Festool Owners Group

GENERAL DISCUSSIONS => Member Projects => Topic started by: derekcohen on December 06, 2020, 11:06 AM

Title: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on December 06, 2020, 11:06 AM
I decided to add a cabinet to my work bench. There are just too many tools on the wall, and many would be better off stored in drawers where I can reach for them when needed.

Please feel free to post your underbench cabinets here. I do not recall a thread on this topic.


The cabinet will span as wide and high as it can go without being impeded by either hold downs or the sliding deadman.

The cabinet is deep - too deep for drawers. The plan is that the drawers will not be full length deep internally, but have full length sides through to the rear to create a full extension when siding out. Internally, it has been my plan to use siding trays within the drawers ... fewer drawers externally, but more drawer space internally.

This tool cabinet is inspired by the North Bennet Street School version (a well-known woodworking school in Boston). The tool cabinet is one of their training pieces. One became an article by Tommy MacDonald in PW magazine.

Tommy's tool cabinet ..


Mine will be a little larger, more drawers, and a more complex construction involving mitred through dovetails ...


Dimensions: 660mm x 400mm x 400mm (26" x 15 3/4" x 15 3/4").

Small drawers: 205mm x 70mm (8" x 2 3/4")
Large drawers: 305mm x 95" (12" x 3 3/4")

Merbau is definitely going to add some weight to the bench! The case being dovetailed.


Well, this is about the fourth mitred through dovetail case I've built in about 18 months. I must be getting the hang of it now, since this was straight off the saw. No tweaking needed. Merbau is hard and has no give at all ...



The Merbau comes as a panel from Bunnings, a local hardware store. This is shop furniture and I make no excuses for taking a shortcut. The 18mm thick panels are flat and ready to go. Literally all I have done is cut them to size.


The penalty is that the wood is bloody hard!

The drawer fronts will be Jarrah. I intend staining the Merbau case to match the drawer fronts.

Just to prove to myself that it was no fluke, it happened again ...



I continued on until all four sides were dovetailed. Through dovetails with mitres at each corner. And every one went together off the saw ... well, almost - one mitre required a smidgeon of a mm pared away to close tightly. All tight and square. I am quite chuffed.


The difficult part is to get the mitres to close along with the sockets ...



Inside the bench ...



Regards from Perth


Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: rmhinden on December 06, 2020, 02:09 PM

Very nice, as always.

First time I had seen the word "chuffed", had to look it up.  I like it!

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on December 07, 2020, 12:14 PM
Time to use the slider. THIS is what the parallel guide on the slider can do. It is like a Fritz & Franz jig on steroids ...

With the case done, the next step is to prepare the boards for the drawer blades/frames. I have found a chunk of Jarrah, about 50mm thick and 180mm wide and about 950mm long. This needs to be sliced up into 50mm wide boards (which will be further reduced to 12mm thick drawer blades.

Place the board against the parallel guide ...


... and rip one side to 50mm ...


Now rip the second length ...



.. and the third. How safe is a slider? This is where one stands - well away from any possible kickback (which does not occur on a slider, anyway. And the hands are no where near the blade ...


How good are the saw cuts? Good enough to joint with, and not require a jointer for the edges.

Here is the board ...


Close up ...


But ...



Regards from Perth


Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on December 18, 2020, 11:14 AM
The Rebate

A rebate can be made with a handheld router, router table, table saw, a handsaw and chisel, and a hand plane such as a moving fillister. My preference is the latter.

What can be more simple than a fillister plane along an edge? Well, the plane needs to be set up, especially when planing interlocked grain, as we have here. And before this can take place, the case needs to be prepared if the desired result is an accurate - flush and square - rebate.

The first step is to level and square the front and back edges of the case. My plane of choice here is a small bevel up plane with a high cutting angle. It is low like a block plane for easy handling, which is helpful when the case is high on the bench ...


The case is 18mm (3/4") thick. The rebate will be 7mm deep x 12mm wide. This will allow for a 6mm thick rear panel.

The cabinet will have four rows of drawers, with the lowermost row running on the bottom of the case. It is important that this surface is perfectly flat in order that the drawers run smoothly.  The boards making up the sides were flat out of the packaging. Certainly flat enough for a case, but not quite flat enough for drawers to run on with the level of precision desired here. They need further work ...

The case is pulled apart, and the lower panel is traversed. Note that the surface is first covered in pencil scribble to monitor where the high- and low points are ...


A straight edge and a longer plane are used here ...


The blade here is slightly cambered to avoid leaving track lines. A very light surfacing is completed with a smoother, more to remove any fuzz than to level ...


The moving fillister of choice is the Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane ...


Those familiar with this plane will note that the front knob has been removed. My preference is to rest my thumb on that spot and apply downforce, while the palm applies force against the side of the plane. Here is an example from another build ...


This fillister has a deeper subfence. The depth stop knob has also been slotted for ensure that it has been tightened securely ...


The plane is generally only set up to slice with the knicker ahead of the blade when planing across the grain. However, the Merbau used here has especially interlocked grain, and the nicker it employed to prevent spelching on the shoulders.


Here, the nicker is a smidgeon outside the body of the plane. The skewed blade lies in-line with the nicker. This has another purpose, which is to cut into the lower corner of the rebate and keep it clean and square. Otherwise it would allow waste to build there, and the inside would create a slope.

In addition to the line created by the nicker, a cutting gauge is run along the rebate boundary. This may be used after or during the rebate is cut to clean out the inside corner.

One last item of preparation is, following marking out the rebate (again with a cutting gauge), the lower boundary line is highlighted with blue painter's tape. This is simply to aid in monitoring the plane as it gets close to the line.

This is what the shavings from fairly straight-grained wood looks like ...


This is the result when the grain is significantly interlocked ...


The case is dovetailed with mitres at each corner. There are two benefits for this: the first is aesthetic; the second is that it permits the panels to be rebated through the full length (otherwise stopped rebates are needed) ...


Here is a better glimpse of the grain direction ...


The case back is done ...


The finish we were looking for ...


Regards from Perth

Title: Dados
Post by: derekcohen on December 20, 2020, 11:18 AM
The case is a dry fit. Above the case is the outlay of the drawer blades for the drawers. Inside the case is the template (story stick) made to mark out the dados. The dados will be 12mm wide and 6mm deep ...


The template is alternated for each side, which ensures that they are marked at exactly the same position ..


The knife lines are deepened and undercut with a chisel to create a wall for a saw ..


A straight edge is clamped along the knife line, and a kerf is created with an azebiki saw ...


The waste can then be removed with a router plane ...


Why do it this way, and not use a power router or tablesaw? I believe that I can be more precise with hand tools. This includes the positioning and fine tuning of the dados.

The router plane's depth stop is set to 5mm, and this is reached incrementally ...


The final 1mm cut (to a depth of 6mm) is made by a smaller router plane ..


The reason for this is that, as with a smoother, which follows the undulations of a panel and removes the least about of material, so this small router plane will create an even depth.

The depth is checked ...


Any waste in the corners is removed with a side rebate plane (this is one from Veritas). be careful not to remove waste from the upper edge as this will change the position of the dado. The side rebate plane is the only plane which can plane along the inside edge of a dado or groove. It is used to increase the width of the dado - but if doing this, only remove waste from the upper edge side of the dado.


Test the fit as you go ...


Once done ...


... the surfaces are sanded to 240 grit. This is an original (!) Festool sander, when it was still "Festo"! I have had this about 25 years. Heavy, but works well for this task.


A final test for the accuracy is to align the sides ...


... and then run a drawer blade across both dados ...


