Storage Drill TeamComments (0)
This article is from Issue 1 of Woodcraft Magazine.
Here’s a handy shop project with a dual personality: It functions as both a drill press storage cabinet and an adjustable outfeed roller stand.
Even in a shop as small as a one-car garage, it’s always wise to keep a tool’s accessories as near the workstation as possible. Walking from my floor-model drill press to the back wall of the garage for drill bits quickly became tedious, so with storage space at a premium, I came up with this design for a rolling storage cabinet that would stow neatly beneath my drill press table.
The cabinet evolved out of two needs: the size and number of items I wanted to store, and the ever-present woodworker’s mantra, “How can I make it do more?” That question resulted in a project that does double duty as drill bit storage and as an adjustable infeed/outfeed support for all my machinery and workbench surfaces.
The cabinet itself is constructed mostly of 3/4" Baltic birch plywood, and measures 12" x 12-1/2" x 20-1/2" with the doors closed. The rolling support base is wider than the box by 2" to provide stability and to allow the casters to easily clear the drill press’ base when rolling the unit in and out. Below a 12" x 14" plywood platform is a frame of two 2x6s cross-braced with 3/4" plywood 3" wide in an “H” configuration. The 2x6s are 16" long, extending behind the box to serve as outriggers and steady the weight when tool-laden doors are swung open. The lower frame is concealed by skirting of 1/4" plywood.
With stem casters mounted at the outer corners, the rolling base raises the storage unit about 8" off the floor. This not only relieves a backache in not having to bend down so far, but the added height makes the adjustable roller bar more versatile at different machines.
If you choose to build the unit for storage beneath a bench or a wing of your table saw, frame the rolling base to the height needed, but keep the 14" width and 16" depth to add the casters beneath it, as this will provide the stability you’ll need when the two doors are open.
A 1/4" spacer under the storage cabinet’s center section allows the two doors to swing open freely on piano hinges. Each interior door is 2-5/8" deep, giving enough room for wide hole saws or rows of various bits. Brass case catches hold the doors closed on this project, but a hook-and-eye or sliding bolt would work just as well.
Finally, even though this project calls for several 3/4" dadoes and rabbets, remember that plywood is only nominally 3/4" thick; in reality it’s closer to 23/32" thick, so keep this in mind when making your cuts. Set your dado head on the table saw accordingly; if you use a router table to create dadoes, you might consider purchasing a router bit sized specifically for plywood.
Also, because plywood often has occasional small voids scattered among the plies – many of which you won’t find until you cut into it – you may want to touch up these areas with a bit of wood filler before assembly and final finishing.
Box and frame construction
Begin the cabinet by gluing up a closed box that will be divided with a center cut on the table saw. The two halves become the hinged doors. Square up six pieces of 3/4" plywood: two panels 12" x 20" for the door faces, two long sides 7" x 20-1/2", and two short ends 7" x 12" which will become the tops and bottoms of the deep doors.
Cut a rabbet on only the 12" sides of the two short end pieces, 3/4" wide and 1/2" deep. Cut the same rabbet on all four edges of the two long sides as in Fig. 1, and assemble the box with glue and light clamping pressure. After the glue has cured, all raw edges can be rounded over with sandpaper.
To bisect the box, use a zero-clearance insert in the table saw and have adequate outfeed support to make a center cut all around. Double-check for accurate fence alignment to prevent any binding on the saw blade, and be certain to turn the box end for end, with the same face referenced against the fence each time. Make the end cuts first, insert wedges of 1/8" hardboard to hold the saw kerf open, and clamp the box sides to hold the wedges in place as you make your cuts on the long sides (Figs. 2 & 3).
The center section is an open frame with two long sides of 3/4" x 5" x 20-1/2", rabbeted at each end 3/4" wide and 1/2" deep. The top and bottom pieces are 3/4" x 5" x 12". Clamp the top and bottom pieces edge-to-edge and rout a 3/4" dado across both of them to receive the center upright. I placed mine 3" in from the frame’s back edge to allow room for long drill bits and extenders in a slide-in block. Cut the center upright 5" x 20" long, but measure for fit when dry-clamping to exactly match your dadoes.
To create the single cross-shelf, clamp the center frame together without glue, test it for square (Fig. 4), and measure 10" down from the top to mark both the front long side and upright divider for 3/4" dadoes to receive the shelf. Disassemble and clamp the two boards edge-to-edge on your marks, and cut the dado across both. Based on where I placed the center upright, my shelf was 3/4" x 5" x 8-1/4". This middle shelf has no edge trim so that a plastic drill bit holder can easily be removed to read its markings. To prevent the plastic case from sliding, glue in a keeper block to set the case over, sized by the hollow opening under the bit case. Mine was 3/8" x 1-1/4" x 6".
Finally, add a 5" x 12-1/2" spacer of 1/4" plywood beneath the center section, gluing and clamping it into place. This will raise the cabinet sufficiently from the rolling base to give both doors clearance for opening and closing.
Before attaching the doors to the center section, glue some small trim pieces on the outsides of the center bottom shelf to keep whatever you store there from sliding out when the cabinet is rolled around.
I wanted an extra shelf inside the left door, so I added a 1/2" pair of support strips to the insides of the door about 3" from the top for a small shelf of 1/4" plywood, cut to fit and glued into place. You may choose to eliminate this shelf – or to add several of them.
After the basic components are complete, support each of the doors in turn, holding them level with the center section, and clamp the two together. Line up a piano hinge across the two pieces (one 48" hinge can be cut to length with a hacksaw), making certain each door is even with the top of the center section, and that the added 1/4" spacer extends below the doors. Drill pilot holes and insert all hinge screws, using a center punch to accurately start them.
A solid base
Making the base 14" wide, as I did, should allow it to fit over most floor-model drill press bases. Measure yours to be certain.
The rolling base uses standard 2x6 stock, but for a cleaner look without the rounded edges common to 2-by lumber, you may wish to use 2x8 stock cut to size. (Again, as with plywood, remember that dimensional lumber is only nominally 2x6, so trimming your 2x8 to a width of 5-1/2" will give you an “accurate” 2x6.)
To build the rolling base, lay the two 2x6s flat, clamped together on one long edge with the inside faces bookmatched. Rout a shallow 3/4" dado across the inside faces, 5" from what will be the front of the base for a cross-bar support. Stand them on edge, dadoes in, and glue and screw them to the 14"-wide plywood platform from above, countersinking and plugging the holes. Turn the platform over, test fit a 3"-wide plywood cross-brace to fit snugly inside your dadoes, then glue it in place. Also lay out the holes for the casters, centered at each outer corner, about 1" in from the ends of the 2x6s (Fig. 5).
The box unit may now be attached to the platform. Close and latch the two doors, and center the box unit on the base. (The 2x6s will extend 4" behind the box.) Open the doors and clamp the center section to the base platform, front and back. Drill and countersink pilot holes to attach the box unit with 1-1/2" wood screws. Glue isn’t really necessary; plus, you may want remove the box unit later to mount elsewhere in your shop, so I’d leave this option open.
Add the casters and enclose the front and two sides of the roller base with 1/4" plywood as skirting, then lightly sand any rough edges.
Rise to the occasion
Now you’re ready to add the riser bar with ball-bearing rollers on top. The uprights are 3/4" x 3-3/8" x 19", and will fit between the door latches.
Rout a 1/4" slot, 16" long along the centerline of each upright. Work this slot in 1/4" increments to the center thickness of the plywood from both sides, being careful to maintain the same reference edge against the router table fence for each pass. This will help prevent tearout, since you won’t be breaking through either side, but coming to the middle (Fig. 6).
Cut a pair of hardwood blocks 3/4" x 1-1/2" x 5", and drill each in the center to accept a four-prong 1/4"-20 T-nut, inserted from the back side. Glue and screw the blocks securely to the top of the center unit, flush with the outer edges. Feed a 2" 1/4"-20 bolt through the T-nuts and the uprights, and into washers and a threaded T-style knob for height adjustment.
The horizontal top bar can be any length within reason; mine is 3/4" x 3-3/8" x 16-1/2". Place the top bar flat on the T-nut support blocks and mark outside them to locate the dadoes for the uprights, then glue the uprights in place. A short length of quarter-round molding mounted outside the dado joints will help brace the top bar.
To ensure that the riser travels vertically, you’ll need to install a 1/4" dowel as a guide pin. Raise the bar to the highest level needed (for me, that was the height of my drill press table elevated for use with short bits), then use a level to be certain the riser bar is aligned and level both front-to-back and side-to-side. Tighten the riser bar in place and mark the bottom of the routed slot below the plastic knobs on each side. Drill a hole for a 1/4" dowel. Pressure-fit the dowels – don’t glue them in – as the only way to remove the riser bar is to take out the dowel pins.
Lay out placement of the ball-bearing rollers and screw them to the top support bar (Fig. 7). The actual number of rollers you’ll need depends on the length you decide to make the support bar. The roller mounting sleeves measure 2" x 2-3/4", so do a bit of math before purchasing the rollers to ensure you’ll have the correct number.
As a final touch, you might want to glue small trim pieces around the outer top edges of the box to prevent things from rolling off. I had some triangular cutoffs I sanded down and mitered, but 1/4" trim molding would work for this, too.
