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
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.