Time to glue up :)

Regards from Perth


Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: neilc on December 20, 2020, 07:21 PM
Great progress photos, Derek.  Thank you. 
Title: Glueing Up
Post by: derekcohen on December 21, 2020, 10:39 AM
I don't know about you, but I face glueing up with mixed feelings. On the positive side, it is great to have reached a milestone. But then the fears creep in .. will it come together like the dry fit ... what if I get something upside down ... yeah, you know I have done this!

I get everything ready ... glue (Titemark Liquid Hide Glue) and spatula ... clamps ... mallet ... wet rag ...


The bench is wiped down and covered in old newspapers ...


Both pin boards receive a generous amount of glue at the same time (all surfaces) ...


No glue is added to the tail board, with the exception of the mitres.


The two pin boards are inserted into the mutual tail board, and then the exposed pins receive their glue ...


Lastly, the remaining tail board is attached, and all corners are hammered down ...


Any glue spills and runs are immediately removed with a wet rag. I have not had a problem with finish doing it this way. I am more concerned that dry glue will act as a barrier to stain or finish, and that removing it will damage the surface.


The case is now clamped. Happily, all is square and no adjustments are needed.


Once dry, the case is checked for square once again. It is necessary to hold one's breath at this point.

All is square ...


... and in all directions ...


Continue breathing.

Time to flatten the outside of the case. The choice of smoother is an HNT Gordon with a 60 degree cutting angle. This low plane will make it easier to plane with the case high on the bench, and it can be pulled for extra leverage ..


Perhaps sacrilegiously for some, the case is now sanded (80/120/240 grits) as the plan is to stain the wood to match the Jarrah drawer fronts.


And then we are done ...


... and ready for the drawer blades.

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: Alex on December 21, 2020, 04:05 PM
Grmbl, I'm trying to read here, but you keep putting dead trees on top.  [tongue] [smile]
Title: Adding colour
Post by: derekcohen on December 27, 2020, 11:30 AM
We left off with the dados for the drawer blades made and the case glued up ...


The plan was to make the drawer blades, partially fit them, add the drawer dividers, and complete the fitting. Then Christmas came along ...

Measuring the drawer blades had been done. First, a pinch stick obtains the width from inside the dado, and then a template is made with scrap ...


Set the template on the slider ...


... and cut to size the front- and rear rails ...


That was just before Christmas ...


Returning today, I thought that it wouldn't hurt to stain the Merbau case to match the Jarrah rails and drawer fronts. By the way, Merbau is also known as Kwila.

As mentioned at the start, the reason for choosing Merbau for this cabinet was simply that it was cheap and already available as a panel. This came with a cost, in that it is not the nicest wood to work with - interlocked and coarse grained. Plus, of course, it is light in colour. The result needs to blend with the Jarrah bench.


The first step was to use a grain filler on the outside and inside of the case. The surfaces had already been sanded to 240 grit.


The first two coats of the stain were initially mixed with a little methylated spirit, and the concentration increased for two further coats ...


With a few loose rails ...



Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: jobsworth on December 27, 2020, 12:46 PM
Very nice work. Its gonna be beautiful when yer done
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on December 30, 2020, 09:07 AM
We left off with the case complete, dados ready for the drawer blades, and the parts semi-prepared ...


With 10 drawers in 4 rows, there are a goodly number of joints to make for the drawer blades. Typically, these are made with mortice-and-tenon joinery, which has been my method to date. Today I decided to do something different .. use a Festool Domino. I purchased this four years ago to aid in building a multitude of frame-and-panel doors for our kitchen. It did a great job, and then it was retired to a shelf.

The rails for the drawer blades are all 45mm wide x 12mm thick. I used a 6mm x 40mm domino for each join. This is not the dimensions I would have used with M&T, where one tends to follow the 1/3 Rule. A centred 6mm domino leaves 3mm on each side ....


I was concerned whether this would create a stiff and rigid join, and made a couple of test pieces. No problem at all.

Not having any dedicated Domino hold downs, my bench did a sterling job ...



Flush the joins (not that there was much to flush) ...


Done x 3  ...


Time to fit these. Sliding them in to the ends of the dados ...


These is a large gap to the front of the case ...


My design calls for a 6mm set back for the drawer fronts. To ensure that this is even around the circumference, this is marked off with the help of blue tape (I really need to take out shares in this product) ...



The last step is to rebate the drawer fronts to move them forward in the dados.

The base is scored with a knife (note that the frames are a tight fit in the dados) ...


A cutting gauge is set to the line ...


Blue tape helps outline the rebate for old eyes. Note that the short side is sawn first. This is to prevent the long sawcut slitting off as the offcut is end grain and weak.


The cautious will sawn away from the line, and finish by paring with a chisel. I really do not fancy much paring in this really hard Jarrah, and decided to just saw to the line. The saw gods were smiling on me today ...


Now the drawer blades can be moved forward into their final position ..



The next step - for next time - is to begin the sliding dovetail drawer dividers.

Regards from Perth

Derek (https://postimages.org/)
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: Svar on December 30, 2020, 01:10 PM
This is an interesting development where we discover that Derek not only uses power sander  [eek], but also Domino [scared]!
What do your planes, scrapers, and chisels say about it?  [poke]
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: HarveyWildes on December 30, 2020, 01:29 PM
This is an interesting development where we discover that Derek not only uses power sander  [eek] , but also Domino [scared] !
What do your planes, scrapers, and chisels say about it?  [poke]

Hah! They laugh because they know that this is just shop furniture :) .

Seriously, I just found this thread, and it's very nice.  Once again I'm inspired by your work!
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on December 30, 2020, 07:33 PM
This is an interesting development where we discover that Derek not only uses power sander  [eek], but also Domino [scared]!
What do your planes, scrapers, and chisels say about it?  [poke]

The chisels are not speaking to me at this time!  [big grin] I received a new chisel in the mail yesterday, a 6mm Kiyohisa. These are no longer made, and I seek them out whenever I can find one at a reasonable price (rarely available under $300 each). I used the 6mm with the sliding dovetails, which have begun, and now the Domino is sulking. You cannot win!  [unsure]

Some are surprised when I pull out power tools, but I have been a power tool, and machinery, user for decades. I have some pretty nice power tools ... including a Mirka Ceros ROS which is my usual go-to. It is just that hand tools are more satisfying to use, and in certain cases they are more precise in their results.

Regards from Perth

Title: Preparing for the drawer dividers
Post by: derekcohen on January 01, 2021, 12:00 PM
After making dados, and drawer blades, and then fitting them, comes the vertical drawer dividers. I consider that these are the make-and-break of a chest of drawers. It is tough to get a case square. It is tough to get the the dados positioned correctly. The drawer blades are simple. But then comes the dividers ...

Drawer dividers are needed when there are more than a single drawer in each row. In this cabinet, there are two rows of three drawers and two rows of two drawers. Care in aligning the dividers at the front and rear is necessary to ensure the drawer case is parallel and square if the drawers are to run smoothly.

It is easy enough to attach the dividers with dados. However, this is a less-strong design than attaching them with sliding dovetails. Building sliding dovetails is more complex, but the advantage here is that they tie the drawer blades to the case, making the case more rigid. That is a good thing, especially for a tool cabinet.

This article is about the preparations for the dividers, and the next article will be making them - there are too many photos for a single article.

Issue: drawer blades flex and bow. Accurate marking out needs a stable foundation.

The first step is to make spacers to keep the height even. Start with the ends ...


.. and then move them into the centre ...


The second task is to make templates for spacing out the drawer dividers, similar to the heights for the dados ...


