There are 3 units, above arranged in an L shape dividing the room into the TV room behind them and the playroom on the other side. I had done an almost identical, but white painted, set of these 2 years ago for my nephew so I already had a bit of a head start on the layout but I decided to add in some improvements. The base cabinets here would be large drawers and I wanted to make the entire thing out of actual wood (or at least plywood with a good veneer for finishing) which would complicate the joinery a lot. I couldn’t use the same rabbit joints that I had on the previous one as the ply wood edges would show. Luckily since the last box making project I had invested in a few new power tools that would make it possible, a new table saw that was actually capable of cutting a straight line and a 45 degree bevel as well as my new pride and joy of the shop a Festool Domino joiner. Which was a ludicrously expensive loose mortise and tenon joiner but worth every penny as I don’t think I could have finished this project without it.
I dont have any good drawings or plans, the design was basically copied from a catalog that my wife liked. I adjusted the size slightly to reduce waste in cutting from 4x8 sheets of oak plywood, but didn’t make any other major changes for the size anyway. I built the bottom cabinets first as they were the most complicated with the drawers. I had never tried to install drawer slides in anything before and I was a little nervous about it all coming out square enough to make them work. Here again the domino jointer came in terribly handy as it’s alignment was so close to perfect as to not matter.
I can’t over state just how cool these joints are. The stuff just glues up beautifully and pulls all together perfectly. Here’s a shot of the inside after it’s all glued up and the clamps removed.
The challenge with the outside case was the edges. I didn’t want to do a lot of fancy edge work and I didn’t want the plywood edges to show and it all needed to look clean since it was going to end up in the middle of the room instead of against the wall. The pretty much limited me to doing a 45 degree angle and bring the edges together. The domino joiner came to the rescue here also. The fence has a setting exactly for this. All along the inside of this joint are tenons at an angle to mate the 2 together, and again it performed wonderfully. Holding the fence on the 45 degree cut was a little tricky and I blew a couple of them getting the hang of it, but it was easy to just add more. Then some glue and pound it all together and the tenons pull them together wonderfully. Still required a huge number of clamps, but the edges look really nice. The new table saw I added to the shop (garage...) for this helped too, the old contractor saw I had couldn’t cut a straight line without kickback much less a precise angle, but the new one was able to cut the angles and do it without too much tear out or anything. I was quite happy with it.
The drawer fronts are a traditional framed panel. The edges I put a bead on with the router. I was forced to invest in a new powered miter box to accurately cut the 45 degree edges here, but when setup properly it did a really nice job, and again you see a domino tenon in there. A little glue and a few clamps brought the thing together beautifully!
There pictured with the domino jointer is the frame! After a lot of finishing and assembly I actually got around to mounting the drawers and giving them a test.
Full extension slides and I even measured close enough that they didn’t bind or leave excessive gaps! These drawers are big enough that you could curl up in one if you really wanted to. I couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out.
Here’s Ben testing out the structural capacity of the first one to be carried in finished by jumping up and down on it. He tucked in his own shirt for this picture too :)
The top pieces were easier in that they were smaller and I had already done quite a bit of the 45 degree joinery with the domino now, but were more complicated in that they had 45 degree joints on every face but the front. No bottom to leave flat and make things easier. I also discovered that it is not possible to assemble a 45 degree angle joint around an entire box like this by yourself with the tenons in. The top joint in them had to be left to be simply glued, but I dont think that will make them any less strong.
The inner divders and shelves were again butt jointed with the dominos providing the strength. If I were to do it over again i would invest in the dado blade to cut grooves for them, or perhaps a router bit of the correct size to cut the dados as you can tell they are butt joints if you look too close. No matter how careful I was with cutting the plywood that edge will never be perfect and even though most folks dont notice that, I know that it’s there.
Finished product though turned out terrific. Makes the room in there and makes me very happy. Even with purchasing that ludicrously expensive joinery tool though the entire project only cost a little more than purchasing something made out of particle board would have cost. And now I have the tools and the skills to move on to the next project.