Chaos Theory – 144 Style (Part Two)

I meant to post this yesterday morning, but I really didn’t like how little detail I was writing, so I scrapped the whole post. This brings me current through the events of both Friday and Saturday.

I picked up a sheet of 3/4″ ply and two sheets of 1/2″ ply from my local place on Friday morning. The second sheet of 1/2″ is for another project I’ll get into at some point during this week. This was after I also picked up a few dozen euro screws from Fastenal, the closest and cheapest place around.

I played around with Sketchup and Cut List to get the best method for cutting the parts out the day before. I have to mention here that knowing what I do now, I would have designed the entire thing much differently. I was thinking about maximizing ply use and not having a bunch left over, plus decreasing cost. In the end the design wasn’t that fantastic, and nearly made the whole thing fall apart. I had thought that the upper and lower sections needed to come apart for potential space issues. That’s fine, but I also tried to simplify cuts and didn’t make the horizontal cuts one piece. This turned the assemblies into chevrons without proper bracing, and I’d make the entire thing out of longer vertical portions next time. If there is a next time.

So, back to the process, I got all the pieces done crosscut with the 1900 rail and Festool TS55 saw. I realized two things while I was doing this: first, I need a set of parallel guides, badly. I could have cut down my time by not having to measure so much. The other thing is that I need a cutting platform, very badly.I picked up a sheet of 3/4″ foam to cut on, and span my sawhorses. Sawhorses isn’t going to cut it anymore, no matter how thick the foam is. I’ll be looking into building something down the road, but it is at this point a requirement, particularly with what I have planned for future projects. The bigger pieces were cut on the foam, and I left the stuff that could be then cross cut again on the MFT for later.


With the structural components cut, I moved to apply edge veneer onto one side. I had used peel and stick veneer before, but went with preglued this time. I picked up a cheap travel iron from Target, and that worked well. I do need a better trimmer though, or to use the trim router. With the structural components cut and banded, I turned to the Rockler shelf jig to drill 5mm holes for the drawer slides. The front holes were easy, but the rear required a bit more concentration since I couldn’t use the edge guide on the jig. No real issues, and I hope that all the drawer slides line up correctly when they come on Tuesday. When I did the holes for the upper shelves later, I didn’t have to be as accurate from front to back – shelf pins go pretty much anywhere as long as they are level.

The last step before assembly of the lower portion of the wall was to put Domino holes in. I used a T-ruler to mark in a set distance from each edge, because I don’t completely trust the Domino’s paddles to give me a true registration. Doing it this way gave me very accurate holes and everything lined up as it should. Two Domino holes at the top and bottom of the vertical sections (three) and matching ones on the four horizontal pieces. The middle was a shared divider, so I had to offset the Dominos there.

So, everything for the bottom section started to come together, and as I mentioned, when I went to move it became a chevron. I had forgotten about my planned braces, and so I quickly had to make those. They were just small pieces of scrap the same width and about three inches in height that were put at the back at the top and bottom. I used pocket hole screws here, and got a real nice registration to make everything square and solid. These also serve as mounting points to the wall. I decided toward the end of the bottom section being built that I would use the feet from Ikea that I bought months ago to sit on. I used a foot on each end and one in the middle of the front of the cabinet, opting for only three feet and the back to be attached to the wall – I’ve seen similar done for kitchen cabinets. I may lose a thing or two under there, but I’d rather have the bottom systainer a little bit easier to reach.


Once the bottom section was built and secured to the wall, I started putting the systainers in to reclaim some room to move around.




Now it was time to work on the upper portion. I already had the vertical pieces cut, and I applied edge veneer to these as well, along with marking Dominos. Here is where things went all wrong, aside from the design elements. When I crosscut all the smaller 1/2″ pieces for the shelves and upper part of the cabinet, I cut them 3/4″ too narrow. Instant scrap. I had to find some more 1/2″ ply, and thankfully the pieces left over from the other project were able to be used, although only enough for a fixed lower shelf and the top portion of the cabinet. I had planned for a 1/2″ backer on the upper cabinet, so these shelves were cut in that manner. In other words, they don’t touch the wall because I now didn’t have enough ply to do that. I also had the problem I did before about it not being stable on it’s own, and this time I had to lift up this massive fail on top of the other cabinet and secure it. The upper ‘shelf’ not being the same depth really came into play when I made the Domino holes. You guessed it – the back didn’t align. After about two seconds of considering my options, I just said screw it – and did. At this point, I really didn’t care if I had screw heads exposed.

In the design, I planned on the upper section being removable so I cut Dominos in the upper and lower portions to both align and secure the upper portion. This helped in getting the upper part on, and getting ready for the next step – the fixed shelf. I designed a couple of drawers to hold a couple of options at the junction of the sections. I used the two mini systainers as a shim, and attached the shelf with pocket hole screws here again. This greatly stabilized the upper section, and could feasibly remove it when needed. I couldn’t attach the shelf as I was building it, because I wanted that set amount of offset from the bottom. Hard to explain, but it would have made a lot of sense if you were watching me build it.

With everything in place, I toenailed the middle divider to the wall to further secure the upper section, and drilled more 5mm holes, this time for shelf pins. I had a couple of scrap pieces of ply from the stack that were pretty close to being right for shelves. It was at this point I could start filling up the upper cabinet, at least temporarily, and start rearranging that entire wall. Putting up the plane till, etc.

Now, it will be interesting when I need to build another one, because I’m not sure I really have the room. I may build a single column, and plan on redoing what I just completed, as singles. It will use slightly more material, but will look nicer and be better built. I won’t concern myself with tops and bottoms that separate, either. It will be what it is. What is nice is that I finally have a secure spot for my long 1900 rail on the side of the cabinet, and it did give me slightly more storage space via those sides, plus all the extra shelf space. I’ll have to do a good job of taking proper advantage of that space.

Now, I still have to build the systainer drawers, and hopefully I measured everything correctly for them to work right. If I didn’t…


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