My Start #1: Building Office Cabinets

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Blog entry by macatlin1 posted 05-13-2011 04:13 PM 2024 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of My Start series Part 2: Into the Garage »

A few years ago I became interested in wood working again. It was probably after I bought a Craftsman table saw from a neighbor for $25. I already had a band saw, a drill press and a sander. But my previous foray was interrupted by a divorce, marriage and 4 moves. It was also about that time that my wife and I decided to convert a bedroom into an office. When we looked at cabinets in the local big box store sticker shock set in. The price was outrageous for a few upper kitchen cabinets made of substandard particleboard with a plastic laminate “veneer”. I dragged my wife to the wood section and showed her some oak veneer plywood ¾ thick and convinced her that I could build her the cabinets. Four cabinets with red oak face frames and fully adjustable shelves.

I set up “shop” in the bedroom that was going to be the office and began to cut wood and make a practice cabinet. I had some #2 pine 1×8’s in the garage that were stacked against the wall and in the Lancaster California heat and low humidity they were ready to use. I proceeded to cut them to length and for the sides and top I edge glued them together. Oh, it looked so easy. I dug out my jack plane and quickly discovered it needed sharpening “BAD”! The internet showed me the Scary Sharp method and after 6 marble tiles and a trip to the auto parts super store for sandpaper my plane could make a fine curl of pine. Except at the knots, which seemed to grow more numerous every day. I did discover that the cat like the jackplane’s curls as toys and we are still finding them throughout the house almost 2 years later. But, they were better than the sawdust the table saw had made and we had tracked all over the house. Finally, the sides and top were more or less flat on both sides and the glue joint down the center didn’t show too much. Now it was on to the face frame.

Since I had started with pine I decided to continue with pine for the face frame. First order of business was to rip some boards to width. The first cut went fine but when I started the second, Bang – Whoosh, and the board went by me and punched a neat hole in the drywall behind me. Luckily, it isn’t too big a hole as I recovered from the shock as to how fast that board took off. My wife came running since she heard the noise and I showed her the hole in the wall. She told me to look in the hallway where the board hadn’t made it through the wall but instead pushed a 2 foot diameter bulge in the wall standing about an inch proud of the rest of the wall.

I guess the saw needed a slight tune up. I made a gage that rides in the miter saw slot and uses a dial indicator from Harbor Freight. Being careful always to measure to the same tooth on the blade I discovered the blade was out 0.040 from front to back. The adjustment screws are in the front of the saw and under the table lip. (Got the Craftsman manual from the internet). A small turn in each screw, one to push and one to provide a stop, and the saw now measured 0.020 out. Well, almost there. Another turn, this time half as much as before, and now it measured 0.080 off. I soon discovered that getting down on the ground and turning those screws was really painful and that if you could see the screw turn then you had gone too far. I finally got to less than 0.005, probably by luck, but I knew better than to continue as the run out was worse than that. The fence was a lot easier. A couple of taps with the hammer and tighten the screws down tight. It took a couple of tries as the fence tends to move as the screws are tightened. Aligning the splitter/guard assembly took a couple of washers that I sanded thinner, and those put the splitter directly behind the blade. I “glued” the washers in place with thread lock so they wouldn’t be lost when I removed the guard.

I had no trouble making the 4 cabinets for the office, I just wish I had made the face frames first as they were a bear to fit to the cabinet carcasses. I made a drill template from some perforated hardboard and only drilled through once. Lesson being, the drill bushing can slip and if you try to tighten the Harbor Freight ones too much you will strip out the Allen socket and can’t loosen the set screw to get the bushing off the drill bit. The other lesson was that the big box store only carries a few types on shelf pins in ¼ inch and no 5mm drill bits to be able to use the more extensive styles.

I tried to hang the cabinets with a French cleat but the wall was too wavy to allow the very stiff cabinets to grab. I finally got one set of cabinets to seat after shimming the wall half of the cleat to be straight. Keep that in mind when using that method. For the other wall I simply screwed them to the wall and that was much easier.

Epilog: Office was finished, wife was happy and I moved the saw to the garage. The practice cabinet went into the room that held our Jacuzzi and really doesn’t look too bad.

1 comment so far

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374 posts in 2622 days

#1 posted 05-14-2011 01:39 AM

Face frames and Kreg jig is the way to go.I worked in a cabinet shop for 13 years using all sorts of construction methods. Dowels,Screws,crown staples, rabbits and I have found that the Kreg is excellent.It is fast and strong! I have the K3 system and love it.The only minor draw back it is a little harder to hide the pocket holes but with a little for thought it’s not that bad.With face frames it is particular good.Man i am starting to sound like a sales rep!Check out their video on YouTube!

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