Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Under Cabinet Bins

This project started as many do, with a request from my wife. We're reorganizing the dining room, and she needed to do something different with the placemats for the table. We decided on making custom bins to fit under the buffet cabinet to replace the crappy wicker bin.

This blog post is more of a show-what-I-did post, as I did not take any pictures of the construction.

The lighting in the picture doesn't show it, but the stain matches the buffet cabinet much better in person. The original plan was to paint them black to try to hide them in the shadow of the buffet, but the stain turned out to be a better choice.

This picture shows how I contoured the bin to match the curve of the buffet. First I made a template of the curve from another piece of wood by holding it against the back of the curved piece and tracing. Then I cut that template out by hand, and sanded the curve to match exactly. Then, and this is the cool part, I clamped all of the front and back blank pieces of the bins together, clamped that whole thing to the template, and cut the curve using a flush trim router bit. Here's a stock picture of a flush trim router bit.

The bearing rides on the template (in the picture that's the lighter colored wood), not cutting it, and the rest of the bit cuts the workpiece (the reddish wood). It's a really good way to get repeatable results, or to exactly match the shape of another object.

Like the idiot that I am, I didn't have the right size 1/2" plywood for the base, and stubbornly refused to buy more. So I used two pieces to get the size that I needed. I cut and installed biscuits between the two pieces to ensure alignment.

This is a stock image of a biscuit jointer, the tool used to install biscuits. It has a rotating blade that plunges into the workpiece making a round-bottomed hole. The biscuit, seen between the two workpieces in the image above, is a cat-eye shaped piece of compressed wood that fits into this slot. If you take the time to align everything properly on both pieces, the biscuit will ensure that they are both lined up when you glue them together.

Back to the assembly: the side pieces are then glued to the edge of the base plywood, and I used pin nails to hold them in place while the glue dried. Once all four sizes were glued on, I cut and installed the corner pieces. They were off-the-shelf corner molding from Home Depot. I glued them into place, and again used pin nails to ensure alignment of the size pieces until the glue dried. Since I used 1/4" plywood for the sides, these corner molding pieces added much needed structural strength.

To ensure that these bins didn't scratch the wood floor, I used self-adhesive felt in each corner.

Some stain and a couple of coats of wipe on polyurethane later, and my wife had custom bins for the placemats.

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