Router Cabinet with a Bit More

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This article is from Issue 32 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Organize your stash of bits and router accessories in this thrifty weekend project.

Designers/Builders: Jim Harrold and Jody Garrett

Inexpensive MDF (medium-density fiberboard), hardboard, and pine 2-by material combine to create an accommodating cabinet that offers user-friendly storage for bits, bushings, safety gear, wrenches, and anything else that’s router-related and in need of a home. The cabinet features five different holders for a variety of items, including lift-out bit holders that let you keep your cove, straight, round-over, and other bit groups all together. For convenience, hang the cabinet over your router table at arm’s reach.

Note: We used the 32mm template system to establish evenly-spaced holes for hanging shelves and installing 110° full-overlay cup hinges. See the Convenience-Plus Buying Guide for the needed template, bits, and hinges.

If you like the speed and simplicity of this shop project, you can use the same system to build a full set of wall and base cabinets for your shop. Check out of the June/July 09 issue of Woodcraft Magazine, available at

The cleats on the bit holders double as stands so that the holders can be set wherever they’re needed.

Build the box

1 Rip ¾" MDF to 6¾" wide. Crosscut two pieces to 32" for the sides (A) and two pieces to 22½" for the top and bottom (B).

2 Install a sacrificial fence onto your table saw’s fence, replace the blade with a dado set, and cut a ½"-wide, ½"-deep rabbet along the back edges of the sides (A) and top and bottom (B). (See the Corner Detail in Figure 1.)

3 If using the 110° full-overlay cup hinges shown here, and/or if you plan to include a shelf or two in the cabinet, prepare to drill the needed holes by clamping the metric shelf-pin jig onto the inside bottom front edge of one side (A). Fit a 3/8" guide bushing and a 5mm-diameter spiral upcut bit in a plunge router, and adjust the bit cutting depth to make ½"-deep holes. Now, starting at one end of the jig, insert the router’s bushing in an alignment hole and plunge-bore a ½"-deep hole in the cabinet side (A). Move the router from hole to hole. Move the jig along the length of the side’s edge, fixing it in place with the alignment pin (comes with the jig) and clamps. Continue boring the uniformly- spaced holes as shown in Photo A.

4 Adjust and relocate the shelf pin jig for routing the holes along the back edge of the side (A), starting at the bottom end. Repeat the boring process for the remaining side.

5 On an assembly table, apply glue, butt, and clamp the sides (A) against the top and bottom (B). Square the corners. (We used spring clamps to attach 3-D Squares at the corners.) Chuck a 7×50mm Confirmat drill bit into your drill and counterbore eight holes 2½" in from the side edges and centered on the ends of the top and bottom (B) where shown in Figure 1. Assemble the pieces together with 7×50mm Confirmat screws as shown in Photo B.

6 Measure the rabbeted opening at the back of the cabinet and cut a back (C) out of ½" MDF. Apply a small bead of glue in the rabbet, fit the back in place, and secure it with 1¼" finish nails or brads.

7 Cut a pair of doors (D) to the size in the Cut List. Next, use the hinge’s hole locations for the 110° overlay cup hinges where shown in the Hinge Detail in Figure 1. Next, using the hinge jig in the Buying Guide, locate the hinge holes. With the accompanying 35mm Forstner bit, bore ½"-deep holes for the hinge cups. Use an 8mm bit to bore the dowel holes. Tap the hinges into the doors and screw the mounting plates into the front line of holes in the sides (A). Locate, drill, and add the pulls where shown and unclip the doors and set them aside.

Use a shelf-pin jig to rout the holes for the shelf pins and hinges.

Assemble the case by drilling pilot holes and driving Confirmat screws, which are used with MDF.

8 Bevel-cut a pair of mating cleats (E) to size for hanging the cabinet onto the wall (See Figure 1). Crosscut a lower wall spacer (F) to size. Glue and screw one beveled cleat (bevel down) onto the cabinet back and ¼" down from the top edge, and the lower spacer 1/4" up from the bottom edge.

9 If desired, cut and install one or more ¾ × 6 × 223/8" shelves (G).

10 If you intend to paint the cabinet, fill the screw holes, sand, and brush or roll on two coats of paint, sanding between each coat with 180 grit. For abrasion resistance, apply a polyurethane topcoat over the paint.

Make the bit and bushing holders

1 Figure the number of bit holders you want for your cabinet. Then, angle the table saw blade to 30° and rip a length of 2×8 to 6" wide. On your mitersaw, crosscut the piece into the desired number of bit holders (H). (We made six bit holders for our cabinet, though you may want to substitute two

holders with a shelf.)

2 Cut, rabbet, and rout the bushing holder (J) just as you did for the bit holder, only adjust the overall dimensions to 1½ × 41/8  × 10¼".

3 With the table saw blade still set at 30°, raise it to 1¼". Adjust the fence and make a kerf-wide rabbet cut along the beveled edge of both holders (H and J) as shown in Photo C. Adjust the fence 1/8" and make a second deeper rabbet cut. Place a scrap piece of ¼" hardboard into the rabbet and feel for a flush fit where the wood and hardboard meet. Adjust the fence and make a skim cut on the holders if needed.

Angle the table saw blade and cut the rabbet for the hardboard stand.

Mark and drill ½"-deep holes for your router bits. Slightly oversized holes make bits easy to remove.

4 Chuck a ¼"-radius round-over bit in your table-mounted router and round over all but the back edges on both holders (H and J).

5 Referring to the Bit Holder in Figure 2, mark the hole locations for ¼"- and ½"-shank router bits on one holder (H). This piece

will serve as your master. For

¼" shank bits, chuck a 5/16" brad-point bit in your drill press. Set up fence stops and adjust the bit depth for a ½"-deep hole. Drill the holes in the workpiece and the remaining bit holders as shown in Photo D. Chuck a 13mm (33/64") drill bit in your drill press and repeat the process for drilling the holes for the ½"-shank router bits.

6 Lay out the bushing and lock ring holes on the bushing holder (J) as shown in Figure 2. Chuck a 1¼" Forstner bit into your drill press and bore the shallow holes.

7 Cut enough ¼" hardboard for the holder stands (I and K) and the cabinet cleats (L) to 3" wide, beveling one edge of the stands at 30°. Trim the stands to length to fit the holders. Next, drill three evenly-spaced countersunk holes along one edge and glue and screw the stands in the rabbets in both holders (H and J).

Space the cabinet cleats evenly from top to bottom and screw them to the back.

Make the cabinet cleats and spacers

1 Resaw, rip, and crosscut enough cleat spacers (M) to ¼ × 15/16 × 22½". Glue and clamp these flush to the bottom edge of the cabinet cleats (L).

2 Once dry, screw the cleat assemblies (L, M) to the cabinet back (C) as shown in Figure 1, and Photo E. Hang bit-holder assemblies (H, I) and the bushing holder/stand (J/K) onto the cabinet cleats.

Build more holders

1 Use the holder examples for the wrenches, ear muffs, and safety glasses in Figure 2 as guides, but feel free to customize these as needed.

2 To position the door-mounted hangers, test-fit them with double-faced tape to make sure that they don’t collide with the bit holders when the doors are closed.

Final touches

1 Attach a mating wall cleat (E) to the wall at a convenient height with 2½"-long screws. Use a stud finder to be sure that both screws are driven into studs. Now hang the cabinet.

2 Snap the cup hinges on the doors into the mounting plates on the sides. Adjust the doors to create an even 1/8" reveal.

3 Fill and hang the router bit and guide bushing holders. Screw the remaining holders to the doors.


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