Machinist Toolcart #9: Half Finished and Drawers Part II

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by PurpLev posted 08-17-2011 06:08 AM 11045 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Drawers: Part I Part 9 of Machinist Toolcart series Part 10: Drawers Part III: Decisions and Actions »

This project is half finished – Literally I mean. I figured since I’ll be working on the drawers, and the toolcart is in the basement it’ll get dirty, and oily finger marks might penetrate the wood and no sanding in the world will take those out, so I decided to finish the cabinet and protect it from the ‘elements’ around…. and boy did I get struck out by one of those elements… but more about that later.

And so I gave the cabinet a good sanding with 220 and ROS all around (outside and as far as I could inside just for sport as it doesnt really matter) and mixed the collected sawdust with some shellac which was my 1st coat (sealer). I like using shellac as 1st coat as it dries super fast, sands easily, and seals well – all good qualities for a base coat. I also will mix sawdust with it at times to darken it and help fill up pores in open pores woods such as mahogany. If I really wanted to seal the pores I’d wet sand it as well, but in this case, it’s a toolcart, I just want to protect it from oils and spills more than anything and don’t really have a high desire for a luster finish so I put very little effort into this finish as long as it does it’s job and is even.

After the base coat I applied 3 more coats of oil based polyurethane. I know some people don’t care much for finishing (as much as I don’t care much for glue ups) but I really love how the wood comes to life with every coat of finish thats put on it. seeing the depth comes to view right in front of your eyes as you apply one more coat on it… mm mm good.

I think I was giving myself too easy of a time, and the top coat of poly was applied with too hard of a rag which left drag marks, and generated a lot of bubbles that if you’ll look closely are very easy to spot, then again – I only want this finish for protection and for additional tone to the cabinet, other than that it looks good enough for it’s purpose and I can always reapply and clean it up in the future if really needed.

I applied the finish on the outside and sanded between each coat to flatten the finish. I also applied finish on the inside of the cabinet, but did not bother to sand between coats. I only finished the inside to keep the material evenly sealed on both sides, but the inside will never be seen or touched and doesn’t have to look/feel smooth/good as long as it’s just as sealed as the outside its all good for me.

And so once finished, it matches the toolbox real nice. This was a selling point for me and one of the reason I went with this build and with this material and I’m glad it came out the way it did:

Now wait a minute…. where did those drawers came from?!?

Well, After the last installment of this blog series I had dried fit the drawers and they were left as is. Last weekend I had a chance to flip on some power tools, and was able to address those drawers.

Recently I have been contemplating reducing power tool usage and power tool ownership in favor of equivalent hand tools, but I just couldn’t go with letting some things go (at least not yet). Why am I bringing this up? because it was really nice being able to pop in an undersized router bit for 1/4” plywood in the router table, set the fence 1/2”, raise router bit to half the width of the drawer material thickness and route all those drawer bottom grooves (in 2 passes).

After having the grooves setup, I ripped the backs of the drawers at the groove upper line so that I can slide the bottoms in and out of the drawers once put together. This will allow me to always replace the bottom if needed which also means that for the time being I will be using masonite for the bottoms and if it will structurally not hold up over time I can replace it at a later date.

unfortunately when I cut the masonite to size, I miscalculated my cuts and forgot that the back of the drawer is fully cut which means the masonite should have been cut longer so that the screw in the back will go through it. oh well, I guess the screw in the back holding the bottom from sliding out will just have to be behind it:

And so, with grooves in place, and pieces cut and ready to go it was glue up time and boy do I not like that part… especially when you have so many finger joints you have to fill with glue. But, this has to be done and so I applied glue to all parts, and clamped it together. at first I used 2 clamps in each direction and over tightened them to pull the finger joints in tightly (an alternative to using a mallet) as the joints are tight and with the glue they are even tighter. NOW. This also meant that the over pressure was throwing the drawers off of square. SO, once the joints were pulled in tight, I removed 2 clamps, and loosened the other 2 clamps, used some shear force on the drawer to square it up, and then tightened the 2 remaining clamps only slightly just to keep the drawer from moving around but still with very little pressure:

This resulted in nice, square and ready for some cleaning up drawers:

They don’t have to look pristine as they will have drawer fronts, but just have to be decent which for me they are.

