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Build a Deluxe Tool Storage Cabinet

Cabinet, Construction How-To, Storage, Tools February 9, 2010 admin

Set up the dado blade to make the grooves for the drawer bottoms and the cabinet back. I use pressure wheels to hold down the parts, however, a feather board will also work, just be careful, dado blades can be very dangerous.

1. Measure the precise thickness of the plywood for the bottoms of the drawers.

2. Set up the dado blade to make a groove that is just slightly wider than the thickness of the material.

3. Test the fit and make it so that it slides in but is not too loose.

4. Set the fence at 3/8” to the bottom of the groove.

5. Run all of the drawer parts across the dado with the inside facing down and the bottom edge to the fence.

Follow the same process to run the dado for the cabinet back.

Now that you have all of the dadoes done, it’s time to machine the cabinet side for the lock mechanism. On the inside of the right side of the cabinet, you need to make a groove 3/4” wide by 5/32” deep to receive the lock bar. Set up a dado blade 3/4” wide and run the groove all the way down the inside of the side 2-3/4” back from the front edge of the cabinet.

At this point all of the parts should be machined and ready to assemble except for the small cleat that we will attach later.

Assemble the Cabinet and Drawers

To assemble the cabinet you will need a hammer and a block of wood to protect the cabinet from damage while you pound in the dovetails. Put a small amount of glue in the joints and in the groove for the back, and start putting it together. Since it is a large set of dovetails, you will want to tap gently across the joints and gradually work it together until it is all flush.

You may also want to clamp the sides to hold them straight until the glue dries in the back (don’t squeeze the sides together so they bow inward or the drawers wont fit!). If the dovetails are tight, you shouldn’t need to clamp the joints together.

Once the cabinet is assembled, and you are confident it is accurate and square, go ahead and assemble all of the drawers. The lip front drawers need to be assembled carefully. Use a block of wood to support the side while tapping on the opposite side with another block of wood behind the lip fronts.

Install the Locks and Drawer Slides

Now you can start installing the lock mechanism and drawer slides. The lock mechanism is a SYS-100 gang lock from CompX Timberline and is available from by Western Dovetail. The Drawer slides I am using are the new Accuride Easy Close side-mounted slides, also available from by Western Dovetail.

  • Lay the cabinet on the bench and get out your framing square and a pencil.
  • Measure out the centerlines of the drawer slides as shown in the diagram:

  • Draw a line for the center of each slide.
  • Now that you know where the slides are going to be mounted, place the drawer lock strip into the groove and screw the retainers in to hold it in place.

  • Position the retainers so they do not interfere with the slides.
  • Disassemble each slide and lay the cabinet member on the inside of the cabinet side 1-1/2” back from the front edge of, the cabinet side.
  • Attach the slides to the inside of the cabinet sides by screwing them in according to the plan. Put the screws in the oblong holes to allow for adjustment later.

Install the slides.

  • Attach the other part of the slides to the drawers. If you follow the plan for the cabinet portion of the slides, then the centerline for the drawer portion of the slide will be 1-1/2” up from the, bottom edge. Again, use the oblong holes, so you can adjust the heights later. Use a spacer about 3/16” thick to set the distance behind the lip of the drawer to the slide so they all close at the same position.

Install the lock tabs.

Once the slides are all installed, the drawers should simply slide right in to the cabinet. The slides need to be reassembled carefully and usually need to be opened and closed gently a couple times before they will run smoothly. If things don’t line up perfectly, you can adjust the drawers by moving the slides up or down on the drawers and in and out of the cabinet. Once all of the drawers are adjusted to your satisfaction, you will want to add more screws to both the cabinet member and the drawer member to make sure they don’t come loose in the future.

The Cleat and the Key

The Cleat will fill the gap at the top of the cabinet and needs to hold the tumbler for the lock. Take the small cleat and drill the 5/8” (or 21/32” if you have one) hole for the lock, about an inch from the end, and pre-drill some countersunk holes through it to attach it to the cabinet. Once the drawers are in place, the cleat will need to be sized so there is 1/8” gap between the top of the top drawer and the bottom of the cleat. Screw the lock onto the cleat before installing it in the cabinet.

Lock mechanism

You will need to remove the drawers to install the cleat. Once you have the cleat installed, you need to add the lock-stops to the drawers, position the pins on the lock strip, and add the key plug to the lock mechanism. The lock-stops should mount about 1-1/2” from the back of the lip on the drawer, flush with the bottom edge of the drawer.

Lock stops.