Later, I made these thicker so that they could also aid in ensuring that the dividers were plumb when marking out.


Lastly, for now, the drawer dividers were cut ...


The dovetails will be 3mm deep at each end ...



Onward to the dovetailing .... :)

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 02, 2021, 11:49 AM
Part 2

This is the front elevation of the cabinet ...


I decided to work on the rear of the chest first .. so I could get in some practice and make my mistakes where they will not be seen!

Much preparation has gone into accurately positioning and marking the sliding dovetail parts for each divider. This was described in the previous post ...


Sliding Dovetail Tails

It is a good place to start. All the dividers are cut to size. These are each 12mm wide x 45mm deep. The heights vary per row, but there are essentially two drawer heights.

The tails will be 3mm deep as the drawer blades are 12mm thick, and two sockets take up 6mm of this.


This is the work area and tools ...


There is a bench hook for a dozuki, a Stanley #79 side rebate plane converted into a plane for dovetailing, a cutting gauge, a knife and a wide chisel.

The aim is to make dividers like these ...


Begin by marking the shoulders of the dovetails ...


Ensure these lines are deep. Score them with a knife.

Pencil in the cheeks ...


The pencil is going to act as a "depth gauge" when dovetailing.

The Stanley #79 was originally designed to take a slither off the inside of a groove or a dado. I have modified this one by adding an angle (6:1 ratio) to the depth stop ...


By running the #79 along the edge, the angled blade will now slice away the cheek at a 6:1 ratio ...


Look carefully at the beginning of the cheek for a sliver of pencil. This shows what has not been cut to the edge ...


Just work that area. One slice is enough. Done ....


The drawer blade is 45mm wide, of which 20mm contains a tenon from the mortice-and-tenon joint (created with a Domino). The dovetail socket must remain clear of this, and therefore the maximum length of the Tail is 25mm.

The 20mm waste is removed with the dozuki ...


Result ..



Positioning and marking out the sockets is a aided by a template and blue tape (it would otherwise be impossible to see anything this small in dark wood).


Time for just one example. I have chosen the more difficult dovetailing into the case. From the rear it is possible to excavate into the case, itself. (This is not possible at the front, and blind sockets will be made there).

The divider is positioned with all drawer blades inserted - the drawer blades will be removed once the marking out is complete to permit room to work ... there is a lot of removing and replacing throughout!


The tails are marked ...


The boundary lines are scored ...


It is important that the lines are scored from the inside of the square, otherwise they will be in danger of moving to the wrong side.

Similarly, when positioning a sawing guide (also 6:1 angle), ensure that the saw is inside the cut line ...



One added advantage of using the saw guide is that accuracy of marking the tails is not critical. The tails are cut at 6:1, and the saw guide just needs the apex of the tails to be marked accurately.

Sawing with the dozuki leaves a triangle of waste at the far end. The kerf can be extended using a razor saw ...


With the sidewall cut, zip out most of the waste with a paring chisel ...


Finish to the desired depth with either a router plane ...


... or the wheel gauge ....


Here is the rear of the case with all the dividers completed ...



The result is a very solid lattice of drawer blades and dividers. Rock solid!

Work has now begun on the front drawer dividers ...


Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: Tinker on January 02, 2021, 01:28 PM
whenever I see your name attached to a thread,I know I am going to get a great read and an education. You aways come thru to expectations.
Thank you
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: Svar on January 02, 2021, 02:16 PM
Why only two narrow dividers to position and guide the drawer? If the drawer skews sideways when closing it'll hit the back divider.
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 02, 2021, 07:54 PM
Hi Svar

There will be a rail connecting the two dividers. These are installed once the dividers are done.

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 03, 2021, 11:52 AM
A blind sliding dovetail

This is the front of the cabinet, with all the vertical dividers to install.


The single lower- and the two dividers need to be fitted into a sliding dovetail ... however, unlike the dividers at the rear, this must be from inside the case. In other words, a blind sliding dovetail.

This post will show the steps taken for the lowermost, central divider.


This could not be done without the aid of blue tape. This is used to mark the apex of the tail ...


This is how the tail will be positioned. Below is where the pin socket has to be cut ...


A line is scribed at the two apex points, and the dovetailing guide is placed against it ...


Very carefully, using the dozuki, saw about 5mm from the boundary line. Be careful not to get closer than this. Saw marks must not show outside the dividers.


Do the other side ...


Swing the case around and work from the other side. Use the razor saw to cut up to the boundary line ...


Now chop out (shallowly) the trench/dovetail in the same way one would do a hinge mortice ...


Finish and level the surface to a depth of 3mm (the height of the tails) with a router plane ...


The result ...


What is difficult to see here is that the trench is fractionally wider in the rear half to allow the tail section to enter, and then slide along.

Unlike the internal tail sections, those used in the blind dovetails require a small beauty rebate ...


The divider slides along into position ...


Why do we go to all this trouble to use sliding dovetails? Well, this is how strong they are ... one hand attempting to lift the case ... neither are budging.


Incidentally, I was asked "how does the drawer run between two dividers?". Well, of course it does not - all will have a rail to guide the drawer ...


One the lowermost divider is in, the one above it can be marked ...


Progress to date ...


Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: neilc on January 04, 2021, 02:57 PM
Nice work Derek!

Curious where you have one divider above the other why you would not just use mortises.  The drawers are small and I'd think you are most interested in sticking of a drawer from the weight of the one above.

Appreciate the process photos.

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 04, 2021, 09:09 PM
Thanks for the kind words, Neil.

The reason to use sliding dovetails on the outer dividers is to create unity and strength, as you realize. It is not critical for the inner dividers to be dovetailed. I do so for uniformity ... and pride of workmanship. Every time I stand at the bench and reach for a tool, I want to feel that I did not wimp out when building the cabinet. Pride can be a terrible thing. Here, it made me go the extra length and mitre the ends of the case. It made me aim for frames for blades rather than the easier solid option. And there is more to come ..   [cool]

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 05, 2021, 11:09 AM
Progress report ...

I am pleased to get to this stage, with everything still square ....

... 24 sliding dovetails done.

Only a dry fit - now to glue it together ..



Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: CeeJay on January 05, 2021, 04:46 PM
Looks great Derek. Well done!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 05, 2021, 08:04 PM
Thanks CeeJay

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 07, 2021, 11:50 AM
It seems so straight forward: build the case, insert drawer frames and dividers, and build the drawers.

Each step actually requires planning ahead. The devil lies is in the details. These are some of the details we take for granted ...

Step one is to plane the fronts of the rails and dividers, and fill in any chips with tinted epoxy.

Even gluing up requires a strategy when the case includes blind sliding dovetails: glue these first.

The benefit of liquid hide glue is extended open time and repairability. I hope that I do not have to make any repairs, but I could do with the open time as it is 40° Celsius today (that's 104° Fahrenheit). I like a small spatula for placing glue where it needs to go.


Glue the first set of blind sliding dovetails, and then the other set ...


Finally glue in the other dividers ...


Lastly, add the drawer guides. These are just glued in. The spring clamps centre them.


Once all this is dry, we start to prepare the drawer cases. Each one of these needs to be square at the sides and parallel all the way through.

The planes I find helpful are these: a rebate jack, a rebate block plane, and a low shoulder plane ...


For each drawer case there is a drawer-sized insert, generally of MDF or ply. A couple of cross lines aids in determining whether the drawer will be square to the sides.

The "drawer" here does not enter more than an inch or so ...


A straight edge along the side reveals that there is a bow ...


The block plane takes this down ..


... tested with the insert. Looking better ...


