I know that I do not yet have the skill to place these holes with the necessary precision to have the 14 or so dowels line up between two pieces. I can however do this well enough once so that any small discrepancies in the layout will be virtually undetectable to the average human. With that in mind I made a template.
But like I said, I’m not that good yet so first I made a template to help me make a template. The narrow piece is a hole guide. Those two holes are 1/4” from the edge and the designed distance apart. (I honestly don’t remember right now how far apart they are) I would slip a tight fitting dowel in the first hole and through into a hole in the piece below it. Then with the drill press off I would lower the forstner bit and line everything up. I hold everything in place with my left hand, raise the bit/turn on the drill/cut the hole with my right hand. This took a long time. Once I had a full row drilled, I used the template (the big one) to cut a full row in my guide (the little one). Then all I had to do was line it up once and double stick tape it in place fro drilling out a full row of holes. That was much faster.
The final template could be carpet taped to let me drill the whole field with a single alignment.
The top isn’t glued in at this point so I can take just the thin piece to the drill press.
Here is the top right after drilling.
To do the mating holes i just flipped the template over when I drilling the holes out. Now I can glue this bottom half together and worry about the 1/4” reinforcement dowels. I needed to drill 1/4” holes and plan on doing this with me drill press and a forstner. To my horror I discover the limits of my drill press! I couldn’t fit the cabinet on its side in the drill press and would have to drill the 16 1/4” dowel holes by hand.
I made another small template for lining the holes up and clamped it to the leg while I drilled it. I also held a square in place to give me a little reference to help me drill straight. You can see that there is not much room for error here.
The holes are a half inch deep. That puts them a quarter inch into the thin panel. I was very nervous about blowing out the top or bottom of the panel. After every hole I would pace around a little while.
With the cabinet finished I tried to fit the first dowel and it was too tight for the hole. I turned to the lumberjocks forum and received a lot of good advice. It turned out that my dowels were not round and I ended up with my own solution for fitting them.
My Hitachi belt sander almost seems to be made for this use. The back of the belt sander works as a fence and the speed control is right there at the top of the sander. (the top of the sander in this pic but its mounted upside down). I also had trouble getting the back piece to slide down over the dowels so I fixed this with a tip I heard in one of the sawdust chronicles podcasts.
I tore off a strip of sandpaper and sprayed 3M spray glue on the back of it. Then I sprayed it on some scrap 1/4” dowel and chucked it in my drill press.
Finally I get to put the top on.
After a few minutes of feeling stupid I discovered that its much better to squeeze the dowels in rather than trying to tap them in. Hammering one would want to help an adjacent dowel get lose. And then after getting them in the bottom they couldn’t be lined up with the top and tapped in. Putting some light pressure with the clamps and squeezing the dowels in was pretty easy. (once I figured it out)
Weekend 5: The clock is ticking and I have to make a drawer. Just 10 minutes or work to go right? CHA HAA! NOT!
-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--