My beat-up garage-sale
seven-drawer metal tool
cabinet was an eyesore. I
wanted something bigger
and better, but mostly I
wanted something that
looked like it belonged
in a woodworking shop.
Online I found a wooden
version that fit the bill,
but at $5,000 it was far too
expensive. After calculating
that I could build a bigger
and better cabinet for a lot
less, I decided it would be
my next project.
My cabinet stands slightly
more than 5' tall. The nine
small drawers at the top
are side-hung. All the other
drawers are mounted on full extension
slides (see Source, below). The narrow drawer
just above the bank of sideby-
side drawers is actually
a handy pull-out shelf. The
joinery is simple—pocket
screws, biscuits, half-laps and
rabbets—but the results are
rock-solid. You could easily
reconfigure this cabinet to
suit your needs. Replace
a bank of drawers with
doors, for example, or reduce
the overall size.
Build the cabinet
1. Cut the sides, horizontal dividers and top supports (A–C, Fig. A, right) to final size after gluing on their edgebands (D–F). Note the different edge band widths.
2. Assemble the sides, dividers and supports with pocket screws, biscuits and glue (Fig. C, right). Temporarily install the back (G) to keep the assembly square.
3. Glue together two pieces of plywood to create the upper dividers (H). Install shims between the pieces to match the 1-1/2" width of the edge band (J). Glue on the edge bands. Then cut the assemblies to final dimension.
4. Fasten drawer supports (K) to both sides of the dividers and to the cabinet sides. Use 7/8" and 1-1/2" spacers to position the supports.
5. Install the upper dividers with screws and glue.
6. Glue together two pieces of plywood (with shims between) to create the lower divider (L).
7. Install the lower divider. Then glue on its edge band (M).
8. Install the corner blocks (N) and glue on base trim (P and Q).
9. Cut the top (R) to final size and glue on its mitered edging (S and T).
Build the drawers
10. Cut all the drawer box parts to size and rout
rabbets on the ends of the fronts and backs (U1, V2–
Y2 and Figs. B, D and E). The lowest full-width drawer
(X) is actually a shelf with a 3/16" lip at the top to
allow installing a layer of cork.
11. Cut grooves in the sides of the 2" drawers (U2).
12. Glue and nail together the drawer boxes. Then
rout rabbets and install the drawer bottoms (U3,
V4, W4, Y4) and shelf (X4). Create effective gluing
surfaces on the melamine bottoms by routing shallow
rabbets around the edges.
13. Test-fit the nine side-hung drawers and make
any necessary adjustments. The fronts should stop
flush with the cabinet, with 1/8" gaps all around.
Make any necessary adjustments and install the pulls
(Z, see Source, below).
14. Center and install the drawer part of each slide
on the sides of all the remaining drawer boxes.
15. Install the cabinet part of each slide in the
cabinet (Fig. C).
16. Install the drawer boxes and make any necessary
17. Cut the drawer fronts (V1–Y1) to final size and
install the pulls (ZZ, see Source).
18. Position the drawer fronts on the drawer boxes.
They extend 3/8" above and below the drawer boxes,
except for the pull-out shelf front (X1), which is the
same size as the shelf box. Use shims to create even
spacing (1/8" gaps all around). Fasten the drawer
fronts with 1/1-4" #8 flat head screws.
19. Fasten the back to the cabinet with screws.
20. Fasten the top with screws through the top
21. For safety, thread a large screw eye into the top
so you can shackle the cabinet to the wall.
Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.
eDirect Hardware, edirecthardware.com, 877-281-7905,
KVTT100 18" Full Extension Side Mount Drawer Slide, 100 lb,
#641-TT100-18, (13 pair req.); Amerock Dull Chrome
Wire Pull, #639-76312CS-26D, (26 req.); Amerock Dull
Chrome 1-1/4" dia. Knob, #639-1950-26D, (9 req.).
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker December/January 2011, issue #151.