Monday, 28 December 2015

A router cutter storage cabinet

Over the years I have accumulated a decent collection of router bits and decided to upgrade their storage from the piece of mahogany drilled with a grid of holes to a storage drawer that can be mounted under the router table.
There was a fair amount of scrap wood that I had in stock; some left over oak flooring from a friend, a couple of cutoffs from an old oak open shelves and a few pieces of baltic birch plywood.

A design was made using Sketchup so that the internal dimensions of the drawer could take two rows of Trend router trays. I know I could drill holes in some wood myself but these are well made and cheap enough to buy in bulk.
Trend 1/4" router tray
Trend 1/2" router tray

I also wanted to incorporate full length stainless steel drawer runners to hold the weight. I got these from a supplier on Amazon.
400mm full extension drawer runner

Here is a sketch of the simple design

A real simple design that anybody can replicate


The carcase was made from some oak sides 25 mm (1") thick oak shelves that were milled to 22 thick x 445 x 176 mm high (approx 7/8" x 17 1/2" x 7"). The top bottom and rear panels were made from some 18mm baltic birch ply. All joints were made with Titebond 3 glue and some pocket screws made with a pocket hole jig.


The drawer was made from 12mm (1/2") thick oak boards cut from some floorboard scraps. The joints were hand cut through dovetails. I decided that it was quicker to do them by hand rather than setup my router dovetailing jig trying to work out the complicated instructions in the process.
Again Titebond 3 was used for glue and grooves were cut to take a 6mm (1.4") thick plywood base.
Another piece of the shelving was milled and cut to size and screwed to the front of the drawer as a decorative front. I also glued some oak edge banding to the exposed edges of the birch plywood to cover the ugly ply edges.


The whole project was sanded to 180 grit, sealed with some shellac and then 3 coats of polyurethane applied to cover and protect. I diluted some oil based poly with some white spirit (mineral spirits) 50:50 to make up a wiping varnish in a similar fashion to the no longer obtainable (in Europe) General Finishes Arm R Seal wiping varnish. I think the jury is still out on the particular blend of varnish I used as it isn't as good as the GF product. I will have to experiment more before I apply it to quality furniture.
There are still lots of products out there on the UK market that are oil based so I'll keep trying.


The slides were positioned 5mm (13/64") from the front and 38mm (1 1/2") up from the inside of the base using a spacer and the pilot holes transferred through into the sides using a VIX bit mounted in a right angle drill attachment. There is not enough room inside the cabinet to drill holes with a normal drill so the angle drill is a necessity in this case.

The corresponding drawer rail was positioned 38mm (1 1/2") up from the base of the drawer. This dimension gives a 5mm (13/64") gap between the base of the drawer and the inside face of the cabinet. This is exactly what I had designed and the holes were once again transferred through. This time the slotted holes were used so that there was scope for minor adjustment. Also the screws supplied with the rails were too long for the drawer thickness. So digging around in the assorted screw box (we all have them) I was able to find some 12mm long screws (1/2") that were ideal.

The drawer fitted perfectly. The whole cabinet was then mounted to the underside of the lower shelf on the router table. There was no need for a handle or drawer pull as the drawer front is slightly deeper than the carcase so enabling a finger grip.
Plenty of room inside to place the modular Trend router trays.

The router trays were dropped into the drawer and the vast majority of bits I have were inserted. There is plenty of space in the cabinet for any routers bits that need to remain in their storage cases such as variable kerf slotters and also lots of scope for more bits as they are bought.
The overlapping drawer front is fitted with 4 screws from the inside
to the front of the drawer. The whole cabinet is mounted to the underside of
the kitchen counter top cutoff acting as a shelf after fixing
a couple of softwood cleats to the metal frame.

Router table fitted with its new router storage cabinet,
The tools are always with the table now.


I designed this as a modular design so that you can make as many or few of these as you like. You simply bolt them together as necessary. The cabinets can be free-standing, placed on a bench for instance, or, as I have done, mounted under an existing horizontal surface.
The whole project took a couple of days to make (dovetailing by hand is very relaxing and satisfying but can be time consuming - however reading/understanding the instructions for dovetailing jigs can take far longer) and the finish took about a week to harden off.

Another useful shop organization project is completed.

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