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Woodworking with Will Myers


The Hardware Cabinet - part 2 by Will Myers

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The original hardware cabinet seems to have been made entirely from old crating and cigar boxes. Most of its various parts have the remains of labels, writing and empty nail holes. So, in other words, it was built from scrap. There are several different species of wood but the great majority is old growth white pine. There are also a few drawer sides made of poplar and cypress.

One positive to building a cabinet like this is that other than the case itself, you can utilize short scrap pieces of wood. The cabinet I am building here is made entirely of white pine. I use white pine a lot and have pretty good scrap pile of short pieces I can’t seem to throw away. One recommendation I would make is that whatever kind of wood you use, choose a softwood. Softwoods can handle nailing without pre drilling for the most part and are much easier to cut dados in. This thing has a bunch of nails and dados!

I am not going to include every dimension of the original cabinet but will have the overall dimensions and different stock thicknesses included. The reason being is that I don’t think that most folks are going to need or want a 55 drawer hardware cabinet. The way the cabinet is constructed is what I think is most important. The joinery and drawer construction techniques can be used for any size one chooses to build.

The original cabinet has 55 drawers arranged in ten horizontal rows. The number and height of the drawers are of course different between rows. The construction details of the hardware cabinet are relatively simple. The challenge is in accurate layout.

Start with the case first. The cabinet I am building is the same dimensions as the original 37” tall, 31 ˝” wide, and 8” deep. For the case I did use some of my nicer stock since it is the most visible part of the cabinet.

Starting with the two vertical sides clamped together, I laid out the locations for two 7/8” wide, 3/8” deep rabbets on the top and bottom edges. Next, I laid out the locations of the nine 1/2” dados that will support the horizontal dividers. Laying out the joinery on both pieces together ensures perfect alignment between the two sides.

After the layout is complete, lay the two sides flat with the front edges facing one another on the bench and clamp them together. If you look in the photo I have 2” wide piece clamped in between the two sides. This will be used later to hold the dividers in alignment. If you are making a cabinet more narrow than this one this won’t be necessary.

I used a ˝” dado plane to cut the dados for the dividers. Dado planes work very well in softwoods and make for fast work. I set the plane to take a pretty heavy cut, if you are making wispy shaving you will never get done. You will need a thin scrap with one straight edge to use as a guide to start the dado plane. You can clamp the guide to the sides but a couple of small nails really work the best, the holes left by the nails are on the inside of the cabinet, out of site once it is assembled. With the guide aligned to the layout lines, tack it in place.

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Building the Portable Moravian Workbench with Will Myers (DVD)
Building the Portable Moravian Workbench with Will Myers (DVD)


Buy this two-disc DVD set now and build an 18th-century workbench with techniques for woodworkers of any skill level. [Read More]
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