A 365-Day Project
"We Are All Mozart"
A project to create
new works and change
the perception of the
music of our time.
January 31, 2008
Remember that stack of storage boxes for CD and DVD archives? You know, this heap toward the bottom of the page? Time came to clean it up, in part because I managed to toss my back out again when shoving the boxes around to get to something. Oh, the back is better, but it sure does provide motivation. So instead of writing these commentaries the past two days, here's what I've been doing.
The wooden boxes of CDs and DVDs already existed, and they were identical -- 7 x 7.5 x 24 inches (with apologies to the metric readers). The dimensions weren't special -- just four cuts out of an eight-foot board, two 1x8's and one 1x6, with scrap pieces from the pile for front and back. At a few bucks and a half hour per box, it was perfect storage. As I made new ones, they were identical so they could stack, too (the bigger box in the January 24 picture was a yard sale find; I love wooden boxes). So how to make this cabinet? I build stuff by quick sketching, so figured what I'd like is a desk-sized storage cabinet. With separation of the boxes to slide, that would be about 60 inches wide and 30 inches tall. If I built it all using one-by, seven boxes across and three boxes high, then allowing for wood thicknesses, I could get that to just under each dimension. Good to go.
Next question was how to make the drawer slides. I hate sticky drawers, so decided to do simple rails, allowing 1/8 inch play, which would widen a tad with wood shrinkage. So that would be twenty-one drawers, three left side rails, three right side rails, and fifteen center rails. Supports, sides, trim.
I kept a box handy to make sure the rails were smooth. They consisted of stock 1x4 (for the lumber-challenged, that's 3/4 inches by 3-1/2 inches finish dimensions) for bases with a center rail ripped to 1-1/2 inches. The outside bottom rack left and right bases had the rail offset to 3/4 inches from either side to hold the upright sides. The upper racks would be flush to the sides.
The bases are set out of a 1x4 for sizing. Because I don't trust myself to calculate, I measure each one with the box, leaving that eighth inch of space. Only then do I cut the long piece that will tie the bottom rails together. By the way, I'm not a traditionalist who uses dowels and iron screws -- these are black sheet rock screws, which bind tightly and cut into the wood easily. But yes, holes are drilled first so as not to splay the wood and encourage cracking.
The bottom rack is almost finished. The rails, as mentioned above, are centered except for the end ones. The size is 24 x 63-3/4. (This picture is sideways; no gravity is being defied.) At this point, I did new sketches to assess how the racks would be attached, and to see if I'd forgotten any issues of dimensioning. Not yet.
Three racks make up the sliders. Except for the sides, all are identical. Various boxes were slid in and out to be sure there was clearance on all sides. So far, so good. You'll notice a change of venue. From this point on, the storage cabinet is assembled on the second floor because it won't go up the cellar stairs if it's put together, and the cellar door is sealed against cold, with bulkhead covered with two feet of snow. Cutting and fitting demands a run up and down two flights of stairs. Good cardio stuff.
The racks are stacked with the right side panel set in place to test height and clearance. To avoid sagging with the heavy load of wooden boxes filled with CDs and DVDs, there are sixteen one-inch hardwood dowels placed strategically; they were glued into quarter-inch-deep holes in the rails.
The interior is finished, and a three-plank overhanging top is added so it can be used as a real desk as well as a storage cabinet. The unit fits into the second floor knee wall, and to the left of the Dutch bed that we built fifteen years ago, modeled after homes we saw in Marken, a Dutch fishing village that was once an island. It's our guest bed, and elicits some surprise. But it's very comfortable.
The sides are put in place, securing the rack sides and evening up the cabinet. A mitered trim is added to the bottom rack as well as under the top. It begins to look like furniture, which makes both of us happy. I'm utilitarian about my equipment, but Stevie thinks an aesthetic sense simply has to be brought to any work we do, or we risk losing our care with our real work. I think she's got that right. So new sketches are made to determine how the trim will fall.
The facing trim is added next. The side facing trim is fully vertical, as are the center two. The second, third, sixth and seventh have horizontals across, with short verticals. One of the few errors was to provide no fastening point for the short verticals; you can't see them, but there are twelve one-inch wood blocks added underneath the top and the uppper two racks. Finishing nails are used for most of the trim, but critical points are fastened with sheet rock screws.
Closeup of the facing. It's not so neat yet -- freshly spackled, and not sanded. Once the spackling has dried, it is sanded smooth (I admit that 3M sanding pads are very cool), and the unmatched edges brought even. Stray wood shards are sanded off, and the entire piece wiped down with a damp cloth to remove sawdust.
Old-style barn red paint is used on just the facing, side panels, and edges of the desktop. The interior as well as the inside edges of the drawer openings are left raw to give it a sharp & distinct yet classic look.
How it looks this afternoon, with drawers in place and the computer back (that latter is good because these commentaries are stored on that system; it was off-line for two whole days -- ouch!). There's still some work to do -- another bunch of drawers need to be made (that much is easy) and on the way via UPS from Van Dyke's (a favorite restorage house) are old-fashioned bin pulls with a label slot. The drawer faces will be painted mustard and the bin pulls attached.
That's all for today. Those pulls should be here tomorrow or Monday, and over the weekend the rest of the drawers should be made and painted. Total cost? Including the Van Dyke's order, about $200. If you're interested, I'd send plans -- but I don't really have any. As with most of our furniture, it's built from rough sketches and lots of experience.