Garage Cabinets

I decided that one garage bay will become a "shop" for my tools, workbenches, and machinery, leaving the other bay for general use, including putting a car in as necessary. I used to have an old, very heavy desk on casters as my workbench, but it kept ending up as a dumping ground for all sorts of things from tools to engine blocks to EFI systems to boxes of screws. I decided to give that desk/bench to a friend, and build new, narrower benches for my smaller power tools.

MDF is a cheap material and very strong down it's length, if it's not asked to span a great distance. This is why most less costly cabinets use MDF for the doors, sides, and backs but use pine or other wood for the top, bottom and shelves. I'm making the wood lathe cabinet which will be much taller than the rest.

I've cut all the pieces, ready to be doweled and glued together for strength. This saved me the time and aggrevation of dovetailing or making rabbit joints.

A dowel guide makes easy work of centering drill bits into MDF or any wood for that matter. This is a fancy one that cost me about $25 at Ace Hardware.

Doweling and gluing.

Doweling and gluing continued.

Doweling and gluing.

Doweling and gluing.

Doweling and gluing. I've routed out one of the cabinet openings in the front with the router. I could have made the cross pieces out of strips of MDF, but it was much easier to just use a solid panel and route the openings.

More routing.

I've installed the back, doweled, glued and clamped and now impatiently waiting for it to dry.

The cabinet is now installed in the garage, and you can see the tongue and groove planking I will be installing on top for a nicer finish. MDF, while strong in some ways, chips easily and absorbs moisture very quickly. Covering it with a more durable wood makes this better looking and durable.

Here's the top of the cabinet, looking down.

Some of the planking as been installed, and you'd have to agree this looks by far better than bare MDF.

More doweling to install the top which will be of solid oak. Oak will give the wood lathe some additional rigidity as it relies on it's mounting to be rigid.

The oak top is installed and clamped. I'm using the Compaq monitor as weight to help clamp that area.

Wood lathe installed. Why would I mount my woodlathe so high in the air? It's at eye level, and for whatever reason I prefer it this way. And yes I wear a full face shield while using it.

Time to continue building cabinets. Next is the "fridge" cabinet. Inside will be my "beer fridge" which usually has soda but some beer for visitors. Here is the back.

The cabinet is complete, installation waiting for the glue to dry.

The cabinet is now installed flush to the side of the long wood lathe cabinet, glued and doweled like everything else. I had to re-dowel, glue and clamp the cross piece as I slipped and banged my head on it and of course it broke off.

Starting of the long cabinet. This is a unique structure which will have counter top on the back while the front remains open for my CNC plasma cutting machine which I haven't made yet. There is reason behind the madness.

More routing, more door openings, more doweling.

This opening I cut out with the circular saw, doing plunge cuts which are always fun. I used a metal strip as a cutting guide to ensure the opening is much straighter than the routed cuts of the lathe cabinet.

Since the circular saw leaves little "ticks" at the edges of the cuts I had to saw them off using a handsaw. Not a big deal, just something I didn't think about until I discovered it!

More drilling for dowels.

Whoops, I ran out of homeade dowels, so I had to make some more on the grinder. They're just 3/8" in diameter, cut to about 1.5-2" depending on how many pieces of MDF they have to go through. I sanded the edges on the grinder simply because it was easier to find than my sander. This is why I'm building the cabinets - so I don't have to move things around off the floor to use my tools!

On the third day, the Lord said "Let there be dowels!". I complied with His divine wishes.

The plasma CNC cabinet is now complete, glue drying.

The final cabinet will support my grinder and my small drill press, and it's constructed the same way as everything else. MDF, dowels, glue, clamps.

Getting there, slowly!

While the glue dries, I decided to take up more tongue and groove planking. This required more routing since the planking overlapped the openings. The planking was 60% off at Home Depot and why I chose this style. I would have prefered something else but cheap is good.

The cabinets are really starting to look good. I even planked the half wall I built down the center of the two garage bays to retain dust/dirt on the shop side.

Another picture showing the overall design. The tops are MDF and they're doweled into the side supports but they aren't glued. I did this so as I beat the hell out of them from use, I can replace them at some point without dealing with glue. Lift off, replace, repaint.

More planking.

Almost done, but I'm calling it a night. Been working on this for 12 hours straight and I somehow managed to forget to eat anything today. One cannot function on coffee alone.

Next day - I've stained all the planking with a dark minwax product that has a sealer in it. Two coats made for a nice, dark finish.

Once the cabinets were dry, I reinstalled the tops and saturated them with Rustoleum's hammer-finish paint in a medium grey. This paint offers a tough finish that will resist chipping and beatings, and is easily reapplied even years down the road.

And here is the finished product. Time to mount some tools!