A little more planing ... and the insert moves tightly, but smoothly all the way back-and-forth ...


Every drawer case is dealt with this way ...

Square edge ..


Planing ..


Square and insert ...



Square and parallel and square ...


Every drawer case is tuned this way.

Now we are almost ready to make drawers :)

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 15, 2021, 12:01 AM
This chapter follows on from "Before the Drawers", in which I ended stating, "Now we are one step away from making drawers". And now this chapter is that penultimate step ...

I need to explain some of the (as I feel) pedantic details I have been outlining. Firstly, I write this for those who are starting out and those who are seeking ways to increase their accuracy. The steps may not be new to some, but we all like to be reassured that others also find them necessary.

Secondly, I am going to introduce a fixture I built that increases not only accuracy, but speeds up a section of the work. This is the first time I have had a chance to try it in a furniture build.

So what do we need to do today? Well, we need to cut the drawer parts (minus the drawer bottoms) to build the drawers  :)

I spent time selecting the wood for the drawer sides and drawer front-and-back. The sides were jointed and thicknessed by machine, and then stickered for a few days ...


The drawer sides are to be 7mm thick, which is more typical of the drawers I build for furniture than a tool cabinet, however the drawers will each house a tray - some sliding and some cantilevered - which effectively doubles the thickness. My aim is to be sturdy but also save space (since the tool cabinet is on the small side, as it must fit under the work bench).

The drawer front is 18mm. The drawer back is 12mm.

For reference, mentioned at the start of the build, the dimensions are:

Dimensions: 660mm x 400mm x 400mm (26" x 15 3/4" x 15 3/4").

Small drawers: 205mm x 70mm (8" x 2 3/4")

Large drawers: 305mm x 95" (12" x 3 3/4")


Time was taken to select the wood for the drawer fronts.

The issue here is that I was not after figure, but constancy of grain and colour (although a little tinting could be done with a latter). Lots of combinations tried ...


Now to the fixture. Actually, there are two fixtures.

I recently posted a design for a Parallel Guide for a slider table saw (mine is a Hammer K3). This article is here: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Powered%20Tools%20and%20Machinery/ParallelGuideForK3Slider.html


The other design I posted was for a Micro Adjust for the crosscut fence: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Powered%20Tools%20and%20Machinery/CrosscutFenceMicroAdjust.html


These new addictions made sizing the drawer fronts and backs much easier, and quicker.

Generally, I would rip a board to rough size for the drawer front (and back, since they must be an exact copy of each other), and then fine tune it with a shooting board and hand planes. Well, these tools continue to be used, but I can get pretty close to final dimensions on the slider alone. The parallel guide replaces a rip fence, and it is both safer to use as well as leaving a cleaner finish than off a table saw rip fence.

Here is the crosscut fence cutting the width of a drawer front ...


With the use of the Micro Adjuster, it is possible to sneak up on the width and "shoot" it with the table saw, to such fine tolerances only previously capable on a shooting board ...


Minute adjustments can be made to the cut, with the aim of a tight fit side-to-side.

Once the drawer front is done, it is a simple matter to cut the drawer back using the same setting ..


Now is the time to rip the height if the drawers fronts and backs (although the drawer backs will receive further shaping at the time of drawer making). This is a test cut. It needs to be repeated for each line of drawers, and checked for each drawer ..


As mentioned earlier, the aim is a tight fit throughout ...


Once all are done, comes the time to tune each. The main tool use for the upper edge is a shooting board ...


Ensure one side fits smoothly ...


... and the other ...


The ends need some tuning as well. This is to remove a smidgeon here-and-there, to ease a section where the sides may be touching or even jamming. It may require a shaving, or just dust. The tool of choice here is a block plane.


My aim here is a smooth fit - not loose but not tight: at the end, after the dovetailing is done and the sides are glued together, I want the drawer to dry in the drawer case. Therefore, it needs to be able to fit. I expect to do a little tuning still, but the aim now is to prepare for this fit.

The drawer back needs to be tuned up identically to the drawer front - the smidgeon "here-and-there" included. So, clamp the parts together ...


I prefer a sharp, wide chisel to pare away the excess waste from the drawer back ...


This leaves the fronts and backs ready, so ...


The last task is to saw the drawer sides. This is made a quick job by the parallel guide, and using the drawer fronts as a template.

Once side of a drawer front will dimension the height of that drawer side ...


Rip it ...


Test the fit in the drawer case. Any tight spots can be removed with a shooting board or block plane. This is what we are after ...


... and eventually ...


Now we are ready to start dovetailing. :)

Regards from Perth


Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: CeeJay on January 15, 2021, 12:45 AM
Beautifully detailed and helpful Derek. You are an artist.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: hdv on January 15, 2021, 12:00 PM
The detail with which you describe the journey to the finished product is much appreciated. I always learn a lot from reading your posts, precisely because of those details and your habit of describing the reasoning behind the choices made! To me there's no way that could be interpreted as pedantic! Not only that, but it is very entertaining to read these post too.  [thumbs up]
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 16, 2021, 09:16 PM
Dovetailing for Blood

Bill and I have been discussing drawer-making. We have different approaches since our target audience is a different group. Bill is better aligned with production work, aiming to build a drawer as quickly as possible. He is less concerned with aesthetics (although his work always looks exceptionally good) and more focussed on finding shortcuts to increase speedier construction. My work is aimed at being the best I can, with a focus on traditional construction completed to as near perfection as I can muster (which sounds grander in words than in practice!).

I argue that my drawer-making is quite speedy. The speed comes from minimising unnecessary tasks by planning ahead. This is not immediately apparent in that I use techniques that appear to add extra work. In actual effect, they reduce errors and thereby reduce the time required to tune or repair joinery. My aim is to get it as right as possible - immediately. One example if this is that I do not check whether the drawer is square after glue up ... because the drawer will dry in the drawer case, and so fitting the drawer case is what is important.

Now the issue about fitting the drawer case is that this is only possible if the dovetailing is a flush fit, and ready to go into the drawer case. It is expected to be a tightish fit, which will need to receive just a small amount of final tuning. The level of expertise involved here is not really that high; it is more about the approach. I believe anyone can do the same, and this is the motivation to write this chapter. I am sure that Bill will likely do the same ... I look forward to learning from his approach, adding technique to my own.

The discussion started when Bill questioned why I had cut all the drawer parts (sans the drawer bottom) for this cabinet ...


Bill makes one drawer at a time. He does this as he is concerned the wood will move .. warp or twist .. if it is allowed to rest. My argument is that speed comes from massed repetition: returning to saw all the parts separately is slow. I do not fear the drawer sides moving as I use quarter sawn timber for drawer sides, which is very stable. The wood here is Tasmanian Oak (which is actually an Australian Eucalyptus).

The drawer-making process is divided into three stages: first comes the (half-blind) dovetailing of the sides to the front. The groove or slips for the drawer bottom is added later.

Secondly, the drawer back is (through) dovetailed to the sides. This relies on the height of the groove, and the reason it is completed later and not up front.

Thirdly, the drawer bottom is made and inserted.

What I wish to demonstrate here is the first stage: dovetailing the front to the sides.

Here are the parts. The Tassie Oak sides are 1/4” (6.35mm) thick and the Jarrah front is 3/4” (18mm).


The inside face of the drawer sides is planed to remove any machine marks ...


We will cut Tails First, so mark the tail board ...


To speed marking of the tails, a template (or story stick) is made. This will set out the tails for the top two rows, six drawers in all.


The tails are sawn. Note that there is a line of blue tape to help my aging eyes know when to stop cutting!


An important step is to undercut the baselines. This will increase accuracy when paring ...


Fretsaw the waste as close to the baseline as possible. I generally leave about 1mm ...


Saw away the half sockets at each side, as usual. But now possible to set the chisel in the chisel wall and use a single down stroke to sever all the waste in the internal sockets, leaving the tail board done.

Mark the web on the drawer front. For 18-19mm drawer fronts, I keep make this 5mm wide.


Once again, to aid visibility, blue tape is applied to underline the baseline ...


... and the pins. Here it extends to the web line ...


This next bit is extremely important, and can make-or-break the final result. The tails are transferred to the pin board. A single bevel knife is preferred. This will hug the wall of the socket, and slice the tape in a single stroke.

Secondly, the tail board is held firmly by a clamp, and is positioned squarely using a combination square. The square is placed along the reference edge, which is the lower edge of the drawer side. This will switch when the other side is marked out. The importance of this technique cannot be overstated: a squared joint is a prerequisite for a perfect fit. Anything that is not square will require planing, and a lot more tuning.


Below is the result of sawing to the line (is the sawing is more accurate than the dropped lines :)  In practice, the dropped lines are unnecessary if you have a decent sense of plumb) ....


Another time saver comes in the form of deepening the kerfs. This is my version of Tage Frid’s scraper method, a “kerfing chisel”.


With the kerfs deepened, remove all the blue tape, and deepen the base lines ...


Undercut the baselines to create a chisel wall for each socket ...


Chisel in the chisel wall and three moderately firm hammer blows. The chisel wall prevents the chisel moving backwards and over the baseline. This means that chiseling can start at the baseline, itself, and reduces later extra paring ...


Split out the waste ...


With hard Jarrah and a decent Japanese chisel, it takes me three rows to get within 3mm (1/8”) of the web line. I stop at this point ...


This is repeated at the other end of the board ...


Back to the Moxon Vise: the sockets are cleared by paring the remainder in 1mm slices ..


Cleaning out the socket was facilitated by earlier extending the kerfs, and now with a corner chisel ...


It is all about “release cuts”, as David Charlesworth has written in his articles over the years. Create a release cut, and waste will fall away without a fight. The deepened kerfs mean that there is no further paring needed at the sides of the sockets. Clearing the waste is a matter of splitting it out. The chopping is a release cut here.

Finally! The dovetailed sides are tapped into the sockets of the drawer front. The goal here is that they fit “off the saw”, and no further work is needed? Note that the small section here does not only protect the surface, but it ensures it is driven flush ...


How did we do? Here is one side ...


And here is the other side with the “drawer” inserted into the drawer case ...


The drawer can be pushed flush into the drawer case, which was the target at the start ...


Regards from Perth


Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: neilc on January 17, 2021, 10:33 AM
Like poetry with wood, Derek! 
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 17, 2021, 11:05 AM
Thanks Neil!  :)

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: Joelm on January 17, 2021, 11:50 AM
Beautiful work Derek.

I've only recently found your website after starting hand tool work. What a fantastic resource you have created!
Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on January 17, 2021, 06:53 PM
Thanks Joel. I hope you enjoy reading the articles, and finding helpful answers.

Regards from Perth

Title: Cock ups
Post by: derekcohen on January 18, 2021, 10:23 AM
I recently wrote that I aim to build as best as I can. Sometimes it does not go well at all :(

I make two repairs today. Usually, the mistakes I make are as I get spatially challenged, and cut the wrong side of the board. The first one here was being a little over-enthusiastic with a block plane when trimming a drawer front (a few days ago). The problem is difficult to detect from a distance ...


... but close up .... !


darn. The drawer front is part of a set of three. It cannot simply be replaced. One also cannot glue a filler to the side of the board.

But one can add a filler to the drawer divider ...


Here it is glued proud ...


When trimmed flush, it is nearly invisible. With a coat of finish, it will be ...



The second fix was this ... after all the mention I made about the importance of a combination square to ensure the side was square to the drawer front ... well, one got away from me. When I placed the three sides on a flat surface, the far end of one side was about 3mm high.

This was the fix. Can you spot the repair?


Eagle eyes will note that there is a light line. This is where a triangular fillet was glued in, and planed flush (The corresponding top side needed to be planed down to fit inside the drawer case).


Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: neilc on January 18, 2021, 11:22 AM
Great tips.  The challenge is not making mistakes, but effectively recovering from them!

Title: Re: Underbench cabinets
Post by: derekcohen on February 07, 2021, 09:47 AM
Perhaps I need to explain the title, "Dovetailing for Blood". In part, the description comes from a book, "Backgammon for Blood", by Peter Becker I read about 4 decades ago. It's about taking the game to the most competitive level. This series of articles is not a how-to about dovetailing; it is about the strategies I use when building drawers. I offer them for discussion and your interest.


This is the drawer in question.

In the previous article, the focus was on strategies for connecting the drawer front and drawer sides via half-blind dovetails. The aim there - and continued here - is to complete the dovetailing in such as way that the drawer may be glued up, and dry inside the drawer case. The advantage of drying inside the drawer case is that a good fit is assured.

Today the drawer back needs to be attached with through dovetails.


For interest, here are the chisels I used: Kiyohisa slicks and Koyamaichi dovetail.


Noticeable in the drawer above is that there are no grooves for the drawer bottom. These will now be added using a plough plane and a sticking board to hold the work...



The drawer sides are around 7mm at this stage, with the expectation that they will end up at 6mm. The inside and outside faces have been planed. The groove is 3mm deep ...


The groove in the 18mm thick drawer front is 6mm deep ...


The drawer back receives a shallow groove ...



The drawers are designed for a tool cabinet. Unlike drawers for the home, where the backs are lowered, these drawers will have a full rear, in height, ending at the drawer bottom. We start with drawer backs exactly the same dimensions as the drawer front. The lower section needs to be removed. The top of the groove marks this position.

The waste is removed on the table saw, a smidgeon grace ...


 ... and the machine marks then planed away.

It needs to be stated that drawers are not the same as boxes. While they may both be dovetailed, the drawer width is determined by width of the drawer case. It cannot be larger or be smaller. The drawer front and back are made as a pair, and their dimensions are not permitted to be altered.

With boxes, one can leave dovetails proud, and then level them to the sides. Or one may level the sides to the dovetails. You cannot do this with drawers, especially if the game plan is to aim for the glued up drawer drying in the drawer case. Consequently, the dovetails must end up flush with the surface ....


We move over to dovetailing the rear:

The first step, with 6 drawers of the same height and width, is to make a template for the spacing of the dovetails.


While the template stretches across the board, the area of importance is above the drawer bottom.

Mark out the tails, as usual, but then flip the board so that you are sawing from the inside of the drawer ...


Again, this is not a box. The inside of a drawer is seen, and it is important to keep the baseline as clean as possible, that is, no over-sawing.

Similarly, when removing the waste with a chisel, start with the outside face of the drawer, and finish with the inside. That way there is less danger of inadvertently chiseling over the baseline.


Now ... the interesting part comes with transferring tails to pins. This can make-or-break the drawer.


Here we see the tail and pin boards aligned. But are they?


A square shows that the side is out at least 1-2mm at 300mm (12").


Left like this, the drawer will not sit flat. It will act as if it has a twist. Significant efforts will need to be made to align the drawer in the case. It becomes essential that the side is aligned accurately. This can be a little fiddly, but a long square helps considerably ...


At some point, someone will mention the side-alignment fixture designed by David Barron. This is a wonderful concept, however it excels at making boxes and not drawers. Look here ...

