Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Simple Sturdy Assembly Bench

For some years I have been using a small Sears Craftsman bench for woodworking assembly. Recently, I started working with a local group which was in the process of creating a MakerSpace. One item that this operation will require is a number of general purpose sturdy, inexpensive benches. As a prototype bench, I designed and constructed the largest assembly bench that my shop could accommodate. The bench has a 24" by 48" by 33" base with a 54" by 30" surface, 1 1/2" thick. The base is constructed of 2x4's and the surface, MDF.

The construction of the base started with the H shaped end sections, shown below. The section is assembled with Kreg screws and wood glue. The bottom cross piece is placed 4" from the bottom of the leg. During assembly, check squareness using a carpenters square since the 2x4's are knotty. If not square, loosen screws slightly and adjust. Don't worry about a weak joint, since there will be overlap at all joints which will more than strengthen the joint.

Base H section
The next step is to attach the cross pieces between the H sections. Once again use the carpenters square to square up the pieces. This is important since once the base skeleton is assembled squaring will be too late.

Attaching cross members
 Use glue and Kreg screws for the joints.

Base skeleton assembled
Note in the above picture the addition of a second 2x4 glued to the top cross member for strength. Click the picture for a better view. Now glue additional 2x4's to all skeletal members as shown in the next picture. Note the Kreg holes drilled in the top member for fastening the top to the base. Set the Kreg for 3/4" thickness.

Shown below is the completed base. If you enlarge the picture, you can see the Kreg screw hole for attaching the top.

Completed base
The top is constructed of 3/4" MDF with a 4 1/2" edging of MDF. A thin coat of glue was spread evenly on the MDF edge  pieces and then lightly clamped. The inner pieces are scrape 3/4" plywood for attaching the top. I had HomeDepot cut the MDF to 54" by 30" with the 54" vertical cut made first. The 4 1/2" edge pieces were cut on my table saw and then cut to length with the miter saw.

Bottom of bench top.
Using a 1/8" round-over bit, all edges were dressed and sanded. The top was then sealed with SealCoat. Three layers of oil based polyurethane were then applied and sanded between coats.

Completed bench.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

File Cabinet for Hanging Folders

My shop tool manuals and other shop information are currently kept in a plastic desk top file case, a bench top space waster, so it's time to make a two drawer file cabinet that will fit under the bench like the multi-drawer cabinet shown in a separate post. The first order of business is to design and build a drawer that will fit in the space and work. The drawer will be build using 12mm Blonde plywood from Lowes and assembled with pocket screrws and glue. Hanging folders normally hangs from two metal strips in a file cabinet and for this we will use aluminum angle.

Completed File Cabinet

Shop files in place.

Hanging file folder drawer prototype.
The protoype drawer seems to do the job with the height adequate for tab clearance Here is the material list for the drawer. The pocket holes at the top were a mistake.
  1. Front/Back, 12 1/16" x 10 1/16", 2 ea, 12mm ply
  2. Sides, 18" x 8 3/4", 2 ea, 12mm ply
  3. Bottom, 18 x 13", 1 ea, 3/16" Ply
  4. Rail, 1/2" x 1/2" x 1/16" x 3' aluminum angle
Now to build the cabinet which will be constructed similar to the others in this blog. Essentially, it will be a frameless type cabinet consisting of 4, 18mm thick sides and a 3/16" back. The front of the cabinet sides will be edged with 1/2" poplar and a step will be cut in the back edge to receive the 3/16" back panel.

Material Cuts for the Cabinet:
  1. Sides: 22 5/8" x 18 1/2", 2 ea, 18mm ply
  2. Top/Bottom: 14" x 18 1/2", 2 ea, 18mm ply
The construction of the cabinet starts by drilling pocket holes in the top and bottom pieces. During assembly mount the top with the pocket holes inside the cabinet and the bottom either inside or outside. Before assembly, cut a notch into the back edge of the panels 1/2" wide and 3/16" deep using the table saw. This is done as shown below by clamping a strip of wood to the saw fence and creating an indent for the saw blade. Using the wood strip as the fence, pass all the cabinet pieces through the blade, then adjust the blade to widen the cut and make a second pass.

Table saw setup for cutting back edge notch.

Glue and screw two pieces together at a time using squaring clamp blocks to hold the pieces square until the glue sets about 3/4 of an hour. The use of the squaring blocks are shown in other posts in this blog. When the cabinet is assembled glue and nail 1/2 poplar to the front edges. Finally, sand down all surfaces and, then, round over all edges with a 1/8R round over bit. Hand sand the finished cabinet and seal with Sealcoat. Sanded that surface when dry and finish with two coats of water based urethane.

