Roll Around Tool Cabinet #30: Project Completed: Lessons Learned

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 04-12-2017 03:29 AM 2052 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 29: Drawers: Planed, Pared and Hung Part 30 of Roll Around Tool Cabinet series no next part

Completed Roll Around Tool Cabinet: Lessons Learned

A few months ago I noticed how many storage and toolboxes I had sitting flat on my garage floor. I decided to make them more mobile in the simplest manner possible. I took one of my dolly carts bought from Harbor Freight Tools, placed a 2 by 4 foot sheet of plywood on it, then began stacking the Rubbermaid storage boxes, etc on top of it. This made the items mobile but the tools and items in them were not easily accessible. This problem got me thinking and planning a better storage solution.

In my search I found a Woodsmith plan in their Shop Notes Library that I liked a lot. They named the plan their Roll Around Tool Cabinet. One of the reasons I selected this plan was because it would challenge my woodworking skill set. Prior to this build I had not built a frame and panel project. I decided to deviate from the written plan in a few of its features or techniques. I was making these changes so I could test and implement other new techniques that I wanted to learn.

The things I chose to change in the plan were these:

I would use full dadoes and rabbet joinery in fastening the case together instead of Woodsmith’s preferred method of tongue and groove joints. Lesson learned: I learned this lesson long ago. The tongue and groove method unless cut precisely can be very weak. I simply choose to avoid the chance of breakage by cutting full dadoes and rabbits for my casework.

Instead of using pocket hole joinery for the cabinet’s face frame, I was going to learn how to cut mortises with my router and employ loose tenon joinery with this project being my first application. I had constructed a universal mortise jig in prior months to starting this project. This would be my first project using this jig to cut its mortises. Lesson learned: I got a very strong joint in this face frame by using loose tenons. I was very impressed with the joint’s strength and the ease, really, of routing the mortises with my mortising jig as well as the ease of making the loose tenon parts with many scrap pieces of lumber in my shop. Why not use my lumber scraps for this purpose? I will be using more loose tenons in other projects for here on out!

For the seven drawers in this plan I decided I would use dovetail joinery instead of Woodsmith’s drawer lock method. Also I wanted to see if I could cut these dovetails using my table saw. I had read articles in magazines and seen experienced woodworkers cut dovetails on their table saws. I wondered what was really involved to cut dovetails with my table saw. Lesson learned: I did not achieve a well made dovetail with this table saw method even though I made a great jigs to cut the tails and the pins. I abandoned the process after my first attempts with test pieces. I may test this method again, but not anytime soon.

When I began searching to purchase the plan’s H & L door hinges, I decided I would use butt hinges instead for this cabinet’s four doors. I had never used butt hinges before so I wanted to learn how to mortise for these hinges as well as learn the techniques for their installation and fitting. Lesson learned: The costs for well made butt hinges were approximately the same cost of the H&L hinges. These were the first butt hinges I have installed. I did tests on scrap pieces of lumber using shopmade mortising jigs for these butt hinges and specifically made for this project. Those tests went well so I installed my 8 butt hinges for this cabinet’s four doors. Result: I got only one door that hang well. These were inset doors within the face frame of the cabinet. The other three doors did not close well. I have not been able to find a good magazine or online article explaining how to adjust butt hinges to get better fitting doors. I have not attempted to adjust my hinges as yet. I may not choose to use butt hinges again on any other project. I have used European hinges before and their installation and adjustments went well. I know how easily they can be adjusted for fitting the doors correctly.

When I went to my hardwood store to buy the lumber for this project I already had in mind that I would find a nice plank of hardwood that I would re-saw into ¼ inch thick false drawer fronts. I have done false drawer fronts like this before on other projects in order to make the through dovetails look like half-blind dovetails. At MacBeath Hardwood I found this beautiful four foot length 8/4 of rough sawn Sapele. Finding this beautiful figured hardwood seemed like fate. Sold. I bought it for the great look it would give these seven stacked drawers. Lesson learned: I loved every experience in working with this Sapele hardwood plank. I plan to find uses for Sapele hardwood again on other projects..

