33-Drawer Shop Storage Cabinet
THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE A WORK OF ART. I’M A UTILITARIAN TYPE!
Even though its main feature isn’t dovetails, they are a major portion of the work — 132 dovetail joints (33 × 4)!
This is another of those years-long projects. I started this cabinet about 25 years ago after seeing a cabinet made from WWII munitions boxes. I have always liked small drawers for organizing things. Originally, I had planned 40 identical drawers. I first made the two end panels, using the leftover ¼” oak plywood from a kitchen remodel, hence the dark finish. At that time I began making the drawer boxes out of plywood. Before I completed all of the drawer boxes, I moved to the country and decided not to bring them with me.
The project sat on hold for years while I concentrated on completing more important projects. In the meantime, I decided to redesign the cabinet to better contain various items in the shop. The only parts I had were the end panels and my only criterion was that it needed to fit on a wall where I had open shelving that I wanted to remove. (I really hate open shelving in the shop because everything on it collects dust!)
I am not fast at woodworking, so dovetailing 33 drawers with my rinky-dink dovetail jig took a long time. Then because the winter was S-O-O-O cold, I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars in astronomical gas prices to heat it 24 hours a day when the cabinet only cost me a few dollars to make, so I waited until the weather warmed to varnish it. (I generally turn the heat down to 52 when I’m not working and only turn it up to 62 when I am working which obviously wouldn’t work for finishing.)
And the varnishing took FOREVER! I had purchased 2.5 gallons of Minwax for a bargain $19.95 last year. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was not their fast-drying poly, but rather high-build poly. Well, there is a world of difference between the two and I really hate the latter. I don’t like the color; I don’t like the consistency. I thought this cabinet would be a good way to use up a bunch of it but I still have over a gallon left. (I need to think of some more “junk” projects on which I can get rid of it!)
I had wanted the rails and stiles to contrast the panels and drawer fronts but I didn’t manage to match the drawer fronts to the panels. I still had the 33-year-old stain from the kitchen remodel, but what was left was too thick and then I thinned it too much. And the high-build poly is so dark that almost no contrast is visible on the front.
The only purchases I made to complete the cabinet were a 4’ x 8’ of ¼” lauan plywood and the #1 screws for the nameplate pulls. I ordered a package of 100 screws, knowing that I needed 99 and hoping I wouldn’t break any. The package arrived with only 96. (Note the missing hardware on right end of row 6.)
The eBay vendor was kind enough to send me the missing screws plus 2 extra. Miraculously, I never broke or lost any. (I had purchased 40 nameplate pulls 25 years ago and the heavy duty casters were purchased years ago – 50% off at HF.) All the rest was made from scrap plywood (drawer bottoms), scrap oak and a conglomeration of poplar that includes some curly and spalted pieces. (The fun grains and spalting were too sporadic to be used for any sizable project. All of the lumber was milled off our property years ago so I consider it free!)
Originally I was going to use oak for the drawer boxes but decided the weight would be prohibitive. I’m hoping (praying) that the cabinet is sufficiently engineered and will not collapse once it’s filled. (I’m not filling drawers with heavy hardware.)
Because of my lack of precision, there are no two drawers which are identical so each drawer had to be marked with its position. (The wooden runners attached to either side are not aligned correctly with the center runners and drawer boxes differ by up to 3/32” in width.) I also marked the drawer fronts so I could get them back onto the correct drawer boxes.
Since the cabinet is only 15” deep, I attached it to the wall so it won’t tip over. I needed to be able to easily move the cabinet when I want to run longer stock through my drum sander so I made a simple wall cleat. The cabinet is 40” wide and 62” tall, (any taller and I wouldn’t be able to see into the drawers!)
I’m hoping that this cabinet will help me get my shop better organized (wishful thinking). I’ve at least gotten a start at it!
Posting this on dial-up took almost as long as making it! LOL
Thanks for taking a look.
-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin