Earlier this week, I built a quick-and-easy storage unit for all the accessories of my Work Sharp 3000 grinder. It is constructed from 13mm MR (moisture resistant) MDF; left over from a router table build back in 2008. There’s nothing particularly special about the construction -screws and lots of glue – but, I think you may be interested to see how I managed to do this without a table saw to dimension the components.
First, I took some rough measurements of all the bits and pieces I wanted to store and came up with a good size for the internal dimensions of the drawer. From this, I could work ‘backwards’ (outwards) to determine the overall dimensions of the carcase. I rough-cut some MDF with my handsaw, planed a straight, square edge by hand and then ran each through my bandsaw to get the finished width. Afterwards, I squared up all the ends roughly by hand (at the time of starting, my Makita mitre saw wasn’t set up and running).
A 6tpi blade left a pretty good finish; not that I was too bothered anyway, since this is for the workshop and most of the edges wouldn’t be seen once the unit is assembled.
Three edges on the top and base panels were rebated on the router table. This step isn’t entirely necessary but, as I’ve said before; I like to do this as it helps to locate the pieces together when you’re using screws. If the material was thicker, you could quite happily use biscuits or even dowels and clamp it all up. That didn’t take long to go together.
Next, came the most challenging part of this quick-build – the drawer construction!
Can you see the joins???
Routeing through my stacks of offcuts, I was struggling to find timber wide enough for the drawer sides. Plus, the length of ash I picked out for the front wasn’t the prettiest – not that matters here, of course. For almost two-years, I’ve had a load of European tulipwood (bought out of curiosity!) that I’ve struggled to use up. In my determination to get rid of some on this job then, I ran a couple of lengths through the bandsaw and planed them up to about 13mm thick. I then edge-jointed them in pairs to give the wider boards required for the sides and, once the glue had tried, I flattened them back through the thicknesser, finishing at 10mm thick. This was the first time I’d used Titebond II and the results were good. No visible glue-line and a strong joint (without biscuits). It seems to make more mess than regular white PVA, though.
I trimmed the front so it was a snug fit in the opening and then rebated both ends to the thickness of the sides. This is a method of ‘quick’ drawer construction I’ve been meaning to try for some time. It saves on all the work and stress of hand-cutting dovetails or building a jig to make finger or ‘box’ joints. I’ve seen others make these rebated joints look rather attractive on their furniture, with the addition of contrasting dowels. I did add some dowels to mine but, we’ll get to that later!!…
Drawer fronts usually require a groove to take the base board and I cut mine on the router table using a ¼in slot cutter to take a 6mm ply base. If only I’d set the cutter height correctly first time – I accidentally set it at 10mm to the top of the cutter instead of below! As a quick-fix, I glued two strips of ash in to place and re-cut the groove at the right height (I didn’t have one single length long enough to fill the groove).
To attach the back, I again wanted something that was quick and easy. With my new Makita sliding mitre saw in position, I cut a shallow groove in to each side. With a bit of care, creeping up on my marked lines, I was able to get a very snug fit. I would’ve preferred to use the router table but, that would’ve meant building some kind of cross-cutting jig, which I don’t already have.
So, the drawer was clamped up, again with Titebond II. Once dry, I reinforced the rebated lap joints with 6mm hardwood dowels. When it came to planing the sides down later so the drawer would slide nicely in to the opening, I discovered this method of drawer construction wasn’t quite as sturdy as I had hoped… Maybe I should’ve left the drawer alone for the glue to cure properly but, as my Jack plane dug in, it forced the joints apart in my vice! With some fresh glue and an extra twenty-four hours’ drying time though, this drawer appears to have been saved!
One pair of oak slips were rebated on the router table and tenonned in to the groove cut on the inside face of the front. They’ll provide a greater wearing surface than the sides of the drawers and it also gives the base somewhere to locate (10mm sides are generally too thin for groove-cutting).
One last touch I almost forgot was to cut out a hand-pull shape in the drawer front so I could actually open the thing! I didn’t want any protruding knobs or handles. My under-used jigsaw came to the rescue, here – you know, it’s funny… Since buying that big bandsaw, I’ve found myself reaching for the jigsaw more often than I ever have previously. It’s partly because I’m paranoid about frequently running a machine that draws 14.6amps on startup; but also, it is more convenient sometimes and does mean I have to change the blades over slightly less often.
Well, it’s fairly to say that didn’t go quite as quickly or smoothly as I had hoped but, the important thing to remember is that it works; I know have somewhere dedicated to the storage of Work Sharp accessories. To tell you the truth, it’s a bit of a squeeze to get it all in with all the spare discs I bought recently. Another added bonus is that all this adds weight and stability to the grinder, which is otherwise very ‘lightweight’, when compared with your average sharpening machine. I may look to store the leather stropping wheel elsewhere – it was a freebie with the package I bought just after Christmas but, I don’t think it’s something I’m likely to use. If only I had made the unit slightly shorter, as it won’t fit in its intended space below my workbench!! For now then, it’ll live below the lathe.
Thanks for reading.