I had intended to paint this project after I had completed its build. That is exactly what Woodsmith did. Those plans changed after I had recently joined Charles Neil’s Master Woodworking online instruction. I had bought a couple of his wood finishing books. One of those was his recipes for using dyes. That spurred me to change my plans. I selected his Red Cherry Mahogany recipe for my tool cabinet that was made from poplar hardwood, Baltic Birch and Maple plywood. After testing this recipe on a small sample of Baltic Birch I decided I wanted more brown in the dye. I added a ½ part of green to the 20 ounce bottle I had made. That gave me the right blend that I wanted. I committed to using dye for this shop made tool cabinet. Why not experiment with these shop projects? Lesson learned: I enjoyed all aspects of using dyes on this projects. I discovered that a dye can make ordinary poplar look like much more expensive hardwoods. With more practice I bet I could get really good at applying dyes to projects. Oh, yeah. Charles Neil sprays his dye. After my experiment with my HVLP spray gun, I will only rag on my dyes. I know my needle was a size too large, but the droplets went everywhere. I won’t do that to my garage shop again.

Lastly, I have not mounted metal slides stacked like these seven are stacked, one on top of each other. The Woodsmith guys said they used a plywood or MDF spacer panel in order to locate the height of the slides and drawers. However, they did not write the details of how that was accomplished. When I presented photos of how I did my first two rows in this cabinet, I got a lot of good comments on how I should be using a story stick and / or one spacer instead of two for the placement of the slides and drawers. I learned a lot of good points from these member’s comments here on Lumberjocks. I implemented them. I believe I came out with a better understanding of how and why I should only use one baseline spacer so accuracy is maintained in my woodworking builds; so thank you, everyone. Lesson learned: I really like the input I get from members here on Lumberjocks. They help me become a better woodworker. Thank you.

I will learn to use story sticks and will use only one measured spacer or measuring device from here on out. That alone will help me avoid mistakes.

I decided this cabinet did not need another coat of polyurethane finish. What I did do to finish the cabinet is buff on a thin coat of dark brown paste wax; Staples I believe is the brand name. I like the feel of wood over a plastic hardness that I would simply get with thick coats of polyurethane. I am willing to buff wax my projects every now and then.

I am still looking for instructions on how to adjust butt hinges so the cabinet doors will close more easily. When I find a good written article I will begin to make those adjustments. Until then I can live and manage with my 3 out of 4 doors not closing so nicely as it now exists.

-- --- Happy Howie

6 comments so far

View Rich's profile


5137 posts in 1196 days

#1 posted 04-12-2017 05:03 AM

That’s a thing of beauty Howie. You should be very proud of it.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Bobsboxes's profile


1400 posts in 3270 days

#2 posted 04-12-2017 12:21 PM

Nicely done, great work, and a good blog to follow along with you.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View builtinbkyn's profile


2999 posts in 1547 days

#3 posted 04-12-2017 01:36 PM

Howie your persistence paid off. It’s a sharp looking cabinet. Nice work!

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16339 posts in 3225 days

#4 posted 04-12-2017 01:44 PM

The finish and look of that wood is really nice! Congrats on completion, always good to be done after a long build. Great write-up too. Thanks Howie!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View HappyHowie's profile


473 posts in 2551 days

#5 posted 04-13-2017 01:46 AM

It is a nice feeling to complete a great project like this one.. And, I learned a lot from this project; both from my experience working and great members freely giving their great advice. Thanks.

-- --- Happy Howie

View Rich's profile


5137 posts in 1196 days

#6 posted 04-13-2017 04:21 AM

It is a nice feeling to complete a great project like this one.. And, I learned a lot from this project; both from my experience working and great members freely giving their great advice. Thanks.

- HappyHowie

Thanks for sharing, Howie. That’s how I feel at the end of a project. I learned a lot and made some mistakes that I will try not to make next time.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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