Overview: Time, tools and materials
It's a whole lot easier to be a gearhead
when all your gear is in one
place. Here's an easy-to-build
organizer you can complete in one
morning, even if you're a beginning
woodworker. If you build it from construction-
grade pine boards and plywood,
the materials will cost you about $40. If
you use maple boards and birch plywood
as we did, it will cost about $70. The only
must-have power tools for this project
are a drill and a circular saw, though a
table saw and a miter saw would make
the job much faster and easier.
A Fold-Up Door
The worktable is also a door
that encloses the bottom
shelf. Flip it up and you've
got a mounting surface for a
towel holder and other accessories.
You can mount a fold-up
door on special hinges,
but we'll show you a faster
method that requires just a
couple of bucks' worth of
hardware (Photos 3 and 4 below).
Step 1: Assemble the shelves
To get started, cut the sides to length,
lay them back to back and mark the
shelf locations (Photo 1). Then mark
and drill 3/16-in. pilot holes for the
screws that fasten the shelves. Measure
1 in. and 2-3/4 in. from the back edges
of the sides when you locate these holes.
Set the 1x4 shelves between the sides
and drill pilot holes into the shelf ends
using the holes in the sides as guides.
Drilling these pilot holes and screwing
the shelves into place is easier if you
clamp the whole cabinet together first
(Photo 2). But you can hand-hold the
shelves against the sides if you don't
have long clamps. After the shelves are
screwed into place, rip 1/4-in. plywood
into 1-1/2-in.-wide strips for the front
lips on the shelves. Glue the lips to the
shelves, using 3/4-in. brads or clamps to
hold the lips in place while the glue sets.
To complete the cabinet box, lay it
face down and make sure it's square by
taking diagonal measurements. Then
run light beads of wood glue on the
sides and shelves and tack on the plywood
back with 3/4-in. brads spaced
about 8 in. apart. The back is slightly
narrower than the cabinet, so you don't
have to line up the edges perfectly.
Figure A: Car care cabinet
Figure A: Car Care Cabinet
Figure A and a complete Materials List are available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
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Step 2: Mount the fold-up door and apply finish
Flip the cabinet onto its back and
clamp the door into place with the back
edge of the door resting flat on your
workbench. Using a square, mark the
location of the door on the outer sides
of the cabinet. Then drill 5/16-in. holes
1-3/8 in. from the front edges of the
cabinet sides. Drill through the sides
and into the door, stopping at a depth of
about 1-1/2 in. (Photo 3). Cut shallow
recesses in the door for the T-nuts using
a coarse file or wood rasp. Position the
door and drive in the machine screws
that act as pivot points for the door.
Make sure the door opens and closes
freely. If not, sand down the edges that
bind with a belt sander or an orbital
sander. If the fit is a bit sloppy, remove
one of the screws and place a washer
over the T-nut.
To put a quick finish on the cabinet,
remove the door. Sand away any pencil
marks and smooth sharp edges. Take the
cabinet to a well-ventilated area and apply
a couple of light coats of aerosol spray lacquer.
The lacquer will harden in just a few
minutes. Then lightly sand with a fine
sanding sponge and spray on a final coat.
Wait about an hour to reattach the door.
To mount the cabinet, drive four 1-1/2-in.
screws through the back and into studs.
Add a dry-erase board and paper towel
holder if you like and load those shelves!