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Thread: Building closet organization shelves/drawers etc

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I justify tools by projects - or at least I used to. I think this project justifies a track saw. I used to use a circular saw with a shoot board but a track saw is in a different category with respect to smoothness of cut and accuracy. I use a DeWalt but I think even the low end saws are worth having versus a circular saw. Because the rib guides the blade in both directions, you are less likely to ruin a piece of wood wandering off the guide. You basically cannot. Low end to me is a WEN or Grizzly. With a good blade (freud) either would be better than a circular saw. The Kreg is probably better and can be had with a bench that folds up - could be good for your situation. Makita and DeWalt are equivalent to table saws in performance and still a lot less than a Festool.
    I used a circular saw guide for many projects [a few closets in particular], but when doing my kitchen cabinets I upgraded to a track saw. Not being able to wander off in the wrong direction is very helpful, especially when you are cutting special order plywood and it will take a week or two to get a replacement if you mess it up.

  2. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I would rather buy anything at Home Depot than at Lowes. But part of that is where they are in the town I live in. Home Depot carries a formaldehyde free plywood that is pretty good. I am using it in a cradle right now in maple and birch. They did not have thinner maple but had 1/2 birch and it will be painted - with Resisthane. The inner plys of the maple are poplar. I'm not sure about the 1/2 birch - it is noticably not as good. I have also used half a dozen sheets of a pine plywood HD sells that is made in Chile. It is cheaper and a white painted cabinet in my bathroom made from it came out very good. I would not hessitate to use it on a closet organizer.

    I justify tools by projects - or at least I used to. I think this project justifies a track saw. I used to use a circular saw with a shoot board but a track saw is in a different category with respect to smoothness of cut and accuracy. I use a DeWalt but I think even the low end saws are worth having versus a circular saw. Because the rib guides the blade in both directions, you are less likely to ruin a piece of wood wandering off the guide. You basically cannot. Low end to me is a WEN or Grizzly. With a good blade (freud) either would be better than a circular saw. The Kreg is probably better and can be had with a bench that folds up - could be good for your situation. Makita and DeWalt are equivalent to table saws in performance and still a lot less than a Festool.

    I would use screws and glue to join things together and get a plug cutter and a little solid wood of the plywood species for plugs. Plugged screw holes don't show much and glued and screwed joints are strong. You can skip the glue if you think you will need to take it apart but it adds a lot of strength. After the screw dries you could pull the screws and be fine. Shallow, 1/16 deep, dados are really nice for locating pieces during assembly. You can do them with a router but may need a bit less wide than the nominal plywood thickness because the plywood is not really 3/4 wide.

    You might think about prefinishing the plywood with a roller. You need a coat or two of poly for durability. But you can roll it on the full sheet and then cut it up. A wipe on coat after assembly can cover any scuffs.
    Thanks Jim. Few follow questions?

    Oh no, another saw . I have been cutting with a guide like this and so far so good. Is a track saw really needed given we are not cutting expensive wood? I am hesitant given it is not a versatile tool and I am low on storage space.

    Are you referring to the Kreg Accu-cut saw track? It would be cheaper and take less space to store.

    I was thinking ripping the plywood length-wise at home depot at whatever depth we go with. Then I am left w/ only the short cuts.

    If we use glue, aren't brad nails good enough to hold while it dries?

    Over the weekend, I make a gig like this and used a 1/2" flush trim bit to made dados. Pretty easy once we gig is setup. Just 2 passes to make a dado.
    Last edited by joe webb; 09-23-2019 at 1:50 PM.

  3. #18
    Joe,

    You can absolutely be successful with the kind of jigs that you linked to. It is nicer to use a track saw, but it is definitely not a requirement to build good stuff.

    Charles

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe webb View Post
    I was thinking ripping the plywood length-wise at home depot at whatever depth we go with. Then I am left w/ only the short cuts.
    In our area, these cuts are suitable for rough breakdown, but not for finished cuts.
    Anything from being at the wrong width, out of square, or significant tearout.

    Your local store may be better, otherwise you may want to prepare for finishing cuts at home.

    If using table saw, make sure your fence is aligned, you have your splitter in, and outfeed support (I like this one from home depot for a temporary support) or a long guide for your circular saw. If doing crosscuts, I'd recommend a zero-clearance insert on the saw. This helped a lot more than other methods I'd seen recommended for reducing tearout (blue tape or pre-scoring with a utility knife).

    When I did my first closet project (mentioned above), I used a straight edge held down with clamps. This guide flexed a bit if I wasn't careful to eliminate lateral pressure. Also, it requires calculating the offset from the edge of your saw base to the blade. I messed this up on one cut. Both might have been helped if I had mounted to a 1/4 or 1/2" base, similar to the circ saw jig you are using now.