Finished cabinet with slides mounted.
Mount two pair of ball bearing slides at 7 1/4" and 17 1/8" from the top. Mount the slide on the drawer 7" from the top ( measure from top of  the back or front).. For uniformity I always measure from the top of the draw.

Drawer with slide mounted.

Back added.
To simplify moving the cabinet, two 1 1/2" rigid caster are mounted at the back of the cabinet and 2" feet made from 1 1/2" square poplar at the front. #14, 2 1/2" metal screws are used to attach the feet having pre-drilled thru with 1/4" drill and counter sunk, 1/4" deep, with 3/8 Forstner bit.

Bottom showing legs and rigid 1/2" casters

    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    Simple Flat Panel Cabinet Doors

    Flat Panel Shop CabinetDoors

    Most of my shop cabinets have been finished and now it is time to make doors. As with the other shop projects in this blog, Kreg pocket screws will be used. The method used is very similar to making cabinet frames as shown on the Kreg website. The process is to cut 2 1/4" rails and stiles from 3/4" poplar plank and then, using the table saw, cut a 0.22" groove length wise on one edge of the stile and rail.

    Step by Step:

    1. Cut poplar plank into 2 1/4" widths for stiles and rails
    2. Cut stiles and rails roughly to length
    3. Cut a 1/4" deep by 0.22" groove in one edge of the stiles and rails
    4. Cut stiles to exact length
    5. Clamp stiles on bench to exact door width and measure rail length
    6. Cut rails to length
    7. Use Kreg fixture to drill pocket holes in rails
    8. Assemble one rail onto stiles as shown. Use glue and screws.
    9. Clamp other rail in place and round over front inner edge
    10. Cut and insert flat panel
    11. Attach other rail
    12. Sand all surfaces
    13. Round over all outer edges
    14. Drill holes for hinges
    15. Hand sand door and use Sealcoat
    16. Add two coats of water based urethane
    17. Mount hinges on door and cabinet
    18. Mount door 
    1. Cutting groove: Position tables saw blade and fence, so that when a stile is run through blade in both direction ( flip the stile around ), the groove is cut to correct width and depth. You will need wood scrapes.

    Table saw set up to cut groove.

    Stiles clamped to bench to measure rail length.

    Attaching bottom rail.

    Rounding over front inside edge with top rail clamped in place.

    Inserting flat panel.

    Attaching top rail.

    Round over outside edge.

    Locate hinges with centering scale 11" from center, i.e., 22" separation.

    35mm Forstner bit positioning jig. 

    Drilling hinge hole using drill press table with fence.

    Using jig to drill hinge mounting holes.

    Hinge mounted

    Using jig to drill cabinet hinge mounting holes.

    Mounting door. and done.

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    Mounting Router to Rousseau 3509 Plate

    The router table and cabinet base are finished. I am now ready to mount a Sears 320.17542 fixed router to a Rousseau router plate. This Sears router was chosen for several reason among them are: one, it was on sale, two, 1/2" collet, three, above plate access to the lifting mechanism. The method discussed here should also work for aluminum plates.

    In order to mount the router, a kit from Rousseau can be purchased, but since I had a PC type guide bushing with a 1/4" hole, I chose to purchase the following items from McMaster Carr:
    1. 98380A556  Dowel pin 1/4"
    2. 91420A330  Screw flathead M5.8 25mm
    3. 91217A175  Cone point socket screw M5.8 12mm
    4.  2739A38  Anti vibration thru-hole countersink, 90 deg., 3/16" - 17/32"
    5. 2915A22  Drill point countersink 5/64" - 3/16"
    Your router may use a different screw size, but equivalent items should be available at McMaster.

    A comment should be made before the step by step procedure. Phenolic plastic is very hard and not easy to scratch, so I tried two ways to get the set screws to mark the plate. First, I used a Bessey mini clamp, you can see them on the bench, to press the set screw into the plastic. I did this by placing the metal end of the clamp on the set screw and the handle end above the plate. Then I tightened the clamp. This worked for four of the set screws. Hitting the plate above the set screw transferred marks from the remaining two. 

