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Creative sawdust maker
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wood shop has spent the last couple years being used as an auto shop. During that time I managed to acquire a bunch of new tools. So I went through and tried to clean up my shop and found I don't have storage for all my tools anymore. (I know, it's a horrible problem to have.) I've decided that a mechanics style tool chest would work well for me. I don't need a high security chest so I don't need to spend $800 - $1300 for a name brand steel chest. I am thinking that I can build what I need with inexpensive sheet goods and some drawer slides. This will be an 11 drawer unit with one full width drawer. The smaller drawers will be ~15" wide. (Yeah, I'll just slap this together quick.)

I have done smaller projects in the past but haven't built any cabinets or drawers before. I tend to over engineer things and don't have a problem with that persay, but I don't know how over the top I am going here. The case Will be approximately 3'6" x 3' x 1'2" and I am thinking 3/4" ply or mdf. The goal with the drawers is to get the same kind of depth as the commercial chests have so the drawers have to be higher to accommodate the thicker building materials. The actual height of the chest hasn't been determined yet because I haven't fully sketched it out yet. I will try to do that with Sketchup, but haven't had much luck with that in the past.

For the drawers, I am thinking about the same material as the casing for the sides and maybe 1/2" for the bottoms. I figure they would be better build with full dados as opposed to just rabbiting the frame to fit them in. Full dados would give greater strength but require greater drawer height. The overall height increase doesn't bother me, I can make that work. Is 1/2" overkill for drawers I am using 100 lbs slides on? I originally considered using 1/8" hardboard but I don't think that would hold up to that kind of weight over time. I also assume (dangerous, I know) that I want the drawer to be 1/2" or so shorter (height) than the opening they will be going into in order to allow for fitting. For the record, I haven't decided on drawer fronts yet. If I use 1/2" ply for the bottoms I will probably use that for the fronts as well.

The whole unit will be painted inside and out to help protect the wood from oils and grease.

Any additional thoughts would be appreciated.
 

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Creative sawdust maker
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348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
More like this. Same idea, just a larger scale.


 

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Creative sawdust maker
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would go with 1/2" bottoms and sides for the drawers. The minimum difference between your openings and the drawer height depends on the guides your using.
I'll actually order the slides before I start building it. That way I can be sure of what I will have to allow for the slides.
 

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Go with a good quality ply. Maybe birch. Not mdf. Better durability. You don't want to rebuild it later
 

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About 15 years ago, when I was down on my luck and my wallet was really thin, I made a roll around tool chest that duplicated the Sears Tool Chest show here...


I used 3/4" Plywood for the case, that I found in an alley. Planed down pine from some old crates to 1/2" for the drawers and used 1/4" Tempered HardBoard ( this is the only lumber I bought) for the Drawer bottoms with a 1/2" piece of pine under the center of the drawer to add a bit of strength. I used oak runners for side slides (also from scrap pallets). I'll try and take some pics tonight and post em. Painted it Red and Black and used aluminum channel (had to buy this too) to make the drawer pulls. Everyone that sees it thinks it's a REAL one. I tell em It Is Real Home Made!!!! I bought some heavy duty casters from Harbor Freight. I think my total cost for the build was about $40 bucks.
 

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Creative sawdust maker
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Go with a good quality ply. Maybe birch. Not mdf. Better durability. You don't want to rebuild it later
I get the argument for ply over MDF, but for a painted unit what is the advantage of of a birch ply as opposed to an ADX? I could even see going with a CDX. This isn't going to be a show piece. It will be utilitarian and I am sure it will end up getting just a bit knocked around.

This is not a rhetorical question, I have not had a project worth spending money on expensive ply before so I haven't really researched it. I thought the difference was just in the outer layer which would be nice if you were doing something that required a really smooth or clear finish. Am I missing something here?
 

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ScottyB said:
I thought the difference was just in the outer layer which would be nice if you were doing something that required a really smooth or clear finish. Am I missing something here?
Its not just an aesthetic difference, hardwood ply is stronger, more durable and more weather resistant.
 

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Creative sawdust maker
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok, I was not aware that it was hardwood throughout. I thought it was just the outer veneer that was the hardwood. Given my budget constraints on this project I'm thinking a softwood ply will work for what I am doing.

I suppose I could also consider going with wood slides but I am concerned with how they will hold up over time and weight. The other drawback I see there is that I wouldn't be able to have full length opening drawers using would slides.
 

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Scotty,
I wouldn't use cdx for something like this. If you aren't going to use furniture grade plywood, then I would at least go for BC. It will be reasonably straight and halfway smooth if you're going to paint.
Mike Hawkins;)
 

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You weren't wrong about the core layers being different from the front and back. Used to be that when you ordered hardwood plywood lets say hickory that the entire board was made of hickory. Unfortunately now if you order hickory ply it usually has a cheaper hardwood for the inner layers or even a hard softwood like Douglas fir which while being a softwood is harder than a lot of hardwoods. And if its made overseas the core could be what ever happens to grow near the factory. But hardwood ply is more heavily treated with sealer and whatnot. Sry for the plywood 101 and I think if built well a softwood ply tool chest will still work great. And If you don't have a distributer you order from you can get K&V 100lb drawer guides on amazon for between $4-$8 a set depending on length.
 
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