Before nailing the top at the front, be sure to measure the drawer opening at the front of the cabinet to make sure it’s the same at the top and at the bottom. Otherwise your drawers will be difficult to install because the case will not be square.
The last part to make is the back. Cut your back to fit in the rabbets, but don’t nail it in place yet. It’s a lot easier to put the drawer slides in with the back off.
A Bit of a Cavern
This cabinet has a remarkable amount of storage space; in fact, it gave me some room to grow my already extensive collection of router bits and accessories.
For shop furniture, I prefer drawers to shelves and doors because it’s easier to organize small things in a drawer.
Making the drawers for this piece is pretty simple: I used a drawer-lock bit in my router table. To keep my setups to a minimum, I ran both the front and back at the same setting, then trimmed the back to length before assembling the drawer. For the drawer fronts and backs, I needed to inset the joinery 1/2″ on each end to accommodate the mechanical drawer slides I was using. This meant taking off a pretty serious amount of wood on each end, so I quickly notched each end on the table saw first (the dado stack was still set up).
Then, by working with the inside surface of the drawer backs and fronts down against the router table, I was able to make the compatible joinery parts on different thicknesses of wood.
With the front and backs of the drawers complete, I ran the drawer sides vertically to form the mating pieces.
The last step before assembling the drawers was to cut a 1/4″ x 1/4″ groove along the inside face of the front and side pieces to capture the plywood bottom piece. I did this with a 1/4″-diameter straight bit in my router table, but a couple of passes with a standard blade on the table saw also would work, if you prefer. I started the grooves 1/4″ up from the bottom edge of each piece.
The drawer backs are narrower than the other drawer pieces, allowing the bottom to slide into the groove after assembly.
Dry-fit the drawers to make sure everything fits tight. While the drawers are together, mark the extra length on the drawer backs with a pencil. Then take the drawer apart and cut the backs to finished length.
The drawers now are ready to assemble. Add some glue to the corner joints. One of the other nice advantages of the drawer-lock joint is that the drawers can be clamped together with only a couple of clamps across the drawer width. The joint itself will hold everything tightly in place.
After assembly, slide the bottom in place to square up the drawer before nailing the bottom in place to the back.
Not Just Paint
While poplar is a good, sturdy and inexpensive wood for building this type of shop cabinet, it’s not exactly attractive. I build a lot of Shaker-style furniture, so I’ve become fond of milk-paint finishes. They brush on easily and look like a finish on the piece, rather than a coat of paint. My sister painted the outside surfaces (including the still-unattached back) and the drawer fronts.
I installed the drawer hardware by following the instructions supplied with the full-extension, 100-pound-capacity drawer slides I bought. When installing, the drawer fronts are held flush to the front edges of the cabinet.
Mounting a Table
Except for adding the Shaker knobs on the drawers, the cabinet essentially is complete. But to make it a router table stand, I still needed to add cleats to the top to secure the router table.
The cleats are a variation on a couple of very good ideas: the sliding dovetail and a French cleat. By mounting two strips of poplar cut lengthwise at a 45° bevel opposite one another on the top, you create the female part of a sliding dovetail. The mating strips then are mounted to the bottom of whatever portable router table already is in your shop.
To make a stop to keep the table from sliding front-to-back, I cut the second set of strips 4″ shorter, then attached the 4″ blocks to the rear of the cabinet, tight against the bevel of the longer, attached strips. Now the router table slides into place and stops where I want it.
OK, I have a confession to make. While I like the usefulness of being able to make my portable router table stationary and vice versa, it wasn’t my only reason for making this stand. I’m guilty of owning more than one router table and leaving a set of routers ready-to-use for some joinery at all times. My router table stand allows me to switch out tables effortlessly. I know it’s extravagant, but I like routers! PW
Troy Sexton designs and builds custom furniture in Sunbury, Ohio.