10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Part 4

September 2, 2014 Leave a comment

I hope all my US friends had a safe and rewarding Labor Day weekend. I was able to get a couple things done around the house including a huge mowing job and some laundry. Better yet, I cobbled together a day of work on the tool chest

Build Day 6

Work has been slow but study with respect to gluing up the drawer bottoms to the frames. I bring two frames and two bottoms over to my bench and after applying glue to the perimeter of the frame, glue and pin nail. Then the bottoms of the two frames are placed face to face and I glued the assembly adding 10 clamps about the perimeter. I set the timer for 30 minutes after which I unclamp the drawers and slice off the glue squeeze out. This process is repeated until all the drawer bottoms have been glued. During the 30 minute glue setup period, I fit the previously glued drawers to the case using a block plane on the plywood sides. All but two of the drawers slide easily now with two that work OK but I’m still not happy with them.

Once I had the drawers completed, I could move to the next step, attaching the drawer pulls. The plans called for 3/4″ purple heart plugs made with a plug cutter. As I previously mentioned, I wasn’t going to use purple heart this time and although I could have made plugs out of pine, or oak or cypress, I decided the best course was to use the poplar dowel I had purchased for the job. This would save me time and I was concerned the plugs would not look good. Pine is too soft and the sides of the plug look would not be suitable for pulls. Using a hand saw I cut 10 3/4″ poplar blanks from my dowel and then trued them up on my belt sander. To give them a bit of character, I beveled the exposed edges by hand, to give them a “rustic hand-made” appearance. Right, well if I had cobbled up some sort of jig perhaps I could have made them a bit more uniform but being a novice, I opted to embrace the whole “it’s not perfect because it’s made by hand” theme.

Using a 1/4″ ply cut-off I made a template of the drawer face, drilling an 1/8″ hole where I wanted the pulls to be mounted. I chucked up an 1/8″ drill bit and a set a depth stop collar to prevent me from carelessly drilling right on through my drawer front (Yikes!). Pulls were attached using an 1/8″ dowel so  hole also had to be drilled in the center of each pull. Mr. Stack shows jig he used on the drill press, essentially a board with V notch cut so the plug can be held exactly in place. I tried this but my holes weren’t in the center of the pull. This has been a nagging problem in my skill set and I’m still looking for a good circle center finder tool. I have one but it doesn’t work. Anyway, the next time I do this I’m going to try drilling a slightly over-sized hole the size of the plug so that I know the plug can’t move, then dial in the center using test pieces. For this assembly however I worked a different solution. Even though my dowel hole wasn’t perfectly centered, I drilled all 10 pulls the same. During the glue up, I spun them all around so that the pull reached its lowest point and thus they would all be essentially lined up. Of course I just eye-balled it but I now repeat the adage, “if it looks fair it is fair” and it will just add to that “rustic charm”.

Build Day 7 – (couple hours)

The final step of the actual build phase will be to route 1/4″ beads along the top and bottom of each drawer. As I’ve said before, I have a love-hate relationship with the router and although I respect its capabilities, she scares me a bit. The first thing I had to do was to even figure out which router bit I needed to purchase to make the bead. I didn’t even know what it was called and when I searched for beading router bits I learned there were many profiles including the humble and venerable round over bit. I finally found this profile called either “traditional beading” or in other cases “corner beading”. Then I couldn’t decide which bit to purchase Amana, Whiteside, CMT, Freud, etc. and then I balked at the prices. So then I started looking at the possibility of making a scratch stock beading profile and found it entirely approachable. So much so that I’d love to try my hand at it, sometime but for this project I pulled the trigger on a CMT 1/4″ radius 1/2″ shank corner beading bit. Being a Prime Member (hey I’m special!) I promptly received the bit in 2 days and only when I opened it up did I realize the mistake I had made. Although the plans call for a 1/4″ bead I needed an 1/8″ radius bit to make that 1/4″ bead. Truly a Rookie mistake but one that didn’t really surprise me because earlier I had read a review about a customer complaining that he ordered the right bit but they had labeled it incorrectly and it was the confusion thing between radius versus full bead (diameter) being double.  So the good thing about being a Prime Member is I can quickly and easily order another bit, this time in the correct size. It should be delivered tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I chucked up my flush trim router bit and routed the leading edge of the drawer bottoms flush to the drawer fronts. I had left these proud both to leave me wiggle room but also to have something to grab so I could open the drawers before the pulls were installed. This only took me an hour or so once I removed all the lumber from my router table. The only trick here was to clamp on a couple pieces of ply to the sides to give the bearing something to track on. Remember these pieces extend beyond the drawer face and I didn’t want to round them over carelessly. With the fronts of the bottoms now flush with the drawer fronts, I’m ready to route the beads. I have a funeral to attend this Saturday but with luck, I’ll be about to complete this final step on Sunday.

