“Where there is wood, there is a way.” LJ Stef, 13 Nov 2013
Did my buddy Stef actually say that? Maybe, maybe not, but when he was faced with making a solid walnut countertop and sweating details, those words just might have been on his mind. At the start of the project, I’m thinking the same thing. My ‘way’ is pretty straightforward, except where it’s not. As in, let’s discuss the DW102 in context of what I’m actually wanting to build.
The DW102 is symmetrical to the left and right of the saw and the work surface extends roughly 2 1/2’ to either side of the saw blade. I’d like more cabinet space – one cubby will be filled with a shop vac, for example – and would like to target rips of (at least) 8’ material and have support of the stuff all the way through the cut. What makes 8’ significant? Because as I learned already with this build, I do not currently have an effective way to break down sheet goods in my shop. An integrated RAS cabinet / workstation will get me where I want to be and further reduce the chance my table saw will ever find it’s way back into my shopspace. So the first big mod to this build is to double the cabinet space to the right of the saw. Easy peasy. BTW, here’s a rough graphic I did a few weeks ago depicting the finished wall cabinet when all is said and done:
There are three ‘sections’ to the cabinet shown above (despite there being four arrows, ignore those), and from right to left I am committed to building the first two. The last oddball likely won’t be done, but was envisioned to hold my King-Seely (Craftsman) shaper. I don’t think that one is gonna happen, mostly because the shaper is an absolute beast and the cabinet it’s on works fine.
The middle bench in the graphic above is definitely different from the DW102 in the number of drawers it holds, of course. I’m looking forward to the drawer builds, but also don’t want to get ahead of myself too much in the meantime.
The second major mod to the DW102 is height. The publication calls for a finished benchtop at 36” off the floor. That’s too much for me, and matches no other surface in my shop. The assembly bench and Roubo-type bench are each 34”. That makes 34” the right number, and that will be attained by shortening the each rib’s vertical pieces. What is a rib? Glad you asked. Take another look at the piece of drawing pictured above and read on.
Ribs, Anyone? A quick check of DW102 reveals a cut list along with a measured drawing and several exploded views of construction details. What it doesn’t have is instructions, e.g. Fold Flap A into Slot B. The cabinet I build is not an absolute copy of DW102 either, so I can’t simply cut parts and assemble. I needed to set the core dimensions of the cabinet and build a frame that the rest of the parts would fit. That frame consists of a series of vertical ‘ribs’ connected at set intervals via a pair of horizontal struts. The ribs are made from 1x stock, the struts from 2×4s.
The vertical length of the front and back rib pieces plus the thickness of the benchtop determines the height of the completed cabinet. I want that final dimension to come out closer to 34” high vs. 36”, but with the same depth as DW102, so the vertical pieces of the ribs must be modified from what’s called for. Speaking of DW102, ribs define either side of the two sub-assembly cabinets that sit to the left and right of the RAS. I’ll double width the right-side sub-assembly and that means one additional rib. Time to measure, mark and cut some 1x stock and build a rack of (five) ribs!
To build a rib, there are a pair of vertical 1×6 and a pair of horizontal 1×3 ¾ pieces needed. I ripped on the table saw and cross-cut each piece with sawbench an old and pitted, 24” panel saw of a finer file pattern. A pair of bench hooks, holdfasts and a backsaw helped with the shorter dimensions.
The pieces were marked per the DW102 as they piled up.
I’m not changing the depth from the drawing, so the front-to-back rib pieces were cut to the sizes called out on DW102. And once all the pieces were cut for each of the five ribs I could actually put some pieces together. Each rib was assembled with glue and drywall screws, checking for square almost constantly; this is not the time to go out of square.
The ribs are simple rectangles, right? Nope. There are reliefs cut into them for toe-kicks, reliefs for benchtop ‘doublers’ along the front, and out-right notches front and back for the horizontal struts. The toe-kick and doubler cuts were straight forward enough…
but the strut cuts could use a bit of a deep dive as they’re key to the overall integrity of the workbench. I actually cut them with a 16” Cincinnati Saw Company sash saw prior to assembly, and verified the dimension by making a simple jig from scrap 2×4 material.
Cut the sides, knock out the waste with a couple whacks of a chisel.
With ribs and struts ready to go, it was time for a dry-fit. Here’s proof there is some actual progress being made:
At least the thing is now standing on it’s own.
I know it’s not much, but shop time is getting severely crunched these days. Next post will concentrate on rails for the shelves as well as bottoms for the cabinet out of plywood (GASP!). Until then, as always, thanks for looking.
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