    Matt

  5. #20
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    What you want is a lot of square footage so make several shallow shelves and a few taller. Put the taller ones low and high so you can see into the shallow ones at eye level.

  6. #21
    Sorry, I did not notice the questions. I've been trying to reprogram my car. Keep hitting roadblocks.

    I think it is incorrect to view a track saw as a limited usefulness tool. My circular saws, corded and cordless, are now used only for rough construction work, nothing in the workshop. They just do not give me as good a quality of cut as my track saw, regardless of the blade I put in them. The cordless is just a Ryobi but the corded is a Milwaukee which I do not thing is a crummy circular saw. But it makes sense to me that a $350 tool is made a bit better than a $125 tool. But if you go down to the cheapest track saws, you can get pretty close to a good circular saw in price. But the reports I've seen say the cut is still good but you often have to switch the blade (like to a Freud). I use my DeWalt track saw to make all cuts on larger pieces of wood. I avoid having to figure out how to support big pieces and guide them through the table saw. The cut quality of my track saw is at least equal to my SawStop table saw with good blades in each. I think of the track saw as the appropriate hand held power saw for finish carpentry and furniture making. Circular saws are construction or breakdown tools.

    I don't trust the home center to do anything close to a finish cut. I actually almost never let them cut anything for me because the cuts are too poor. They are not accurate, the blade is usually dull, etc.. If I need to break things down, I take a cordless tool and do it in the parking lot.

    While a track saw is not preferred to cut small pieces of wood, you can make those cuts and if I did not have a good table saw I would use if for that. You can, for instance, rip thin, 1/4 inch or less, thick pieces of solid wood to cover the edge of sheet goods. The cut will be good enough to be glued up, no planning or sanding necessary. My circular saw just will not do that, at least not with me at the controls.

    In terms of storage, you don't have to have a special worktable for the track saw. I just throw a sheet of solid insulation on my workbench and use that. Some people cut on the floor. So what you have to find space for is the saw, circular saw in size, and the tracks. The tracks are long but not wide and thin. Some people make little brackets and store them on the garage door. I put mine on my lumber racks (106 inch) and inside my paulk style workbench. If you have the height, I think the best way to store them is vertical, on a nail.

  7. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    What you want is a lot of square footage so make several shallow shelves and a few taller. Put the taller ones low and high so you can see into the shallow ones at eye level.
    Thanks Tom. That's a good point and I haven't thought of it. I will go back and redraw my closet. I previously have drawers in the bottom half and short shelves in the top half all the way up. Will need a step stool to reach the upper shelves for sure.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe webb View Post
    Hello all,

    I am preparing and researching for a new project. We have 4 closets (walk-in and also with sliding doors) and we are not using that space efficiently because they only have one shelf with a hanging rod underneath. I would like to add shelfs, hanging rods, drawers etc...like those closet organization system found at ikea, but the cost is super high, thus I am now looking into building them myself. I would appreciate any tips on how to best accomplish this. The following questions come to mind first:

    1) I am thinking of using plywood. Are MDF or particle boards better options?
    2) I don't have a strong preference on the look. Is it easier to paint or stain plywood?
    3) where can we buy plywood for less than HomeDepot and Lowes? Any online that would ship?
    4) having closets that stand on the floor look much better to me than hanging on the walls. Given I have to build and finish them in my garage, and floor/walls might not be always square, is it feasible? Like building a box/platform for the cabinets to rest on?
    5) do we cut off the baseboards or build the cabinets above it?
    6) what is the best way to join the boards? Wood screws? Dowels? Dado? Wood glue & brad nails?
    1. Plywood will be stronger and will hold nails and screws better and will glue up better

    2. I would get some "A" grade ply, preferably baltic birch 9-12 ply, and paint it. Go over it with spackle and fill any holes or divets, prime and a nice flat paint. The shelves seem very wide to me and will have to be edge-banded or have hardwood edges. Any width longer than 24" may bow under weight, so you may have to go to cheap solid wood like pine or alder.

    3. For quality sheet goods, go to a cabinet supply house, where craftsmen buy their drawer slides and sheet goods. I'm not sure Home Depot carries cabinet grade (multi-ply baltic birch).

    4. You are correct to build a base and attach them to the base and walls. I build a base of 1x4 material, even ply, and shim it to level. Add a base board to conceal the base and shims.

    5. Not sure what you mean, if you mean the baseboard within the closet, I would remove it, and add it back when completed. You will probably not have enough from your demo, so I would go to a molding supplier and try to match as best as you can to the existing baseboard. Its a closet and no one will notice discrepancies between the room and the closet.

