'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros  

'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros
                                                                   "Where woodworkers are not all Pros"
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Last year, my youngest daughter began working at home for an accounting firm based on the east coast.  The position required that her home office be equipped in such a way that she could have three different computer monitors on her desk.  That turned out to be easy enough to accomplish but left her without any room for her printer (which was also required).

Her desk is made out of hard maple and had a style to it that she really liked.  She wanted to keep this desk at all costs but wanted a printer stand to match the desk.  That's where her Dad (Ol' Dave) comes into the picture.  I told her that I would attempt to make her a printer cabinet to match the overall height, depth and appearance of her desk.  The project described below is the build process description and photos of that cabinet project.

I began the project as I have always done by taking measurements of the height and depth of her desk and made the drawings on Autocad to work from.  She wanted the cabinet to have a slim top drawer to hold pencils, paper clips, stamps and all the other small office supply stuff that you will find in the typical office desk.  She also wanted the cabinet to hold printing paper and the main computer CPU tower.  So, I designed the cabinet to accomodate those requirements and still end up looking like the cabinet was part of the same office suite.

Maple panels after cutting to size.After I completed the drawings, I began to cut the panels required from 3/4" thick veneered maple plywood.  I started by cutting the top which was to be surrounded by 3 inch wide solid maple to give it a nice looking edge.  I then moved on to cutting the rest of the panels required. You can see a couple of these panels in the photo on the right as they lay on my table saw.

After the top panel was cut, I ripped some pieces of 3/4" thick hard maple down to 3" widths to make a solid edge completely around this top.  Working from my drawings, I made 45° cuts on the ends and used my buscuit cutter to make the slots in both the edges of the tops and in the surrounding pieces.  These pieces were then glued around the top panel and clamped into place.  See the photos below:
Cutting Biscuits In
Surrounding Top Pieces.
Cutting biscuit slots in surrounding top pieces.
Top Being Clamped
After Glue Up.
View of surrounding top pieces being clamped to top.

Routing beveled edges around the top.When I removed the top from the clamps, I took it to my router table to route a 3/8" bevel around all the edges.  This didn't exactly match the way her desk looked, but I thought it would keep the edges from chipping in the future.  When all was said and done, and the cabinet was placed next to her desk, it was not so much of a difference in appearance as to detract from the oveall look (see photo at the end of this project article).  The photo on the left side of the page shows this routing operation after setting the depth of the router bit.

After the top was completed, I moved on to cutting dados in the side panels to accomodate the panels that would separate the top drawer, shelf to hold print paper and the bottom (or floor) of the cabinet.  In the two photos below, you can see on the left, the side panels being marked where the dados would ultimately be cut.  And, in the right photo, the dados actually being cut to a 3/8" depth with the router.

Marking Dado Positions
Marking positions where dados were to be cut.
Cutting Dados In Side Panels
Cutting dados into the side panels.

Base cabinet after the glue up.The next step in this project was to dry fit the shelf and bottom panels into the side pieces to make sure that the pieces would all fit together nicely.  You can see the base cabinet with the shelving and bottom in place after dry fitting them in the photo here on the right side of the page.  After making sure they would fit,  I removed the shelves and bottom and layed the sides on my fancy assembly table to make pockets for mounting the top to the cabinet.  I completed this procedure then because it would have been impossible to do after the base cabinet was glued up.  After making the pocket holes, I reassembled the case sides and bottom and glued them in place. 

Upon completion of the main cabinet case, I moved on to cutting the parts for the face frame and sanded them to a final 220 grit finish.  I used solid 3/4" thick hard maple for making the face frame.  The left photo below shows the parts after they were cut to size and laying on my table saw.  The center photo shows how I clamped the pieces between two bench dogs at the end vice position of my work bench.  The right photo below shows a view of the pocket screw operation to assemble the face frame after sanding the pieces.  This is my favorite method of joinery for face frames in working with this type of cabinetry construction.

Face Frame Parts
View of face frame parts after cutting to size.
Sanding The Parts
How I held face fame parts to finish sand them.
Pocket Screw Operation
View of pocket screwing face frame parts.

Drilling pocket holes for mounting the top.Just a note for those of you who have followed this project so far...... As I mentioned above, I also used pocket screws to fasten the top to the case and drilled those pocket holes in the top of the side panels prior to their final assembly and glue up.  I don't have a photo showing the assembly process with the pocket screw holes in place and in the proper sequence in this project article, but I did take a photo showing the pockets being drilled in the top of those case panels in the photo on the left side of the page.

Wow!  At this point, I'm getting tired!  However, I proceeded next to mounting the face frame to the cabinet.  I used my biscuit cutter to make slots into the back side of the face frame and into the front edges of the base cabinet, shelves and the bottom panel.  (I again dry fitted the shelves into the cabinet to mark where the biscuit slots were to be cut and then removed the shelves to cut the slots). 
Clamped up frame assembly without shelving.After cutting the biscuit slots, I laid the top upside down on the assembly table and set the base cabinet upside down onto the case top.  This was done so that I could square up and mount the case to the top with the previously drilled pocket holes and screws.  This had to be done before mounting the shelving into the case because there would not be enough room to do it if the shelves were installed first (I learned this the hard way some time ago).  I then screwed the top to the base cabinet, glued the face frame into place and clamped it all up.  A photo of the clamped and glued up cabinet without the shelving can be seen in the photo on the right side of the page.

Clamped up frame assembly with shelving installed.
At this point, it was time to slide the shelving into the cabinet and using the biscuits again, I glued them into place.  I only glued the first 5 or 6 inches of the shelves in the dado groves (just behind the face frame) to insure that there would be some movement for them during expansion and contraction caused by humidity changes (I previously learned this the hard way, too).  You can see here on the photo on the left, what the assembly looked like after the glue up and with the clamping installed.

View showing clamped up drawer after glue up.The next step was to build the top drawer for the cabinet.  Again, I used 3/4" thick maple hardwood to make the drawer front, back and sides.  I used 1/4" thick veneered birch plywood that I had available for the drawer bottom.  I used half lap joints on the corners of the drawers and dadoed slots in the back and sides to accept the bottom piece.  The drawer front was designed to be wider than the drawer isself so that I could use side mounted full extension drawer slides.  The picture on the right side of the page shows what the drawer looked like prior to installing it in the cabinet.
The completed cabinet after clear coat finish.After mounting the drawer in the top of the cabinet, I made a 1/4" thick back for the case and cut a small opening at the lower rear section to accomodate cords going to the computer CPU.  I also finished off the cabinet by installing some molding just beneath the top (under the overhang) and around the bottom outside of the base to make the unit more attractive.  The picture on the left is what the whole thing looked like after applying a couple coats of clear urethane finish.
Thats about it!  I had a ton of fun doing this project and after finding a drawer handle that was not exactly like my daughter's desk, it was close enough not to be distracting.  Below is a photo of the finished cabinet sitting on the right side of her desk in the home office.  It turned out to be exactly the same height and depth as the desk (miracles never cease!)  Anyway, she loves it and I must say...... it does look fairly close to the color and style of her desk and is a welcome addition to her office.
Finished and in the office.
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