Then it will be my favorite pastime – finishing! If I get some time prior to the weekend, I can get the case and drawers sanded. I’ll have to clean up the drawers after beading but in theory I could seal and coat the case ahead of time. I’m going with shellac.

Nearing Completion of the Build

Nearing Completion of the Build

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,

“To FUTURLEC or not to FUTURLEC, that is not much of a question”

August 28, 2014 2 comments

I made a journal entry back on June 23, 2014 in which I noted that I had placed an order for electronics components from a company called Futurlec, LTD. So let me share with you the saga of my customer experience with Futurlec.

I discovered Futurlec quite by accident or I should say Google found the company when I was looking up data sheet information on various transistors I had salvaged. Now if you’ve ever looked up data sheets on electronic components you already know that there are many, many resources for this information but as it turned out I found the content and layout of the sheets hosted on the Futurlec site was of great value to me. A few days later when I was musing over which company to purchase parts from, I Googled “best place to buy electronic components” and found this Instructable, “10 Best Electronics Suppliers“.  At one point I also “looked up” Futurlec and the information that came back stated they were an American based company out of New York. This turned out to be totally misleading but I at least felt comfortable that they were a legitimate company.

The only other criterion I had was that I wanted the convenience and reduced shipping expenses of a single order so basically I was looking for a supplier where I could find all (or most) of the components and order them at one time. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Futurlec listed all the components that I had been searching for and more. The site was reasonably easy to navigate and I finding all the items I needed. I did notice for example, that all 6 colors of LED listed were not always In Stock, so I was very careful to limit my order to those items that were not shown to be on Back Order.

June 16, 2014

So after a week or two of confusion I took the time to place my first online electronic component order with Futurlec. The order was $33 with $6 shipping and I received a “Many thanks for your order….”. The next day I received an email, “Dear Sir…..We have been unable to clear the amount from your credit card. It appears the card number you have entered may be wrong as the number is coming up on our terminal as an invalid card number.” I was advised to “By the way, please place a new blank order on our website . Then, advise us the order number you received and we can match your updated card dettail with this order 2xxxxx” and “If you have any further inquiry, please feel free to contact us”. At this point it is entirely plausible that I entered my card number incorrectly although this hasn’t really happened to me anytime in the past that I can recall, still I don’t deny that I could have made a mistake.

June 17, 2014

I attempt to clear up the credit card error by following their directions to place a blank ($0) order but when I saw that I could be charged for shipping, even with a $0 order it held me up and I aborted the task.

June 18, 2014

Still intoxicated with the hubris of my first order and feeling the need for my next “bump” I reasoned I would go ahead and buy even MORE stuff because if I’m going to pay for shipping, I might as well go ahead and buy all those other toys I had spotted the last time I shopping. My second order was for $76.95 plus $9 shipping. I then attempted to match up the two orders as I had been instructed in the first communication and then ….

June 25, 2014

Having had no reply or communication from Futurlec I email to a different email address inquiring as to the status of my orders. I didn’t know if either order was still being processed and whether or not they had matched the credit card information between orders to proceed.

June 26, 2014

I received an email from “amp” the next day, “Only these seven parts below are unavailable from your order and are currently out of stock. ”  So let’s see, I guess I was to assume they had matched up my orders but wait, I made sure that nothing I ordered off their website was out of stock. Now I find out 7 items are in fact out of stock.  To be more specific, two were “no stock” and the other five were “ETA 2-3 days”. The only clue I had was the note “Would you like to cancel this and ship your order when others three arrived ?”.  So I reply, “Yes please cancel the two No Stock items and ship the remaining 5 items when they arrive.” as I didn’t want to hold up the order any longer than it already been in limbo.

June 30, 2014

Finally another email, “Dear Art, We remove POT1KBSHAFTD and 7FB5641AB from your orders. Currently, only these three items are unavailable from your order and they will arrive our warehouse end of this week when your orders are shipped.”  WTF, now only 3 items that our unavailable, I’m really making progress. I’m only 2 weeks in and I only have to wait until the end of the week before it ships. Good thing I’m not in any hurry. I reread the email, “will arrive our warehouse end of this week when your orders are shipped.” That puts the ship date around July 4, 2014.

