004: cheap, rolling lathe stand #2: the drawer carcass

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 01-21-2010 07:00 PM 4007 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: box frames, wheels, and a height change Part 2 of 004: cheap, rolling lathe stand series Part 3: drawers from scrap material »

With my new rolling lathe stand rolling and standing well, it was time for some drawers. This was also a great opportunity to start using up some of that huge pile of free, scrap alder I got 6 months ago. I hadn’t used any prior to this, and while the smell of the lumber and dust when I picked it up brought me back to my childhood – they made me vividly recall toys and painting easels from my kindergarten – cutting it fresh smelled sweet, and reminded me a lot of something like Kool-Aid® powder. I like it :) I selected some lengths of similar thickness near the target width for my face frame:

alder lengths

In the last two pics in my scrap alder link above (1, 2), you can see that longer pieces stuck out the front of the shelving a bit. We’ve had some rains late last year, and early this (and this week is pretty constant, heavy rain), so those got wet and a bit moldy. I was eager to try to use some of that and see if I couldn’t sand them back to pretty. You can see the mold here:

moldy alder scraps

I got a little shock when I picked one piece out of the pile and felt something squish under my finger beneath it. It was a brown widow with 2 egg sacks. Thankfully, though brown widows have much more potent venom than the smaller black widows, they are far less aggressive. You really have to want to be bitten, though I suppose this was pushing it :) You can see the little orange-red hourglass on its belly.

brown widow and egg sacks on scrap alder

I scraped off the egg sacks, but threw the spider, who was fine, in my “woods,” which are just 3 Hollywood junipers in my tiny back yard. Here are the pieces milled up and pocket hole drilled. I’m getting a little burn from my saw – visible here – so a tune up will be in order soon.

alder scraps cut and drilled for assembly

I worked around the natural sections:

alder scraps heavy with knots

Here are the frame glue ups:

frames clamped and drying

And the carcass glue up:

carcass clamped and drying

Here’s everything dried:

carcass assembled

I’d been wrestling with how to enclose it, considering everything from full sheets of something outside to small scrap pieces glued haphazardly to the inside, but then a few restrictions decided it for me. The carcass was built to slide snugly in between the legs, so no outer panels. I didn’t want dust and chips to accumulate inside the frames with inside panels, as then there’d be 3/4” insets. I hadn’t wanted to go the floating panels route, so in the end, it was down to inset panels. I got out my little RIDGID laminate trimmer, a 1/4” rabbet bit with bearing I didn’t know I had, and had never used (don’t you love cheap variety router assortments?). It was surprisingly easy to set it up and rout the frames, maybe 15 minutes in all, including vacuuming up afterwards.

routed insets on carcass

A little bit of chiseling in the corners to make them square (getting pretty good at it now), and cutting some scrap 3/16” hardboard I found in my wood storage shed, and I was able to close up the sides of the carcass with inlays. The glue up gave me a chance to use my spring clamps. I never get a chance to use them. It was fun.

spring clamps

spring clamps holding inlaid panels

That worked out pretty well. Hardboard shouldn’t move like regular wood does, so the nice tight fit hopefully won’t cause me any problems. Also good was that I was able to ROS the sides and panels to flush, and all of the mold is completely gone! It worked. I had a feeling there would be good wood hiding beneath.

inlaid panels

inlaid panels seen from inside carcass

For the top, I’m going to use something like 1/2” ply and roundover the top front edge. It’ll act as a little shelf under the pipes that hold the tools. For the bottom, who knows? Hardboard, ply, whatever I have laying around to seal it up so the drawers don’t fill with dust.

Speaking of… next up, drawers!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

5 comments so far

View lew's profile


11263 posts in 3174 days

#1 posted 01-21-2010 07:06 PM

Very sturdy looking carcass, Gary. Can’t wait to see the drawers.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Firestarter's profile


16 posts in 2732 days

#2 posted 01-21-2010 07:26 PM

Gary, Nice work! I always enjoy your posts. Can I ask what bar clamps you used for the frame?

-- Rich

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3067 days

#3 posted 01-21-2010 07:55 PM

looks great Gary. nice save on the lumber, and good fortune on the spider. could have been nasty.

another thing to consider – the frame is solid wood, and can still move even if the panels are hardboard. this might throw the panels off in years to come. a floating panel solves that problem. however, with this size stiles, it might not be a concern.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1000 posts in 2800 days

#4 posted 01-21-2010 08:28 PM

Lew – Unclamping the glued drawers and sanding things up today! The fronts are also cut. I’m still back and forth on slides. I’m going with bottom slides to maximize the drawer capacities, which is what’s most important to me right now – storage space. I made the drawers about 1/16” shy on each side of the frame. If I ever have a problem, I’ll just shave away some frame, and/or sand away some material from the drawer sides, but I think there’s enough clearance. I’ve made some dovetail slides, but they’re a bit loose, and I’m not 100% on how I’d like to attach them yet. I’ve got a bit to figure out today, apparently :)

Rich – The clamps are Bessey Tradesman clamps, medium duty. They’re very heavy and work great. I have a bunch of Jet bar clamps as well, but they bend terribly and just can’t provide nearly the power of the Tradesman clamps because of that. Too, I have Jorgensens, the orange clamps, but their rubbery pads leave really bad oil spots on wood. I have to tape the pads to prevent it. The polymer pads on the Besseys leave no marks at all, though they can dent pretty significantly due to their power. I’ve also tried some Irwins, but they pale in comparison as well. So far, Bessey just wins hands down in bar and parallel clamp categories for me.

Purp – True. I guess I’ll have to be the guinea pig here and see if the panels get squished or pull away one day. Here’s hoping it all just works out, though I’ve seen pretty significant movement in even small pieces of wood.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Firestarter's profile


16 posts in 2732 days

#5 posted 01-28-2010 10:23 PM

Thanks Gary for the info, from what I have seen I would agree with you that Bessey are the best Just need for them to be on sale so i can stock up!

-- Rich

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