    6. Your choice. Pocket screws (Kreig) are really easy and strong. No glue required. You could also glue and finish nail the ply. Screws (other than Kreig, which are concealed) will need to be countersunk and filled or plugged. Finish nails will have to be set and filled.

    Comment: You may find that the materials are quite expensive and you may pay more building it yourself than if you had a closet organizer company come in and knock it out in a day. Granted they will use mdf and crappy hardware and drawer slides. But that may be good enough for you. Decent drawer slides will run $10-25 per pair of slides for full extension 100 lb self closing slides (Accuride, Blum). In addition, you'll have to build the drawers yourself, although its pretty easy with Kreig pocket screws. Your cabinet hardware supplier should have a sub-contractor to build custom drawers in whatever material (hardwood or baltic birch) or joint (dovetail, finger joints, drawer joints, or dowels) you want. The advantage is speed, usually under a week, and dead-on accuracy and quality. They will also pre-drill for Blum hinges.

    That said, I enjoy projects like these because its fun, I have absolute control over the design and quality, and I have the self-satisfaction that I built something really nice.

  9. #24
    I did not comment on glue and nails for joints. My answer is that it depends. For a light load, like a shelf to hold shoes or handbags or sweaters, it would be plenty strong enough unless their is racking load. It will not resist that well. If there is a back on the "cabinet" there won't be racking load and there won't be much for a system fastened to the walls. But if it is freestanding without a back, there will be a lot. Glue and nails is also fine for most drawers - again the relatively lightly loaded ones. Glue will hold even heavier loads but only if the pieces are pulled pretty tightly together. That is only possible with good fitting joints and nails are not a great way to pull things together. Screws and clamps work much better for that.

    When the screw heads will not show, I usually just use through screws. It takes slightly more time than nails but not a lot. If the screw heads will show, I still often use screws and plug or putty the screw head. I use bits for the clearance hole that also countersink the head and will add a 3/8 hole for a plug. I just got some new ones made by Milwaukee. Sometimes I use pocket screws if they will not be noticable and a through screw would be. Like the bottom shelf of a cabinet. If you put the screws in from the bottom pocket screws would not show. But through screws on the sides would unless the cabinet goes against the wall. I once built an entire kitchen of cabinets using through screws that were plugged where they would show. My wife liked them - the only meaningful standard.

  10. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas McCurnin View Post
    2. I would get some "A" grade ply, preferably baltic birch 9-12 ply, and paint it. Go over it with spackle and fill any holes or divets, prime and a nice flat paint. The shelves seem very wide to me and will have to be edge-banded or have hardwood edges. Any width longer than 24" may bow under weight, so you may have to go to cheap solid wood like pine or alder.
    Thanks Thomas. Does edge-banding mean attach a ledge along a wall and have the shelf rest on it? I was planning on doing that for all shelves. Not necessary for short ones (i.e. just a ledge on the left and right)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas McCurnin View Post
    4. You are correct to build a base and attach them to the base and walls. I build a base of 1x4 material, even ply, and shim it to level. Add a base board to conceal the base and shims.
    Do we insert the shim between the floor and the base or between the cabinet and the base?

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe webb View Post
    Thanks Thomas. Does edge-banding mean attach a ledge along a wall and have the shelf rest on it? I was planning on doing that for all shelves. Not necessary for short ones (i.e. just a ledge on the left and right)?
    Joe,

    Edge-banding refers to attaching a band of solid wood to the exposed edge of sheet goods (particle board/MDF/plywood) to disguise the fact that it's sheet goods, and also to provide some protection against wear/chipping for the sheet goods. The edge-banding can be as thin as a millimeter or two of veneer, or can be made thicker, especially if you want to rout some type of profile on it (not likely with your closet organizers).

  12. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I did not comment on glue and nails for joints. My answer is that it depends. For a light load, like a shelf to hold shoes or handbags or sweaters, it would be plenty strong enough unless their is racking load. It will not resist that well. If there is a back on the "cabinet" there won't be racking load and there won't be much for a system fastened to the walls. But if it is freestanding without a back, there will be a lot. Glue and nails is also fine for most drawers - again the relatively lightly loaded ones. Glue will hold even heavier loads but only if the pieces are pulled pretty tightly together. That is only possible with good fitting joints and nails are not a great way to pull things together. Screws and clamps work much better for that.