    Step by Step
    1. Remove plastic plate from bottom of router.
    2. Change to 1/4" chuck and add 1/4" dowel pin.
    3. Screw cone set screws into base as shown in picture
    4. Place guide bushing with 1/4" hole in plate
    5. Position router on bench as shown, with lift lock to front
    6. Place plate on router face up using dowel pin to center.
    7. Use spring clamps to hold router base to plate
    8. Use one of the methods above to cause cone set screws to mark plate
    9. Remove plate, find marks and enhance with center punch
    10. Use a small drill or drill point countersink to start hole.
    11. Drill hole out to screw body drill size, in my case a M5.8, 13/64"
    12. Turn plate over and counter sink hole using a single flute or thru-hole counter sink to proper depth
    13. Mount plate to router with flat head screws
    14. Using a scribe, mark lift hole on phenolic plate
    15. Drill 1/4" hole in plate and slightly counter sink on top side.

    Router placed upside down on bench. Cone end set screws in place.

    Closeup of set screw.

    Guide bushing mounted in 3509 

    Plate positioned on router. Note 1/4" dowel and guide bushing.

    Drill point countersink in drill press chuck.

    Router with plate mounted.

    Flat head screws in place. Note lifter access hole at front.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Router Table Base

    This project describes the construction of a router table base cabinet. The construction of the Router table top. is shown on a separate post in this blog.

    Router table base, sketch from notebook.

    Almost completed router table base cabinet.

    This sketch of the router table base is from a 8" by 5" Top Flight notebook which I use to track my project. As you can see, this design is like many that can be found on the Web, but you will find here a complete BOM and a step by step assembly in words and pictures.

    The router table base is built with Kreg pocket screws, as many of the other projects in this blog. One lesson I have learned using the pocket screws is not to assume that two pieces of square cut wood assembled at right angles will be at right angle when the glue set. After the pieces are assembled, I use squaring blocks, as shown in the pictures below, to hold the pieces square until the glue sets, about an hour.

    Step by Step Construction
      1. Make long cuts for sides, center and bottom panels 1/4" oversize, then trim to size
      2. Use a table saw sled to cut ends to length. A sled is a handy tool.
      3. Drill pocket holes in bottom and center panels on bottom.
      4. Screw and glue pieces together. Use squaring blocks while glue is setting.
      5. Drill pocket holes in drawer area verticals on inside of drawer area.
      6. Glue in place and use squaring blocks.
      7. Cut top cleats to size and drill pocket holes
      8. Screw and glue cleats in place to end panels and drawer verticals. Make sure drawer area width is equal top to bottom.
      9. Cut back support cleat to size and install under center panel. Glue.
      10. Cut 1/2" poplar to 3/4" width
      11. Glue and nail poplar to front edge of cabinet. Use 3/4" brads. 
      12. Sand cabinet, including front edge
      13. Round over all cabinet edges using a router and 1/8" round over bit
      14. Sand all edges lightly
      15. Seal all surfaces with Bulls Eye SealCoat
      16. Add back later.

      Bottom screwed to side with squaring blocks.

      Main components of base assembled.
      Back cleat to re-enforce center shelf.
      Drawer section verticals. Pocket holes on inside.
      Cabinet with 1/2" poplar front edging.

      BOM - Cabinet
      1. Side                   29 3/4" x 21 1/2"    qty 2
      2. Center/bottom    28 1/2" x 21 1/2"    qty 2
      3. Inside verticals   11 1/4" x 21 1/2"    qty 2
      4. Top cleats          3"        x 28 1/2"     qty 2
      5. Back cleat          3"        x 28 1/2"     qty 1
      6. Corner cleats                                    qty 2
      7. Caster strips       3"        x 30"           qty 2

      Making Drawers:

      Before the cabinet design was completed, the drawer area vertical height was determined. Three drawer sizes were chosen, 3", 3" and 4" and spacing of 1/4" top and bottom with 3/8" between drawers. This gives the following vertical drawer height:  1/4+3+3/8+3+3/8+4+1/4 = 11 1/4".

      The next need is to determine the position of the 20" Euro slides in the cabinet.  Because of the way the drawers are made the side mount Euro slide are easier to mount. For simplicity the slides are mounting on the center of the drawer side plus 1/8" ( Note 1). Next we must determine the position of slides in the cabinet assuming 3,3, and 4 drawer size from the top.
      1. 3" drawer: 1/4 + 1 1/2 = 1 3/4"
      2. 3" drawer: 1 3/4 + 1 1/2 + 3/8 + 1 1/2 = 5 1/8"
      3. 4" drawer: 5 1/8 + 1 1/2 + 3/8 + 2 = 9"
       To facilitate the following steps, place the cabinet on its left side on the bench. So measuring from the top of the vertical space, the first slide is at 1 3/4", the second at 5 1/8" and the last at 9". Since the drawer front will be indented, i.e., flush with the cabinet sides, the slides will be set back from the front by 9/16". The slide position lines need to be drawn perpendicular to the front cabinet edge and then a line drawn indented by 9/16" parallel to the front edge. See picture below. If you are not sure of these calculations, then lay them out on a piece of paper or scrap wood, including the top and bottom of each drawer.

