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Simple Storage Cabinet

This wall-mounted storage cabinet is designed with simple joints and attractive, classic details. You can make it in just a few hours with a table saw and a drill.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Overview

CDs, kids’ books, craft supplies, household tools—everyone’s got a collection of something they need to store. And we’ve got just the cabinet for the job. We designed it with simple joints and details so you can assemble it in a morning, even if you don’t have any cabinet-building experience.

We also designed it so all of the cutting could be done on a table saw, the most versatile power tool ever invented. If you’re a table saw veteran, this cabinet-building exercise will hone your skills. If you’re a rookie, you’ll pick up every basic table saw skill.

Buy two 8-ft. long 1x8s, one 2x4 sheet of 1/4-in. plywood, a pair of offset hinges, four 36-in. x 5/8-in. shelf standards and a door pull. Our version is made of red oak that’s been stained with Watco golden oak finishing oil and topcoated with satin polyurethane (two coats). If you want to paint it, buy basswood or aspen along with birch plywood for the panel and back. That way the grain won’t show through the paint.

Use any basic table saw with a few accessories

You can build this cabinet with any table saw ranging from a basic 8-in. portable to a heavy-duty 10-in. cabinet saw. No matter what kind of table saw you have, you’ll be able to make all the cuts we show. But if you have an inexpensive saw, spend more time making sure fences and miter gauges are square and aligned during each setup.

To take full advantage of any table saw, you’ll have to invest in a good blade, a set of dado blades and a few special accessories to ensure safe, accurate work:
  • Get a 40-tooth carbide combination blade for end cutting and for ripping widths.
  • Make or buy a featherboard to hold wood snugly against the fence for smoother, safer cuts (Photo 9).
  • A push pad (Photo 5) and push stick (Photo 9) keep your hands clear of the blade and the wood flat against the saw table.
  • A 6-in. set of dado blades works great for cutting grooves (rabbets and dadoes).You’ll need a special throat plate with a wider blade opening to accommodate the dado blade. Buy one that fits your saw brand and model.
Figure A: Cabinet Construction Details

Figure A: Cabinet Construction Details

Figure A: Cabinet Assembly

Construct the cabinet as shown here. The cutting diagram showing the sizes of all the pieces is in Figure B.

Figure B: Cutting Diagram

Figure B: Cutting Diagram

Figure B: Cutting Diagram

Cut the pieces for the cabinet to the dimensions shown here.

Cut to width, cut to length, cut the joints

Get started by ripping all the boards to width and then rough-cutting the sides and tops of the cabinet box to length (an inch or so too long) using Figure B as a guide. Turn the ripped edges of the side and top boards toward the back of the cabinet to hide the saw marks.

Cut the dadoes and rabbets with the dado blade. A rabbet is simply a groove on the edge of a board. Set up the dado blade to cut a 5/8-in.wide groove. You can use the same setup for cutting the rabbet that receives the 1/4-in. plywood back (Photo 5), the rabbet in the top and bottom ends of the side boards (Photo 6) and the shelf standard dadoes. You’ll only have to adjust the cutting depth, the table saw fence and miter gauge board for each cut as needed.

Fence and miter gauge extension boards

Clamp a 1x4 to the table saw fence to use as a “sacrificial” fence board when cutting rabbets in edges and ends (Photo 4). By raising the dado blade into the board to the proper depth (Photo 4), you create a pocket so you don’t have to cut the full blade width. Always use test boards with each new saw setup to check cutting depths and fence settings before making passes on project pieces.

Extend the miter gauge for making more accurate crosscuts by screwing a 1x3 through the mounting holes. (Select screw lengths that won’t penetrate the front of the board.) Clamp a stop block to the 1x3 for making multiple identical cuts (Photo 3).

Measure and scribe as you go

We give you dimensions for nearly all of the parts, but when you’re building cabinets, it’s important to remeasure as the cabinet takes shape. For example, once you dry-fit the box (Photo 8), take new measurements for the plywood back. Use the back to square up the cabinet before the glue sets up. Similarly, first dry-fit the door rails and stiles together to size the plywood panel for the door. Use a thin ruler inside the frame dadoes and subtract about 1/8 in. in both dimensions to allow for expansion. Check the lengths of the cleats, hanging rail and top and bottom trim before cutting them, too.

Sneaking up on cuts

You don’t have to strive to set up the saw to make it cut perfect dadoes and rabbets on the first pass. Just remember to leave depths and widths a little on the short side. You can always crank up the blade or move the fence slightly and make second and third passes until widths and depths are perfect.

Flipping boards end for end and making a second pass will precisely center the dadoes for the door panel (Photo 9). You can simply eyeball the blade to center it in the door frame parts. After you make the first pass, flip the door frame parts end for end and send them through again. That’ll center the dado perfectly. Test-fit the 1/4-in. plywood for a smooth fit without forcing it. If it’s a little tight, move the fence very slightly away from the blade and repeat the same two passes. Continue until the plywood slips snugly into the groove.

Center the tenons in the door rails (the top and bottom door frame boards) with a similar flipping technique (Photo 10). Set the dado blade slightly less than 5/16 in. above the saw table, make a pass, then flip over the board and make the same pass on the other side. Check the fit in the grooves of the stiles (the vertical door frame boards). Raise the blade slightly and repeat the steps until the tenon fits snugly (Photo 11).

Sanding and finishing

You’ll have some sanding to do, particularly on the ripped edges. Sand out saw marks prior to any assembly. Start with 100-grit sandpaper and then work your way through 120- and 150-grit paper. Be careful not to round any edges where joints meet or you’ll have little cracks that’ll show. Ease sharp edges with 150-grit paper after assembly to “soften” the cabinet. Factory edges and surfaces should also be lightly sanded with 150-grit paper prior to finishing.

Mount the shelf standards, hinges and knob on the raw cabinet, but remove them prior to finishing. That’ll make the job easier, and keep finish off the hardware.

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