Large wall of drawers: How to build frame/carcass?

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Hi all,
I have a finished attic and I am looking to make it more useful by building a storage unit that is made up of large drawers. The space I want to fill is about 9' wide x 5' tall x 2' deep and I hope to end up with about 12-15 drawers of various sizes, but most will be about 3 feet wide and 1 foot high. This is essentially a big dresser, but this is not furniture I'm building, so although functionality is important, great beauty is not. My other concern is that the frame/ carcass be strong enough to support fully loaded drawers (with appropriately rated slides). Does anyone know of a plan out there on the web or in a book that might fit the bill? My searching for the last few days has not turned up anything. I have found many plans for dressers, etc, but nothing that matches the size or style (or I should say, lack of style) of this project.
Many thanks in advance!
Kevin
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Seems pretty simple. Just build several plywood boxes (in your garage) 3' wide by 2' deep by 5' tall, no backs or fronts. Don't worry about the fact that where they join they will have double thickness. The build and move convenience of smaller pieces out weighs the loss of a few inches in storage space.
Set them on the floor against the wall where you want the storage. For a nicer look, set them on top of a 3" high box on the floor that is only 21" deep so you have a 3 x 3 toe kick space. Screw them to each other and the wall (maybe braces across the back to help attach.
Build a face frame(s), one large piece if possible or each separate, just the biggest pieces you can get into the room from your shop. Smaller drawers at the top, progressively bigger toward the bottom, maybe one 6" deep, one 9" deep and the rest a full foot. OK to split some of the 3' wide sections in half on smaller drawers if you want.
Use good drawer slides mounted to the sides of the boxes. Build boxes from Baltic Birch ply. Plan face frame size for overlay drawer faces. Make the drawer faces overlay by 1/2" all around and even gaps between drawers.
At the top either run the top face frame into the ceiling (if it is somewhere close) or drop a piece of 3/4 play, edged with solid wood overhanging 1 1/2"

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Kevin wrote: ...

Others addressed the question asked; I'll tackle the other concern--namely are you sure the attic floor/ceiling below joists are up to this concentrated load you're proposing? That sounds like the potential for quite a lot of weight.
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For 5' tall, you'll have sidewalls of 3/4" plywood; that's plenty to support screwed-in metal drawer slides. For fine furniture, there'd be dust panels separating the drawers, but you can probably omit them, EXCEPT for one near midheight to keep the case from bowing. This can just be a stick notched to the right spacing,
A back to prevent racking can be 1/4" plywood, or even an X-brace or three (the 9' width implies at least three banks of drawers). Some kind of apron around the base will keep it rectangular on the bottom, and a lid will keep it rectangular on top; my preference for the lid would be dadoed 3/4" plywood, but if there won't be anything on top you could use lighter material.
Like any built-in cabinets, you'll possibly need to shim the base to follow any floor curvature. Because this is in an attic, your cutting /fitting will be handled elsewhere (where the sawdust doesn't annoy), and the parts will be carried up one-at-a-time. A good big framing square and a level are required for assembly.
It's amazingly hard to hand-dovetail plywood. Do the drawers by a standard design of some sort, or even get a cabinet shop to build 'em for you. For really heavy drawers, bolts/T nuts might be a good way to attach the slides.
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Kevin wrote:

================================= Time for a reality check.
Those attic "floor" beams are probably 2x4s.
The cabinet structure you are contemplating will have significant weight.
The above are mutually exclusive.
Might want to go on down to the Home Depot and look at wire basket storage systems normally used for closets.
Limit the attic storage to light weight things.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Depends on the attic. The house I grew up in had 2x8 ceiling joists on 16" centers in the "new" attic and in the "old" attic I don't recall what they were but they looked more like something that belonged on a Napoleonic warship.
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

You could be correct, particularly if they are factory built roof trusses, but then the rat runs and lateral bracing should give them away, making it doubtful there would be room for a finished space, but ....
Certainly worth checking, indeed ...
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Curious to know: Just how much weight can or should be placed on 2x4s configured like that??? Recently my new neighbor, who just moved in, was walking around in his attic and stepped off of one of the beams and fell through the floor landing in the kitchen!
I mentioned to him that he was going to look back on that someday and laugh, but he wasn't yet to that point... :)
Bill

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Bill wrote:

Sounds like he fell through the drywall on the ceiling, and it won't hold your tool box in some houses.
Tell him not to worry, he's probably ranks only somewhere in the millions of all the folks who have done that.
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It came up like this. I went over to introduce myself having moved in just a few weeks before he did. And we were going through our "new homeowner checklists" with each other; I was explaining that I was sort of leery about walking around in my attic because I was concerned about falling through--and then he pointed to a pile of broken drywall!! I mentioned that it was really sort of funny when you stop to think about it and that he and his wife would laugh about it someday..but like I said earlier, he wasn't to that point yet... ; ) I won't laugh too loud, as I'm only 1 step away from falling through my ceiling too.

