Introduction: Lathe Utility Cabinet
Although I don't really consider myself a "turner", I do have a lathe and need a place to store the various tools and accessories. The new shop is also in need of a dedicated space for sharpening the various tools that I use in my wood shop.
This cabinet could be easily modified to fit your particular needs.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Table saw (Dado Stack)
- Track Saw (circular saw and straight edge could be used)
- Band Saw (Jig saw could be used)
- Brad Nailer (Optional)
- Festool Domino (Optional)
- Jig Saw
- Router (flush Trim Bit)
- Band Clamp
- Miter Sled
- 7 sheets of 3/4" Baltic Birch Plywood
- 1 sheets of 1/2" Baltic Birch Plywood
- 2 sheets of 1/4" plywood (Drawer bottoms)
- 20" Full Extension Soft Close Drawer Glides (21 sets)
- Drawer Pulls
- Finish (I used General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Satin)
Step 2: Drawing
Although you will be building to this drawing, it’s important that you take actual measurements from your build so that any error created isn’t compounded throughout the remainder of the build (Relative Dimensioning). All dimensions are in inches unless noted.
Full plans included here and at the bottom of this Instructable.
Step 3: Base Cabinet Parts
You can certainly build per the plans but, this cabinet could easily be altered to fit your particular needs. There are consolidated plans (PDF) at the end of this instructable.
All the following parts are from 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood.
Start off by cutting the side panels for all three cabinets as they're all exactly the same size. Cut the "toe kicks" out of one corner per the drawing on all the side panels.
Cut all the 3/4" dadoes for the bottoms of the cabinets as well as for the top frames. While this setting is in place at the table saw, cut the dadoes for the back panels on the corner cabinet.
Note: It's important to keep track of left and right sides of each cabinet. If the dadoes are all cut on the same side of each panel the parts will not work.
Cut the bottoms for the left and right cabinet. Do not cut the bottom for the corner cabinet at this time. This bottom will be much easier once the corner cabinet is built. I'll talk about this in a later step.
Cut 3" strips to be used for the top frames per the drawings. These can be cut per the plans but, leave a couple extra inches on each one for now. Final measurements will be determined by the actual cabinets.
Set the side panels for the corner cabinet aside for now as we'll build that cabinet after the two side cabinets are built.
Step 4: Left/Right Side Cabinet
Starting with a dry fit of the cabinet, get the measurements on your cabinet to construct the web frame that will fit in the dadoes cut in the top of each side panel. Although I used the Festool Domino to construct the web frame, pocket holes or biscuits would also work.
Glue up the case for the right side cabinet using glue and brad nails. Be sure to keep everything square.
While the glue is drying, this is a good time to assemble the left side cabinet exactly the same way.
Step 5: Corner Cabinet
Start by cutting the two back panels from 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood per the plans. I cut these short so that the case bottom would slide in and not need to be in place to do the glue up on this case.
Because this cabinet is very large, I glued up one corner at a time ensuring that the corner was perfectly square. Once all the cabinet was built, I was able to slide the bottom in and mark for the angled cut on the front of the cabinet. This cut was made with the track saw but, could also be cut with a circular saw.
The web frame is added to the top but, only on 4 sides. Construction of the web frame is the same as the other cabinets.
The front frame is constructed from 2 1/2" wide by 3/4" thick Alder. The two outside vertical stiles are cut on one edge at 45 degrees to match up with the case side. The frame was assembled using the Festool Domino but, pocket screws would work for this as well.
The frame was installed into the case opening using glue and brad nails.
Step 6: Right Side Drawers
Using 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood, cut all the drawer sides as well as the fronts/backs for each drawer. Remember when cutting the fronts and backs to length to account for the drawer glides. To get your needed measurement, measure the inside width of your cabinet and subtract 1" as each drawer glide is 1/2".
Cut a groove in each drawer side to accept the 1/4" drawer bottom. Although I did this at the table saw using a standard blade, this could also be done using a dado stack or it could be done at the router table.
Here is a more detailed video on how these drawers are constructed.
Install the drawers using full extension drawer glides.
Note: The plans are built to make 5 equal sized drawers. I strayed away from the plans to make a thinner drawer at the top. I did this by increasing the spacing between the drawers.
Step 7: Left Side Vertical Drawer
I built this drawer using 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood for additional rigidity considering it will be be holding all of my lathe tools. I also added walnut trim to the plywood edges and walnut to the top. This isn't required for this drawer to function properly.
The drawer glides are mounted to the side of the cabinet and the drawer is then attached to the glides.
The tool holders in this drawer are installed without glue so that the configuration can be altered in the future as tools change.
Step 8: Cabinet Door
I started by milling walnut to 1.5" wide and 3/4" thick. A groove was cut into each side to accept a 1/4" door panel.
The door frame was constructed to fit the opening of the cabinet with a 1/16" gab all the way around the door frame.
The Miter Sled was used to miter each corner and a 1/4" Birch panel was installed. The door was glued up using a band clamp.
The door was installed in the opening using butt hinges.
Step 9: Drawer Fronts
Although I used walnut for my drawer fronts, any species could be used to include plywood if that's the look you want.
All drawer front material was milled to 3/4" thick.
Each drawer front is individually cut to size to ensure proper gap. This also allows for correction on the individual fronts to account for any error or inconsistency in the case.
Holes for the pulls are pilot drilled and used to temporarily attach the drawer fronts. Once the drawer front is attached, screws are installed from inside the drawer and then the temporary screws are removed and the drawer pulls are installed.
General Finishes Arm-R-Seal was used to finish this cabinet. I only added finish to the drawer and door fronts as well as the trim.
Step 10: Top
The cabinet top is constructed from two layers of 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood. Because Baltic Birch plywood is an odd size (60" X 60"), 2 sheets were needed for each layer. A quality 4' X 8' sheet of 3/4" plywood would be a good substitute for this top reducing the overall cost of the project.
The track saw was used to cut the top to shape. The inside corners on the angled portion of the cabinet was cut with a jig saw. This layer was used as a template for the second layer. Ensure to cut the second layer a little (~1/16") oversized.
The two layers were screwed together and then a router with a flush trim bit was used to ensure the two layers were exactly the same size.
Formica was attached to the top using contact cement following the manufacturer's recommendations. Once cured, a router with a flush trim bit was used to ensure the formica was exactly the same size/shape as the top.
The top was then installed on the base using screws through the case web frames on the underside.
Walnut trim was then milled to 1 1/2" wide and 3/4" thick and installed on the exposed edges of the top using glue and brad nails.
Step 11: Closing
I'm super happy with how this project turned out and how it looks in my shop! The added tool access at the lathe and tool storage are a welcome addition as well as the added space for a sharpening station.
Attached below are a full set of plans.
Also, these and other plans can be downloaded for free from my website here.