The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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2 Cabinets for Baptist Church

A friend of mine knows that I do a lot of woodworking. He asked me to design and build 2 cabinets for their new youth room at their church.

One cabinet is open in front and back, and holds a standard 19" steel rack for computer rack mounted items.

The other cabinet will be lockable with a total of 3 shelves for computer equipment.

Sketchup Drawings

I did the designs in Google Sketchup.


One of my goals was to use oak plywood where possible versus big panels of glued up solid oak.  But, I did not want any edges of the plywood exposed looking at the outside of the finished cabinets. I am going to use solid oak tops on both cabinets, because I don't know how to use oak plywood, without the edges showing. 

I kept the design as simple as possible. I also wanted to avoid having to buy special router bits to make the doors.

For door hinges, I like the doors to overlap the frame opening by about 1/2".  On my low cost basement kitchen cabinets, they used this style of hinge.....

I went to my Fairbury Ace Hardware and found very similar hinges. I have never installed this type of hinge before, so it should be a fun experience!


This project needs sturdy casters that will roll on carpet ok. I went to McMaster-Carr and found some good 4" diameter casters.  Their price was similar to some casters that I found at Ace hardware, but the Mcmaster-Carr are better quality.  I used 2 fixed and 2 rotating casters on movable items like this.

Cabinet Door Locks

I went to  Rockler's web site, and found some that should work with my door design......

Steel 19" Rack

I went to Amazon and found a steel rack. I won't use the stand part, just the angle iron sides in my wood cabinet.

Trial Run of Ace hinges

I usually am installing little hinges for small box lids........and I usually have trouble with them.  For this project, I wanted to verify the hinges worked ok, and gave a 1/2" of over-lap of the door around the frame opening.

I cut two pieces of 1x4 about 12 inches long to represent my frame stile and the door edge.  I actually read the instructions :)

I had to do a little metric to English conversion...........but the hinges installed remarkably easy :)

They gave the desired 1/2" of overlap, and they are spring loaded, so they try to assist you in closing the door, which is nice.

Large Roll-around cabinet

I bought all of the oak needed at Menard's in Bloomington.  I started on the roll-around cabinet that is the biggest of the two.

I ripped the 1.5x3.5 oak into 1.5x1.5 stiles.  I used the 1/2" router bit on the table saw to put in the grooves to accept the 1/2" thick oak plywood.  I did it in about 4 passes, to go the 1/2" deep.

I decided to go "old school" with respect to how to make the side frames.  I will use 1/4" dowels to hold the 4 sides of the panel together. This method lets me keep my router set-up for the same distance from the edge (1/4") for all groove work. If I did mortise and tenon, then I would have to set up the router multiple times.  The dowel method worked fine.

I used two 1/4" dowels per joint.

Excessive burning sawing 1.5" thick maple

As in past projects, I got a lot of burning.  Only choice is removing it with portable belt sander.  I put in a new 3x18" coarse grit belt on my belt sander, and it did a lot better and faster job.

I always forget to saw in the notch for the steel table top fasteners. I will try to do this next on this I don't forget again :)

Cabinet Assembly

I used my big black plastic 90 degree angle blocks to hold up the 2 sides, while I assembled it.  I also used my Merlin steel band clamps for the final glue-up of the cabinet. I used (2) 1/4" dowels at most joints.

Cabinet doors

I didn't want to use (2) 3/8" dowels at each corner.  I have done this before, and I have always ended up having to sand the door a lot to get the rail and stile blend perfect.  So I tried Kreig pocket screws on the inside of the door.  Hit a snag, can only use 1 of  2 Kreig holes at each corner.  The inside screw pocket breaks into the 1/4" wide groove, and makes is unusable.  I also don't like seeing the screw pockets when you open the door.

Plan B.  

Try using a 1/4" thick, 1 inch wide, and 1.5 inch long rectangle of oak at each corner.  I used the yellow router bit with a miter gage to make the groove in the end of the rails.  I also backed it with a piece of 3/4" scrap pine, to prevent blow-out when the bit exits, which worked great. I did remember to turn the router speed back to minimum using this relatively big bit!

Oak Rectangle Method at Door Corners

This method seemed to work very well.  I got good alignment of the rail-to-stile joints, which means less sanding to get them flush.  The door also laid flat on the table saw, so it should be flat when it is don't want a warped door when you install it onto the cabinet hinges.

19" Rack

I have never messed with rack-mountable audio stuff before.  I unboxed the rack I bought from Amazon........picture is check the dimension I need for the wood box to hold it.  I had to search all over, but I finally found a 19" dimension.   It is the width of an electronics box that will slide through the rack.......

