Construction Procedures

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Once you have drawn a full-size rendering of your tool cabinet and used it to develop a cut list for all the components (see pp. 72-75), you are ready to assemble your materials and begin construction.

Preparing the parts

With your cut list in hand, layout the solid-stock components on the boards and then cut them out to rough dimension (add Vi in. to the specified lengths and at least '/s in. to the widths). Next finish-plane the oversized components to their final thickness (Vg in. for the case components and Vw in. for the drawer stock).

Now cut the components to final width and length, with this exception: Cut the drawer sides, face and back '/i6 in. over length. That way, when you cut the finger joints they will protrude '/32 in. past the corners. You'll trim these joints flush after the boxes are assembled. Also wait to cut the door banding and its plywood panel to final size until after the case is assembled, in order to ensure a precise fit. Do, however, cut the plywood for the case back and the drawer bottoms to their finished dimension, taking diagonal measurements to be sure that these components are perfectly square.

End slotting the bottom board with the biscuit joiner. Photo by Craig Wester.

Making the case

To speed up the work and to increase the accuracy' of making the slots for the biscuits, 1 have developed a method of using the case components themselves as a tool jig. This trick does two things: It provides a convenient, solid bearing surface against which to set the baseplate of the machine, and it shows you where to center the slots for both the face and end cuts.

Begin by clamping the bottom of the case on top of one side, holding the former in from the end of the side at exactly the thickness of the bottom board. Use a scrap of stock both to space the board the exact distance in from the end and to act as an additional support tor the joiner's baseplate during the machining process. I laving marked the biscuit centcrlines on the bottom board, hold the joiner upright and align its baseplate centerline to the layout mark.

After making the slots in the face of the underlying side board at the centerline marks (see the photo on the facing page), hold the machine horizontally and run it into the end of the bottom board (see the photo above). Again, be caref ul to align the machine's baseplate to the centerline layout marks. To continue the slotting process, unclamp the bottom board and clamp another horizontal component at its layout mark on the side board. Repeat the process until you've made all the slots for this side of the case.

After cutting the slots for the entire case, install the drawer runners (note the vertically elongated pilot holes for the attachment scre\vs) and then dry-fit the components. There should be no gaps at the butt joints, and all the components should meet at their layout marks. If necessary, make fine adjustments by-trimming the shape of the biscuits. When you are satisfied with the fit, break the case down and remove the biscuits (keep track of the orientation of any biscuits you've had to modify). Now you are ready to assemble the case.

Begin by injecting glue into the slots and spreading a film of glue on the biscuits. Then insert the biscuits and tap the components together. Lift the assembly onto a pair of leveled supports and apply the clamps. To ensure that the

The case is glued up with the aid of leveling supports. A check of diagonal measurements ensures that the box is clamped square Photo by Craig Wester.

The mitered ends of the door banding are slotted with a biscuit joiner. Photo by Craig Wester.

assembly is square, check for uniform diagonal measurements across the corners of the case (see the photo above left). If you need to make a correction, adjust the angle of clamping pressure. Once the glue has dried, remove the clamps and cut the rabbet to receive the '/2-in. maple plywood back panel. (I used a router fitted with a rabbeting bit to make the cut, then squared the rounded corners with a chisel.) Finally, glue and tack the back panel in place.

Building the door

After cutting the door banding to rough length, mill a dado along its inside faces to receive the door panel. Next, cut the banding's ends with miter joints at the finished length after checking the size of the door opening in the assembled case. To join the miter with a biscuit, run the joiner into the face of the miter as shown in the photo above right. After cutting the '/2-in. plywood door panel to size, make a rabbet around its perimeter to fit the dado cut into the banding. Bevel the exposed edge of the rabbet for looks. After dry-assembling the door to check the fit, break it down and reassemble it with glue and clamps.

Building the drawers and slide-out shelf

The key to making tight-fitting finger joints on the table saw is to use a jig that will index the cuts precisely while carrying the parts smoothly by the dado blade without any noticeable side play. Once such a fixture is set up for a certain finger spacing, it will produce row after row of the joints with micrometer-like precision.

After some experimentation I came ur with a jig that meets these two Acquirements (see the top drawing at «ht). To index the cut with precision, I jaaade the index block from a piece of Rcnv—a dense wood highly resistant to pear. If it should eventually wear, I can [eas'-iy replace it by unscrewing it from its Rfocch in the fence. To ensure that the jig run smoothly and without side 1 made its runners (which slide in table saw's miter grooves) from straight-grained lengths of teak, a wood that is hard, stable and self-lubricating. I made the runners slightly oversized, then scraped them down until they had just the right amount of resistance with no side play whatsoever.

Since the distance between the block and the dado blade is critical, I made the jig with a double fence. The inside fence carrying the index block slides back and rorth against the outside fence, locking :n place with C- clamps. (Someday perhaps I'll clean up the design by-replacing the clamps with through bolts run through slotted holes.) For details on how to use the jig, see the sidebar on p. 90.

After cutting the fingers for all the box corners, cut the dado for the bottom panel into the face and sides (I used a slotting cutter on my table-mounted router). Then dry -assemble the box. The ringers should protrude slightly (V32 in. if you cut the pieces a total of l/ie in. oversize). After checking to see if the Joints are tight and that the box is square and free of warp, proceed to glue the box up around its bottom panel. When the assembly is dry, chisel back the protruding fingers and lightly round over all the exposed edges (I used a '/s-in. roundover bit installed in a trim router).

Index block (sized to width and height of finger joint)

Slot cut by dado blade

'/?-in. hardwood plywood base

^4-in. by 6-in. adjustable back fence

Runners (fit miter grooves in

Runners (fit miter grooves in

Finger-Joint Jig

Index block (sized to width and height of finger joint)

Slot cut by dado blade

'/?-in. hardwood plywood base

^4-in. by 6-in. adjustable back fence

Acp Detail Through Section Struture
Router table

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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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