Building the Upper Cabinet

The next key component, the upper cabinet, houses the router, capturing a lot of the noise and chips it generates in use. It provides orderly storage for bits, collets, and wrenches. And it incorporates switched receptacles for the router and a shop vac or dust collector.

Although in general I've had a negative regard for doors on router compartments, I put one on this cabinet. With the lift-top feature, the door isn't an irritating barrier to router access. Now it's a barrier to chips and noise. And it is essential for dust collection.

Complementing the door is a panel I call a threshold. It prevents chips from spilling out of the router compartment, even when the door is open. The door is hinged to § this panel, so it can drop open and thus out of the way.

The cabinet has two well-like storage bins for wrenches, collets, and other useful tools and supplies like a dust brush and a Scotch-Brite pad. The bins can be O accessed only when the top is lifted. Because they are C fixed bins, their contents can't be dumped inadvertently. ^ The bin on the right also houses the metal electrical box for the switch and serves as the chase for the electrical ■ cable that connects the switch to the table's two duplex ^ receptacles.

In the space beneath each fixed bin is a bit storage drawer, which is a traditional drawer set on its side.To me. j the drawer makes better use of the space available if it's ori- — entcd this way. Each drawer lias wood strips, each with a line of ^-inch-diameter holes for holding the bits.The strips also have grooves for labels, so I can label each bit. Call me anal-retentive if you want, but it keeps the bits organized, and 1 can identify the size of each bit. I know exactly where to go for any bit. too. since each has a specific place.

The cabinet is a plywood case with oak face parts-drawer fronts, threshold, and door. The rabbet joints l>etween the sides and back are concealed by the legs. I planned from the outset to paint the case, so I used birch plywood, which takes paint well. Other good choices for this construction would be medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and medium-density overlay (MDO), both of which take

Attach to case with two angle plates.






Port for hose from shop vac



Port for vacuum hose from the fence pickup


Attach to case with two angle plates.

Spacers between edge-banding and threshold create W-hlgh air slit.



Attach to case four angle plates.



Qty. Dimensions




ft" X 195V X 25%"

Birch plywood



¥*" x 15" x 26%"

Birch plywood



X 15" X 195V

Birch plywood



ys x 1 ays x 1 ma

Birch plywood

Recess bottoms


fc"X4!*"X 195V

Birch plywood

Dust baffle


ft'X 14" X 155V

Birch plywood

Bin fronts


Va" X 2¥A" X 5'/s"


Router compartment threshold


Va X 2VtT X 16"




x W x W


Edge band


ft" X %" X 16"


Router compartment door stiles


VA" X 1 Vi" X 11 W


Router compartment door rails


Va"X }ft"X\ 3 Va"


Router compartment door panel


Vi"X9u/iie"x 13&"


Bit drawer fronts


Va"X 12Vic" X SlA"


Bit drawer backs


ft'X 35V X 10%;"


Bit drawer sides


ft" X 35V X 19W


Bit drawer bottoms


A" X 10%" X 183/4"

Birch plywood

Bit holders (bottom)


1 Mr X 2VtT X 18V*


Bit holder (middle)


\wx\wx\ m"


Bit holders (top)


)¥A"X\ Vs" X 181/«"

6d finish nails

3 wire pulls, 3". brass, with screws (for upper cabinet)

2 magnetic catches and strikes with mounting screws (for router compartment door)

1 pr. brass hinges, 2" X Ws" with mounting screws (for router compartment door)

2 brass threaded inserts, 'A"

2 roundhead stove bolts. V«" X 1 ft" (for bit drawer stops) 6 brass angle plates. ft" X I" X 1", with screws

CT to paint extremely well (better than the birch plywood 1 used).

If you want a natural wood appearance, you can invest in a choice hardwood plywood for the case. If you do this, be sure you cut the parts so the grain direction is oriented consistently (and logically) throughout the casework.

1. Cut the case parts. Before you cut anything, mea sure the space for the cabinet in the assembled stand. It's not unlikely that minor deviations from the plans have crept into your construction. 0"hey did in mine.) The cab inet is designed to be about inch narrower than the span between the legs so that it can be set in place easily. The last thing you want is to build the cabinet to spec, then find it won't fit your stand.

So measure the stand and adjust the dimensions of the case pans as ncccssary.

As I said, all the case parts arc cut from plywood. Note that the bottom and the dust baffle are '¿-inch material, while the other parts are % inch.The dimensions are specified by the Cutting List.