July 23, 2014

No communication from Futurlec. I now begin to feel like this whole thing is a scam. Try to find a phone number on the Futurlec site and all you’ll get is a fax. The only customer service contact points are to send an email or to send a fax. It has now been over a month and I have received no product and damn little information from Futurlec. I now look through my credit card statements and find that Futurlec charged both orders against the card on June 19. From the looks of it, they billed me the full amount of both orders, so I now wonder what actual product I’ll get as I had ask them to ship and not wait for some of the components. Because they were paid in Australian Dollars a $3.77 foreign transaction fee was thrown in “just to sweeten my already awesome deal”.

I decide that I have been ripped off so I send an email to cancel my order and refund my money. I get no communication from Futurec.

August 22, 2014

I proceed to file a complaint with the New York Better Business Bureau, complaint  ID #10152853. Surprisingly there weren’t but a handful (maybe 3?) other complaints against Futurlec but not to my surprise they were all handled exactly like my orders. The positive news was that it looked like the company had resolved them, there was hope for my order yet.

Email from complaints@newyork.bbb.org indicates they have something that requires my action, it turns out to be the message from the business.


Your Order 2xxxxx and Order 2xxxxx, have been shipped together with tracking number RG xxx xxx xxx x DE , this was shipped on the 18th of August. For the parts that have been cancelled, a refund has been issued for this amount.

August 27, 2014

My orders from Futurelec are delivered via standard post to my home.

Futurlec Finally  futurlec-order

August 28, 2014

I will accept the business response to the New York BBB and call it a day. Am I happy? Well I am happy that Futurlec is not a scam and I am glad to have received my electronic components. It only took 72 days for my order to be fulfilled. I have seen several customer experiences that were identical to mine but I am somewhat surprised to see more than a few Futurlec customer supporters. They admit that order delivery was slow but many had been very happy with the product and pricing they had received, enough so that they continue to order from them. Sadly for me and for Futurlec, I will not be ordering from them again.

Jameco Electronics

Due to the delay in receiving the needed components from Futurlec, I placed an order with a more customer oriented company, Jameco Electronics. I placed this order on July 17, 2014 and my order was shipped the next day July 18, 2014. Not only was my complete order fulfilled and shipped but I also received an email offering me free shipping on my next order as a new customer. I wonder who I’ll order from next time?

You have been reading yet another rant from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer. But I hope to get in the shop over the long Labor Day weekend and finish up the drawers of 10-Drawer Tool Chest build.

Categories: Electronics Tags: ,

If not Metric, Why Fractions? (Rant)

August 25, 2014 2 comments

So when I began my woodworking journey, I naively thought that I would go metric. Why not, I don’t have that many tools and I’m new to the sport, eh “craft” so why not get with the program and go metric? When I was coughing up cash for some Lee Valley tools I purchased this sweet square; in metric.

Veritas Precision Square - metric


I figured that this would be the first in a long line of metric tooling for my brand new workshop. Sadly, this is not the case. This awesome tool is the only purely metric tool in my workshop.

Now the good news is that most of my other measuring devices support metric measurement although usually they do so by means of a secondary scale. Please believe me when I say that I’m no zealot, I’m a patriotic American but I think we’re stuck in this hell and no one knows how to make it stop. I certainly get that we need some level of backwards compatibility as we stop the madness but I never expected every single tool and woodworking plan to be in Imperial measurements exclusively.

We’re all stuck with no way out. If we’re in love with the inch fine. Can’t stand the centimeter OK. But why the stupid fractions? Wouldn’t it at least make some sense to use decimal inches. Just saying, I mean come on. I can DO the math, and my calculator can DO the math but I really shouldn’t have to. You can’t even intuitively know which friggin’ drill bit to pull out because the numbering system is ludicrous, let’s see which 13/32 or 27/64? Yes, I gave you an easy one but my point is we shouldn’t need to work so hard to find the middle of 3/8 + 3/16 minus the 1/8 offsets on both sides.

I still wish I could convert to metric but it would seem that in doing so, I’d have to work even harder than simply living with fractions. There, I’ve said it now I feel better :-)

You have been reading a rant from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.


Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,

10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Part 3

August 18, 2014 Leave a comment

I was blessed with one day in the shop this weekend as Saturday was a road trip day for me and Susan. I finished up last weekend’s effort realizing that the drawer sides, backs and fronts were all proud and had to be fit to the case. Better too big than too small I suppose but having already glued up 4 of the 10 drawers meant it wouldn’t be as easy as running them through the table saw or so I found out.

Build Day 5 – Gluing and Fitting Drawer Sides

I thought that I had been careful to dial in my measurements when milling the drawer sides. I took my time and got it just right before starting on the sides glue up last weekend. After the glue-up I found none of the 4 fit and were both too tall and too wide for the case. Sigh. I’m really not surprised after all I have no previous experience with this sort of work so I’m reading and learning as I go. I reasoned that I could trim up the frame on the table saw which turned out to be true in the width dimension. The frame was wide and sturdy and when laid flat up against the rip fence the cut was smooth with just a bit of tear out on the end grain as the saw blade left the work piece. The tear out was worse on the oak face so I learned to lead with the oak, trimming approximately half off of each side of the frame until I dialed in the fit.

I found trimming the height on the table saw turned out to be a different story. I probably could have trimmed the awkward frame if I had bothered to make a tall fence jig to hold the piece vertically. I tried sawing one without a tall fence and it turned out how you might have predicted a real mess. Butchered it up pretty good but… I was able to salvage it by cleaning it up with a plane and using it on the top drawer which as it turns out was the smallest of all the evenly sized drawers. At this point I got real busy with the  block plane and it took a while but I was able to fit the 4 glued frames to the case.

Drawer Shavings  4 Down 6 Left to Go

Now that I had a better idea of sizing the sides, I took the unassembled pieces back to the table saw for tweaking prior to gluing.

Re-sized Drawer Sides and Fronts

I decided to see if my corner clamps were of any benefit gluing up these frames and I found that using all 4 provide great results.

Corner Clamps

I started by locking all four sides in place, squaring up the corners. Then I gently loosened the two clamps which held the front, applied glue then gently locked it back in place. Before cinching it down I applied quick clamps on both sides to draw the pieces together then locked it back with the miter clamp. I could then take the quick clamps off and repeat for the drawer back. The only draw back is that I could only glue up one frame at a time having to let things set up before moving to the next frame. I’m glad I tried it and would have completed all the frames this way had I experimented earlier.

10 Drawer Sides Glued

So the afternoon’s work found me with 10 glued up drawer frames. My next session I’ll be fitting the remaining drawers and then gluing the frames to the draw bottoms. After that I’ll be able to think about beading the drawers and fitting pulls. I predict it will be 2 or 3 more build days then I can start finishing the piece. Please don’t get me wrong, this hobby has taught me humility and patience and I’m not in a hurry. I enjoy my time working in the shop so it takes as long as it takes and that’s OK by me.

Lesson’s Learned

I’m learning shop tips and tricks all the time and some are pretty basic but very important. Last Friday I stumbled upon a Forrest Saw Blade video which happened to be sponsored by Woodcraft. I learned that the blade should be raised way above the work piece for ripping cuts, about one inch above the work piece for cross cuts and just clearing the tooth gullet for plywood. Dude, no wonder my rips were almost catching the wood on fire. Yes, you really need to be careful of that wicked spinning blade but I couldn’t believe the difference. I had been raising the blade so that the gullets just clear the wood for all cuts and on rips I could easily stop the blade the blade and lots of burning on the edges. Education is a good thing.

Using the miter clamps was good thing also and I’ve no doubt this trick will be useful on future builds.

And one other trick that I’ve yet to use but will do so once the drawers are finished and that is to the fix the chest so that it doesn’t rock. As I have learned, furniture with 4 legs often have this problem. With 3 points of attachment, you define a plane and if you add the 4th point, it too must be on the same plane or else you have rocking. Gary Rogowski, Director of The Northwest Woodworking Studio provided a great video tutorial on Leveling Chair Legs showing us how this problem can be easily and efficiently fixed. I won’t say “I can’t wait to try this” but I know I’m going to have to give it go because my chest rocks and that ain’t cool.

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,

10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Part 2

August 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Boy, I had what I can only describe as a stressful week last week. No less than three deaths of friends and acquaintances plus two roll-outs of new equipment. I’ll not trouble my readers with the sad details for the families of those who lost loved ones had a far more stressful time than I. My heart and prayers go out to them. My brother wanted me to travel to Orlando so that we could begin the process of selling my Mother’s house but I fought for my shop time, there really wasn’t a whole lot that could be accomplished so that work lies ahead.

Build Day 3 – Case Assembly

Coming off the hubris of last weekend’s work I realized that I wasn’t yet ready for case assembly. In fact a fair amount of work lay ahead of me before I was at that point. I needed to form the back crown and bottom shelf edge banding, then glue them up and sand them flush. I started with the edge banding for the plywood bottom which I glued up, planed flush and relieved the edges with my block plane. I used the same strategy as I had on the back edges (dado stops) which was to leave both ends a bit long then after glue up I sawed them close (if necessary) and planed them flush.


