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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Woodworking Tip of The Week - Organizing Drawers

Drawers are a good way to organize tools and other supplies. The problem is, it’s all too easy for stuff to get lost in deep drawers. To solve this problem, I like to divide each deep drawer into two layers, as shown in the photo below.

Dividers. For the bottom layer, I made a divided box. When you measure for the box, you’ll want to leave a 1/16″ gap between the box and the drawer. This way you can take the box out if you ever need to.

The dividers are dadoed into the sides of the insert box. They also accept subdividers, so you can customize the box for whatever you need to store (drawing below).

The Totes. To take advantage of the space above the box, I made some totes to rest on top. Each tote has a pair of fixed dividers and a handle. Besides making it easy to organize small items, you can remove a tote from the drawer and take it right where it’s needed.
Making the totes is similar to making the divided box. But there are some things to keep in mind while building them.

It’s a good idea to allow a 1/16″ gap between the totes. This makes it easy to slip one tote in place while the other is in the drawer.
You’ll also notice that the rabbets and dadoes for the tote dividers are cut in the front and back pieces, not the sides like in the divided box. And don’t forget to cut notches for the wood handle and the groove for the 1/4″ hardboard bottom.

Have a nice weekend,

Phil Huber

Editor, ShopNotes

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Woodworking Tip of The Week - Pickup Plywood Rack

I discovered that hauling large sheets of plywood in a small pickup truck isn't a good match. So to make my truck a little more accommodating, I built a simple plywood rack.

The rack is made from common 2x4s. As you can see in the drawing, it's nothing more than three supports connected with two cross rails. The rear cross rail is positioned just behind the tail gate to keep the rack from sliding. I positioned the front rail to clear the wheel wells of the truck.

The detail drawing shows how the supports and rails are fastened together with hex bolts and lock nuts. The heads of the bolts and nuts are counterbored to prevent damage to the sheet stock or the truck.

I also placed washers between the supports and cross rails. This allows me to easily fold the rack and store it out of the way when it's not in use.

Have a great weekend,
Ted Raife
Editor, Woodsmith

Woodworking Tip of The Week - Over-the-bench Tool Rack

Since my workbench is in the middle of the shop, there isn’t an electrical outlet nearby to plug my power tools into. And trailing an extension cord across the floor is a safety hazard. So I decided to hang a strip of outlets above the bench. With the cords running up, there is less of a chance of tripping on them or accidently cutting through them. And to make it even more useful, the outlet strip is attached to a plywood tool rack, so I can store tools and clamps near the workbench.

As you can see in the drawing at right, there’s not much to this tool rack. You just cut a piece of ¾″ plywood to shape and screw a power strip vertically in the middle of it.

Then to hang it from the ceiling, I drilled two holes in the long end and hung it from a pair of bicycle hooks that were screwed into a cleat attached to the ceiling. This way the power strip/tool rack can be easily removed if I need the extra space for working on a tall project.
Next, I made a couple of shelves and holders for the power tools I use most often at the bench: a sander, drill, and jig saw. All that’s left is to run an extension cord across the ceiling and plug in the outlet strip.

Have a nice weekend,

Phil Huber

Editor, ShopNotes

Thank's to for the wonderful Tips on a Better Workshop.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Table Saw Bumper

All my large power tools are on casters. So when I need to make extra floor space in my small shop, I simply roll them up against the wall. But I found that my table saw created a problem. As I backed it up to the wall, likely as not, the protruding motor would hit with a “thump”.
The solution to this wall (and tool) abuse turned out to be pretty simple. As you can see in the photo, I added a scrap wood bumper to the caster base of the saw. The bumper extends out from the base to end just beyond the motor. Now I can push the saw up to wall, confident that the bumper will stop its progress before the motor puts another dent in the wall.

Have a great weekend,

Ted RaifeEditor,


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Installing Drawer Slides

Installing metal drawer slides can seem a bit intimidating, but I’ve found a simple method that eliminates complicated measuring for each drawer slide. For this, I like to use the drawers themselves to mark the position. The idea is to use an MDF spacer to install the slide accurately, and keep both sides level. The photos show this procedure on a frameless cabinet, but it works for face frame cabinets as well.

Getting Started. The first step is to install the slides on the drawers. For convenience, I usually place them on the lower edge of the drawer. Here, I use the slotted horizontal holes to attach the slide. Using these holes allows me to make small adjustments as needed. Then, I assemble the slide so both pieces are attached to the drawer. Now, with the cabinet turned on its back, I put each of the drawers in position, as shown in the photo above. The drawers simply rest on the back of the cabinet.

Mark the Location. Once the drawers are in the proper place, I mark the bottom of each of the slides on the side of the cabinet, using a square. Once that’s complete, I remove the drawers and cut a spacer to the length of the mark for the top drawer.
Using Spacers. After clamping the spacer in position for the top drawer, you can use it to support the slide while you attach it to the cabinet side, as shown in the left photo below. For this, I use the slotted vertical holes.

Now, using the same spacer, you can attach the slide to the opposite side. Once both slides are in place, insert the drawer and test it for a smooth-rolling fit. You can then make small adjustments both horizontally (on the drawer piece) and vertically (on the cabinet piece) to fine-tune the position. Once you’re sure of the placement, you can add a couple of screws in the round holes to fix the position.

Cut the Spacer. The next step is to transfer the mark for the next drawer to your spacer (middle photo). Using that mark, you can cut it to the correct size and repeat the installation process for the rest of the drawer slides.

Good woodworking,
Phil HuberEditor,