2. Cut the case joinery. /VU the joint cuts can be made with a hand held.fixed-base router. Because plywoods are undersized (in thickness), you'll get the tightest joints if you use a 2X->-inch straight bit to rout the dadoes and grooves needed. Study the drawing Upper Cabinet Plan Views. Lay out the cuts, and use a T-square or straightedge to guide the router through the cuts.

Here's a list of the cuts needed:

• Rabbet the back for the sides and bottom.

• Dado the back for the partitions and bin bottoms.

• Dado the sides and partitions for the bin bottoms.

• Dado the partitions for the dust baffle.

• Groove the sides for the bottom.

• Rabbet the bottom for the sides.

3. Assemble the case. Use glue and finish nails to join the parts together. After the assembly work Ls complete, countersink all the nails and putty over the heads.

The assembly sequence is as follows: Lay the back on its back. Glue the partitions in place. Next, add the bin bottoms and the case bottom. Finally, attach the sides. Make sure the case is square, of course.

Don't install the dust baffle at this time. Test how it fits, but don't glue it in place, or it will be a hindrance when you install the clcctrical boxes and wire them.

Finally, bore the two dust collcction ports in the case back. The locations are shown in the drawing Upper Cabinet Plan Views. The holes should be sized to accommodate- your shop vac's hose.

4. Cut (and glue up) the face parts. These include the bin fronts, the bit drawer fronts, and the threshold pans. So that the upper cabinet would match the stand, I used oak for these parts.

Mill a batch of hardwood to the required thickness. % inch. (While you are at it. prepare enough stock for the door parts—rails, stiles, and panel—as well. The stock for the rails and stiles should be ■ > inch thick; for the panel, % inch thick. Set the stock for these parts aside until you are ready to actually make the door.) Rip and crosscut the bin and drawer fronts and the threshold parts to the dimensions specified by the Cutting list.

Note that to make up the bit drawer fronts, you'll probably need to edge-glue two or three pieces. These drawer fronts are narrow and very tall, but the grain should run from side to side in order to match that of the other face parts. I edge-glued one panel, from which I ripped and crosscut both drawer fronts and both bin fronts.

In cutting these parts to size. I think it is a good idea to set them in place on the front of the case, so they'll fit the case you've built rather than the one depicted in the drawings.

5. Rabbet the bin fronts, drawer fronts, and threshold. The potential for error is significant here. I think. As you can see from the drawing Bit Drawer

Construction, each drawer front has rabbets of three different widths on it. In addition, the bin fronts have two different rabbet widths, as revealed in the drawing Upper Cabinet Plan Views.

If you aren't careful, you might find yourself mixing up the rabbets widths. What I did was label each part—left drawer, left bin front, right drawer, and so on. 1 marked the top and bottom edges of the parts as well. Then on the inside face, I labeled each edge with the width of rabbet needed. (Place these labels where they won't be removed as you rout the rabbets.) The lefts and rights are not duplicates, remember; dicy are mirror images.

1 cut the rabbets on a router table using a 1-inch-diam-eter straight bit. Here's how to do it. Set the cut depth at the full iA-inch right at the start So that the cut won't lx- too heavy, limit the width of cut. Make the initial cut no more than inch wide, and make it on every edge that is to be rabbeted. Subsequently, the drill is to increase the width of cut in steps, and keep cutting the edges until each has been routed to the necessary width.

Use a pusher to back up the work as you rout the rabbets. This will prevent tear-out, especially as you rout across the end grain. Make a pusher from scrap stock by routing a rabbet in it so that it can nest into the rabbet being cut in the workpiece.

6. Cut the remaining bit drawer parts. The bit drawers are constructed like conventional drawers; they simply are oriented on their sides. Rather than confuse things. I've referred to "sides." "bottom." and "back" on the Cutting List, labeling the parts as in a conventional drawer orientation.

The sides and backs arc cut from '¿-inch-thick pieces of whatever you arc using as your secondary stock. Check the Cutting List as you work, but fit the parts to the case. The drawer bottoms arc '/«-inch plywood.


in drawer front are deep.


in drawer front are deep.


7. Rout the dovetails. As you can sec in the drawing, the front is joined to the sides with router-cut half-blind dovetails. Now you may be used to routing dovetails, but these are different because the drawer fronts are lipped. The lip (or rabbet) requires you to shift the drawer front's position in relation to the template. The piece has to be moved forward in the dovetail jig so die rabbet's shoulder is aligned where the drawer front's end usually is aligned. Obviously, you can't do this if the side is in the jig. So in this case, you have to do the sides and the fronts separately.

To align the drawer front accurately, use what I call a positioning gauge. It is simply a scrap of wood with a rabbet across one end.The depth of the rabbet must be the same as the width of the drawer-front rabbet. In this instance, you actually need two gauges, one with a ^inch-deep rabbet and the other with a '¿-inch-deep rabbet.

You also need a '/¿-inch-thick spacer to offset the drawer front from the alignment stop so that the first socket is a half-pin from the shoulder of the rabbet. (The spacer thickness is determined by subtracting the width of the drawer-front rabbet from inch, the centcr-to-center spacing of !*-inch dovetails.The starting point for marking off these dovetails is the vertical edge with the ^inch-wide rabbet.)

Here's how to set up: Fit the drawer front in the dove-uil jig.The long edge with the -^inch-wide rabbet must belt the jig's alignment pin. If that edge is on the right, move the front to the right-hand pin. If that edge is to the left.

Two simple, shop-made jigs are needed when routing dovetails in lipped drawer fronts, like those used in the bit drawers. One is a spacer, which you set between the dovetail jig's alignment pin and the work-piece. as shown. The other is a positioning gauge, shown clamped at the front of the dovetail jig. When the workpiece's end is butted against the gauge, its shoulder will be properly positioned for the sockets to be routed.





o tt

slide the workpiece to the left-hand pin. Shift the work-piece enough to fit the spacer between it and the pin.

Now check the width of the rabbet across the work-piece's end. Clamp the appropriate positioning gauge in the front of the dovetail, where the drawer side usually is clamped. Full the drawer front toward you, butting its end against the tab of the positioning gauge, the long edge with the Vinch-widc rabbet against the spacer. Clamp the front, then rout the sockets.

Naturally, you have to switch to the other end of the jig to rout the sockets in the other end of the drawer front. And because the rabbet at that end of the drawer front is a different width, you have to switch to the other positioning gauge. (Don't forget to put the space between the work-piece and the alignment pin.)

After the sockets are routed in both drawer fronts, fit the drawer sides, one by one, in die dovetail jig and rout the pins. To help you position each side,and to prevent tearout.clamp a scrap of drawer-front stock in place of the drawer front.

8. Cut the remaining drawer joinery. The back is joined to the sides with dado joints. The bottom fits into grooves in the sides, front, and back.

I laving cut the dovetails, do the dadoes and grooves. I cut the dadoes on the router table, guiding the workpiece along the fence with a scrap push-block.The block keeps the work square to the fence, and backs up the cut to boot. Groove the pans on the router table, too.

9. Assemble the drawers. This is routine. Apply glue judiciously to the dovetails and the dadoes. Join one side to the front, and set the bottom in place. Add the back, then the second side. Clamp the assembly and set it aside. Then repeat the process to assemble the second bit drawer.

Lay out the holes tor the wire pull's mounting screws. The pulls are centered on the drawer fronts. Drill the holes, and mount the pulls.

10. Make the bit holders. I like to label my bits, so I designed bit holders that accommodate labels. Each holder begins as a square blank. You bevel the top at 30 degrees, then drill ^inch-diameter holes into it, perpendicular to this surface. For the labels, you rout a very shallow dovetail groove on the front. As you can see in the drawing Bit Holder Detail, 1 installed two holders in one drawer and three in the other. The thickness and width of the individual holder varies according to its position in the drawer.

I used my secondary stock (poplar) for the holders. If you don't have stock of sufficient thickness, glue-laminate thinner pieces to build up the thickness required. Plane and rip the blanks, then bevel the top surface.

To bore the holes at the required angle, you need to hold the blank at an angle, so the top surface is perpendicular to the axis of the bit. Make a V-block from three scraps of /4-inch plyw<H)d. Bevel an edge of one scrap at 30 degrees, and an edge of another at 60 degrees. Nail these strips to the third scrap, forming the V-block. Align the block under the bit, and clamp it to the drill press table. Cradle the holder blank in the V-block, and drill the holes with a '^•inch Forstner bit. Hie holes should be vi to I inch deep.

'Hie hole spacing is up to you. I spaced the holes in the lowest holder V/i inches apart, figuring this is where the

With a V-block aligned under the bit and clamped to the drill press table, drilling the angled holes in the bit holders is easy. Lay out the hole positions on the holder, and set it in the V-block. Drill the first hole, then slide the holder, aligning the next mark under the bit. Drill it. Keep it up until all the holes are finished.

Quarter-inch-shank bits fit 16-inch holes if you use sleeves made from lengths of }$-inch dowel. To drill the dowels, hold them in a shop-made pinch clamp secured to the drill press table. Clamp the fence to the table, and drill a ii-inch hole that breaks the edge. Set the dowel in this hole and jam it with a pivoting jaw. as shown, while you drill a J4-inch hole through it.






10' Vie"

i/2"-dia. holes, 1 Va" center-to-center










1 Va"


largest-diameter hiLs would go. In the other holders, the holes are I to 111 indies apart.

(If you are wondering why all the holes are X1 inch, the answer is that I made "sleeves" for 1 «-inch-shank bits. Drill Vinch-diamcter holes in the center of I-inch-long pieces of kinch dowel. This allows you to put a i t-inch-shank bit anywhere. You can even make sleeves with '«-inch stems for storing extra pilot bearings.)

Finally.set up the router table with a 34-inch dovetail bit. Set the bit extension at about xm inch. Set die fence, and rout a dovetail groove along the front surface of each bit holder. (If you don't have a /»-inch dovetail bit, you can make the same groove in two passes using a ''¿-inch dovetail bit.)

11. Install the bit holders. Trim the holders to fit the drawers. The holders arc secured in the drawers by screws driven through the bottom and back.Three screws suffice for each holder.Tlie spacing 1 used is shown in the drawing. Note that if you put three holders on a drawer, it probably will be necessary to pare notches in the ends of two holders to accommodate the pulls' mounting screws.

12. Rout the electrical box openings. The upper abinet Is wired with switch-controlled receptacles inside the muter compartment and on the back. The outlet inside the cabinet is for the router, while the outlet in the cabinet back is for a shop vac or dust collector. Punch the switch on the cabinet front, and both the router and the dust collector power up. (This works only if the router has the "soft-start" feature; otherwise, two motors starting simultaneously will probably trip the circuit breaker.)

The full installation requires that three openings be cut, one in the back of the case, one in the dust baffle, and the last in the right-hand bin front. I routed them all using a template. You don't need a perfect opening, and L' you prefer, you can cut the openings with a saber saw. But I like the router route.

Make a template in a piece of '¿-inch MDF or plywood. Set a receptacle box on the template, and trace around it with a compass set to 'io inch. This is a 'ifrinch offset; use a '/4-inch bit with a ^-inch-O.D. template guide with the completed template to rout the openings. Cut out the template. Drill Vinch holes in the corners, then saw from hole to hole with a saber saw. File the inside edges smooth.

Set up a plunge router. Clamp the template atop the work. Rout.

When routing the opening in the case, you can secure the template with carpet tape. Back up the cut with scrap, clamping or wedging it tight against the inside face of the case back. When routing the bin front, which is smaller than

the template, you will have to bond the workpiece to scrap and surround it with blocking to help support the template.

Two final Tough-in" jobs: Drill a hole through the case-back for the power cord; and drill a hole through the right partition for the cable that runs from the switch to the outlets. Locations are suggested in the drawings, though exact locations are up to you. Size the holes to accommodate the cable you use.

Routing an opening in the bin front for the electrical box is easier than trying to saw it, because of the part's small size. Using scraps, make a fixture to hold the bin front, then clamp the template on top and rout the opening. I used the template shown to rout openings in the case back and the dust baffle as well.

13. Cut the door parts. The router compartment door is assembled with copc-and-stick joints. 1 used a raised panel, though you could easily substitute a hardwood-plywood panel, or even a clear pane of acrylic or polycarbonate.

Rip and crosscut the rails and stiles for the door to the dimensions specified by the Cutting List.The stiles can run a little long, but the rails must be cut precisely to length. Cut the panel, or glue up stock to form the panel.

14. Rout the sticking on the stiles and raiLs.

This is a router table operation. Tighten the sticking hit in the router collet, and adjust the bit's height to cut the desired profile. The objective in setting the bit height is to position the profile for its best appearance without getting the groove too close to the back. With the %-inch stock being worked, this shouldn't be too difficult. Make test cuts as necessary to establish the optimum bit height.