    When the screw heads will not show, I usually just use through screws. It takes slightly more time than nails but not a lot. If the screw heads will show, I still often use screws and plug or putty the screw head. I use bits for the clearance hole that also countersink the head and will add a 3/8 hole for a plug. I just got some new ones made by Milwaukee. Sometimes I use pocket screws if they will not be noticable and a through screw would be. Like the bottom shelf of a cabinet. If you put the screws in from the bottom pocket screws would not show. But through screws on the sides would unless the cabinet goes against the wall. I once built an entire kitchen of cabinets using through screws that were plugged where they would show. My wife liked them - the only meaningful standard.
    Thanks for the detailed explanation Jim. That makes a lot of sense.

    I have a mini Kreg so it seems more time consuming to use pocket hole than drilling pilot holes and countersink. I could invest in a better Kreg given I will be making 4 closets. I see lots of people using pocket holes for making drawers. I didn't think it was important to conceal the screw heads given the drawer is closed for most part.

    Regarding the cabinet tower, I am leaning toward having the cabinet rest on top of a base, but I would add a strip at the back of the tower (near the top), and screw it to the wall. I would not want it to move. I also have shelves on both sides of the tower extending to the walls. That should prevent any lateral movement.

    But it sounds like screws are the safest way to go and I won't need any fancy joint.

  13. #28
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    it’s called a ladder base, build it separate lay it down on floor, level it the put cabs down, Shims go between floor and ladder base.

    Quote Originally Posted by joe webb View Post
    Thanks Thomas. Does edge-banding mean attach a ledge along a wall and have the shelf rest on it? I was planning on doing that for all shelves. Not necessary for short ones (i.e. just a ledge on the left and right)?



    Do we insert the shim between the floor and the base or between the cabinet and the base?
    Last edited by Mark e Kessler; 10-06-2019 at 2:04 AM.

  14. #29
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    #3, cabinet grade plywood is not BB, cabinet grade is cabinet grade and BB is BB


    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas McCurnin View Post
    1. Plywood will be stronger and will hold nails and screws better and will glue up better

    2. I would get some "A" grade ply, preferably baltic birch 9-12 ply, and paint it. Go over it with spackle and fill any holes or divets, prime and a nice flat paint. The shelves seem very wide to me and will have to be edge-banded or have hardwood edges. Any width longer than 24" may bow under weight, so you may have to go to cheap solid wood like pine or alder.

    3. For quality sheet goods, go to a cabinet supply house, where craftsmen buy their drawer slides and sheet goods. I'm not sure Home Depot carries cabinet grade (multi-ply baltic birch).

    4. You are correct to build a base and attach them to the base and walls. I build a base of 1x4 material, even ply, and shim it to level. Add a base board to conceal the base and shims.

    5. Not sure what you mean, if you mean the baseboard within the closet, I would remove it, and add it back when completed. You will probably not have enough from your demo, so I would go to a molding supplier and try to match as best as you can to the existing baseboard. Its a closet and no one will notice discrepancies between the room and the closet.

    6. Your choice. Pocket screws (Kreig) are really easy and strong. No glue required. You could also glue and finish nail the ply. Screws (other than Kreig, which are concealed) will need to be countersunk and filled or plugged. Finish nails will have to be set and filled.

    Comment: You may find that the materials are quite expensive and you may pay more building it yourself than if you had a closet organizer company come in and knock it out in a day. Granted they will use mdf and crappy hardware and drawer slides. But that may be good enough for you. Decent drawer slides will run $10-25 per pair of slides for full extension 100 lb self closing slides (Accuride, Blum). In addition, you'll have to build the drawers yourself, although its pretty easy with Kreig pocket screws. Your cabinet hardware supplier should have a sub-contractor to build custom drawers in whatever material (hardwood or baltic birch) or joint (dovetail, finger joints, drawer joints, or dowels) you want. The advantage is speed, usually under a week, and dead-on accuracy and quality. They will also pre-drill for Blum hinges.

    That said, I enjoy projects like these because its fun, I have absolute control over the design and quality, and I have the self-satisfaction that I built something really nice.

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Los Angeles, California
    Posts
    82
    A good top of the line Kreig jig (with the clamp) will only run you a couple hundred dollars, and if you are making more than 4 drawers, it will pay off. I often farm out the drawers to a drawer shop when I am using Blum slides.

    I put the shims on the floor to level the base. The shims are concealed by baseboard.

    My mistake on grading of plywood. A, B, AB etc are specific grades of plywood for various species. Cabinet grade plywood is a separate grade. In my world, cabinet grade means birch plywood which contains a higher number of layers for strength. Often your supplier stocks them pre-finished. Cabinet grade plywood is used for the case work and drawers. The pre-finished plywood for drawers makes a nice touch.
    Regards,

    Tom

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