill that does improve with practice.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3873 days

#6 posted 01-07-2008 02:58 AM

i think it came out fine . it works right, so that alone makes it a success . well done

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3789 days

#7 posted 01-07-2008 03:16 AM

I’m no expert, but it looks good to me!

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4394 days

#8 posted 01-07-2008 03:25 AM

That a large skew on the drawer front. But the cabinet looks great. Good job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3792 days

#9 posted 01-07-2008 03:52 AM

making cabinets is easy.. making good ones takes skills. This is nice!

-- making sawdust....

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 3806 days

#10 posted 01-07-2008 02:47 PM

That is very nice cabinet.

-- Jiri

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4045 days

#11 posted 01-07-2008 02:52 PM

Thank you for posting this, I am one who also struggles at times to make things work and feel like I am the only other one who messes things up. It is very nice to see such truthfulness. As you can see from my profile I have not posted a project yet and part is due to the work that I am doing on my shop and part is because I do not feel that they are good enough yet. On a side not I put the last 20 sheets of OSB on the ceiling of my shop over the holiday break while My son was home from college and will be posting in a blog this week.

-- Hope Never fails

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3868 days

#12 posted 01-08-2008 12:10 PM

That is a nice cabinet. It is functional, but it looks almost too nice for a shop. Good job.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#13 posted 01-08-2008 12:35 PM


-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View gene's profile


2184 posts in 3877 days

#14 posted 01-31-2008 07:15 PM

Hay! Sarge, You did a nice job with this !
God bless

-- Gene, a Christian in Virginia

View Tim29's profile


307 posts in 3143 days

#15 posted 11-01-2009 03:29 PM

looks great. you are spot on with the table saw not feeling anything.

-- Tim, Nevada MO

showing 1 through 15 of 19 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics