cubbie construction

I'm making a particle board cubbie storage unit for my wifes classroom. I've decided that the best way to design the unit is to make the shelves interlocking, but can't think of a great way of making the slots. The storage unit will have 15 total cubies all 12" x 12" x 12" (5x3). My first thought was to cut 4 slots on the 2 horizontal shelves half way through and then make 2 slots on each of the 5 vertical deviders half way through on the table saw. But I'm not sure how to finish off the cut or if it is a safe way to get the job done. Has anyone done this kind of thing before? Would a dado blade work better? A jig saw? A router? This may be a no brainer, but do you make the slots the same size as the particle board? (23/32)
I would be very grateful for any ones help, and you would make a hero out of me with my wife.
Thank you, Don
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sr_wood wrote:

Sounds like your design is good. I'd use a router, taking 2 or 3 passes to cut all the way through. If you run the slot just far enough past half-way for the widest part of the bit to be at the half-way point you'll have a good fit. (The rounded portion will be hidden by the interlocking piece)
Good luck and post some pics when you get it finished.
Brad
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Anything for the kids! Good attitude.
Here's my take on the situation: It's easier to set a stacked dado cutter once to the exact thickness of the particle board (+ half a scoche (sp?)), than it is to take multiple router passes, resetting the stop or guide for each cut. This assumes, of course, the availability of a stacked dado cutter of sufficient size, on a tablesaw of sufficient power and stability.
I would be tempted, if I did not already have such a beast, to build a crosscut style sled, with which to manage the longish boards, and locate the dadoes precisely, and to finish this task with the same number of original equipment fingers and thumbs as when I started.
Having married into a family of teachers, I am sympathetic with your cause, and applaud your support!
Patriarch
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (sr_wood) wrote in message

Don: first, some questions:
1) What equipment/tools do you have access to? (Cutting 6" deep slots on the TS is not possible with a 10" blade. Part of it can be done--in one pass with a dado blade and a big honkin' saw, or two passes with a stopped cross-cut--with the boards flat on the table, but you'll have some area at the center of the board which will have to be hand-cut, chiseled or routed square.)
2) What will be stored in the cubbies--heavy or light items? (Particle board is notorious for bending under weight and one end of each cubbie in your design will be unsupported. Unsupported PB is also more likely to break if even a preschooler leans on it.)
I would cut dados across the horizontal shelves and fitting shorter vertical dividers in the dados. This would make a stronger unit. Might be faster, too. Put a back panel on it (to keep it from racking) fitted in a rabbeted edge (to keep things neat). Remember to subtract the thickness of the back from the width of the center shelf and dividers, and add the combined depths of the dados to their length and heigths (respectively).
And yes, the dados or slots should be the same size as the board.
Keep us posted, hero.
Dan
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snipped-for-privacy@gte.net (Dan Cullimore) wrote in message

I don't believe this would be stronger. The unit would be apt to fold at the shelves, making the square cubbies into parallelograms on the way to failure. Having continuous vertical members is stronger. Your design rotated 90 degrees would work better, as another poster mentioned. This way the shelves would be short and nest in dados cut into the vertical members.

Actually, if you want to make a truely strong unit, the slots in the shelves (not the vertical members) should be about 1/8" narrower than the board. First you plough a 1/16" deep dado, the width of the board, on both sides of each interior vertical board (inside only on end boards), all the way across where they will intersect the shelves. Then cut your half-width slots centered in these dados. When the boards are joined, the dados in the vertical members will support the slotted portions of the shelves, so you won't end up with any unsupported structure. Technically, this does have the disadvantage of weakening the beam strength of the vertical members, but that shouldn't be much of a problem given how shelves are loaded.
For aesthetic reasons, the full-width dados could instead be stopped dados, so that you don't see them from the front. This would require widening that portion of the slot in the shelves.

Ditto.
-Mike
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (sr_wood) wrote in

More than 20 years ago I made some cubbies that still are in use today. From what I remember the plywood was called texture 10-11 or something like that (DAGS came up empty AFAICT). It's plywood with grooves about every 5 inches, into which 1/4" ply fitted nicely. Make 2 uprights of the 10-11 plywood, and a bunch of shelves and top and back from 1/4" and you have simple cubbies that will last from toddler till the next generation, easily.
--
Best regards
Han
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Han writes:

But sand it first. You're probably writing of T 1-11 plywood, which is a rough sawn exterior variety.
Charlie Self "Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." Sir Winston Churchill
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote in

Of course, and yes, THAT was the name.
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Han
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (sr_wood) wrote in

Lots of ways to do this. Personally I'd make a templat out of 1/4 masonite and then route the grooves. You should be able to lay out the slots on the masonite and cute with a jigsaw. You can then route using a collar and straight bit or a pattern bit or a trim bit.. just be sure you know which you'll use when you figure the size of the slots in the masonite. You could also make the template by screwing some straing strips of wood onto the play and then routing out the slots themselves.
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Wow!!!, I never expected such kind and supportive responses. I have a sliding miter saw on my Delta unisaw. I think I'll go for the dado method. Would a stop on the fence be a good idea, or should I free hand it? By the way I'm new to the group and I'm really impressed. A great bunch of folks here. I'm sure my wife and her 160 students will be extatic.
Don
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (sr_wood) wrote in

PLEASE don't try this cut free hand! Not a safe practice at all.
I'm not sure what you mean by "a sliding miter saw on my Delta unisaw." What I envisioned is a sliding crosscut sled, through which the dado head protrudes. This will likely be a one-time use sled, if you build it to use both runners on the Unisaw, but you should be able to put it together with a bit of that MDF, and the mythical straight tubafor, glue, and a dozen wood screws.
A stop clamped to the back rail of the sled MAY be useful, but then, I'm envisioning a design that may differ from what you're doing. If this were in my shop, the Bies fence would be leaning against the wall for this operation...
Have fun with this. Work safely. Start cautiously.
Patriarch
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Sorry, Not a sliding miter saw as I said earlier, but a sliding miter table as in an "Excalibur sliding miter table." By "free hand" I mean make the cut half way then pull back.(Using the sliding miter table) Or should a stop be used to limit the travel of the sliding miter table.

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (sr_wood) wrote in

That makes a lot more sense. And yes, in that context, a stop would be a really good thing. Up to you, of course.
On to glory!
Patriarch
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