What's new
What's new

OT: Nearing move to new shop, need to build or buy drawers or cabinets

henrya

Titanium
Joined
Jun 25, 2008
Location
TN
In a month or two I should be able to move into my new shop. Its my last shop and I’m not leaving until I get rolled out in a wheelchair.

I’d like to have 12-16 linear feet of cabinets with drawers. Probably 18-24“ wide, 20“ deep and heights from 3 to 6“. I’ve been watching the local Restore store for kitchen cabinets, but no luck. Not having found anything suitable, its time to get off and on.

Building the cases is no big deal, lots of drawers becomes more so. Dovetail drawers are the standard, but I sold my jig and am looking at lock miter joints. Your advice and comments would be appreciated on that joint or alternatives.

I also wonder if there is a source for knocked down drawers to assemble on site. I have found lots of places offering drawers but pricing is crazy. If you know of something please tell.

I’m open to buying used cabinets wood or metal, but not finding a lot that‘s priced in reality.

A short cut is what I need. Having spent lots of time scrounging whatever could be made to work for the moment’s need, I am ready to move in fresh and clean. No more time scrounging and waiting for something that works good enough. That may be a dream but I’m giving it a chance. All suggestions are welcomed.
 
New England drawer, I believe they sell them knocked down for shipping. Very good quality, two-ish week turnaround. There are probably other good drawer folks. I can’t make drawers for anything close to what they charge.
 
Are you concerned about height?
For instance, i'm a guy who thinks built in "workbenches" along a wall are a stupid waste of space, but recognize that that is a minority opinion. :) If height does not concern you and envision drawers as high as you can see into, with shelves above; i have long been a fan of old fashioned industrial strength file drawer with a mix of flat files, and the kinds of file drawers that are lots of small draws.

If staying at "workbench height" my other experience is in the end it's more practical to build. Yes to DT's . However, deck screws with plywood and solid construction with a small locking tenon are probably just as impressive. If you use all ply construction, angle the deck screws so they angle through the layers of ply, not drill straight in and split them when there is a load on a drawer. Yes, i glue bottoms in for diaphragm strength, have jigging/fixturing to keep eveything aligned in all 3 planes when building.

I've never used these, and the expense can add up. (not really cheap)
:some 32mm system hardware manufacturers also make unitized metal "snap together" drawer frames or complete boxes.

smt
 
Last edited:
One nice thing about those Blum parts is that they are not just box parts but also are the drawer glides. So they are expensive, but the money covers more than just the box.

I called the New England drawer people and left a message. We’ll see where that goes.

The idea of multiple roller cabinets is attractive and might be the way to proceed.

I am thinking about a long wall of counter top over cabinets at slightly higher level than standard cabinets. (I’m tall). This is going on a wall with 2 big windows and will be extra flat space up top and tool storage below. Probably a shelf/shelves in between the drawer cabinets for power tools in their containers.

Thanks for the suggestions and keep ’em coming.
 
I'd look at new or used Lista/Vidmar/Rousseau and buy once and cry once for a long time. The resale value is ridiculously high on those. Down a notch, I'd look at Harbor Freight's higher-priced roll cabinets - Ikon & US General.
 
I used the meta box sides from Hafela, so not 100% sure they are identical as the Blum, but my dislike of them is they are not full extension so I really don't like them. Otherwise they are slick and very quick to build.

My go to when Baltic Birch ply was a reasonable price is to half lap the corner joints and a dado for the bottom. Glue and pin nail. I use some KV economy side mount 100lb full extension from a local supplier. If I recall 20" is around $5 for each drawer. I also do a separate drawer front so the box is very generic and easy to make. I don't know of any cheap undermounts.

I have not priced it out now to compare, but a sheet of 1/2" BB is app $110 here so it may be a similar price to have my local mill shop run solid wood sides through their molder for me.

The cases I run on my cnc router, drill all slide and construction holes on it, run it through my edgebander and then slap them together when needed. I got into this roundabout and never got used to/required to make face frames, so edgebanding Euro style has been my preferred method from the start.

I'm not a cabinet shop, I only do them for myself and if I have a charity project, so I'm sure my methods could use some updating and fine tuning.

As for buying new, I'd consider the 44" lower tool boxes from HF, from everything I have seen that particular size is better quality than the others and has been a good price. There are lots of guys on Garage Journal that have built there storage around them, some taking the wheels off and building square tube frames around them etc. Lots to see there if you want to search the site.
 
