Lathe Cabinet Build #3: Making the Cabinet Box

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Lazyman posted 01-05-2020 12:20 AM 723 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Poor Man's Vertical Grain Douglas Fir Part 3 of Lathe Cabinet Build series Part 4: Making the Drawers »

Finally posting the next installment on making the cabinet. After gluing up the panels, I decided to use oversized box joints to make the box for the cabinet. Instead of cutting them by hand, I decided make a router jig that would take the inaccuracy that typically happens when I try to cut them by hand.

I adapted this from a jig I saw in a Woodsmith Magazine video. With this jig you get perfect fitting joints without any tuning of the jig. You simply cut the jig parts to the width you want for the fingers. On one side it forms the cutout and on the other the finger for the mating board. For these, the middle 3 fingers are 3” with 2” between and 1.5” fingers on the ends. First one came out perfectly. So easy. I will use this approach again.

But as with almost anything done with a router makes a huge mess.

Next step was to cut the mortises for the vertical drawer supports and the grooves for the back and cut the small tenons for the vertical supports. The tenons were done by hand but I actually decided to try using my new to me CNC machine to cut the grooves and mortises. I could have done this by hand and a handheld router more quickly but I mostly just wanted to see if I could figure out how to do this on the CNC, especially with one whose bed is not as long as the the grooves I need to cut. It worked pretty well though for some reason on one panel, 2 of the mortises were off by about a half inch in the X axis so I had to fix it with a chisel and make the tenons slightly larger.

Next step was to make the back. Because I did not want to use plywood and because wood movement on a 45” panel could be significant, especially given the humidity swings I will get in my shop, I decided to use shiplap boards to make the back. These were cut and milled to 1/2” thick and I used a dado blade to cut the rabbets on the the sides and ends. I used a small plane to add a chamfer on the edges to accentuate the joints.

After a dry assembly, I didn’t leave enough room for expansion so I used a shoulder plane to adjust the width. Most of the adjustments were done by making the rabbets slightly wider.

Glue up was a PITA. I approached this by gluing 3 sides together, making sure they were square, and then once the glue set enough to remove the clamps glue the vertical supports, put the shiplap boards in place and attach the 4 side. Getting all of the shiplap in the grove, gluing the vertical drawer supports in place and keep vertical as I lowered the top in place and checking that everything is square took my wife’s help. I opted to use liquid hide glue because you can apply more glue latter if needed without worrying about whether it will hold. I finally got to use all of the parallel clamps I bought a couple of years ago for $12 each.

I set it on some furniture dollies to put it under the lathe while I work on the frame and casters to put underneath. Looks like I didn’t screw up the length anyway.

I put a bunch of the stuff that will eventually wind up in the drawers to get them out of the way as I begin working on the drawers. I will need to mill some more stock for the drawer fronts but so far the selection at the local HD and Lowes just doesn’t have the right grain to get the vertical grain that I want so I may have to expand my search. I am in the process of designing the cradles and other storage options for the drawers.

Thanks for looking.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

4 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5669 posts in 1390 days

#1 posted 01-05-2020 01:36 PM

Looks like it’s coming together, Nathan. Good luck finding your drawer fronts.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View duckmilk's profile


4247 posts in 2132 days

#2 posted 01-05-2020 09:26 PM

Looks good Nathan.

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

View HokieKen's profile


14546 posts in 1946 days

#3 posted 01-06-2020 01:59 PM

Nicely done Nathan. That’s gonna be really nice to have that storage in that area. On the box joint jig, is that a one-off or can it be re-used? I assume you can use it for more joints the same size but 2” box joints aren’t something you cut commonly…

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Lazyman's profile


5671 posts in 2195 days

#4 posted 01-06-2020 02:52 PM

Yes, it is a one off that I based upon this one. I simply screwed boards the width of the fingers I wanted to a 2×4, making sure that they were square. I also clamped a backer board between the panel and the jig to prevent chipout. This is by far the easiest jig I have ever made and used for making box joints and they came out perfectly. I have made box joints with a table saw jig before but the size of these pieces, not to mention the width of the fingers made that impractical. Plus, it always takes several tries with scraps to get it set up just right. Even then I always seem to have it just a little off. This approach takes out all of the guesswork. Even if you don’t cut the fingers all the same size, it still goes together as long as you register both boards against the same end (there is a stop attached there).

I have been thinking about making one similar to some of the in the video but making it so that it can also be used for dovetail joints that works similarly to the Leigh jig too like this one also from Woodsmith.

Same basic idea as the box joint jig. Stumpy Nubs has plans for a similar jig. In fact, I am debating whether to make a permanent version of one of these jigs for making the drawers. I am eventually going to make a cabinet for under my mobile CNC table for keeping all of tooling and such for it so I know that I will be making a bunch more drawers for that too.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics