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Thread: Oak Filing Cabinets

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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    Oak Filing Cabinets

    (post 1 of 3)

    This is a project that I have been working at on and off for a long time and want to complete soon. My hope is that if I start a thread and report on progress regularly it will encourage me to stick to the project and finish it. As usual, I will document progress with extracts from my journal.

    2008, Nov 30:

    This week I got started in earnest on building some Christmas presents. I'm making two small oak filing cabinets for our office as a present for Margaret. This week, I cut all plywood for the carcasses and started gluing them up:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 01 -Routing rabbets and dados in carcass pieces -small.JPG 
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Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 02 -Carcasses being glued up -small.JPG 
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    The plans for these cabinets came from issue 179 of Woodsmith magazine.

    2008, Dec 21:

    I got back to the oak filing cabinets this week, but decided that I was not going to attempt to finished them by Christmas. The new objective is to have them ready to present to Margaret as a birthday gift on January 1. Even then. there will probably be some work remaining to do on them.

    First of all, I cut the plywood for the carcass backs using my Incra cross-cut sled because I couldn't be bothered to clear the mess off the MFT:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 03 -Plywood for cabinet backs cut using cross cut sled on tablesaw ... -smal.JPG 
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Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 04 -...because I couldnt be bother to clear off the MFT -small.JPG 
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    It's nice to have the alternative.

    I finished the inside of the carcasses with a coat of Old Master?s Special Walnut gel stain followed by two coats of Minwax Wipe-On Poly:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 05 -The inside of the cabinets were stained before attaching the back -small.JPG 
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    I made a prototype drawer out of fir plywood to test the fit:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 06 -Prototype drawer -small.JPG 
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Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 07 -The prototype fits -small.JPG 
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    And, as you can see, the fit was good.

    2008, Dec 30:

    I got a bit more work done on the file cabinets after Christmas. Here are some pictures with captions beside each:

    Oscillating spindle sander used on file drawer sides: Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 08 -Sanding the curved edges of the drawers with oscillating sander -small.JPG 
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    File drawer glue-up: Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 09 -Gluing up the drawers -small.JPG 
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    Oak strips being glued to cabinet front: Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 10 -Gluing quarter  inch oak strips to the carcass front -small.JPG 
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    Cheers, Frank

  2. #2
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    (post 2 of 3)

    2009, Jan 4:

    I worked quite a lot on the filing cabinet in the early part of the week, but I still did not get it completed in time for Margaret's birthday. In the picture to the left below, you can see how the false fronts of the drawers are constructed. First a plywood piece was cut and surrounded with glued quarter inch strips oak. Then shallow groves were routed down the middles of both planes of the doors. Then strips of oak were glues into the grooves -leaving about 1/16th of an inch within the grooves on each side of the strips. Four small library file false fronts were then cut to fit each of the quadrants and their edges were rounded with a Cove bit.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 11 -Library filing cabinet false fronts tested for size on plywood base -sma.JPG 
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Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 12 -Sanding rounded coves of the library file false fronts -small.JPG 
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    One of the rounded hand-held sanding profiles from Lee Valley proved to be perfect for sanding within the rounded coves of the library file false fronts (as seen in the photo to the right above).

    The technique I used to install an assembled false front onto a file drawer is simple and effective. First are a couple of pictures followed by a description:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 13 -Installing false front -1 -small.JPG 
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Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 14 --Installing false front -2 -small.JPG 
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    First the false front is positioned, using shims where of help, in the opening in front of the installed drawer. Employing a couple of the holes that will eventually be used by the drawer handles, the false front is temporarily screwed front the front onto the real drawer front. Then the drawer is opened, the false front is clamped to the read front and permanent screws are driven into the false front from behind. I can't take credit for this technique -I read it in one of Danny Proulx's books.

    Installing the handles presented some problems. The bolts that come with the handles are quite short (about 1 inch) and they have a non-standard thread meaning that I was unable to obtain longer ones of the same thread size at a reasonable price. By the time all the components of a drawer front are put together, the wood behind a handle is 2 inches thick, even if you don't include the real drawer front the material is 1.25 inches thick. So, I had to drill a wide hole part way through the material from the back from which the bolts (2 per handle) could be screwed in. I first tried drilling the holes with a hand held drill using a drill bit stop but I was not accurate enough which resulted in some crooked handles (more on that later).

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 15 -Drilling larger hole on back of false front -small.JPG 
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    A coat of Old Masters Special Walnut Gel Stain was applied:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 16 -Gel stain on a false front -small.JPG 
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    then wiped off after 10 minutes. This gel could not reach all the small spaces, so I simply applied Watco Dark Walnut to these cracks with a fine brush. The handles were then screwed on from behind.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 17 -Applying stain to the cracks with a very fine brush -small.JPG 
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    As I said above, a couple of the handles were a little crooked, but I went ahead and presented a single drawer false front to Margaret on her birthday.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 18 -False front presented to Margaret as a birthday present -small.JPG 
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    She was quite taken with the library file drawer simulation and likes the idea of the filing cabinets along with what I have managed to build so far.
    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 01-16-2009 at 02:09 PM.
    Cheers, Frank

  3. #3
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    (post 3 of 3)

    2008, Jan 15:

    I got back the filing cabinet project yesterday.

    The first thing that I did was fill the erroneously place holes with auto body filler:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 20 -Filling a couple of holes with auto body filler -small.JPG 
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    Then, I re-drilled the holes, this time using my drill press. Even then the holes were not as accurately placed as I would have liked because there is no room at all for error -the two holes for the screws for each handle must be dead on. The next time I need to drill pairs of holes like this I will do so using a template.

    The four false fronts have now had three coats of wipe-on poly applied and rubbed off. Two of the false fronts have been permanently installed and work is underway on the other two. I took this picture a couple of hours ago:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Oak Filing Cabinets 21 -Installing false fronts on all drawers -small.JPG 
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    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 01-16-2009 at 02:15 PM.
    Cheers, Frank

  4. #4
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    Nice work Frank I like the card file look a lot and Nice finish too!
    Aloha,

    What goes around, comes around.

  5. #5
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    That set is looking great Frank.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  6. #6
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    thankyou for posting, its a great project

  7. #7
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    Frank, I like it. The card file look is perfect. Great idea. As always, you do great work.
    Wm. Jason Tuinstra
    www.makerofshaker.com

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Tuinstra View Post
    Frank, I like it. The card file look is perfect. Great idea. As always, you do great work.
    Thanks Jason. It is a great idea but the name is not mine -I got it from Woodsmith magazine.
    Cheers, Frank

  9. #9
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    Very nice so far!

    Regarding the non-standard screw size, something that has helped me figure out screw / bolt sizes and threads is my Harbor Freight tap and die set. It comes with a pitch gauge which helps with one of the more difficult to measure parts of screws.

    Failing a determination, the taps could just be used to rethread to something more commonly available.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Kosmowski View Post
    Very nice so far!

    Regarding the non-standard screw size, something that has helped me figure out screw / bolt sizes and threads is my Harbor Freight tap and die set. It comes with a pitch gauge which helps with one of the more difficult to measure parts of screws.

    Failing a determination, the taps could just be used to rethread to something more commonly available.
    Thanks Mark, it was not that I do not know the size and that the longer bolts were not available. I have both Imperial and Metric screw guages and was able to determine the size. It's metric (I forget now just which size) and very expensive at the suppliers that I found.

    I never thought of rethreading. It's something I have never done and, if something like this comes up again, I may try re-threading.
    Cheers, Frank

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