The tail and pin boards are not aligned at the square ends (which would enable David's fixture to be used). They are aligned on the reference side, which is the lower edge of the drawer sides. You are aligning from the left side of these boards ...


Having transferred and sawn the tails, the bulk of the waste is removed with a fretsaw (as detailed before). Here is a reminder - first chop out the waste from the outside face, half way down ...


... and then complete from the show-inside face.

My preference is to angle the chisel slightly away and create a "tent" ...


This is then removed with a slicing paring action, again form each side to the centre ...


Use a narrow chisel to pare the ends: having first sawn these away, the remnants for paring lie above the chisel walls (again discussed in a previous article) ..


This is what we are after: flat ...


Dry fit ...


The drawer must fit the drawer case ...




It does, but we are not finished. More in a while ..

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on February 07, 2021, 11:45 AM
The aim is to glue up the assembled drawer and let it dry in the drawer case.

This drawer fits ...


... however it is a tight squeeze and I know that there are issues which need to be corrected before glue is applied. It is the same for every drawer.

Each drawer needs to go through an assessment, trouble-shooting for issues, until the drawer moves smoothly.

I need to point out at this stage that, although drawers are made in batches (a row), each drawer is fitted, tuned, and glued up before assembling the next drawer. At this stage, six (of ten) drawers have been completed to this stage. There is one further stage after this chapter.

So we pull the drawer out of the case. It comes out with effort. The sides twist slightly - I can feel one side is moving more freely than the other. Something is causing it to hang up.

Examining the half-blind dovetails, the first item of note is that there is a slightly raised pin ...


Since the drawer is a dry fit, it is a simple matter to knock it apart to make any fixes.

The pin is planed flat.

I note that the one drawer side sits a little proud at the underside, about 1mm ... maybe not even that much ..


This is also planed down.

The drawer back is presented to the case opening ...


It is a tight fit now. It will be a tighter fit later if there is moisture in the air. The drawer back is removed and the height planed down by about 1mm. Re-assembled,
the sides now are higher ...


The sides are planed to the side height ...


I can still feel a little more stickiness on one side. Are the sides flat, or has there a cup developed to create a high spot?

Yes. Slight but it is there ...


Plane this flat. Just a few thin shavings ...


Now the drawer is moving well - it feels taut, but free.

The case is waxed, not so much at this stage to promote ease of movement, but to prevent any glue adhering to the sides ..


Now we are ready to glue the drawer parts. Here are the items involved ...


I am using Titebond Liquid Hide Glue. I like that it has a longer open time, that it is reversible, repairable, and cleans up with water. There is a spatula for application, a fishtail chisel handy if a corner needs to be cleaned, a small mallet, and a wet rag.

The hide glue is decanted into a small bottle ...


This small bottle is a game changer! I was watching Rob Cosman and noted that he used small bottles as well. I found a bunch on eBay. What they do is let you deposit glue in exactly the spot you want to do, and then the spatula lets you spread it around.

I only glue one side of the joint, but there is enough for both sides ...



It is important that the sides are seated flush ...


The drawer looks good ...


... and, importantly, slides into the case smoothly and firmly.

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: zachjowi on February 12, 2021, 11:45 AM
Great work! Looks nice
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on March 15, 2021, 01:07 PM
Drawer Bottom and Slips

One of the least pleasurable areas of drawer making is fitting drawer bottoms. Why? Because there always seems more to do than anticipated - there are more panels to machine to thickness and area, and this feels like it is endless. Mindless.

Before starting on the bottoms, the drawer fronts are planed, chipped dovetails repaired, and fine-tuning of the bottom-less drawer is completed ...


Link to the fixture here:  http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMadeTools/DrawerPlaningFixture.html

One of the rules I set for myself at the start of this project was that, being a just for the workshop, I would use as much scrap or cheap wood as I could scrounge up. The Jarrah drawer fronts are the exception. The case is Merbau stained to match the Jarrah drawer fronts.

Over various projects, I save bits which I think may be used ... don't we all :)   For now, offcuts of Tasmanian Oak, which make great drawer sides and drawer bottoms.

Modern machines, such as jointers and thicknesser/planers, enable the redesign of cabinet parts. In this case, drawer bottoms. One can use the minimum thickness, saving weight and wood.

I am very fortunate to own a Hammer A3-31, which turns the scrap into usable boards ...




These boards ended up a smidgeon over 5mm thick. The grooves in the drawer sides are 5mm wide and 3mm deep. The drawer sides are 6-7mm thick.

Joining such thin boards is quite easy - no clamps used. Just blue tape :)

Butt two boards, and stretch the tape across the join. The blue tape has some flex to it, and the stretch contracts and pulls the joint tight ...


Do this with all the joins, and then lay a strip down the seam (which is to prevent glue squeezing out ...


Flip the boards and insert glue into the seam. Wiggle the boards open-and-closed to spread it evenly.


Lay flat and wipe away the glue (Titebond II) squeeze out with a wet rag. Freshen this for each join.


Yes, I know many warn against this practice, but I have not experienced any problem with finishes. Once clean, tape the side to hold the joins tightly together ...


The machining and glueing takes all day, and finally ...


Of course - Murphy's Law - the next day I discover that I am going to be one drawer short, and more offcuts are found and glued together. Smaller pieces this time ...


Then it is time to unwrap the presents and make a blue tape Christmas tree ...


The drawer bottoms are roughly sized, and the top side is sanded to 240 grit (the underside will not be seen, so just leave it be) ...


Why sand? Well, it is just easier. The panels are curvy, not flat, and would be too awkward to hand plane. This is what sanders are for. What I have here is a Mirka Ceros, which uses Abranet mesh. Hooked up to a vacuum cleaner, the result is the closest thing to dustless sanding.

One edge on the underside receives a very shallow rebate. This is to enable the panel to fit the groove. The plane here is a Veritas skew block plane, which has a nicker as it is planing across the grain. It has a fence and a depth stop. Great little plane ..


The width of the panel is measured. Note that the drawer bottom runs across the drawer (expansion then takes place front-to-back) ...


After ripping to size on the table saw, fine tuning takes place with a shooting board ...


Time to fit the drawer bottom.

Of course, if it is too tight, it will not run smoothly. But even if it appears to run smoothly, it can be creating a potential problem.

In the earlier chapters (Dovetailing for Blood), one aim was to make the dovetails an exact depth so that the newly glued drawer could dry in the drawer case. The other aim was to fine tune the drawer (minus the drawer bottom) to move smoothly in the drawer case. Now, if when adding the drawer bottom, the smoothness is lost, then we know that something is wrong.

So, the drawer bottom is dropped part way ...


... and this is presented to the drawer case at this point. Will it run as smoothly as before?


If the drawer appears to have tightened in the case, the problem may be that the sides are slightly bowed. Try tapping the sides to push them flat ...


The drawer bottom is lowered further, and again tested for fit ...


All good, and the bottom is tapped into the groove behind the drawer front. A good fit :)


Slips are a traditional way of reinforcing thin drawer sides to increase the surface area and reduce wear over time to the runners. Usually when making slips, I would groove the slip rather than, as here, the drawer side.

Here is one of Richard Jones' wonderful illustrations ...


I decided to do something a little different this time. I am not sure whether this can be termed a true slip, but it functions exactly the same way. The drawer sides have a shallow 3mm groove. To support the thin drawer side, as well as support the drawer, a 6mm square Jarrah section was glued to the drawer side directly under the drawer bottom. Care was taken to allow the drawer bottom to remain free to move.


Drawer stops were added ...


All the drawers fit and move smoothly ...


And this is what it looks like at present ...


