Wednesday, January 20, 2016


In making the previous post, I realized that I didn't have any pictures of the process of building the cabinet carcass that the face frame gets attached to, so as I made the lower boxes, I made sure to remedy that. I started by cutting out all the pieces. My face frame pieces are 2" wide and two pieces of plywood are 1-1/2" wide which means that the face frame overlaps the side of the box by 1/4" on each side. I do this to allow some forgiveness in getting everything straight and square since the only people who will be able to see an unequal overlap are those who are curled up inside the cabinets. Not likely to happen. As a result, because the lower units all will have drawers, I had to attach shims so that the full extension sliding drawer rails will extend out past the face frame and that is what you see in the above picture.

As I learned when I remodeled the shop and spent hours contorting myself to add sliding drawer rails after the fact, I opted to do them before the fact this time. It required a bit more calculating to get them in the right location but was MUCH MUCH easier to install this way. When I get around to making the drawers, I will simply unclip the other half that will attach to the drawer and do so before sliding the drawer back in.

I won't go into the pocket screw details again since the last post talked about that. But I grab the pre-drilled for pocket screws top and bottom panels of the carcass and after gluing them, attach them to one side panel. Since these boxes are going to be two filing cabinets and two storage cabinets with pullout drawers, the insides aren't really visible so I didn't worry so much about glue squeeze out or scratches to the interior surfaces. On the upper cabinets which are visible, I made sure to clean up the glue before it set and sanded all the interiors of the cabinets before assembling them. On the far side, the end panels are flush with the side panels. On the near side, I made it so the back panel is inset. This makes it easier to square the cabinet before I finish screwing it together and also gives me some fudge factor if the walls aren't completely flat and plumb. I can remove material to get them to sit tight. That is also why the bottom panel (the panel on the left) isn't flush as well because my floor isn't perfectly flat.

The next step is to add the remaining side panel making sure the drawer slide rails are a mirrored version of the other side. For some reason, this carcass as it sat in this picture was way out of square compared to the rest that I build. I think it was because I was using up some scrap pieces of plywood from a previous project and I must have had my skilsaw set at a slight angle when I initially cut them.

But when I add the back panel to the carcass, it flexed back to nice and square with the help of a large clamp on the diagonal that was too long. Once I got it screwed to all four sides, it was completely square and rigid. The face with the opening is facing down in this picture and note that I have screw holes on both end cap panels to help hold the face frame to it when I get it built. In the upper cabinets, I had some on the sides as well but I don't have any on these yet. I am going to add them after the fact when the face frame is in place so I don't have to lug this as a single unit like I did the upper cabinets.

Finally, you see all four of the lower cabinets completed. I am going to screw two of them side by side for each end of the room and then put a plywood top that spans the top of them that will be my desk surface. The cabinet plywood that I buy has one grade A face and one grade B face. The grade A face has much more grain pattern than the grade B face so I try to have the grade A face pointing to the inside of the cabinet. Because I will have an opening in the middle of the two assembled lower cabinets where I sit in my desk chair with a grade B face showing, I will eventually cut two more plywood panels that I can attach with the grade A face showing outwards. You will be able to see more about what I mean in a future post where I attach the face frame.


Vince said...

Wow, these are pretty heavy duty. I was expecting you to box it in with thin ply and hang drawers from a boxing frame. While lowering the top over it. This is a serious bit of furniture.

Kelly said...

I agree with Vince. I feel sure they are sturdier and better made than those pre-fab kinds.

jambaloney said...

ed - stop already you are shaming the rest of us ;-))

they look fantastic and you angles are razor sharp - amazing!!!

Ed said...

Vince - 3/4 plywood is fairly reasonable over here and the thinner stuff you are talking about is more than half the price of the thicker stuff and a lot more warped and bowed which makes assembly more difficult. So for me, it just makes since to spend a little extra for something easier to work with and will last.

Kelly - The prefab ones I looked at in the big box store were for sure a lot more flimsier and much uglier looking. I would say these are more on par with what you would find in a custom cabinet shop like the one I visited that wanted $3800 for six cabinets. There is probably about $70 worth of wood in the ones shown in this post.

Jambaloney - Just don't look too closely!

sage said...

Very good work. I am impressed with the strength and you will be much happier with these than cheaply made ones.

Ed said...

Sage - I'm already happier and I haven't gotten them into a usable condition yet. I'm getting close though.

karl o'melay said...

awesome, great job. I wish i had one of those pocket screw joiner jigs.

I can't wait to see the finished product.


Ed said...

Karl - It certainly has paid for itself with this project. Always before I cut dadoes with a router to join stuff like this but that is really laborious, takes a fair amount of finesse to get things to align well and requires a specialty tool, a router. This is completely opposite in about every way. I did get the jig system which is a bit more money but they sell a single hole jig for less than $20.