Sandpaper Storage To Go

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This article is from Issue 38 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Organize sheets, discs, pads, and more in this tamboured tote box.

Who doesn’t need flexible, dedicated storage to keep sandpaper and sanding accessories sorted and easy to access? This plywood box provides multiple slide-out trays in two sizes for a variety of needs. You can even further divide the trays with divider strips if you so desire. To shut out dust, I designed a pull-down tambour door that you make or buy, depending on your budget. And to tote the box around the shop, reach for the finger-friendly handles drilled through the sides. Another plus is the corralled top that can serve as a cutting station for sizing sheets for your pad sander and sanding blocks.

Note: Because plywood thicknesses come slightly under the dimensions in the plan, measure your plywood and make any needed adjustments when machining the dadoes and rabbets.

See the Convenience-Plus Buying Guide on page 22 for a list of materials and supplies used to make this project.

With the plywood bottom contacting the dado set, mark this leading edge on the fence as shown.

Ease the piece into the dado set, stopping when the marks align. Chisel the stopped dado square.

First, the box

1 Cut the sides (A), back (B), top (C), bottom (D), and divider (E) to the sizes listed in the Cut List. Mark out the radii in the upper front corners in the sides in Figure 1. Also, note that the left and right sides mirror each other, as do the stopped dado locations in the top and bottom.

2 Attach a sacrificial fence to your tablesaw fence, and install a dado set and zero-clearance insert. Now, using the Box 

Parts View in Figure 2, 

lay out and cut the 1⁄4"-deep rabbets and full-length dadoes in the sides (A) and back (B).

3 Lay out the stopped dadoes in the back (B) and bottom (D) for divider (E). Now set the fence at 123⁄4" from the the dado set. Use the bottom to establish where the front end of the dado set contacts the workpiece, and mark the auxiliary fence (Photo A). Make a second mark on the outside face of the workpiece and 3⁄4" in from the trailing edge by the fence.

4 Turn on the saw and cut the stopped dado in the bottom (D) as shown in Photo B. Turn off the saw when the mark on the bottom aligns with the one on the fence. Square the dado.

5 Set the fence 71⁄4" from the inside teeth of the dado set, mark the outside face of back (B), and make the stopped dado on the inside face. Square the stopped dado as before.

6 Dry-fit the box parts with clamps. Next, mark and drill the countersunk pilot holes in sides (A), back (B), and bottom (D) where shown in Figure 2.

7 Cut a piece of 1⁄4" hardboard 

or plywood to at least 

12 × 12" for the template for routing the tambour door groove. Bandsaw and sand a 11⁄2" radius on one corner.

8 As shown in Figure 3, clamp the template in place on the inside face of one side (A). Now, set up a handheld router with a 7⁄16" OD guide bushing and a 3⁄16" straight bit adjusted to cut 1⁄2" deep (the thickness of the template plus 1⁄4").

9 Next, rout the tambour track groove in one side (A), using the bushing to guide against the template. Relocate the template onto the mirroring side, and rout the remaining tambour groove.

10 Bandsaw the 11⁄2" radii on the front top corners of sides (A). Sand smooth.

11 Mark out the handle openings in the sides (A) using Figure 2. Now drill overlapping holes with a 1" Forstner bit.

Make the traysand tray supports

1 Cut the tray supports (F) to size. 

2 Now place the divider (E) on a flat surface. Cut a 1⁄4"-thick spacer from scrap. Referring to Figure 2, start at the top edge of the divider and fasten the tray supports (F) flush with the front edge with glue and brads (Photo C). Use the spacer to locate and fasten the supports to the divider’s other side and inside faces of sides (A).

3 Next, assemble the box with glue and screws, but do not attach the back (B).

4 Cut the large trays (G) and the small trays (H) to size. You will need about 1⁄32" clearance between the sides (A) and divider (E) for easy sliding.

5 With a 3⁄4" Forstner bit, bore the finger pulls on the large trays (G) and the small trays (H).

6 To organize narrower sandpaper strips for your block sanders, customize the trays by cutting, gluing, and nailing tray dividers (I) as shown in Figure 1.

7 With the back (B) removed, apply two to three coats of protective finish (we used clear satin water-based polyurethane) to the box sanding between each one.

Use a fine-toothed handsaw to cut the premade tambour roll, supporting it as shown.

Secure the tambour strips with Gorilla Tape evenly spaced across the inside face. 

Tambour door options

Option 1: Premade tambour

1 Working from one end of a coiled tambour roll, mark the needed door length. To determine the length, measure the door opening plus the groove depths, minus 1⁄16". 

2 Now, elevate the tambour roll for clearance, and cut it proud of the marked length (Photo D). 

Unroll the workpiece, and, placing the factory edge against your tablesaw fence, cut it to finished length. Proceed to the next section for installation.

Option 2: Shop-made tambour

1 Plane a 24" length of stock to 1⁄2" thick. Now, adjust your saw fence and rip 22 tambour strips (J) to 5⁄32" thick using a sharp 40-tooth or greater saw blade with a zero-clearance throat plate and splitter for the smoothest cut. Start with a jointed edge and rip the strip to thickness. Repeat the jointing and ripping until you have the needed number. Ensure the strips are straight and flat, cutting extras if needed. Now, mark the sawn sides to indicate the inside faces.

2 Next, crosscut the strips (J) to 207⁄16" long using a stopblock.

3 Place a framing square on a flat surface and clamp it down so it can’t move. Lay the strips (J)—backsides facing up—so the first strip is against the long arm of the square and tight in the corner. Place the other strips alongside one another. Now snug them together and firmly secure the assembly with four evenly spaced lengths of Gorilla Tape (Photo E). Space the outside tape lengths 3⁄4" in from the ends of the strips. With a utility knife, cut the tape where the square and the first strip meet. Next, cut the tape flush along the outside edge of the outside strip.

Align the ends of the tambour door with the grooves, and slide the door in place, raising and lowering it to test the action.

Finally, install the tambour door

1 Drill a pilot hole for the knob attachment screw centered in the second strip (J) from the bottom edge of the assembled tambour door. Now, slide the door into the groove from the back of the box (Photo F) and check the fit.

2 With the door in place, insert a screw through the tambour and thread on the knob. Screw on the back, open the door, and slip in the trays. Add the sandpaper sheets and discs and other sanding accessories.  

Cutting and sizing sheets

To cut sheet sandpaper for sanding blocks and pad sanders, make cutting templates to the most-used sizes (1⁄2-, 1⁄4-, and 1⁄3-sheet) from 1⁄8" acrylic. Slice the sheets with a rotary cutter on a cutting mat using the templates to speed your work. This approach allows you to better control the depth of cut while proving safer overall, and you can store all the items on top of the tote.


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