Of course, there is the case back to make, and the handles to fit .... and then the fun bit begins - fitting out each of the 10 drawers for tools. Lots to do still.

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: CeeJay on March 15, 2021, 04:43 PM
Beautiful work Derek - thanks for sharing in such great detail.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on March 22, 2021, 01:25 PM
These are final pictures of Stage One. "Stage One" - what does that mean? Well, the first step is to build the cabinet under the bench. The second stage will be to fit out the drawers for the tools. I plan to do some of the latter shortly, and some later. I will post these as they are done. For now, here is the underbench cabinet ...

The rear, before the back was installed ...


The front. The ring pulls are antiqued brass (they are not shiny). I need to work them a little more to remove the still-new look. These were chosen as they drop down and do not project out from the front of the cabinet  ...


Under the bench ...


The bench top received a little flattening, and a single coat of danish oil ...


Someone is sure to ask why the cabinet is low. The answer is that there needs to be space for hold downs ...


The drawers manage about 90% extension ...


One of the first fit outs will involve this set of Kiyohisa bench chisels I have been collecting one-by-one (these are no longer available) ...


And here is one of the small drawers ...


Thanks for supporting the build to date. Hopefully there were some aspects that will prove helpful.

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: neilc on March 22, 2021, 04:00 PM
Very nice work, Derek!  Appreciate the level of detail and your time in sharing it!
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: Michael Kellough on March 22, 2021, 06:49 PM
This must be one of the finest utility cabinets ever made. Unobtrusive yet superb.

Thanks for sharing the process.
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on April 05, 2021, 09:33 AM
What lies behind drawer #1?

The underbench cabinet is done ....


... and now the drawers are being filled, starting with the centre drawer in the top row.

There are 10 drawers in all, and the aim is to use the space as efficiently as possible. Into this cabinet will be those tools I want close at hand, and to access readily.


The centre drawers in the top two rows are for marking tools. The top drawer will be for squares I use all the time.

Opening the drawer produces a 300mm Starrett combination square, a 150mm Starrett double square, and a Veritas Sliding Square. these are french fitted into a Jarrah panel (more on the french fitting shortly). ...


Now you know how I like secret drawers :)  - well, if you slide this panel back ...


... you find the treasure drawer with a pair of Colen Clenton mitre squares infilled in Sheoak, and pair of Chris Vesper 4" and 7" squares infilled in Tasmanian Blackwood, and a 2x2" Bridge City saddle square ...


The Jarrah panel for the latter squares is a loose fit, snug at the sides and about 5mm of expansion space at the end. At the right side of the photo are the rails, which were glued to the sides (but not the loose panel)



Below is the upper panel for the Starretts and Veritas squares. The panel needed to be thin - it is 6mm thick - and cut outs made rather than french fitted. This was to save space by having the tools handing down rather than sticking up.



The eagle eyed will have noticed that the rear of the drawer was cut away. This was to allow for the upper tray to slide past the drawer back, which takes advantage of the space behind the drawer when it is opened.

There was a little extra shaping as the body of the Veritas hung down lower than the other squares.


The upper tray runs on the Jarrah rails attached to the inside of the drawer sides. Finally, there is a rail added above the tray to prevent it tipping as it is slid back. This is in the same Tasmanian Oak as the drawer sides.

The drawer manages about 90% extension without any support.

Regards from Perth


Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: Alex on April 05, 2021, 09:44 AM
Truly amazing work, Derek, you're a regular old-fashioned master carpenter.
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on April 17, 2021, 11:54 AM
Drawer #2 - the skeleton drawer  [eek]


Here is the second drawer to be filled ...


Why "Skeleton Drawer"? Well, it does not contain dark secrets, buried bodies, or other clandestine material   :D   

It is just the name I have given to the drawer design since, unlike Drawer #1, which hid a jewellery layer, this discloses all from the outset.

The drawer holds my Kiyohisa chisels: paring slicks and bench oire nomi. It is important to be able to find, and extract them easily when working at the bench.

The paring chisels lie in the upper level ...


These slide into the cabinet and, below, are the oire nomi (3mm through 30mm) ...


There are two others at the rear, a second 30mm and a 36mm ...


This is a clearer presentation ...


The chisels lie on shaped rests. The blades lie on rare earth magnets, which prevent them moving from the rests when the drawer is opened and shut, or the top layer extended into the cabinet ...


The wood used for the rests and the slide is West Australian Sheoak ...


The rear of the drawer, the drawer back, has been cut away above the second dovetail. This is how the the top layer slides into the cabinet ...


I trust you are finding this fun as well :)

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: tjskinny on April 17, 2021, 01:35 PM
Truly beautiful work Derek !   I love these detail builds you share with us!  Thank you so much for taking the time to photograph and document everything.   
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: hdv on April 17, 2021, 01:57 PM
This thread is pure entertainment to me! Plus part education (thanks for showing in detail how you approach your projects) and part envy (both for the beautiful chisels and the workmanship). No telly show that even comes close!
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: Tinker on April 19, 2021, 03:29 PM
This thread is pure entertainment to me! Plus part education (thanks for showing in detail how you approach your projects) and part envy (both for the beautiful chisels and the workmanship). No telly show that even comes close!
And for all of the explanations THANK YOU
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: Vondawg on April 20, 2021, 09:49 AM
Yes! We are fortunate to be able to look over your shoulder, thanks to your master workmanship and you documenting it....thank you!
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on April 26, 2021, 12:11 PM
Drawers 3 and 4


Moving across to top right. This is a drawer for wheel cutting gauges ...


I went through many ideas before coming up with this design. Simple, but effective for access and keeping the gauges from moving around.


Two Tite Marks with fine adjusters and two Veritas gauges (these were a steal several years ago - Anniversary gauges in stainless steel. Brilliant!). The gauge at the front is one I built. My idea of Veritas-going-Japanese :)


Everything is removable. The slots for the arms were made with a fluting blade in a Veritas Combination Plane ...


Drawer #4 was much more work. Much more.

This is the middle drawer, second row. The drawer above holds large squares. This drawer holds more squares, small ones for joinery ....


The only way to keep these from moving around in a drawer is to french fit them ...


The little "dot" at the top end is a rare earth magnet. This is to keep extra blades (for the squares) from getting lost.


This is where I moved the Veritas sliding square. There is a Vesper small double square along with a similar Starrett. These are so useful for checking dovetail sockets. Below is my favourite double square, a 4" Moore & Wright, along with a 4" vintage Browne & Sharpe machinist square.

Now slide the top tray away, and below are large and small Starrett dividers, and a vintage Starrett compass ...


Again french fit to prevent any sliding around ...


I managed to get all these rules inside the drawer - Starrett and Mitutoyo in metric and imperial ...


Easier to stack them this way ...


Two more drawers, and I am going to call it quits for a while. Lynndy has orders for night stands.

I hope you are still having fun! :)

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: rmhinden on April 26, 2021, 01:19 PM
Very impressive as usual!

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: Imemiter on April 26, 2021, 02:25 PM
This bench belongs in a museum. But not yet!
Thanks for the quality thread Derek. 
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on May 08, 2021, 11:29 AM
Drawers #5, 6 and 7

[Drawer #5: french fitted sliding bevels (Shinwa, Stanley and Chris Vesper) ...


Drawer #6:
This one is about the tools ... just because I think that they are beautiful, and I love using them. They give me joy.