While the bottom edge banding was drying, I began the layout of the crown. Although I have project plans it’s not like I’m working with a template.  So it’s back into creative mode to see how the arc for the crown should be drawn. I laid the sides on the back and used the previous arc as a guide. This is not exactly how it was done in the plans but I thought it reasonable for my version, so I extended the arc out to the edges and cut it out on the band saw. I was careful not to butcher the off cuts because I was going to need them for cauls. The back was oversized being of the correct width but taller/longer than required so prior to assembly I cross-cut  it to terminate at the bottom shelf.

IMG_3729  IMG_3730

For this glue up I pulled out my “never been used” pipe clamps. Another day, I’ll bolt on some wooden pads but to keep things moving I decided to save that work for another day.


With these two oak pieces completed I was ready to plan the case assembly. I begin with a mock-up using four corner clamps. I inserted 1/4″ strips into the bottom dado to make sure the bottom shelf lines up properly and relied on pencil marks to align the top. Hummm things basically fit but how am I going to glue four sides and a back at the same time while? The age-old wood working question I suppose. My solution was to glue and screw a piece at a time so it was time to drill and counter bore for screws.


I began by laying out the screw locations while the case was mocked-up. I made two simple templates, one for top and bottom and the other for the back screws. This was no time to mess up so I carefully checked that I going to hit what I was aiming at. I marked the locations by drilling with 1/8″ bit using a hand drill (could have used a punch) then after marking all the screw location on the side, I took to over to the drill press to make the through hole. With the 1/8″ holes drilled, I changed the bit and bored a 3/8″ recess with my Forstner bit. I didn’t want to counter bore too deeply and weaken the joint I decided to stop just shy of the bit depth which translates to about 3/8″ or 9 mil. Deep enough to hide the screw and easy to plug. Because the through hole was only 1/8″ the Forstner bit was fairly easy to center on the pilot hole. After doing about half of them, I remembered my press has a laser light that I had never used before. That really sped things up when I realized that the thing actually worked. So instead of turning off the press for each hole, I kept it running and relied on the laser to center on the pilot hole. Worked.


Tired or not I can’t stop now as everything has been prepared for assembly.

IMG_3733   IMG_3734

So my strategy was to once again mock-up the pieces using clamps as required. Once I was happy with the alignment (double and triple checking) I then pre-drilled and in some cases, replaced the clamps with screws so the case would hold shape until I could glue it. The actual glue-up is now a bit of a blur. I started with the back laying flat on the bench and I simultaneously glued one side and bottom using the pre-drilled screw holes for clamping and alignment. Next I did the same thing on the side, gluing the bottom, back and side together using the screws to keep things aligned. It wasn’t perfect but it was pretty close and my best work yet. I managed to get it assembled without covering up the bottom dado and it looked like all the other ones lined up. Smashing day’s work!

Build Day 4 – Drawer Manufacturing and Plugs

After a lovely morning spent with the Mrs., I made it to the shop around 10 AM. I started by pulling out the circ saw and rough sizing the plywood draw bottoms. After the first cut, I took to the case and realized I had cut it too narrow. But how, I used by nifty guide how could this have happened? It’s called, cutting on the wrong side of the blade. I forgot on this first cut that the waste is to be on the left side of the blade and the work piece to the right. That is why we test right? Turns out I had more than enough if I chose not to use this first piece, but I kept it handy in case one of the slots was bit tight perhaps I would need it. After I dialing in the dimensions I wanted, I made final cuts on the table saw. Drawer bottoms took a little longer than I might have predicted and this time included an attempt to clean up the dados to make them slide cleanly. All but the top and bottom drawers cooperated. I’m still working on those.

Satisfied that I could move on, I pulled out my 3/8″ plug cutter and made plugs to fill my screw bores. This was the first time I used this technique that I learned (on the Internet of course). So you drill your plugs making sure not to drill all the way through your piece. You then put a piece of tape over the plugs and then re-saw the piece in half. I used my bandsaw which seemed way safer than the table saw. Worked like a charm, the plugs stick to the tape so nothing goes flying. You might have noticed that I used white pine instead of purple heart. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em I say ;-)

IMG_3735  IMG_3736

So while the plugs were drying it was time to turn this:


into this:


then after that, each one of these had to be ripped to final drawer height. I forgot to get a photo, sorry. This all took a fair amount of “quiet time” at the table saw.

Now it was pretty late in the afternoon but I still wanted to glue up a few drawer sides before calling it quits. One piece at a time, I plane and sand relieve edges prior to gluing. I pulled out four drawers to start with which worked out just right because I was ready to quit for the day and I ran out of clamps and table space.

IMG_3742   IMG_3741

Nothing but glue (and clamps) holding this together but Jim Stack as assured me in his plans that when secured (glued and nailed) to the plywood bottom the drawer will be plenty strong. I though about using dowels but they would have drastically slowed progress. Perhaps when I’m retired I will take the extra time but now if I was really worried about strength I would nail it instead.

What’s Left?

I would estimate another day or two will be required to finish the build. I need to shape and finish up the other six sets of drawer sides, then glue them to the bottoms. Then I’ll need to fit the drawers which I fear I have made too tight. Oh they fit but I’ll definitely have to trim the sides to make them practical. I completely forgot about that whole wood expansion, contraction thing. Perhaps because it’s summer I’ll be OK but then again, I’m in the air conditioning so maybe not.

Finally I’ll make and fit the drawer pulls. No telling how long it will take to apply the finish but I think I’m going to stick with shellac.

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,

10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Part 1

August 4, 2014 Leave a comment

I think it’s pretty normal for woodworkers, especially beginning woodworkers to want to build boxes. If you think about it, boxes make satisfying projects because they have a bit of complexity yet once completed offer utility and often-times beauty for the builder. As an aspiring luthier I ran across the Gerstner Tool Chest and although I can’t explain exactly why, I really wanted one. It’s probably the allure of it being a “Luthier’s Tool Chest”.


Gerstner Tool Chest Kit sold by Stewart-McDonald

Of course, this post isn’t about that chest rather it is about another chest that I decided to build. If you look around you can find free plans for just about anything and if you’re a little further along on your woodworking journey you can probably figure out how to build most things simply by seeing a good set of pictures of it. I have found that at my skill level, I still require a detailed set of plans to keep me on track. I know what you’re probably thinking “you should draw your own plans” or “plans are for wimps” or some such non-sense. For me the reality is that woodworking is difficult enough even knowing what you’re supposed accomplish, I don’t need to make it any more difficult than it already is. So there, I’ve said it!

As I mentioned earlier, if you look hard enough you can find free plans for just about anything. The downside is that you might end up building something that isn’t exactly what you needed or wanted and that’s fine if it’s just practice. I kept hearing about Jim Stack’s plan for a 10-Drawer tool chest so I finally purchased it. Looks nice, functional with simple joinery, that’s it I’m in. So if you like what I’m building, I suggest you purchase his plans or better yet buy one of his books! This is chest I’m attempting!


10-Drawer Tool Chest plans published by Jim Stack

Bill of Materials

So this is where every project begins is it not? The good news, a BOM was thoughtfully provided with these plans but for the novice (I’m talking me here) figuring out what I actually need to buy is always a bit awkward. For example, the sides of this case are listed as 12″. Now we all know that if I buy a 1×12″ the sides will only be 11 1/4″ wide. The plans state that a strip is glued to the back to make stopped dados from through cuts but this is listed as 3/8″  in thickness. So how in hell do I get 12″ inches, am I expect to joint two boards for the sides? Not only is that more work  (I don’t have a jointer nor a planer) but it would also be more expensive and waste wood. If I go with the 1×12″ does that affect the other dimensions, and so on. So the bad news, I spent a bit of time trying to figure out exactly what to buy so that I had enough material, without wasting boards. The good news was the time I spent figuring this out paid dividends when I was in the Blue Big Box store making my purchase. Still, I created my own spreadsheet and made it available during the purchase. I decided to build it in oak and ended up spending close to $200 for the lumber. I could have probably saved some if I purchased the 1/4″ plywood as a full sheet and if I purchased long boards and ripped my own drawer sides but the convenience of being able to load everything in my car without sawing in the parking lot and the ease of estimating need won the day. This basically what I purchased. I’m not sure if I’m going to use the poplar dowels or not but I went ahead and bought them just in case.


Part Material Qty
Sides and Top 1X12X6 RED OAK BOARD 1
Crown and Strips 1X4X2 RED OAK BOARD 1
Back and Bottom ¾  X2X4 OAK PLY 1
Drawer Bottoms (bought an extra) ¼ 2X4 BIRCH PLY 5
Drawer Fronts ½ X3X4 OAK (PROJECT) 5
Drawer Sides and Backs ½ X3X4 POPLAR (PROJECT) 10
Plugs to cover counter bore screws 3/8-IN X 48-IN RND POP DOWEL  1
Pulls 1/2-IN X 48-IN RND POP DOWEL  1

So this is the bulk of it, I think I had a 1x4x2 oak board at home so your mileage may vary but as you may have deduced, I did go with the 1×12 in lieu of jointing up smaller boards. During the build I also decided to make the drawers 16″ wide instead of 15″ as called in the plans. This may come back to bite me but I had a lot of extra wood so I figured why not? It shouldn’t throw off the “look” of the chest that much and I’ll be wasting less wood while adding an inch times 10 to the drawer space.

Let The Games Begin – Day 1

So I began with this nice piece of oak that would form the sides and top of the chest.


I finally had the opportunity to use my cross cut sled extension which was kind of satisfying.


I squared up the board by taking a small piece off the end, then used a stop block to cut the sides the same length. The top will also be cut from this board but I didn’t do that until later. So far so good.


The better part of the morning was spent with my head in the plans trying to sort out the next steps. A template (or SketchUp drawing) would have been invaluable but as it was I needed to 1) figure out the best arcs of each foot 2) same for the top of the sides 3) figure out the dimension and layout of the 10 dados that needed to cut into each side.

I began by making an impromptu trammel and experimenting with the base. Instructions were vague but clear enough to lay out a design I thought worked. I then did the same for the side crowns.

IMG_3709  IMG_3710

Don’t be fooled by these pics, this is the trammel I made but this was not the final layout nor even how I marked it out. As it turns out, I had to make the bottom arc much smaller for everything to fit properly. This because although I drew a single line for the top piece, I didn’t draw the bottom line representing its thickness. This lead to my first “DISASTER!” I oh so carefully used the calipers to figure out and carefully score where each drawer dado should be cut and it worked out perfectly, except that I needed another 3/4″ inch for the top and bottom to fit. Oh crap! If I had used a pencil I could have erased it but with the cuts, I had to sand them out. This is where a cup of coffee would have been helpful….

So once I had sanded out the erroneous score marks, I began again first by redrawing  and reducing the height of the bottom arc by 3/4″ and then by starting again at the top 3/4″ lower (to account for the thickness of the top). Sigh.

IMG_3712  IMG_3711

With a bit of patience, I was back on track. Drawer height interval was right at 2″ although I set the calipers to an exact 1.998″ for my specific piece. Right, because my work is that good ;-)

Satisfied with the layout and taking a deep breath I now move to the table saw to cut the 1/4″ x 1/4″ deep dado slots for the drawers. Only problem is that I haven’t purchased a dado stack so I’m going to use multiple cuts with my regular saw blade to form the slot. I’m bright enough to realize that I’m going to need to do some testing to get this sorted, I’ve never attempted anything like this before but I knew it was doable. I began by considering my saw kerf was 1/8″ then 1/4″ should be exactly two kerfs of the blade. I found a scrap of wood about 1/8″ thick and used it as a spacer for the first pass. I would then remove the shim and scoot the work piece over to the stop block for the second cut. A test fit showed the slot was too small for my plywood bottoms so I used duct tape and successive test cuts to dial in just the right thickness needed for the ply. I could now cut a precise dado with three cuts for each slot. Here was the setup I used.

IMG_3713  IMG_3715

It did occur to me that I could use stop blocks and a 2″ spacer to make my drawer spacing even and accurate with minimal fuss but at the time, I couldn’t get my brain around how to set this up. So I opted to just line up each stop by eye. I was careful to not move the stop block between sides so whatever error there was between drawer spacing’s would be duplicated on both sides. I will be able to account for this by carefully fitting each drawer as I make them. Hopefully they are all close enough so it won’t matter. The first hurdles have been cleared.


As you can see at this point, I have band sawed off the tops and finished shaping them on the belt sander. Looks like Moses just can down from the mountain in this pic. That pretty much consumed day one of the build. I was tired and it was time for dinner, a shower and my wife.

Day 2 – More Cutting, Dado Edges and Shaping

Refreshed and ready to go I begin by tackling the edge banding that will provide the stop for the “stopped dados”. Turns out I had a piece of flame oak laying about which I had hand selected from the regular old wood pile at the Orange Big Box store. Since I didn’t have a good color match for this banding, I decided to make it contrasting, so I used the figured oak piece. I started by thinking I could glue up both sides at once but the old adage, “you can never have too many clamps” dictated that I do one side at a time. By the time I had ripped the pieces, sequentially glued and flushed everything up a couple of hours had passed. To keep the edge piece lined up I used a couple of small clamps to straddle the two pieces on both ends (first photo below). I discovered this was necessary after the first glue up. Fortunately I was able to crank the first one back in line before the glue had set.

IMG_3722  IMG_3718

While the glue was setting up I went ahead and cut the plywood back and bottom and the oak top. For the 3/4″ plywood I used a circular saw to cut it to rough dimension, then took it over to my table saw where I could rip it to size and finalize the length with my cross cut sled. I was pretty psyched that all of this went smoothly with the tools and shop setup.