The price of materials is part of my quandary. Nice plywood is out of sight. When I price this out of ply and guides, I find I can buy cheap metal cabinets and not have to do any work but write a check and set them into place.

All the used Lista and similar I find anywhere near me is stupidly priced. It must he in high demand?

I’m looking harder at roller chests set on fixed bases.
 
I’d agree with getting used Vidmars. Got seven of them from bankruptcy sales over the years. Yes, kinda expensive still even used, but saves so much time over making from scratch and with 400+ pound capacity per drawer I don’t worry about overloading. Worth it imho.
 
All sorts of quite nice roller cheats are available now, some with uppers too. Marketed to mechanics, but no reason they would not work fine for woodworking. I find most of my needs for a "bench" is in fact storage, not as a work platform. And I would keep them on the wheels so they can be moved as needs evolve. Then get or build one really solid table to work on. Jeggs, the green G ,HF, costco, all of them sell these things, with decent roller slides. No Vidmar, but realistically they will outlast most of us.
 
I just remembered HGR in Cleveland and now other locations in the US usually have Lista style cabinets on hand, I have never really looked at them as I just didn't want to pay to ship etc, but you might look there just to see.
 
Think about it. The stuff you stash in drawers can spend many years there until you actually need it. But that is what you are thinking and reality is you will forget what is in the bottom drawers under the rubble and buy some item new because you forgot that you had it.
But the cheap roller cabinets from Chraftsman or Husky and get on with it.
Or send a message to Milland if you can find him. He hauled several hundred pounds of drawer slides away from my shop for the total sum of $0.00. And I think they are still unused.
Or just build everything yourself because you have a need to build things. We all know how that goes. I personally get 80% of those projects done in a few heart beats. The final completion of 20%????
Wifey sometimes call me Mr 80%. But at least 85% of cabinet drawers done in out kitchen. Remaining 15% are here in room somewhere. I tell her I will get it done, no need to remind me every 6 months.
 
I'm a fan of the US General rollaways. $300 each at last check, and all the same height :-)

Otherwise, stock up on file cabinets. Mostly they're free these days. It'd take some hauling and shopping, thouigh.
 
The only way a traditional file cabinet makes sense for my shop and needs would be if I figured out someway to make a few levels for each drawer that was convenient to use. The only nice thing about them is they are usually full extension and have a decent capacity. I did find a metal card file cabinet that I have that I really like, but to get anymore is Vidmar/Lista prices so at that point I'd rather have a Vidmar/Lista.

The other option is to reduce the amount of stuff I have so I don't need anymore storage.... Ha Ha
 
If you end up building the drawers (which has the major advantage that you can make the height correct for your needs and make them look good) Then drawer side plywood, which has all the laminations in the same direction, is ideal for the sides and the back of the draws. trouble is that it's as common as rocking horse sh1t. I used a lock cutter rather than a mitre lock cutter, but I've bought a mitre lock cutter to help with a load of stacking storage boxes that I hope to make this winter.

DSCF4802.JPG
 
The only way a traditional file cabinet makes sense for my shop and needs would be if I figured out someway to make a few levels for each drawer that was convenient to use. The only nice thing about them is they are usually full extension and have a decent capacity. I did find a metal card file cabinet that I have that I really like, but to get anymore is Vidmar/Lista prices so at that point I'd rather have a Vidmar/Lista.

The other option is to reduce the amount of stuff I have so I don't need anymore storage.... Ha Ha
Yup, the slides and drawers are great. My preference is card files, too so I have 5, accumulated over 20 years. 4 different heights, none will fit under a bench. Not a quick way to acquire storage.

Easy enough to cut down file cabinet drawers to a reasonable height, just hack the fronts down, but other cases would have to be built.
 
Roller cabinets on a base instead of wheels keeps looking good, but I did go and see in person some of the cheap ones and they are pretty flimsy. File cabinets are good for paper files but not so good for my use with smaller tools and things.
 
FWIW, I bought one of these from Harbor Freight, in red. Dunno why the red costs more than the yellow or green. Reasonable drawer weight capacity, plenty capable of being fully loaded with hand tools. It's not a Lista, but it's more than adequate and I'm happy with it. I use it as a stationary rollaway, no casters or handles.
 








 
Back
Top