All the tools in this cabinet have a story, or a connection. This is one of the reasons I keep them, even though I do not "need" them as I have others. All get used. In the case of the chisels in this drawer, they are my go-to for dovetails and close-up detail work. Mainly because they are all fully bevelled at the sides and have minimal lands. In spite of the absence of hoops, all may be used with mallet. The condition here being that the mallet head is UHMW. This is firm for feedback but yielding to avoid damage.

This is another skeleton drawer. The top tray are home to Veritas PM-V11 chisels. Most here are aware that I have road-tested tools for Lee Valley (Veritas) for many years. Not only are these just superb chisels, but I like the way they feel in the hand, particularly the smaller sizes. For dovetails, these run 1/8" upwards to 1".


The five on the left have custom Ebony handles (they are also round and not shaped with flats). The far right is a fishtail I made from a spare (pre-production) 3/8" chisel. I am sure that Veritas will have fishtails for sale at some stage. This is my design, not theirs (I have no idea what they have in mind).

The lower tray house Blue Spruce dovetail/detail chisels. This was the first set of premium chisels I purchased. Dave Jeske had just begun making them, and I was one of the first to order. In fact, the 3/4" (which is the largest size here) was the first made. I asked Dave for a 3/4". He had made 2, one for another order, and sent me the spare. I sent it back. His idea at the time was to make the steel thicker as the chisels became wider, and the one he sent was 3/16" thick. It felt heavy and clumsy. I requested 1/8", and that is what che then made for me.

My one concern about the chisels, prior to purchase, was that they are A2 steel, and that, for paring, a 30 degree bevel might not be ideal. Then it dawned on me that all the Japanese chisels I had were 30 degrees ... These blades get very sharp. They do not hold an edge as long as PM-V11, and need to be honed more frequently. But that does not detract from the absolute pleasure in using them.


These are light blades in beautiful African Blackwood handles. Sized 1/8", 3/16" and up to 3/4". There are two 1/4" skew chisels. I nagged Dave to make a fishtail, but he was skeptical there was an advantage over the skews (there is indeed a big advantage when cleaning out socket corners). Later he did make them, and I chanced on a sale of tools at a deceased estate in Oz. They had not been used, which brought me some sadness for the previous owner.

Drawer #7. Here is another drawer holding cutting and marking gauges.

This is a drawer intended to be dedicated to wooden mortice and cutting gauges, but does have two wheel gauges that could not be fitted elsewhere.

The mortices gauges fall into these three types ...


Veritas Dual Marking Gauge, Kinshiro, and one of my designs.

The Kinshiro is my absolute favourite, and I was gifted one several years ago (thanks Wiley!). Found another about a year back. They are no longer made by Kinshiro, and no longer available. I have made a number of single-blade cutting gauges in a similar manner to these double-blade gauges. The Kinshiro may be used as single blade gauges as well, plus one can set up a reversed blade as well, which is useful when paring shallow mortice walls, such as here!

The shopmade mortice gauge is in the style of Kinshiro, but uses a cassette to house double-sided blades to match a range of mortice and tenon widths ...


Here is the drawer ...


Bottom right is a cutting gauge from Colen Clenton. This was a prize in an Australian tool making competition in 2009.

The holders are made from Hard Maple ...



Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: Freetime101 on May 12, 2021, 05:16 AM

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed post - the craftmanship in outstanding!
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: Bert Vanderveen on May 12, 2021, 09:46 AM
It may be my fault, but I tried with two browsers & I can’t see the pictures in your latest post. ??
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: hdv on May 12, 2021, 10:05 AM
You're not alone. I am seeing the same here.  [blink] A shame, because I was really curious...  [wink]
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on May 12, 2021, 10:56 AM
I am not sure why you cannot see them. I see them, as do others. ????

Try my website: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/UnderbenchCabinetDrawers567%20.html

Also, for the full build (scan down to Underbench Cabinet): http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/index.html

Regards from Perth

Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: Bert Vanderveen on May 12, 2021, 11:32 AM
Since my fellow European hdv has the same issue this could be a proxy server issue. Hope it resolves, or at least not gets worse. darn computers!
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: hdv on May 12, 2021, 04:56 PM
You're not far from the truth Bert.

I extracted the URL of the picture that goes with Drawer #6 from the page source and tried to load that directly in my browser. This was the resulting page:

The request could not be satisfied.
The Amazon CloudFront distribution is configured to block access from your country. We can't connect to the server for this app or website at this time. There might be too much traffic or a configuration error. Try again later, or contact the app or website owner.
If you provide content to customers through CloudFront, you can find steps to troubleshoot and help prevent this error by reviewing the CloudFront documentation.

Generated by cloudfront (CloudFront)
Request ID: haQqZvY08DTQzLZ2dY9Z8iYn3JsB6IHfwVmKL_GX4sl_L9pSndPQNA==

Amazon will not grant us access...
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: hdv on May 12, 2021, 05:18 PM
@Derek: Thanks for posting the direct link! I really was looking forward to seeing those pictures. Great work. I might do something like that drawer inlay you made for your chisels myself as soon as I can find the time away from the business. Probably not as nice as you did, but he, I can at least try.   [unsure]   [wink]

If I am seeing it correctly you have both the Veritas types of mortise gauges with fine adjust (although one is the dual rod version). Could I ask you about those? I am thinking of going with one of them, but am wondering about their differences in practice. The older version has the fine adjust mechanism built in the head/fence, which is round. The newer has it at the end of the rod, with an oval head. If I am correct. Sadly, I currently do not have the opportunity to hold both in my hands to compare them. In your experience which mechanism do you prefer? I see the benefit of the oval fence, but don't expect that in itself would be the deciding factor. Any feedback on them would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on May 13, 2021, 08:34 AM
Veritas only make one mortice gauge, the Dual Marking Gauge. The other Veritas gauge here is a single blade wheel gauge with micro-adjuster. The mortice gauge does not have a fine adjuster (I do not know any that do).

The Dual is useful also in that it can be used as two single gauges. The blades face away from each other. You do not use them simultaneously, but one-at-a-time. Using two together does not enable enough downforce to imprint deeply/clearly enough.

The single arm wheel gauge is very nice in the hand. Earlier I showed two stainless steel versions. Those did not come with fine adjusters. I prefer them that way.

No space for this one :) ...


Regards from Perth


Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: hdv on May 13, 2021, 11:40 AM
It seems I used the wrong term to describe the tool. I meant "marking gauge". What I was curious about was the difference between these two on this (https://www.fine-tools.com/veritas-marking-gauges.html) page at Dieter Schmid's:


New VERITAS Micro-Adjust Wheel Marking Gauge



VERITAS Metric Graduated Micro-Adjust Wheel Marking Gauge

I don't really care about the rod with graduations, but was wondering about the differences in practice concerning the fine adjust mechanism.
Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: derekcohen on May 13, 2021, 12:27 PM
I have used the gauge with the (new) fine adjuster at the end of the arm. In fact, I road tested these for Veritas before production. I like them, but they are not as handy to use as a Tite Mark, which may be adjusted with one hand. I have not used the second (and older) Veritas fine adjuster, but it is closer to the TM in concept.

The new adjuster was developed as an add-on accessory. You can purchase the arm complete and fit it to a number of heads. Here I added one to a wheel gauge I designed and made ...

Before the add-on ...


After ...


Regards from Perth


Title: Re: Underbench cabinet
Post by: hdv on May 13, 2021, 04:20 PM
Thanks for that information. Sadly, due to a bad finger on my dominant hand (I can't bend it anymore after a case of osteomyelitis) one-handed adjustment is no longer an option for me.

I did see on the page at Fine Tools that they sell the rods separately, but hadn't though about the possibility of making one myself. Thinking about it, that would be a nice project to do. Choices choices ...