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My way

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There are certain ways to do things: the right way, easy way, inexpensive way, most efficient way, fastest way, most attractive way, etc. Usually you have to pick just one, but sometimes you get lucky.

Refresher: I’m planning a long wall-based cabinet in my garage shop that will hold several benchtop tools, and provide storage below. The overall length will be between 8’ and 9’. The “right way” would be to build traditional cabinets, put them in place and cover them all with a countertop as you would in a kitchen. However, the right way has drawbacks.

For one thing it’s the most expensive way, and I’m just a poor woodworking writer. For another, making traditional cabinets takes the most time. Finally, these cabinets will extend far enough from the wall they’ll impair parking a car inside – not an issue for me since this is a full-time shop, but if we ever move, those cabinets have to go. Sure, traditional cabinets can be removed, but then what? I’m left with cabinets I can’t do anything with.

The easy way is to make the cabinet as a built-in using a framework – a long cleat attached to the wall supports the benchtop in back, while vertical legs at the corners and spaced as needed support the benchtop in front. A skirt around the top provides a means of adding additional horizontal support members for the benchtop (which is going to hold my lathe and other heavy tools), providing rigidity and dampening vibration. A face frame on the front and “skinning” the sides with thin plywood completes the cabinet. How I locate those vertical legs and how I design the face frame determines door and drawer locations.

This way is easy, it’s fast and it’s inexpensive. The skinning plywood on the sides, solid hardwood face frame and benchtop trim, and better-grade birch plywood for the doors and drawer fronts also make it attractive. And because the whole thing can be knocked down and dismantled if I have to move – meaning the materials can be reused and reconfigured for a similar structure custom-fit to a new location – it’s efficient.

Yep, that’s the easy way all right. But because it also combines several other ways – fast, inexpensive, attractive, efficient – it also qualifies as yet another way.

The right way? No, surely not. But for me and my needs, it’s the best way.

Till next time,


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