Storage considerations and final finishing
In addition to plastic or metal drill bit cases and holders, you’ll want to create your own holders based on what you plan to store in the cabinet. I made a support block from a 5"-long piece of 2x4, drilled it to hold tall drill bits, and slid it into the tall rear portion of the center section. I also laminated a deeper block from two pieces of 3/4" plywood, face-glued and drilled with step-down holes to support the tapered ends of auger bits.
For interior storage, what worked for me was a glued-in block and three dowels in the right-hand door to hold a hand brace in position, while a depth gauge rested on two short dowels beside it. I also laminated a larger stepped block and set it into the left door for spade bits and Forstner bits. Countersinks and plug cutters are inserted into holes in a narrow strip glued above them.
Keep in mind that all these arrangements were dictated by what I had to store, so customize your interior shelving by what items you’ve gathered together for your cabinet.
I finished the project inside and out with Zinsser Seal Coat, which is a fast drying, de-waxed shellac. You could also paint or stain the cabinet to match other shop furniture.
With the riser left up a few inches, the closed unit makes a convenient place to lay down a pencil or an awl, and the riser bar has made a nice handle to assist in rolling the unit wherever I need it in the shop. It parks out of the way, holds all of my drilling accessories, and has room for later purchases.
An added bonus is that my bits are now latched in an enclosed space so I can use a dehumidifier to keep condensation off them and prevent rust problems. For now, I’ve made this little storage unit do all I need, and the space beneath my drill press table is no longer wasted.
Table saw or router table?
A 3/4" dado set is the ideal tool to cut the wide rabbets used to make this storage cabinet, but there are other ways to proceed if you don’t have one. A 3/4" straight bit in a router table is one alternative, raised in increments of 1/4" for each pass until the required depth is met. You can also use smaller bits in multiple passes to achieve the final dimensions of the rabbet.
Another method involves adding a tall support to the table saw fence, so the workpiece can be passed by the blade securely on its edge to make the first cut, then laid flat on the tabletop to complete the rabbet. Be certain the offcut will fall freely to the outside of the blade, and use a zero-clearance insert.
No matter what method you use, it’s always wise to test your setup on scrap material before cutting actual workpieces. And always remember woodworking’s cardinal rule: If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsure about a procedure, re-examine the setup or find a different way to do it.
Barb Siddiqui is an amateur woodworker and a freelance writer with articles published in Popular Woodworking, in Woodworker’s Journal and at womeninwoodworking.com. She also writes book reviews for WoodCentral.com and Canadian Home Workshop magazine. She lives in Wenatchee, Wash.
3/4" Baltic birch plywood (2) 12" x 20"
3/4" Baltic birch plywood (2) 7" x 20-1/2"
3/4" Baltic birch plywood (2) 7" x 12"
3/4" Baltic birch plywood (2) 5" x 20-1/2"
top & bottom:
3/4" Baltic birch plywood (2) 5" x 12"
3/4" Baltic birch plywood 5" x 20"
center cross shelf:
3/4" Baltic birch plywood 5" x 8-1/4"
drill case keeper block:
3/8" pine 1-1/4" x 6"
inner door shelf:
1/4" plywood 2-1/4" x 10-1/2"
spacer below center section:
1/4" plywood 5" x 12-1/2"
block for long bits:
pine or hardwood 2" x 4" x 5"
support blocks for T-nuts:
3/4" hardwood (2) 5" x 1-1/2"
3/4" Baltic birch plywood 12" x 14"
3/4" Baltic birch plywood 3" x 11-3/4"
pine 2" x 6" (2) 16"
1/4" plywood (2) 6-1/4" x 16"
1/4" plywood 6-1/4" x 14-1/2"
3/4" Baltic birch plywood (2) 3-3/8" x 19"
3/4" Baltic birch plywood 3-3/8" x 16-1/2"
quarter-round molding (2) 3-3/8"
1/4" dowels (2) 1-1/2"
(2) 1/4"-20 2" bolts with washers
(2) case catches, brass, #130103, $4.50 (pkg. of 2)
(2) four-prong 1/4"-20 T-nuts, #130226, $1.99 (pkg. of 10)
(2) 2" T-style knobs, #85J95, $.99 each
ball-bearing work rollers, #07B08, $3.50 each*
(4) twin-wheel stem casters, #27I48, $10.99 (pkg. of 4)
48" piano hinge, brass, #27H48, $15.99
Woodcraft Supply Corp.
* The actual number of work rollers needed for this project is determined by the overall length of the top support bar. A longer bar requires more rollers. Roller mounting sleeves measure 2" x 2-3/4".
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