The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Baptist Church Guitar Storage Case

One of my friends asked me to build a lockable, guitar storage case, for their new youth center.

I went online, and found an "empty suitcase" concept for temporarily storing guitars.

I used the dimensions from this case, to start to design an oak case.  I had difficulty trying to figure out how big guitars are.  I went into Google's Sketchup Warehouse, and chose a guitar from the warehouse.

I decided to build a pine mock-up, to verify the design, before I built it in oak......

The mock-up seemed to work fine.  I went ahead then, and finished the cabinet design.......

Raw Materials

I got 1 sheet of 3/4" oak plywood at Lowes for about $53 and 1 sheet of 1/4" plywood for $26.

This is not enough 3/4" plywood for the bottom, so I used about 60% of a sheet left over from a previous project for the bottom.

I got 8 red oak boards at Menards. They are 5.5x3/4 by 6 feet long for about $18 each.  I had my wife help me set the heavy sheet of 3/4" plywood on my sawhorses in the garage. I cut that sheet in half, then  carried the 2 halves down to my basement then cut them to final size.

Here are the plywood boards in my basement.........


I ordered the same lock from Rockler that I used on a similar previous project.  I will also use the same hinges from Ace hardware that I used on a previous project. 

Sawing 3/4" plywood to final size

I used a piece of scrap 1/4" oak plywood as my guide for my circular saw. One 1 cut, I tried to shave less than a 1/4" off.........this did not go well.....I got a lot of splintering. You should not try to shave small quantities by sawing.

3/4" pine is too thick too use as a guide because your clamps will hit the saw.  I switched to the thinner 1/4" plywood, and the piece is about 8 inches wide, so it gets your c-clamps out of the way of the saw.


Prep for Case Assembly

One of the steps I always forget is to table saw in the groove for the steel table top fasteners to slide into..........when you attach the top later.  I remembered this time, and cut the slot 7/16" away from the top per the Rockler instructions..........

The rest of the prep work is drilling the pockets for the Kreg Screws in the bottom of the bottom piece........and in both sides of the two side pieces. I bought a new 3/8" corded Porter Cable drill, and I really like this new drill :)

Carcass Assembly

I decided to assemble the carcass upside down. This lets me use gravity to hold the bottom down.  I chose to assemble it on my workbench versus the floor, because I think my workbench is more flat.  I had to have my wife help me lower it to the ground after it was assembled.

Front Frame

I used Kreig pocket screws to make the front frame, so it did not take long to build.

Back Frame

I decided to use 1x1/4" red oak tenons to hold the 4 corners together on the back frame.  I used the yellow router bit and made at least 2 passes to make the 1/2" deep grooves for the 1/4" plywood sheet.  I did not use a spacer board when routing, since end tearout does not show on the back frame.

When I ripped the rails and stiles on my table saw, I got some saw blade burning. I put the board in the vise, then used the Dremel with a 1/2" diameter 60 grit sanding wheel to quickly remove the burn marks.  Maybe it is time for a new blade?

Red Felt

For this project, I decided to use the same brand of red felt that I used on my daughter's 2013 wine wedding box.

Back Frame and Front Door

After the frame and door have dried, I will belt sand off the 1x1/4" oak pieces at each corner flush.

All that is left to build now is the cut-out piece which holds the guitar necks, and to make up the solid oak top.

Initially, I was going to make the piece with all the cut-outs from solid red oak.  As I thought about it, this piece will be completely covered with red there is no reason you can't make it from 3/4" plywood, which I did.  I used 2 Kreg pocket screws on each side, under the piece, to attach it to the case.  I had to get my wife to hold the piece in location, while I screwed it in from the bottom of each side.

Belt Sanding 4 corners of Rear Panel and Door

The belt-sander worked great for sanding off the 4 little pieces of oak at each corner, that hold the frame and stile together.

Making the Top

The top is about 30 inches square, which means I must glue up 6 boards that are 5.5" wide.  I decided to go "old school" with respect to gluing up all 6 boards, then using a combination of scraper and belt sander to get rid of the glue joints.

I clamped up the 6 boards using two pipe clamps.  When I went to flip the clamped up assembly over to clean the glue from the underside, the boards bowed and fell out of the pipe clamp!!   I had to re-clamp, then add a scrap piece on each side to keep them aligned during handling.

After the glued-up boards dried, I marked each glue joint with a pencil.  Once you can no longer see any pencil marks, after you belt-sand, then you know the joint is smooth.......and you won't see an edge mark after you stain it. It helps to install a new belt on the belt-sander before you do a whole table top, which is a lot of sanding.


