The last thing I want to do when starting work at my computer is to clear out a place to work. Unfortunately, some years ago my piles of stuff overpowered what little storage space I had. And all that junk sitting around has a tendency to make a spouse go ballistic.
Enter this modern storage tower. It will tame almost any wild pile of junk, and yet it takes up less than 2 square feet of floor space. The open shelves are designed to hold magazine storage boxes you can buy at an office supply store. The CD drawer holds 38 CDs — that’s not enough space for a music collection, but it should handle an average collection of computer CD-ROMs. And the see-through doors let you display stuff or protect a few books.
I built this project using the Little Shop That Could Mark II, a rolling workshop on wheels that contains only $1,000 in tools. It was featured in the September 1999 issue of Popular Woodworking. And though we’re sold out of that issue, you can see the plans for this rolling shop on our website (www.popularwoodworking.com) or you can pick up a copy of the new book “25 Essential Projects for Your Workshop” (Popular Woodworking Books) that features complete plans for the Little Shop.
This tower project is great for the beginner because it gives you a chance to try out some simple techniques you won’t learn anywhere else. You’ll learn to make “veneer strips” to cover plywood edges then glue them on using an electric iron. This is real simple and cheap, too. You’ll also learn how to cut splines for miters and clamp your miters using a quick shop-made band clamp made from scraps and an ordinary rope.
Get it Down to Size
Begin construction by cutting out your parts according to the Schedule of Materials. If you can rip and crosscut the plywood on your table saw, great (the Little Shop excels at this function). However, you can also use a circular saw or jigsaw to get the pieces down to manageable sizes and then finish them up on the table saw. Either way, cut your pieces a little bigger than the stated sizes so you can then trim off the rough factory edges.
First cut rabbets in the side, bottom and top pieces that will hold the back as shown in the photo at left. Then cut rabbets in the sides to hold the bottom in place (the top is attached later). Lay out the locations for the biscuit joints for the fixed shelves. First clamp the two sides and partition pieces together side-by-side and make sure the top and bottom are perfectly aligned. Use a piece of plywood as a fence as shown in the photo at right to hold the biscuit joiner in place as you make your cuts. I used three #20 biscuits at each location where a shelf met a side piece. Note, because the partition is biscuited on two sides, you’ll have to flip it over after cutting biscuit slots on one side.
When all the biscuit slots are cut, dry-assemble the case to find any problems that might occur during assembly. Make sure the bottom sits squarely in its rabbets and check the top to ensure it touches the two sides and partition evenly. If everything is OK, glue and clamp the case together. Clamp up the case with it face down on your work surface. This ensures the partitions and sides are all flush at the front. Check the case to see if it’s square by measuring it from corner to corner.
Mitered Door Frames
While the glue is drying, cut out the parts for the doors. They are made by mitering 3/4″ x 1″ strips of wood that have a 1/4″ x 1/2″ rabbet cut on the back edge for glass or Plexiglas.
If you don’t have a miter sled to cut the rails and stiles for the doors, screw a sacrificial fence to your miter gauge. Clamp stops to the fence for the different length parts. After the door parts are cut to size, it’s time to cut the slots for the splines that will reinforce the joints. First cut some spline stock from some scrap maple that’s as thick as the kerf made by your table saw’s blade. It helps to cut it a little thick and sand or plane it to thickness. Remember to have the spline’s long grain run across the joint in the door. This provides the strongest joint possible.
Cut the slots for the splines using your table saw as shown in the photo on the previous page.