Monday, January 18, 2016
I started my cabinetry build by building what is called the face frame. It is made from solid hardwood and covers the exposed edges of the plywood boxes and will be what my door hinges attach to eventually. I used pocket screw joinery to make the face frame which is really easy to do. It is also one of the cheaper methods since it only takes a plastic jig and a drill bit versus lots of expensive tools and lots of clamps. It is also one of the most versatile methods that I have worked with.
Above is the blue plastic jig with a clamp on it. You essentially clamp a piece of wood to it and it allows you to drill the oval shaped pockets with a flat bottom to them. That is where you insert your pocket screws that attach two pieces of wood together. They make special clamps that allow you to hold the pieces together while you screw them but I used ordinary hand clamps to hold the pieces to the sheet of plywood below while I fastened them together. It took me probably two hours to rip the pieces to size, plane the edges and cut them to length. It took me only about fifteen minutes to clamp and screw everything together for the face frame using pocket screws.
I next made four cabinet carcasses out of the plywood but failed to take a picture of them for some reason. Because I am doing this alone and don't really have a tablesaw big enough to handle full sheets of plywood, I have devised a much easier method. I stack the plywood on saw horses as you see above. I separate the top sheet that I want to cut down to size using a couple scrap 2 x 4's and use a scrap strip of plywood that is full length and has the factory edge marked as my straight edge. I clamp it to the plywood and run my skilsaw along it as a guide for making straight cuts. In this way I can cut pieces to size pretty accurately.
Once I have all the pieces cut to size, I also used pocket screws to hold them together. Once they were all build, I attached one of the smaller middle boxes to the back of the face frame using pocket screws while making sure my overlaps were where I wanted them. Then I worked from the middle towards each end adding boxes one at a time fastening them to the face frame and to the box beside them until the hole works was firmly connected together as one unit. Sitting one end on my daughter's sled and me carrying the other end why my wife steadied it so it wouldn't tip over, we slid the whole works around the house and into our walkout basement door. Once we drug it into the office using rugs, we got it setting in the correct orientation on the floor beneath where it was to go.
I had hoped that my wife would be able to lift it enough to set one end up on a gray barrel for support but this require coordinated lifting to avoid getting cockeyed in tight tolerances and though my wife tried, she just wasn't able to do so. I eventually turned the cabinet diagonal to the wall and got one end up at a time onto the barrels. We tried again to lift it up in place from there but evidently the sag in the tape measure that I had build too had caused us to measure longer than the intentional gap I had left. As a result, instead of a planned gap I ended up with perhaps a sixteenth of an inch interference fit. So once again I turned the entire unit on a diagonal and got it lifted up to the right height and set onto some dimensional lumber cut to the correct length to help hold it into place while I pushed it back to flat onto the wall and in the correct place. I ended up gouging my freshly painted drywall a bit but overall, it was wedged so tightly into place, that even after I removed the boards you see above it stayed in place. I still screwed the cabinet firmly to the wall and I will have to repair my drywall a bit but will wait until later on in case I add some more dings.
Overall I am very happy with the cabinets and can't wait to get the doors build and installed but I'm going to wait until I get the lower part built, both parts stained and my desk contents transferred over. I can then build, stain and attach the doors at my leisure with plenty of work space. For reader reference, the black and gray cables in the left cabinet will be used for a future cable box that will control a future wall mount flat screen television should we someday add one to this room. The yellow wire on the left will control the under cabinet lighting I plan to install via a switch just out of frame on the right. Also, not clearly seen was that I used a jig to drill shelf pin holes in the sides of each cabinet so that I can make some adjustable shelving for them at some point.
As I write this post, I have the plans drawn for the two lower units which I am going to build next using the same pocket screw techniques and they will be connected with another similar face frame and a plywood top which will act as the desktop. After that, I plan to build some organizing structures to replace the drawers I had on my old desktop. More on that as I build them.