Introduction: Hardware Organizer Cabinet Made With Box Joints
This hardware organizer cabinet is for centralizing screws, nuts and bolts, hold-down knobs, or pretty much whatever other hardware you can think of. By the nature of how you purchase hardware, it becomes pretty easy to have stacks and stacks of tiny boxes and bags all over the shop.
This is a really simple design — a box with two shelves, a backer and 11 removable drawers. The drawers can then be divided into up to 22 individual cubbies.
The largest drawers are perfectly sized to fit two medium-sized Kreg pocket-hole screw containers, and each of the drawers can be removed and taken to where you're working.
Finally, the whole hardware organizer is box-jointed for strength and durability. This may seem intimidating, but with a super easy-to-make jig, it becomes really simple to make them.
- 4' x 4' sheet of 1/2" plywood
- 4' x 2' sheet of 1/8" plywood
- Wood glue
- Optional: Free downloadable plans and cut-list
Step 1: Break Down the Plywood
Like most projects involving plywood, this one starts with breaking down the parts into manageable pieces.
Rip the plywood into strips according to the downloadable plans and cut list, then cross-cut them into individual pieces. If you follow the cut list I've put together, you can get all of the pieces for the hardware organizer cabinet and the 11 drawers from the half-sheet.
Repeat this process with the 1/8" plywood sheet to make the drawer bottoms and dividers.
I recommend labeling each part to avoid confusion later, because they're all roughly the same size.
Step 2: (Optional) Make a Box Joint Jig
If you don't have a box joint jig already, you'll need to make one:
- Take an offcut of the 1/2" plywood and crosscut a slot into it as shown. The dimensions of the offcut don't actually matter, but it should be taller than the fence you're using to crosscut it for stability. For this cut, I set the table saw blade to just lower than the thickness of my organizer parts. I’m doing this to ensure that the ends of the boxes will sit flat on the sled’s surface as I cut the joints.
- Cut a key that is the width of the slot you just cut. I’m just using a single blade so I’m cutting my key to one eighth of an inch to match it, but if you’re using a dado blade — which I’d very much recommend — you’d cut your key to the thickness of that slot. You’re looking for a perfect friction fit.
- Dab on some glue (I used superglue) to hold the key in place, making sure it doesn't protrude on the backside of the jig.
- Once the glue is set, saw most of the key off and saved that scrap. it’ll be used for setting up the jig.
- Set up the jig by putting the offcut of the key in between the key and the blade, then securing the jig to my table saw sled.
Step 3: Cut the Box Joints
Before I started cutting, I marked a ‘T’ on the top sides of all of my pieces to keep everything in order. As we cut, the ‘T’ is always going to point toward the pin.
The first side of the joint is started by sliding the workpiece up to the key and making a cut. Then, it’s a matter of cutting the rest of the kerfs in that side, registering the previous cut on the key.
For the second board, we have to use the first as a spacer to create the proper joint. I flipped around the first board to put the ‘T’ toward the pin, then registered the first kerf on the key. You can see this prevents the second board from sliding all the way to the pin. With the ‘T’ of the second board toward the pin, I make the first cut, which will eliminate the space at the top of this board. Then, I can register that cut against the pin and make the second cut. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the kerfs on the second board.
With 96 sides of 12 boxes to cut, this will be the longest step of this project. Put some music into your ISOTunes and just go with it!
Step 4: Cut the Shelf Dados in the Box Sides
Assemble the cabinet and measure the real inner width of the cabinet opening. It's important to do this instead of just relying on the measurements given because in real life, material thicknesses can vary.
Now measure the length of your shelf pieces, then subtract the inner cabinet dimension from this length. Divide the difference by two, and set your saw blade to this height. This will ensure the dados are the perfect height to center the shelves in the opening.
Cut the cabinet sides for the dados according to the cut list and plans. Of course, the blade should be lower than the thickness of the cabinet sides to create dados instead of splitting the cabinet sides apart.
If you're using a regular table saw blade, you're going to need to do this in multiple passes, sneaking up on the cut.
Step 5: Assemble the Cabinet & Shelves
Assembly of the hardware organizer begins now. Ensuring you have your 'T's of your parts all facing the same direction, assemble the cabinet, then the shelves into their dados with wood glue and clamps.
Spread glue into each of the finger joints for strength.
Step 6: Cut Grooves Into the Drawers
Drawer Bottom Grooves
With all of the box joints cut, reset the table saw to cut the grooves to accept the drawer bottoms. Since this is a shop project, I really didn't much care about grooves showing, but you may differ.
If you do, be sure to align the drawer bottom grooves with the female part of the box joint on the drawer sides instead of the front/back. That way, the corresponding finger on the fronts/backs will show the gap on the side of the drawers instead of the front.
Drawer Divider Grooves
Reset the table saw fence to be centered along the width of the drawer sides. In each drawer side, cut a groove to accept the dividers.
Note: Be sure to not cut the groove in any of the drawer fronts/backs!
Step 7: Make the Drawer Pulls
Now's the time to make the drawer pulls before you assemble the drawers. You'll see that I didn't actually follow my own advice, which made it much tougher than it needed to be.
You can either drill a hole like I've shown in the plans, or make a template and route them with a router (or, I suppose, add some hardware drawer pulls).
To route the pulls:
- Make a template with the shape you'd like for the drawer pull. I made this half-rounded rectangle shape you can see.
- Clamp the template to the drawer front.
- Route the template with either a template routing bit, or like I did a 1/4" straight bit using the shank to ride on the template and create a drawer pull on each drawer.
Note: It might actually be easier if you're routing your pulls to assemble the drawers first — it allows you more clamping options. Do what works for you.
Step 8: Assemble the Drawers
Time to assemble the drawers. To do this, add glue to all of the finger joints on three pieces, then assemble. Slide the drawer bottom into the grooves, then add glue and the final side of the box to create a drawer. Repeat for all 11 drawers.
Because of the box joints and the drawer bottoms, you shouldn't need clamps to glue these drawers square. But you can add them for peace of mind if you'd like.
Step 9: Route for the Back Panel & Glue Into Place
Using a rabbeting bit set to the same depth as the thickness of the back panel, route the back of the cabinet for the backer panel.
Using a couple brad nails and wood glue, glue the backer panel into place.
Step 10: Finishing Up
Hate to say it, but this project has a lot of sanding. Start by sanding down the box joints which, if you've done it right, should be a little proud of the drawer sides/fronts/backs. A random orbit sander should take care of this pretty quick.
Then, sand the cabinet and drawers, being careful not to sand through the veneer of the plywood. I went all the way up to 220 grit on all surfaces.
I opted not to finish my cabinet since it's a shop project, but you definitely can if you'd like. A good water-based polyurethane would be great. Or you can test a new finish you've been eyeing, which is a great use of a shop project.
Finally, you can optionally add paste finishing wax to the shelves and bottoms of the drawers to make everything slide nicely.
Add the drawer dividers to whichever cubbies you'd like, and you're ready to add some hardware!