Desk-height Cabinet Made With CNC Router




Another piece made with my blind mortise and pocket screw construction method. This cabinet is desktop height (29") and is sized to accommodate most printers. This was originally designed for office use as a printer stand/cabinet, but I feel that the dimensions and look of the piece make it suitable for general furniture use.

The doors are attached with full overlay euro-hinges, and the shelves are on adjustable pegs.

The cabinet was made from 3/4 inch plywood scraps that were lying around from other projects.

The euro-hinge pockets and shelf peg holes were cut out directly on the CNC router. Screw and drill hole locator marks were also etched into the parts, so assembly was quite fast.

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Step 1: Materials and Equipment


- 3/4 plywood (1/2 sheet with plenty of leftover)

- 1/8 plywood (18x 24 inch)
- veneer edge band (20 feet)
- wood glue
- pocket screws 1 1/4 inch (about 12)
- flush mount euro-hinges (4)
- shelf pegs (8)
- door handles (2)
-felt pads for feet

- 220 / 300 grit sandpaper
- furniture finish (I used water based polyurethane)


- CNC router
- Router bits ( 1/4 upcut, 1/4 downcut, 1/8 upcut, any size v-bit for etching reference marks )
- Pocket screw kit (jig, drill driver)
- Clothes iron (for edge banding)
- Edge band trimmer
- screwdriver (electric)
- 3 foot bar clamps (4)
- Paint brushes
- Finish sander

Step 2: Design

This piece needed to be desk height and accommodate most printers. I did some internet research on printer dimensions.

Shelves needed to be adjustable.

I used the blind mortise and and pocket screw design as per my other furniture instructables.

This time I actually purchased all the hardware before designing the piece and was able to include the hardware cutouts and screw/drill marks as part of the design. The exact dimensions for the hardware cutouts were included with the parts, or were available on the internet. This made the euro hinge installation fast and accurate without a need for a forstner bit and a drill press.

Shelf peg holes were also included so that they could be cut with the CNC router.

The design was drawn with 3D modeling software, with the various part faces exported as 2D drawings to be imported into Vcarve to define the cuts.

Step 3: Cut!

- Plywood was placed on the router table with outside face down

- Mortise and tenon scrap parts were cut to verify the mortise fit.

- Drill and screw hole locator marks were etched with a v-carve bit

- Peg holes were cut with a 1/8 upcut bit, as I did not have a CNC router drill bit of appropriate size

-Blind mortises were routed with a 1/4 downcut bit

-The profiles were cut with a 1/4 downcut bit, and the final 1/8" cut wit a /4 upcut bit to minimize tear-out. A single compression bit could replace the downcut/upcut bits.

(Note the photo is a cut of a similar piece, as I didn't take a photo of this piece being cut)

Step 4: Assemble and Finish

- Iron on and trim the edge banding. If you don't have an edge band trimmer tool, you should probably get one for a piece this size.

- Using the pocket screw jig, drill pockets between the mortises

- Sand and finish the parts, taking care not to apply finish on any surfaces that will be glued. Painter's tape will help here.

- Dry fit the entire assembly

- Remove and reassemble with glue and pocket screws. Use bar clamps to ensure that the parts are flush. The clamps can be removed after the screws have been tightened.

-Install and adjust euro-hinges

-Install door handles

That's it!

Step 5: Retrospective

This piece came together quite easily. The only thing I would change is the horizontal spacing for the shelf-peg holes. This should have been a bit wider.

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    14 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work! Can you provide the vcarve files for this project?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    By using a thicker back (1/4") set into a rebate you can eliminate the pocket screws altogether as it will provide structural rigidity to the piece.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the advice. The pocket screws lock the mortises into the tenons, eliminating the need for clamping while the glue dries. The 1/8 backplate is set into a rebate.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice, clean build. Not being very familiar with CNC, I just have to wonder, can the pocket holes be made with the cnc, or would that require additional an axis?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. Step 2 includes the mortise and hinge pocket layouts for the CNC. Step 3 describes the cuts. If you look at the photo, you can see the mortise cuts.

    Different CNC machines support a different number of axis. pocket cutting capability is usually described a 2.5 axis capability and ids fairly common for CNC routers & CAM software.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The cost and production time will vary by the materials and equipment used, and the number of units being made at a time. Perhaps you could let me know the reason for your question, and I might be able to answer better.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I have been trying to calculate the difference in time and cost when using CNC vs traditional methods of manufacturing furniture/wood products. Wanted to know which one is more cost effective.
    I was hoping you could tell me how much time it took to build one and your estimate on the material cost for one piece.

    Hmm, your could do some carving on it for home use.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Material cost is nearly identical- maybe a bit more waste on the CNC when cutting. Cranking out multiple units or complex parts, especially curved parts and mortices will be faster on the CNC. Creating the CAD and CAM files takes a lot of time, so your calculations have to include the time and cost of generating or acquiring these.

    Instead of carving into plywood- a decorative technique I have used is laser cut-veneer inlays-

    Hope this helps.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Step 2 shows all the parts, so it shouldn't be difficult to make a similar piece. If somebody wants to exactly reproduce this piece they can contact me privately.


    6 years ago

    Great job. This looks amazing