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Bill wrote:

FWIW, that's generally an inadvertent half a step ... :)
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Great advice all, and I now realize my use of the word "attic" was misleading. It's actually a third-floor living space, complete with full bath, bedroom, etc. so I think the floor will be strong enough.
Good to know that plywood boxes will serve as adequate frames for the drawers. One question: I like the idea of face frames on the boxes with an overlay drawer front, but won't a face frame prohibit me from mounting the drawers slides directly to the sides of the plywood boxes? Will I need to attach the slides to boards that are screwed/ glued to the insides of the boxes so that the slides will clear the face frame?
Thanks!
Kevin
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Kevin wrote:

You should have a choice with most modern drawers.
You can attach them to the FF at the front, and with a special bracket on the back wall of the cabinet.
Or,
You can attach the slide to a "spacer" that brings the slide flush with the FF, and then attach the slide and the spacer to the cabinet side.
I prefer the latter because it produces a quieter end result, and is much easier to install, level etc.
Tip: design your FF width so that when they are applied to the front of the casework sides, the distance between the inside edge of the FF, and the inside face of the cabinet side, is a distance that is equal in thickness to readily available "spacer" material, ie, 3/4" or 1/2" plywood.
I would NOT glue drawer slide spacers to the sides of the cabinets. I like to first install them with brads, insert the drawers, make any adjustment necessary, then, and only then, screw them to the sides with screws when all the drawers are properly fit.
By first securing them with brads, you can easily tap the top or bottom of the spacers with a hammer, to make any adjustments necessary before you permanently screw them in.
Be careful that you don't use a brad long enough to go through exposed cabinet sides ... I've installed literally hundreds of cabinets and still do this on occasion!! :(
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What he said.
Nice answer.

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One more tip (maybe obvious).
Build the drawer boxes as a box and apply the drawer faces after the fact. Install all the drawer boxes in the case and get the slides adjusted and working well BEFORE adding the drawer fronts. Then add the drawer fronts to the boxes so it is easy to get them all nice and square and evenly spaced. I use double sided tape and then screws from inside.

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SonomaProducts.com wrote:

Good one ... and here's a couple more:
~ When you make your spacers for attaching the slides to the sides of the cabinet, "batch cut" them so they're uniform width and length, AND, most importantly, take pains in cutting the ends of the spacers as perfectly "square" as possible (I cut mine on a TS sled. That way, when you butt them up to the face frame during installation, they will already be square to the face frame, and much easier to hold in place with one hand while you use the brad nailer with the other.
~ Also, a shop/site made jig like this comes in handy for attaching the slides to the spacers before you even get near the cabinets:
http://picasaweb.google.com/karlcaillouet/DrawerSlideJig #
This is something that you rarely see a trim carpenter without on a job site in this neck of the woods. Down through the years I have these things made for every possible thickness of spacer, and every type of drawer slide imaginable, and usually have some small spacer material of different thickness to "tune" the jig up if need be on site (you can see those "tuneup spacers" in the photos) if you zoom in. I generally have drawer slide "shucking party" before I ever leave the shop, and mount all the drawer slides on their spacers, paired up and ready to install when I get to the job site.
~ Also, drill and countersink the screw holes in the spacers before you try to install the slide pairs ... that way they won't move around when you sink the screws in that tight space ... and watch those screw lengths, so you don't screw through the finished side of a cabinet! DAMHIKT, once again! :(
Actually, I carry my cabinet "makeup kit" around with me in the truck so that I can powder the noses of those types of screwups and hide the pimples... it ain't like I don't do it often enough.
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RE: Subject
Whoever suggested building essentially open boxes to accept covered Rubbermaid containers had a winner, IMHO.
Drawers are heavy, expensive, and usually require expensive hardware, take up valuable storage space, and are awkward at best.
In addition, they do not provide sealed storage which is desirable for an inactive storage area.
Add a curtain to cover the bin and you would think we were talking about storage on a boat<grin>.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Yabbut, but the mess when you send those things through the planer ....
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For storage drawers, I'd also consider making them without any type of stop to prevent withdrawal. This would be particularly handy for the upper ones, where you might not be able to see what's inside. If the sides of the drawers were within a smidgeon of the case opening, the drawer faces would still align, but they could be pulled out and placed upon a table for easy access.
--
Nonny

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On Wed, 09 Dec 2009 17:04:11 -0800, Kevin wrote:

You still might want to check the floor load rating. If you can't determine the actual figure, find the minimum requirements of the applicable building code and use that. Better safe than sorry.
--
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