Rolling drawer cabinets #1: Frustrations

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Blog entry by mIps posted 10-11-2012 06:48 PM 1449 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Rolling drawer cabinets series Part 2: Starting over »

So I want to build some rolling drawer cabinets to go under my workbench. I want them to be fairly easy to move so I can double-use them as worktables and, hopefully, in feed and out feed for my tablesaw. I know, right?
I have the carcasses built and I am reasonably happy with them. My problem is the drawers. My first thought was to just butt-join them together but I wanted something better than that, so I Decided to try to make finger joints. This was a miserable failure. My router (see other blog entry) is fair at best so I couldn’t really use it and I do not have and cannot afford a dado stack. So I decided to try to be clever.
I took a piece of 1”x3/4”x24” edge molding and sawed it down to 1”x3/8”x24” and proceeded. I build a sled to ride against the fence, set my blade to 1/2 high and cut one side of the groove with my best saw blade. Inserted my spacer between the fence and the sled and cut the other side of the groove. I then proceeded to hog out the middle of the groove making successive passes over the blade.
In theory, including the width of the blade, this gave me a 1/2” wide, 1/2” deep groove.
In practice, this gave me everything BUT that. I don’t think I got one single groove that was actually 1/2” by 1/2”.
So, now I’m rethinking the whole finger joint thing but I am not sure what else to do. GRRR.

-- Be honest, honorable, kind, work hard, and generally be awesome.

5 comments so far

View DrPuk2U's profile


56 posts in 2316 days

#1 posted 10-11-2012 08:00 PM

I’ll pass on one lesson I have learned with these rolling cabinets. If you want to use them for stable platforms for outfeed, planers, etc. DON’T use the big urethane wheels with locks on them. That will work IF your floor is perfectly flat. Whose is? Certainly not my garage. The smallest flaws cause problems. Instead, spend a little more and get leveling casters like these. I built several rolling cabinets with the big wheels and while they are OK, I am going to switch to leveling casters when I have time (haha).

-- Ric, Northern Illinois, "Design thrice, measure twice, cut once... slap forehead, start over"

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3160 days

#2 posted 10-11-2012 08:18 PM

One standard option is to dado the side pieces and rabbet the end pieces.

-- Greg D.

View mIps's profile


188 posts in 2078 days

#3 posted 10-12-2012 10:30 PM

- DrPuk2U: I am re-using some 2” casters that I had from a previous project. They roll really well (almost too well) but don’t lock at all. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to get some locking ones.

- GregD: I would love to try this! However my router (this blog less than stellar to try to use it and I do not have a dado to use. Is there a decent way to try this with a standard saw blade?

-- Be honest, honorable, kind, work hard, and generally be awesome.

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3315 days

#4 posted 10-13-2012 01:25 AM

Absolutely (jumping in, here). There’s setup before each cut, with test cuts, but it can be done, and there’s probably several ways, including which piece you cut first. Here’s one approach:

1. Dado the sides first. Set the blade height to 1/3 to 1/2 the thickness of the side. Not critical. What is critical is that the right side of the dado (looking at the left sketch above) is a distance from the end of the side equal to the thickness of the front or back (or a hair more, so you can shave a little off the end of the side to make it flush). Make some test cuts to get this right. Make that one cut on all the side pieces. Then slide over and cut the other side of the dado, to a width about 1/3 to 1/2 the thickness of the front & back. Again not critical. Do all side pieces this way. Hog out the middle as necessary. Sides done.

2. Do the same thing on the fronts/backs, except you won’t be cutting a two-sided dado, you’ll be daylighting one side out the end of the piece. Start with the blade low, use your miter gauge and make a cut right out at the end of the piece, with the face to be the inside of the drawer, up. You’ll have a shallow and narrow rabbet. Test the width of the remaining tongue in the side dado. As you raise the blade and make another cut, the tongue will get narrower. Keep doing this until the tongue fits into the dado, then keep that blade height. Now start sliding over and making the rabbet a little wider. Clamp a stop to the rip fence to help with this. Slide over/cut/test the length of the tongue until it’s just a hair shorter than the dado is deep, so the shoulder on the front/back can contact the side before the tongue bottoms out.

I’ve used this method. You can see here I got the side dado just a little too far from the end of the side, so there’s a gap where the front piece doesn’t seat completely flat against the bigger drawer face.

There’s a caveat with this method: you have to account for the lengths of the tongues when you cut your fronts/backs to length. You may also want to fix the shoulder-to-shoulder length of the front/back pieces to get an exact width to your drawer. If so, cut the front/back extra long, mark the shoulders and cut to them carefully, then trim the tongues to length.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View mIps's profile


188 posts in 2078 days

#5 posted 10-13-2012 04:21 AM

- JJohnston: I would be MORE than happy if my cuts were that close! It being 9pm my time right now I am not gonna say I 100% followed that but I will re-read when I am more awake. Thanks!

-- Be honest, honorable, kind, work hard, and generally be awesome.

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