      To mount the slides, position a left side cabinet slide with the front on the 9/16" line and along the position line with the line centered in the screw holes. Using a nail or a 1/16" center punch make a starter hole centered in the first small screw hole. Press a flat head screw into the hole and screw in place. Do the same at the far end using a small hole. Two screws per slide should be sufficient. Repeat the above with the right side drawer slides.

      Drawers: 3", 3" and 4"

      Slide positioning lines.

      Left side Euro slides mounted.
      To mount a slide to a 3" drawer, measure 1 5/8" from the top of the drawer and draw a line the length of the drawer. Lay a slide, make sure you have the correct one, along the line with the front of the slide even with the drawer front. Screw it in place. Try the drawer in the top position. It should clear the top by 1/4". Repeat this process with the other drawers, except for the 4" drawer, draw the line at 2 1/8".. There should be a 3/8" clearance between drawers.

      Measure 1 5/8" from top of the 3" drawer both ends.

      Mark line on side of drawer.

      Making the Drawer Fronts:

      The following method works for both full extension and Euro slides.

      Step 1: From 1/2 (12 mm) plywood cut the front 1/4" smaller than the horizontal opening and 1/4" larger than the nominal drawer height. 

      Step 2: With a 1/8"R  round over bit dress the front edge of the drawer front. After filling any voids in the edge sand and seal the drawer front both sides. Then coat with polyurethane.

      Drawer front marked for handle.
      Step 3: Find vertical and horizontal of the drawer front and mark with pencil. Using center punch, mark position of handle holes. Then drill holes using a 3/16" brad pointed or dowel bit to prevent tearing around hole. 

      Front drilled for handle.
      Step 4: Clamp the drawer front to front part of the drawer. Use 1/8" spacers at bottom edge and center the front. Use a mini clamp to hold front in place will handle holes are drilled through. Insert handle screws from inside draw and fastened handle. If it was a wide drawer, 3/16" holes would be drilled through the front of the drawer at each end, then 3/4" #8 screws would be used to hold the drawer front in place. After that, drill and mount the handle. 

      Squeeze clamp holding drawer front in place with 1/8" spacer at bottom edge.
      Front positioned and ready to be drilled.
      Finished drawer front.
      Step 4: The method used above will not work for the top draw, so I use two small pieces of carpet tape on the front of the drawer. A spacer is used to space the drawer fronts. Set the drawer front at an angle on the spacer then tip the front forward until the tape is contacted. Clamp and drill handle holes.

      Using carpet tape. Note 1/8" spacers.
      BOM Drawers

          3" Drawer:
        1. Sides:          qty 2, 2 13/16" x 16" x 1/2"
        2. Front/Back: qty 2, 2 13/16" x 5 9/16" x 1/2"
        3. Bottom:       qty 1, 5 9/16" x 16" x 3/16"
          4" Drawer:
        1. Sides:     qty 2, 3 13/16" x 16" x 1/2"
        2. Front
        3. Bottom:
        1. 20" Side mount Euro Slides,  Liberty  D66320C-W-TS, HD
        2. Kreg 1" pocket screws
        3. Glue

         Material: 12mm (15/32") Blonde Plywood from Lowes or equivalent.

        For a small shop it is very handy to be able to move tool cabinets around. Casters have been added to most of the projects on this blog, but they all have a common failing, they move a little even if locked. The router cabinet with the router installed has a low center of gravity, so on this cabinet two rigid caster and two short legs have been used. Another choice would be to use two levelers in place of the legs. To move the cabinet simply lift the end with the legs off the floor and roll on the caster. I would worry about using this method on cabinets with a high center of gravity like with a bench drill press because lifting one end might tip the hole thing. The method may work with the miter cabinet.

        Legs and 2" rigid casters

        Legs cut from 1 1/2" poplar and mounted with a 5/16" x 3 1/2" lag bolt.


        The electric consists of a front mounted switch and an internal duplex outlet. The switch turns both the router and a vacuum on together. Initially, a wall type switch will be used, but will be replaced by the Grizzily switch shown below which is designed to mount on a standard electric box.

        Electric boxes to be mounted. Note bracket.

        Bracket for switch box.

        Switch mounted.

        Power cord dressed at back of drawer area.

        Duplex outlet and power cord.

        Switch that will mount in standard electric box as shown in above picture.