Modern Computer Desk #5: Assembling the case

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Blog entry by Ron Stewart posted 04-28-2017 06:02 PM 1155 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Cutting the bevels for the mitered case corners Part 5 of Modern Computer Desk series Part 6: Filling the gaps in the mitered case corners »

In my previous post, I mentioned that cutting the bevels was the scariest part of this project. The second scariest part was assembling the case so the mitered corners looked nice.

The issue was alignment. I couldn’t use splines to align the edges (unless they were blind). I don’t have a biscuit joiner, so biscuits weren’t an option. With my dowel jig, I’d never align dowel holes well enough to make things work.

In the end, I decided to sacrifice a tiny bit of drawer width. I already needed to cut two 3 1/2” tall dividers to support the three drawers. If I cut two more to act as inner sides, I could glue the beveled (outer and visible) sides to them. That would address the twist in the top, and then the miter joints would be purely cosmetic.

To deal with wood movement, I made the dividers and inner sides such that the wood grain was vertical. This way, all panels would expand and contract in the front-to-back direction. I had to edge-glue more boards to make a short panel and cross cut the dividers and inner sides from it.

After cutting the dividers to size, I used a 2” Forstner bit to drill the cable management holes. I also pre-drilled the pilot holes for the drawer slides. (I knew I didn’t want to deal with the headache of drilling those holes after assembly.)

To attach the dividers and inner sides, I pulled out my trusty Kreg pocket hole jig. I used pocket holes and screws to attach all four pieces to the inverted top panel.

To keep the dividers from sliding when I drove the pocket screws (I also used glue), I clamped scrap boards on both sides.

Then I flipped that assembly over, placing it on the bottom panel. I could use pocket screws on the inner sides, but not for the dividers. For them, I used counterbored screws through the panel.

Finally, I glued the actual sides to the inner sides. The result was not as good as I had hoped, but it was okay. There were definite gaps (around 1/32” or so) at the corners, but I thought I could deal with them prior to finishing.

-- Ron Stewart

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