Octagonal Storage Bins

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Project by Lazyman posted 11-15-2014 11:13 AM 3438 views 38 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was talking to a friend of mine about storage solutions for screws and nuts in the shop. I was getting frustrated with using the original the boxes or putting them into the plastic bins you can buy. He sent me a video from an estate sale showing an antique octagonal bin that probably came from an old hardwood store and I was inspired to come up with a way to build it so that I can vary how many levels of drawers it had. The orginal had 10 levels. It sits on a lazy susan base with 8 triangular drawers per level. I used the opportunity to figure out how to use Sketchup which I used to work out a really cool way to make make interlocking dividers by cutting just 2 different patterns. I also used Sketchup to design the drawers, including rabbets.

The frame is made entirely of 1/2” sanded plywood. I had to make a jig to make cutting out the octagons for the horizontal dividers and I also used a simple jig to route grooves for the vertical pieces to nest in. I used a website calculator to determine the easiest way to layout and cut squares into octagons by trimming off the corners to get the radius I wanted for the unit. For the drawers I decided I wanted to use some really inexpensive wood and planed cedar fence pickets down to 1/2” thick (they were less than 3/4” rough) for the drawer fronts. The cheap cedar pickets have some really nice grain once they are planed. For the drawer sides I re-sawed white wood 2×4” slices and planed them to 3/8”.

The slots for the dividers (see the Sketchup drawing) were cut on my table say using a dado blade stacked to 1/2”. I used an auxiliary fence on my miter gauge to reduce chip out for the various cuts at different angles and depths. Note that the height of the drawers was determined by the deepest cut I could make with my 6” dado blade and shop made dado insert on my old delta contractors saw. Unfortunately, while I was ripping and cutting the plywood the bearing on table saw motor went out. After trying to fix it myself for a while, I finally decided to buy a new saw. The new one can actually cut about 1/4” deeper and I could have made the drawers slightly deeper but I had already started cutting out the dividers so I didn’t want to throw away what I had already cut (about 80% was done on the old saw). I cut enough to make 11 layers but decided to make 2 units instead of one really tall one. I glued one layer at a time until I reach the desired height (second picture).

I cut thin strips of the same 1/2” planed cedar pickets to trim out the edges of the plywood. This also had the added purpose of hiding some of the imperfections in the alignment of some of the pieces caused by the grooves routed in the horizontal pieces not being quite exact enough. On one unit I stained the trim but on the other (and all the drawer fronts) I used a polyurethane to seal it. I was originally going to paint the plywood but because the trim grain looked so nice I decided I didn’t want to cover it up.

I cranked out the pieces for the 88 drawers in production mode. Because the fronts and one of the side pieces also had an angled rabbet on the ends to make glue up easier, I had to set up several different angled cuts to get them all made but all in all it only took about 3 hours to cut all of the pieces to size including rabbets. You can see the crude assembly jig I made to glue up the drawers in the 4th picture. Instead of clamping, I used a pin nailer to hold it together while the glue set. Note that there was a rabbet in the bottom of each board to accept the 1/4” plywood bottoms which was also glued and pinned into place. Because I didn’t want to sacrifice any depth in the drawers I decided not to use a grove and floating drawer bottom. It took me about 8 hours to assemble all 86 drawers. The reason that there aren’t 88 is because I made 2 double drawers by leaving one of the dividers out on one of the units. I made the fronts to look like 2 drawers with a divider between them. I finished the drawers by adding antique bronze label pulls that I bought from D Lawless. At 54 cents each plus screws, the pulls cost more than all of the wood combined. Next time I might design one out of wood.

This turned out to be a pretty ambitious first project in 20+ years but It was a blast to design and build and I am very pleased with how it turned out. I am glad I decided to make 2 smaller towers because it can fit one of those standard metal and particle board garage shelf units you can buy at the big box stores. It was really fun designing everything and it really challenged me to learn Sketchup. Using Sketchup, I was able to workout all of the various angles before I cut some prototypes. I only made a few minor refinements after the prototypes were cut.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

26 comments so far

View jim65's profile


800 posts in 1356 days

#1 posted 11-15-2014 11:46 AM

really cool design, great organization! would love to have that in my home, not the shop!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2215 days

#2 posted 11-15-2014 12:44 PM

I like the planning that went into this project. I like the way you designed the dividers. Thanks for sharing the Sketchup view.
Do you have any plans on sharing your entire plan?

-- Mel,

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

650 posts in 2203 days

#3 posted 11-15-2014 12:54 PM

Well designed, well executed. I really like this.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

View johnstoneb's profile


2105 posts in 1595 days

#4 posted 11-15-2014 12:54 PM

I really like that. I’m looking for storage and that is a lot of storage in a reasonable amount of room.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View jeffswildwood's profile


1287 posts in 1400 days

#5 posted 11-15-2014 01:39 PM

I really like this. Would look nice in my room with my collectables in it and sure it looks wonderful in your shop. Nothing wrong with making things for your shop that look really nice. I think it shows a level of pride! Thanks for posting and great job!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way thats says "I meant to do that".

View JoeinGa's profile


7383 posts in 1430 days

#6 posted 11-15-2014 02:06 PM

Wow, that is one very cool storage box.
Just curious, do the drawers want to “tip” (because the base gets narrower) as you pull them out ? Or do you take the drawer completely out to look thru it?

Thanks for sharing!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View John Ruggles's profile

John Ruggles

46 posts in 3291 days

#7 posted 11-15-2014 03:43 PM

This is a very nice and original project.Great work, thanks for sharing.

-- JCRug, Prairieville, Louisiana

View Mark's profile


814 posts in 1397 days

#8 posted 11-15-2014 04:14 PM

Damn that’s a lot of drawers. Very cool.

-- Mark

View Hawaiilad's profile


2885 posts in 2443 days

#9 posted 11-15-2014 07:15 PM

Wow, what a project…very nice

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View CowanNavy's profile


28 posts in 1725 days

#10 posted 11-15-2014 08:43 PM

Wow that is alot of drawers in a small space. I love this. Any chance you can post the saved sketchup file?

-- ET1 (SS) Cowan, Bremerton, WA - (I'll come up with a witty quote later)

View CL810's profile


3405 posts in 2411 days

#11 posted 11-15-2014 09:42 PM

+1 to all of the above.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View konaman's profile


79 posts in 3054 days

#12 posted 11-15-2014 09:46 PM

that is a great job, well done!

View Andrew777771's profile


4 posts in 1061 days

#13 posted 11-15-2014 09:48 PM

very cool, looks like a lot of work!

View JL7's profile


8413 posts in 2388 days

#14 posted 11-15-2014 10:03 PM

That really turned out well! I became aware of these about a year ago and would like to give it whirl one of these days. You did a superb job…...Let me know also if you’re willing to share the plans, thanks!

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Todd Swartwood's profile

Todd Swartwood

257 posts in 1148 days

#15 posted 11-15-2014 10:06 PM

nice job, I’ll take drawers over shelves anytime. Project looks to have been built with a lot of pride.
Thanks for sharing your project.
Have a blessed day, Todd

-- Todd Swartwood (Todd Swart-Woodworks)

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