For a safe operation, set up the fence so the bit is mostly buried in the fence and the guiding edge of the fence is even with the edge of the bit's bearing.The more closely matched the fence opening is to the bit contour, the better the fence will bac.< up the cut and minimize—if not completely eliminate—chipping ahead of the cutter. Using the Split Fence (see page 237) makes this easy to accomplish. You simply shift the two fence elements toward the bit until they nearly touch it, then lock them down.

Set a couple of featherboards to keep the work light to the fence.

When everything seems to be set up properly, cut the profile and groove in the inside edges of the stiles and rails. One pass should be sufficient to complete each cut.

15- Cope the ends of the rails. ThLs operation is best done using a miter sled, plans for which arc in the chapter "Sleds," which begins on page 246. With the sled plans are step-by-step directions for making the cope cuts. Turn to that chapter and follow its directions in coping the ends of the door rails.

16. Raise the panel. Do this on the router table, of course. After trimming the panel to the final dimensions, form all four edges with a panel-raising bit. Cut across the ends, then along the sides. Make shallow passes, working up the final cut depth.

17. Assemble the door. Before gluing the door's rails and stiles together, you should assemble it without glue to check that everything fits.Thcn apply glue to the joints. Begin to assemble the rails and stiles. Slide the panel into the frame before fitting the second stile in place, closing the frame.

Lay out the locations of the hinges that mount the door to the threshold. Carefully pare mortises for the hinges. Drill pilots for the mounting screws.

Lay out the holes for the wire pull's mounting screws. Drill these holes and install the pull.

18. Assemble the cabinet face. Most easily installed are the bit drawers; simply slide them into their compartments.

The two air-intake spacers are glued to the threshold edge-banding, which in turn is glued directly to the ease between the bit drawers.

The threshold and the left-hand bin front are installed with brass angle pates. Fit these two parts in place. Use a plate as a guide to lay out the mounting-screw holes. Drill the pilots and install the plates, securing the parts to the case.

The right-hand bin front is secured by the receptacle box. Fit the box into the front, and attach it with tiny screws driven through the box's flanges. Set this unit in place in the case; I think you'll find you need to chisel recesses in the bin bottom for various screws and nubbins on the outside of the box. Do whatever is necessary to seat the box and the bin front properly. Then secure the works by driving 2^-inch-long screws through the appropriate holes in the box into the case.

On the threshold, lay out the mortises needed for the door's hinges. Fare these mortises and mount the door.

Determine the appropriate positions for the magnetic catches, and mount them.

With the parts all mounted, check the operation of the door and the drawers. Check the fit of the cabinet in the stand. If everything is copacetic, lake it all apart (except the threshold edge-banding, of course).

19- Finish the upper cabinet. With the drawers and the door and all the fronts removed, prime and paint the plywood ease. Mask off the threshold edge-banding so you don't get paint on it. Remove the pulls and other hardware from the front elements. Apply a clear finish to the door, the drawer and bin fronts, and the threshold.

When the finish is dry. remount the hardware and reassemble the cabinet.

20. Wire the cabinet. The box for the switch is already installed. Install the box for the "outside" receptacle in the case back. Pull the dust baffle from the case and Install the box for the "inside" receptacle in it.

Run the cablcs next. Run a cable from the "outside" receptacle box to the switch box. This cable should be secured to the case with a couple of metal clips made for the job. Feed the power cord through its hole in the case and extend it into the "outside" receptacle box. Be sure to secure the power cord to the case so that when you catch pur foot in the cord (someday), you won't rip out the con-


nections in the electrical boxes. A short piece of cable extends from the "outside" box to the "inside" box. Mount it in thc"outsidc" box. then feed it into the "inside" box as you slide the dust baffle into place.

Follow the Wiring Schematic in connecting the circuits. Push the electric fixtures into the boxes, drive the mounting screws, and install the plates. Install the plug on the end of the power cord.

Hardware for Wiring Case

3 steel receptacle boxes 12 roundhead screws, #4 X yh" 1 single-pole switch, 15 amp

1 switch plate

2 duplex receptacles, I 5 amp I utility receptacle plate

1 receptacle plate

3' Romex cable, 12/2 with ground

2 grounding clips or screws

Incoming power

12/2-gauge cable

Connect black (hot) conductors to brass-colored terminals.

White conductor "coded" black

Connect white (neutral) conductors to silver-colored terminals. /

20-amp receptacles

-"Inside" receptacle






Incoming power

Grounding screw in box

12/2-gauge cable

Ground (bare) conductors

"Outside" receptacle

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

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