Shop-Grade Cabinets

I volunteered to reorganize the seminar room at Lee Valley Tools Coquitlam, where I work part-time.  Part of the reorganization/rethinking involved building a cabinet with drawers to house all the sharpening paraphernalia.  It also needed a flat top at a suitable height to use the Veritas MK II Power Sharpener, Tormek T-7, 1″ belt grinder, and bench grinder.  For mobility, I planned to equip the cabinet with four 3″ swivelling, locking casters.

I decided to build the cabinet in my own shop (where the sliding table saw is!).  Then I brought the cabinet to Lee Valley and custom-built the drawers to fit the specific contents.

As with most of my shop cabinets, I chose to assemble this cabinet with pocket screws.  The pocket holes were quick and easy to drill using a pocket-hole jig and assembly was just as painless using washer-head screws and my cordless drill utilizing the variable clutch.  As usual, I omitted glue to allow the cabinet to be dismantled and the materials to be reused in the future.

I experimented using my old 3.5 amp Black & Decker drill and my new DeWalt 7.8 amp drill to bore the holes.  I was surprised to find that the Black & Decker was more efficient but a quick check of the labels showed why – the more powerful DeWalt had a slower top speed of 850 rpm, compared to the 1200 rpm of the B&D.  The drill that I use at Lee Valley tops out at 2500 rpm and at that speed, holes can be drilled in half the time.

I drilled all the pocket holes in the cabinet sides and back, and began assembly.  To keep the cabinet square as I drove the screws, I wished for these assembly squares which I had shipped to Florida (in exchange for a slick) .  Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench had been having troubles with out-of-square assemblies and thought that these would help him.  (I didn’t tell Tom that what I was sending him were only half-squares.  Sorry – bad joke.)

Fortunately, I had originally bought eight assembly squares and still had four to use.  I used spring clamps to hold the plywood parts at right angles.  Unfortunately, plywood is not always flat so some creative clamping was required to hold the panels flat as I drove the screws.

The 36″ x 30″ top was covered with a tough-wearing, plastic laminate and the corners were rounded.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the sliding door to my shop didn’t open a full 30″.  Fortunately, I was able to open the door enough after removing the handles.

The cabinet is now in the seminar room at Lee Valley and I am in the process of determining what should go in each drawer.

4 thoughts on “Shop-Grade Cabinets

  1. So, I got two full squares or four half squares? :-)

    I’m glad you had some (half) squares left over to get that shop cabinet put together. That would have been a pain in the rear if you didn’t have enough to get that assembled!

  2. Good job, Chris,
    You’re right about the efficiency of a high speed drill. Kreg recommands 2000 rpm or better for drilling pocket holes with their stepped drill bits. And they should last longer.

  3. “Fortunately, I had originally bought eight assembly squares and still had four to use.”

    Of course, if you wished, you could have had half a dozen more to use on this project. Just sign them out from your store!

    creative clamping – Hey, send this + photo to you-know-who and get your reward. That’s a smart solution to a common problem with warped sheets.

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