After that I used some shims and install the drawers into the slides which were preinstalled in the cabinet. this has worked better for me then having to install the slides after the cabinet was built, but then again to each their own:

Now what about that element I was talking about?

with the cabinet finished and “protected” I rolled it out of the way…. but alas I rolled it INTO the way of the broken stair that we have in the basement with the exposed metal.

I heard the crack…
I felt the crack…
oh dear…

it pretty much gouged a thumb-sized area off of the cabinet side:

so glad this is not going to a client. but then again, if I was setup to build things for clients, I probably wouldn’t have been building it in my basement to begin with.

So… I’m a woodworker right? can fix wood right? on with it. a bit of glue, caul and a clamp:

And an hour later:

I might still try to conceal it a bit better with a marker, or some home brewed stain. not pretty, would have been better if it didn’t happen (considering this project is not even finished yet) but – it did happen, so might as well move on with it. could have been worse.

In conclusion. Half finished, Half Drawers, Broken and Fixed, this project has gone through a lot of progressions and changes in a short amount of time. Still have to finish the rest of the drawers, apply drawer fronts+pulls and finish them, and start organizing the internals of the drawers… not necessarily in that order

Thanks for reading,

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

9 comments so far

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3809 posts in 4487 days

#1 posted 08-17-2011 12:06 PM

A really nice piece Sharon. I think everyone has the same view of power/hand tools. Hand tools let you feel the wood but oh those power tools save so much time and make us look better than we are right away. I’m sticking with them I’m afraid. They’ve all become important. In another way too. It lets you make more progress in the limited time available.

Anyway, I’ve been following this and the other section of this piece since you’ve been doing it. Tons of little precision techniques learned tied into one unique piece. You must feel much more adept at certain things now.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View ellen35's profile


2749 posts in 4481 days

#2 posted 08-17-2011 12:32 PM

Great work, Sharon. I particularly like the way the tool box matches the new stand.
Looking forward to seeing the drawer fronts on them.
I’m surprised you have any time for this after answering you fan mail from the interview ;-)
Nice work, as usual.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5267 days

#3 posted 08-17-2011 02:20 PM

It’s very brave of you to share with the world the trials and tribulations we all go through in a project. :-)

This is coming together, Sharon. I know it will be something to be very proud of when you’re done.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View moonls's profile


412 posts in 4035 days

#4 posted 08-18-2011 02:22 AM

Despite the slight gouge (now fixed) your tool box and matching cabinet look great! And I think your mix of hand and power tool use is just right. Nice work Sharon!

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View mafe's profile


13046 posts in 4138 days

#5 posted 08-18-2011 08:29 AM

Sharon yes things happen on the way, this is what we call learning, and aint that just wonderful.
It’s looking really good, I start to be quite jealous in a happy for you way.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4697 days

#6 posted 08-18-2011 05:13 PM

Thanks for all the comments.

Charlie – I have nothing to hide… err… never mind… but in all honesty, I sometimes wish I knew others were running into the same difficulties and same issues I’m facing all the time, so I figured I’d share it with others that might benefit from knowing this.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 5154 days

#7 posted 08-22-2011 09:20 PM

It isn’t a real machinist cart until it is dinged up a bit.

(Also, get that stair fixed, if only to prevent this from happening to other beautiful work!)

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4697 days

#8 posted 08-22-2011 09:34 PM

hah – that is very true Jon and thank you. as for the stair I blocked it with a cardboard box in front of the corner to avoid repeats of this mishap. better lesson learned on wood than on ones leg

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6873 posts in 5028 days

#9 posted 08-25-2011 12:48 PM

Hi Sharon;

Nice tool cabinet. And I’m sure the mishap bothered the “Bleep” out of you, but it is a tool cart, and as you mention, better that than a leg.

Very nice work.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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