When you do not use the table saw to make pieces, and you use a temporary guide and the circular always have more error than if you could saw the big pieces on the table saw.

When I clamped up the cabinet, the back piece of 3/4" plywood needed maybe an 1/8" removed, so the back facing would set flush on the bottom and 2 side pieces.  I thought, "grab the Makita power planer and quickly shave some material off".   I have used the Makita power planer successfully on solid wood and particle board doors before.


I took a couple of strokes no problem with the power planer...............then it caught and made a big noise.  I stopped, and a chunk of plywood had blown out on the rear of the side piece of plywood :(

I am going to glue it back together, then use some Behlen's grain filler to try to fill the missing material volume.  I learned a lesson on this one, never use a power planer on plywood, use a belt sander instead!!

Later in the assembly process, I noticed a lot of small tear-out marks on the bottom of both sides.  Plywood is prone to splitting off the ends, and I guess my moving the case around during the assembly process on my shop concrete floor, caused this tear out or splintering.  I think I will add a thin strip of solid oak to the bottom of each hide the tear-out...and prevent more tear-out during the life of the finished cabinet.

Door Hinges

I decided to use 3 versus 2 hinges on this door, because it is rather big and heavy. You must drill a 1-3/8" diameter hole 1/2" deep for each hinge.  Because the door is so big, I used my roller stand to support one side, and the drill press table to support the other side, which worked well.  I used paraffin wax on all screw holes, since this is red oak and very hard.


I got the lock from Rockler.  This is the 3rd lock of this type that I have used.  They are a little pricey, but they are high quality, and  you have a lot of options for the lever arm.

Installing the Top

I used the steel table top fasteners from Rockler to attach the top to the case.  The fasteners can slide in a groove made by the table saw, so the top can expand and contract without stressing the glue joints and cracking.

Cabinet Built

Installing the top was the last step in the assembly process. Next we move on to the finishing stage of the project, stain, polyurethane, and felt in this case.

Stain & Varnish Process

I used the same stain as I used on the other 2 Baptist projects..........from Ace........

I used the same polyurethane as the previous Baptist's projects as well...........

Prior to staining, I filled all screw holes with paraffin.  This keeps the stain and varnish out of the holes, and adds lubricity for when the screws are installed the final time.

I also wipe all surfaces after sanding with a damp rag.  I have found this is the best way to remove excess sawdust, and gives the best finish of polyurethane.

Time to Glue the Felt

About the only previous project where I glued in felt was a felt-lined box for a wine bottle.  I used Allene's spray glue, which worked very well.

For this project, I ordered some more felt.

I started with the cross-piece with all the cut-outs for the guitar necks. I marked out the outline using a black marker, then cut the felt with scissors.  I used Alleen's spray glue for the top and bottom pieces.  I used hot melt to attach the 3/4" wide strips on the center.

The felt lining turned out ok for this piece, but was not perfect.  To get a perfect look, I'm guessing one would need to secure the top felt to the back with glue and staples, then stretch and cut the felt to fit the cut-outs........not something I am very familiar with.

I did not install this felted piece until after I had lined both sides and the bottom of the cabinet with felt, which worked out ok.

Applying Felt to 2 Sides and Bottom

I used masking tape to protect the areas I did not want the Allene's spray over-spray onto............

I got the first piece of big felt into the proper position, then rolled it give room to apply the Allene's spray glue.  I put the cut side from the factory against the back of the cabinet, then the side I cut could roll up about an inch onto the front door frame.  Last, I used hot melt glue to hold the 1 inch against the back of the door frame well.

Closing Thought on this Project

I next did the other side and the bottom.  On the bottom, I used Allene's spray glue in the center area..........then ran a bead of hot melt on the outside.  I did not want to have any over-spray onto the sides with finished felt on them.

To make it lighter to transport to the church, I left the top off.........and the door off.  I installed the top and the door at the church.

Finished Cabinet Installed in Church

Closing Thoughts on this Project

As with all new projects, I had several Lessons Learned from this project:

-do not use a power planer on plywood. Use a belt-sander. The power planer chips off the plywood.

-bare plywood on the bottom of a cabinet side, is prone to chipping. Design in a solid piece, or add a piece of 
  decorative molding made from a solid piece.

This is the largest cabinet I have every built.  It turned out very nice and should make an attractive electric guitar storage case at the church.