Desk CaddyComments (0)
When my box of lumber scraps starts to overflow, I’ve got two choices. I can dispose of the excess wood or find a small project to utilize my favorite pieces. The latter option is always preferable, and that’s how this small but useful project came into being. My desk caddy holds the everyday items that otherwise get misplaced in pockets, drawers, and elsewhere throughout the house: loose change, odd screws and hardware items, pens, eyeglasses, my cell phone and a stack of square Post-it notes. The square note pads, which I consume at an astonishing rate, actually dictated the size of the two outer compartments. You could easily adjust the dimensions to suit your particular storage needs.
Building this project is an opportunity to try out a couple of tricks for routing dadoes precisely and making hand-cut dovetails with a shop-made guide. If you’ve got enough wood scraps to make two or three of these organizers, go for it. The jigs will speed your production, and you’ll have some useful gifts for friends or family members.Opening photo: Larry Hamel-Lambert
10 pieces, 12 dadoes, 4 dovetails, and 1 bottom grooveAfter selecting the stock for this project, rout a test dado with a 1/4 "-dia. straight bit. Then use this dado to test the fit of your parts as you plane them to finished thickness. If you don’t have a 7⁄16" O.D. router bushing like I used here, it’s easy to make a dado jig like mine to fit a different-size bushing.
Rout dadoes on a work board
For speed and accuracy, I set up a work board that holds a lower and upper side in place between wood strips. This enables me to quickly rout dadoes using a router equipped with a 7⁄16" O.D. bushing and a 1/4 " straight bit. When your first set of sides is set up in the work board, take care to lay out your dado locations carefully, so that outer dadoes are equidistant from the center dado.Rout 2 sides at once. With an upper and lower side positioned on my work board, I can rout dadoes in both parts using a right-angle routing jig sized for a 7⁄16" O.D. bushing. As shown in the photo at left, I glued 1⁄8" plywood to the underside of my jig so that a preliminary cut would create an exact dado location for foolproof alignment. Set the router to make 1⁄8"-deep dadoes, and make three cuts to complete the six dadoes in these two sides. When you position the remaining sides on the work board, align your jig with the dadoes you cut in the alignment strips.
Rout bottom grooves and complete the feet
The same bit I used to dado the sides will work in my router table to mill the bottom grooves and rout recesses in the lower sides to create the feet.
Match the dado depth. Adjust bit height to match the depth of dadoes milled in the sides. Then set the fence 3⁄16" from the bit, and mill the bottom grooves by running the bottom edge of each lower side against the fence. (A)
Creep up on your feet. Making a couple of shallow cutouts on each lower side will create feet, giving the project a graceful appearance and solid stance. This technique requires levering the side’s bottom edge into the bit, making a shallow cut (aim for 3⁄32"), then stopping the bit at the foot layout line.(B)Project photos: Morehead Photography; Illustrations: Dan Thornton
Cut dovetails by hand
with a simple saw guide and some sharp chisels
Cut the dovetails, then scribe the pins. Clamp the lower sides together so their dovetails
can be cut at the same time (left photo). A guide block clamped to the sides
keeps the blade on track when making the angled tail cuts. Complete the
dovetails by cutting out the waste at each corner. Then use the dovetails to
scribe pin cuts in end pieces (photo right). Make the pin cuts just inside
these layout marks.
Prep parts, then assemble, finish, and get organized!
When a dry-assembly indicates that all 10 pieces
fit together well, I spend a good 20 minutes chamfering edges with my block
plane and final-sanding every piece. Then I get set for glueup by making four clamping
cauls that enable me to put pressure on upper and lower side pieces with a pair
of clamps. Alternatively, you can fasten dado joints together by driving brass
escutcheon pins into predrilled holes, as I’ve done sometimes. Having used
wipe-on poly for my first organizer, I have switched over to spraying satin
varnish from an aerosol can, which is a faster, easier way to protect and
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