So the ID of the wood box needs to be around 19-5/8 to 19-3/4 inches.

Tall Cabinet

I first made 4 corner posts from solid oak.  I routed a 3/4" wide groove 1/2" deep to accept the 3/4" oak plywood sides.  I used a lot of Kreig pocket screws to assemble this cabinet.  I found some bigger sheet metal bolts at Ace to hold the casters to the 3/4" oak plywood.

I ended up making the base 19 - 3/4" wide on the accept the standard 19" steel racks.

All that is left on this cabinet is to finish making the top.  I will belt sand the glued up joints, then saw it to final size.  I changed my mind and I will go with 1" versus 1/2" overlap all around the cabinet.  I will use steel table top fasteners to attach the top to the base.

On making the top......I hate belt sanding the glue joints of the joined up boards. You often make ripples in the top from belt sanding. I decided to use my 18" Delta sander. The last time I used it, I had to change the sandpaper for the 1st time.  I changed it, it made a little noise, but worked ok for the couple of boards I did back then.

Today, after only a few passes of sanding, heard a big noise, and the sandpaper came off the drum.  I studied the design and figured out that I had wound it backwards.  I put on a new drum and wound it in the correct direction, like this........

With the sandpaper wound the right direction, the drum sander worked great.  I sanded the top and bottom of the top for the tall cabinet, and the top for the larger cabinet.  I even sanded the 2 doors for the larger cabinet.  This beat the heck out of belt sanding!!

I used the 1/8" round-over bit on the router table to break the corners on the table tops.

The tall cabinet is now built, and ready for final sanding and staining.

Big Cabinet

The hardest part of this whole job was handling and figuring out how to table the large pieces of 3/4" thick oak plywood. You have to plan the job carefully if you do the table sawing yourself, with no assistant. The 1st piece of plywood fit fine into the case bottom. I then attached the 4 casters to this piece.

On the 2 shelves, I decided to put a 1/4" thick piece of oak on the front edge, so the raw plywood edge would not show when you open the doors.  I made the strips about 7/8" wide, lined the top of the strip with the top of the plywood, and let the excess hang below the shelf thickness, which should be fine.

At this point I found out my case wasn't perfectly square, so I had to remove a little material from the shelves, so they fit freely, and could be adjusted up and down.  The Makita electric planer worked great for "fuzzing" the edges!

I belt-sanded the little rectangles of oak that I used to make the rail-to-stile joints on the cabinet doors, which worked fine.  Here is the large cabinet laying on its back, so I can install the doors.

The last step is to install the cabinet door hardware (hinges, handles, key locks)......then off to final sanding and staining.

Cabinet hinges

Since I did a test run installing the hinges, I thought they would be no problem.......WRONG!

I drilled the holes in the 1st door and installed the hinges.  I took the door to the cabinet and set it in.  The lower hinge hits where I have oak cross-pieces in the door opening!!  I had to drill a new hole 7 inches from the bottom of the door for the hinge to work.  Now I have to fill the hole, or just put half the hinge hardware in to fill the hole.

I decided to fill the hole. I scroll sawed out a circle, then sanded it carefully on the OD on the drill press drum sander until it fit the hole......

Finished Cabinets ready for final sanding and stain

Both Cabinets Built

So both cabinets are built now.  The customer wants me to match the finish on a big set of kitchen cabinets that will go into the same room as my cabinets.  I borrowed a sample from the cabinet maker........

I had never heard of this company before. The cabinet maker sprays on 1 or both of the two liquids involved with this process. Since I don't do spraying, the cabinet maker agreed I should stick with conventional stains and match his color sample.  I went to my local Ace and found a good color match.....


No real problems staining, except I ended up getting 1 quart, because it took a lot of stain.  I wipe it on with a rag, then wipe off with clean rag. The finish I was trying to match had almost no sheen.  I found a flat version of the polyurethane that I usually use.....

Final Assembly

Since these cabinets are solid oak, or oak plywood, they are heavy.  I left the 4 casters and top off the tall cabinet, and I was able to carry the case to the upstairs, where I did final assembly.

On the big cabinet, I left off the 2 doors, the 2 shelves, the top, and the 4 casters.  It was still rough for me to carry the remaining case up 16 steps to the first story, but I made it.  I did it's final assembly upstairs also.

Completed Cabinets

Closing Thoughts on This Project

It took me about 9 days to build these 2 cabinets. The hardest part was man-handling the 3/4" oak plywood sheets, and further cuttings on the table saw. 

The casters were expensive, but they really roll nicely.