Saturday, May 6, 2017

The One-Day Storage Cabinet - Part I: the Plan

Today the Frau mentioned we should get another small storage cabinet for the office.


This means one of two things: Either she wants to buy a crappy disposable cabinet made of termite poop, or I get nagged at until I come up with something.

Fortunately, I would like to build a piece like this using some of the techniques in The Anarchist's Design Book by Christopher Schwarz. That means I just move it up in the queue and get it over with.

It's not often that the Frau asks me to build anything that we need anymore. She learned long ago that it could take months, and in the meantime what she wants to store in it lays on the floor driving her nuts. It would be a nice surprise if this was complete by the time she got home from work on Monday.

In order to make this happen, I am going to cheat. I know, I can here you: "There is no cheating in woodworking." Well, there is if you use Leimholz.

She said it doesn't need to be any kind of fine furniture. I even suggested adding a mahogany top, but she thankfully said, "No." Just a plain-Jane basic bookshelf with doors.

I thought out the design in my head in about seven seconds, and did something I rarely do: I drew the cabinet and wrote down a cut list!


So here is my plan:

Get to the Borg on Monday as soon as they open at 9:00 a.m. (Early for Spain), buy everything I need and rush home with the materials in my carrito de la abuelita and knock it together.
High capacity lumber transport.
To give myself a head start, I am going to use only nails and rabbets for construction. Maybe some screws to secure the top panel. I also plan on using the plastic-wrapped laminated wood panels in the final dimensions, so there shouldn't be much in the way of dimensioning the wood.
Front view.
Click on the photos for a better view.
Side view.
Yeah, I know I drew it wrong, it should show the right hand view. I almost never make drawings before I build anything.

It turns out I have some leftover laminated wood already laying around, so I'll use that. There should be no problem with getting the rest home on the bus.

The idea is that the doors will cover the front of the cabinet, coming even with the top. I haven't decided yet if I will add any molding profiles other than just a small chamfer or roundover to soften the sharp corners. What do you think? Any suggestions?

The Frau said she wants this piece painted, and SHE gets to pick the color. I gues that means no experiments with home made milk paint (thank God!). My plan is for the cabinet to be complete except for paint after one day.

Now that I think about it, I might have time to run to the Borg now, so I can start right away on Monday.

One big question I have for you: How should I go about painting the cabinet while keeping the black nailheads from the Roman nails clean? With milkpaint it was easy to remove the paint with a wet Q-tip, but if I use something store-bought, I don't know.


  1. I would not worry about painting over the nice Roman nails head, with use they will get some worn paint gradually (ok depending on use that could take a while, but heh)

    Good luck on your one day project, i cant remember the last time i did this :-)


    1. There's something to be said for this technique. I'm sure it would look fine.

      I went and bought some wood. They didn't have much appropriate pine, so I went with spruce, which I'm not so fond of. I think it means lots of sanding, which I really don't like, rather than planing. We'll see.

    2. Perhaps you can see the disadvantges of the spruce as an advantage for you: The color will probably force you to sand over anyway - not only to add an additional layer of finish to get a more intensive color, but to sand off the fine upcoming fibers.

  2. Brian, I would suggest assembling the carcass without fully setting the nails...leaving perhaps 1-2 mm between the underside of the nail head and the surface...just enough to sneak in the flaired tip of an artist's brush...finish painting...let it dry....then fully set the nails. Good luck. Larry

    1. Hi Larry,

      I am considering this, it's a good idea. I'm just concerned it might not be so practical because there will be a LOT of nails.


  3. Brian
    "Painters tape" over the nails will do the trick. Just wrap it on before driving it home!
    Also 'Leroy Merlin' and 'Aki' stores now sell cans of 'chalk paint' or 'les decorative Glacis' - very trendy with the bellas hermosas esposas :D :D

    1. Haha! Hi António!

      We've already found that stuff at Leroy Merlin's, and also El Córte Ingles, which is right across the street.

      Good idea with the tape. Maybe I can find some little round stickers, they would work, too.

      I'm trying to afoul painting before I nail because then it for sure won't be finished in time. Maybe I'll do that on the doors, I will clench the battens on those.

  4. Haven't tried this, but it seems like I've heard about using wax for masking. Wax the heads before driving to make it easy, then touch up after as needed.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Now that's a good idea. Some way to make getting the paint off of them easily. I might have to do some testing...


  5. An ambitious goal. Just remember to stay focused of the project and not the time. It is far better to have a quality product than to have met some arbitrary timeline. Trust me, I've went the other way more than once.

    I'll second the waxed nail head approach. There is also a liquid masking product for glass when painting window frames.

    1. Hi Greg!

      Good advice. I don't really have any need for this to be a one day project, other than I want to see if I can do it. I think I can. Not having to dimensión rough lumber out to be a big time saver.

      Unless I try to do something crazy like breadboard ends or something.

      I'll look into the liquid masking tape. That sounds like a good idea.


  6. You could do what The Renaissance Woodworker did recently on a youtube build of this kind of bookshelf using those nails. His were delivered on time for the build but the UPS guy apparently hid them under a tarp in his back yard so he didn't find them for months; in the meantime, he used brads to pin the bookcase together while the glue set up, and he spaced the brads so they would be in between where he wanted to put the roman nails.

    Then he knocked the heads below the wood and the paint filled the holes. When he got the nails, he drilled pilot holes and knocked them in.

    In your case, you have the nails already, so just do the assembly, let the glue cure, then add in the nails as the final step after painting, almost as a decorative touch (only in this case, it'll be structural as well).

    1. Now that's a good idea!

      I bet I could use a few small screws to hold everything together if I needed to. Back them out and pound a nail in.

      There will be a few clenched nails on this project, but most of them are not. I can use one of the other techniques for those ones.


  7. If you use nails and RABBITS, you could REALLY get a jump on the project!