Next I realized that I hadn’t yet cut and shaped the arched feet so it was over to the band saw and spindle sander once again. The remainder of the day was spent relieving edges, smoothing and sanding the sides. I also experimented with some wood filler to see if it was suitable as a pore filler. Oak is very porous so I want to fill the grain but like so many firsts I’ve encountered on this project, I haven’t actually ever done it. I tried it “full strength” and it was terrible to work with, like spreading beach sand onto your project. Next I diluted it water and that worked much better but still dried way too quickly. I’m thinking more water and hopefully it will flow on more like a paste than a clump of sandy clay. I would also consider coloring it but alas, I don’t have any dyes …. poor me….. sniff….

So I was pretty happy with the project so far. Who’d have thunk it?


I feel the sides are everything I could have hoped for and I have learned a bunch along the journey. It’s seems a good idea to pre-finish as much of the project as possible before assembly so finished the day with a seal coat of shellac on the parts that won’t need glue. I’ll pore fill next, then continue with finish coats before final assembly of the casework.

Here’s the weekend’s effort, sides, top, bottom and back with a coat of sealer on the face side.


I’d like to start right in with making the drawers but.. I think it best to assemble the case before diving in. That way there can be no mistake with the required dimensions. So next time I’ll continue with finishing and assembling the case.

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.



Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,

Turtlecove Workshop – Additions

July 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Greetings All,

I hope everyone is having a blessed summer season. Personally I haven’t been in the shop nearly as much as I would have liked but I do what I can when I, can. I’ve caught up on a few of the back-burner items that have been on my list a while.

Bandsaw Riser Kit

When I purchased my Grizzly bandsaw last summer , I ordered the 12″ riser block kit for at the same time. Unfortunately for me, the kit was on back order  for many months after my saw had been delivered. By the time the kit was finally available, I was engrossed in other activities and the thought of “breaking” my saw wasn’t the highest priority given my limited shop time. Not long ago, I finally gathered my courage and installed the kit which all-in-all wasn’t very difficult. Against advice given in the instructions, I did this without any assistance but it would have been easier and “safer” if I had had assistance.  For me, the biggest benefit to this upgrade, is that I learned more about how my saw is put together and now, I’m not afraid to make proper adjustments.

12" Bandsaw Riser Kit IMG_3703

Installing the new hardware was actually much less difficult than learning the nuances of the adjustment procedure.  It turns out, that I hadn’t done a very good setup on the guides the first time around and although I don’t feel they are perfectly set now, I know they are a lot closer to how they were meant to function. I have heard “experts” both pro and con regarding the practicality of resawing on 14″ bandsaws, but I wanted to give it a try.

Dust Collector

Not much to say other than,  every shop where power tools are being used need some for of dust collection. I finally broke down and purchased the unit sold by the store that sells freight down by the harbor. I had already installed blast gates and 4″ hose to my table saw and bandsaw but I was previously using a shop-vacuum for the suction. These hose runs were intentionally left long so I had enough existing hose to connect the new collector and my other new toy, an oscillating spindle-belt sander.


Spindle Sander

I also picked up an oscillating spindle/belt sander from Home Depot which is my first Rigid tool. Rigid does still offer lifetime warranties on their tools and amazingly even on their tool’s batteries. Now registering you tool with Rigid to receive this warranty is another story. The little card states, “Register your new tool in 3 easy steps”. I couldn’t believe how hard it was, there were more than 3 steps and they weren’t what I would call “easy”. It goes something like this 1) visit their website and create an account 2) register your tool online including model and serial number 3) register the receipt information from your purchase 4) cut the UPC code off the original box (you kept the box right?) 5) mail in the cardboard UPC code along with the original receipt with arrows pointing to the qualified product you intend to register 5) get postage for the item you now must mail into Rigid. If all your information “checks out” and Jupiter is in alignment with Mars, you will be notified within 2-3 weeks if your registration has been accepted. Rigid, I applaud your warranty but your primitive registration procedure sucks. I should be able to do all of this online at a single session. You are already checking the register transaction number so the need for me to mail you anything is frankly ridiculous and in my opinion is likely intended to reduce the number of valid registrations because who has time to mess with it?


I really had a difficult time learning how to adjust the belt so that it tracked properly. I finally got it but only after about the 20th attempt. Admittedly, I’m not the most mechanically inclined individual but I would liked to have had some supplemental materials to help me through the process. I’m sure someone has a link on YouTube but I never did check. I ended up iteratively adjusting a tiny bit at a time until it neither wildly spun off the top or ground itself down against the machine bed. I do like sanders however, for their ability to take bits of wood off at a time until you get things just where you want them. The dust port also seems to work pretty well so despite my bitching I’m thrilled with the purchase. I think it a good addition to the shop and I’d purchase it again.


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