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Workbench Drawers

author-gravatar Clock_Man Jun 27, 2018

I've been in dire need of more space in the shop and have been meaning to make a chest of drawers to live under my workbench in what is normally wasted space. I was able to use up a lot of scrap in the shop as well considering it was shop furniture and would remain mostly unseen. I used the design featured by @blucz since I built the same bench as he did.

Other than gaining storage, another important part of this project was clearing scrap lumber out of my shop. I used to collect any and all lumber I could get cheaply when I was in the craft market circuit. This resulted in a lot of excess and I am focused on removing as much as I can through this cabinet.

A nice sample of what I had picked up from my local supplier in their offcuts bin. I had always wanted to make a plane out of this beech, but it's likely better in the cab.

I break down all my lumber by hand. It's good sawing practice and it's loud as all get out. I enjoy being able to work and listen to my music without hearing protection is nice.

Everything starting out cut to length. I'm targeting 1/2" under the space between my workbench legs.

I thought this piece of cypress looked particularly nice.

Resawing those big beech beams into serviceable pieces. 

I tried to group the woods into grouped sections for the top and the bottom. I was originally going to do a total mix, but thought this would look better overall. I put the cypress on the bottom with the beech on top because it looked a little better being the most visible part.

Starting the glue up madness.

First two sections of the top panel planed to thickness. Also one of the 4 cans of chips this project generated.

I didn't used to prep my glue joints with a plane, but I do now. The helical head on my jointer does a good job, but it does leave a little bit of ridging that I'd like to mitigate.

Uniform top panel.

Mish mash bottom panel. Doesn't matter at all as it's totally out of sight. It's also 7/8" thick and I'm not worried about strength in the softer cypress. I put the one stick of beech where the front registration groove will be.

Looked pretty good on the glue-up. I should have thrown in a domino for registration, but whatever.

Bottom panel also looking good pre glue.

Again, use dominos next time.

Same process as above to make the sides and dividers. The white oak was just long enough to get the length needed.

This is the back underside that registers on the back rail between the legs. The front has a groove that sits on the front rail that was made to accept a sliding deadman that I never made. :P

Preview of the size.

Positioning the dividers. I chose to make the middle drawers slightly wider because I didn't want to do math for an equal 3 way division.

I used Douglas Fir for the back panel so it would match the rest of the bench.

Shiplap is my go to for back panels right now. It looks great and is easy to execute. I would do tongue and groove, but shiplap is easier.

Top view of the rear panels. I took this so I could remember the order when I went to reassemble after glue up.

The domino was also key for this project. I wouldn't even have done it if I didn't have this at my disposal to keep it simple and easy. With 5 dominos in each side and 4 for the interior dividers it's plenty strong. If I didn't have the domino, this would have taken 2-3x as long considering the amount of time I have during the week to work in the shop.

Matchy matchy. I used a piece of the back to make sure the sides were aligned while I transferred the marks for the domino. The important part was cutting all the corresponding joints at the same time and not move the setup.

Vertical plunge for the interior. Worked really well and was pretty easy overall.

Whew,  I didn't screw it up.

I glued the dominoes into the dividers to aid in the work needed later in the glue up. It also made it easier to dry fit to get the fit for the web frames.

Hard maple with single domino in each joint.

Checking the fit. I ended up letting these be a bit too snug in the dados, because it was a b*&@ when it came to the glue up later, even with liquid hide glue.

Almost every clamp in the shop over 12" on this one. It was a pain, even using liquid hide glue. The Old Brown cooled down too much and got stiff which made things difficult to seat. Also, the interior panels were slightly bowed which also made it hard to get the top on and aligned. In the end I got most of the joints closed up, but there are a few points where I couldn't seem to get the needed clamping pressure to close them up.

Still fits! I didn't screw up the squareness and it slid right in. It also sat like this for 2 months before I could start on the drawers.

Drawer time. More maple, and more handsawing. 

For the fronts I broke my rule and got my friend who works in a local mill to bring me a stick of CVG Fir. I wanted to front to look nice and not like the mish mash that the rest is.

Biggest regret is accidentally leaving the sides of the drawers at 3/4". I meant to mill them down to 1/2" but got swept up in trying to get them done that it totally left my mind.

Looks real good for the match. They're all from the same board cut sequentially. You can't see it, but the backs of each drawer is the mirror of the front.

The location of the cabinet presented a challenge when it came to what the pulls would look like. It was flush with the front of the bench which meant I needed to either recess the pulls, or have  slot. I chose to do the latter as it was easier to whip up a template for the router.

I'm pleased with the way these came out, simple enough and quite effective. Yes, I acknowledge that I will get a little dust in the drawers from the gap, but I'm not worried. It also overcomes the vacuum I had to deal with pre cutout.

Sight for sore eyes.

For good measure I put a domino in each rabbet joint to keep things locked together. This would work for any kind of drawer honestly. Fast, easy, and strong.

Few coats of blonde shellac and we're done. I'll put some finish on the cab itself someday, but for now this works just fine as the drawers are the only piece you touch regularly. 

Just one, I should have done two, but again the lazy kicked in and wanted to be done....and not burn through the many many dominos in the project already.


I like this setup a lot. With my having drawers all the way up, I cant use any bench accessories like bench dogs. The grain on the drawer fronts looks awesome.

Nice, I like the Domino's on the drawers.

They really make drawers simple. I didn't have  to bother with half blind dovetails or special router bits. I've done dowels in the past to similar effect. 

@skeys  said:

Nice, I like the Domino's on the drawers.

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