First Time Making a Drawer Cabinet

by Yun-Han Lin

Preface

After two to three months working on woodworking, although I have only acquired the most basic knowledge in mortise, joints, and the use of a few machines, I want to try to build a drawer cabinet that will come in handy for our studio as I do believe in learning through practice.

The first one up is the video!

Design

First of all, the size of the cabinet should fit the space under the table, while making the most of the room. As the working desk is located in the center of the studio, the cabinet should be able to open from both sides so that people can reach for the tools from either side of the desk. In addition, due to a limited budget, I decided to go for the pinewood at the lowest cost. Although the durability may not be as good, it would be easier for beginners.

Choice of Wood

The wood intended were nine pieces of New Zealand pine board that were 30cm wide, 180cm long, and 2.5 to 3cm thick. The cost was about NT$2,500. First, I used a jointer and a surface planer to smoothen each side of the boards and made sure the surfaces were at right angles to each other. Next, I used a sawing machine to cut the boards to meet the required length according to the design.

Edge Glue Press

The cabinet was designed to come in 50x60x42.5cm, but the wood boards were only 30cm wide, so we needed to glue press some of the boards! A very common method will be drilling mortise holes on both sides of the boards, placing small tenon plates, and gluing the two boards of wood together. We practiced for a bit, so you could probably see in the videos two kinds of equipment– the Domino joiner and the horizontal drilling jig.

Simple Box Joint Jig

I used joint jigs at the corners where boards met. They were simple joints, but for a beginner like me who has only built small works, it still took quite some time to come up with four sets of joints that were 42cm long.

Although people who insist on pure woodworking may disagree with this kind of approach, a Maker is known for making use of different techniques as Makers believe in the power of using tools or technology to produce works that can take a lot of time if built manually. I am glad that I could learn to build jigs from scratch from this experience!

Video for making joint jigs:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsgy6d4365k

Assembly of the jig(left); jig on the trimmer(right)
Model of the jig

Gluing

Clamps in place after gluing and fine-tuning the angles

Building Drawers & Fixing the Slides

To save time in assembly, I used screws for fixtures and lap joints to build the overall structure. Grooves for drawer bottoms were cut using other tools in the studio, followed by fixing all the screws, and voila!

Drawer design

Finished Work

I did not smooth out the surface in the end, and neither did I trim the joints. After making sure the drawer opens and closes properly, I simply fixed the handle and stuck a few slip-resistant pads on the bottom. The finished work turned out exactly the way we wanted it, which meets our needs and is quite handy!

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