Newbie, making boxes, needs a place to start

<sorry it's so long, but I need to explain myself. if you're a TLDR-type, it'd be a good idea to move on. thanks for stopping.)
I have decided I'm going to 'modularize' my place some, for lack of a better word. I want to make some boxes that I can stack that will act like bookshelves, or dressers, or pretty much anything that stores things but lets me still have handy access to the stuff inside. (not unlike a college student uses milk crates, but nicer. sturdier. looks good in different configurations. and strong enuf to stand on. not that I will, but stacked four or five tall full of books will weigh at least what I do. and that's saying something.)
Could you point me to some websites and videos that will answer some questions and show me how to do some stuff?
I see the basic questions are: 1-how to make a good, strong, easy corner joint, and 2-how to easily cut the panels. Oh, and how to cut out the hand holds, but I think I can do that with a jigsaw, right? But to round the edges, I'll need a router I think. Simply sanding will not get the edges round enuf. Is there a way to get 3/4" plywood round without a router? (not simply not-sharp, but round-round.)
What kind of corner would be strong and easy, and how to make it? Do I have to make a dove tail to be strongest? or maybe pocket screws are good enuf? 45 degree butt joint? bisquits? ahhhh!!! How strong is a 90-degree butt joint, glued, with screws? Is that pretty permanent? I wouldn't think it would look all that nice with screws tho. I wouldn't mind getting a jig for pocket screws. Are they fairly easy to do on a 12" or 15"-wide panel? I've only seen them done on a 4" plank.
How do I cut a 4'x8' piece of plywood into a bunch of squares? A handsaw is out (how tedious would that be?) I've used a circular saw way-back-when in projects with my dad. Nothing recent tho, and I doubt my ability to make long straight cuts with one. Norm Abram on New Yankee Workshop*** uses his table saw all the time on practically every project. Is a table saw one of the most basic tools to have?
I've got a decent drill so screws aren't a problem
Well, anyway, enuf. What websites can I visit to get a handle on what I need to do?
Thanks for the help (and sorry it's so long. I just need a place to start.)
Lance
*** I know, I know, you're saying 'oh man! a newbie who got inspired and wants to get to it right away, but will quit in a week. Stop wasting my time.' Well, I've been thinking about this a while, and I'm not going to go out tomorrow and spend a thousand bucks only to dump it when I find out my back hurts from bending over. I expect that, and my back's fine. (its the knees that don't like to bend...but that's a different story.) I'm good with my hands, and like to build things. But this is the first largish project in wood, thus why I'm asking. In fact, if it turns out I have some aptitude and like what I make, I'll probably make another project or two, and even keep going as long as the inspiration lasts. And, yeah, I know, Norm's videos only cover the barest basics, they're at least weeks worth of work by a very experienced carpenter all squeezed into less than half an hour. he may cover my project in, maybe, 5 min.
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To follow up: I found a video on youtube where a guy builds a basic bookshelf, just a big box really, with pocket hole joints and he just screws the back on. It looks relatively easy, but of course he had the whole workshop, and he had a table saw to cut the big pieces. I think this might be my place to start, just cutting the hand holes and the big sides.
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Really? This has to be a troll. Ok, I'll bite. You need to buy some basic power tools starting with a table saw. And, then you need to use it practice wise. Make a few boxes, small boxes, say big enough to hold a bowling ball. If you're satisfied with their construction, then come back here in a few months.
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On Tue, 13 May 2014 06:29:26 -0400, "Mike Marlow"

Sure he could. But, with the aspirations he has, the tablesaw is his shortest route to what he wants to build on a decent level. Of course, that's just my opinion.
All I can go on is my own experience. I had a circular saw and various other tools when I started woodworking on a regular basis. But, it wasn't until I bought a table saw that I *really* got into cabinet making.
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On 5/13/2014 4:04 AM, SuperVHS wrote:

Asian seagoing cultures have been good at effecting what you're describing above. The Japanese have a modular type of furniture/casework called "tansu", a system of boxes which are used convey and store their personal effects on sea journeys, then, when back in port, brought back to their homes and stacked as shelves and various other furniture:
http://krrb.com/posts/37737-beautiful-tansu-for-storage-with-style
Do your own googlefu on "tansu".
Interested in this concept from a magazine article I saw some 40 years ago, I made my own "tansu" for my office about ten years ago:
http://e-woodshop.net/Projects8.htm
As you can see, this modular concept can be as simple, or as ornate, as your desire.

http://www.shopwoodworking.com/casework-construction-case-joinery
Cost you a couple of bucks for the download, but at least it is something that will start you off in the right direction.
Books have been written about all the questions you ask, so it is a tough task to try to answer them all in one post.
The expertise to answer to all your questions is right here on the wRec, but it might be better if you did a bit of reading first, then come back with specific questions that weren't answered in your research.
As far as tools go, it really depends upon the room you have for a proper shop, and your budget.
A table saw was considered mandatory for doing casework, but since plunge "track/rail" saws came on the scene a few years back, you can make do quite nicely with one of those if your budget and space is limited:
http://www.rockler.com/how-to/plunge-cut-rail-saws/
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One of the best ways IMO is with glue blocks. Strips of 3/4x3/4 wood - or even 1x2 - cut to length and glued and/or screwed to adjacent sides. Of course, they show when looking into he box but one can put a decorative edge on them or hide tham with a face frame glued to the front of the box and overlapping the glue blocks. __________________

See below _____________________

Yes you can but a better way is to make one in a piece of scrap and use that as a router template; that way all the hand holes will be the same, not to mention smoother. _____________________

You need a router. _____________________

Probably strong enough for your purpose. ______________________

Recess the screw heads slightly, fill, prime and paint (the whole thing) ______________________

Yes it is but you don't necessarily have to have it. If you will have considerable future use for it, consider buying one; expect to pay $500+ - $1500 for a new one.
There are other ways to cut panels...
1. Lay across saw horses and use a circular saw with a straight edge (a 6-12" wide strip of plywood makes a decent straight edge). Even though I have table saw, I generally cut panels like this initially, then fine tune them on the table saw.]...it is not easy to handle a 4x8 sheet on a table saw.
2. Have them cut where you buy them. Lowes/Home Depot give you one free cut, you can often get two. Additional cuts are cheap. The roughness on the cut edges can be dressed up with a router and straight edge guide or a hand plane. You would need to plan your sizes in advance.
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On 5/13/2014 8:43 AM, dadiOH wrote:

plywood is. If the boxes are 2'X 2' and you are planning on using quarter inch plywood. I would either increase the size of the plywood or add a backing post to each corner of the box. These could be of any convenient desigh.
I would also consider the corner post it the box is going to see rough use or filled with a lot of weight.
Otherwise what was said above.
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IOW, about 2 ft square. For books, you'll want 3/4 plywood

For your hand-hold, router would be indicated

Strongest would be Box Joint. But you'd need a fixture and either Router or Table Saw. You theoretically could do it by hand but that would be time intensive.
Alternately Butt Joint with glue & screws (pay attention to orientation.) I've used metal ells (on face) to add strength and decorative touch.
For books, you'll want at least 1/4" for back - 1/2 would be better. Glue and screw
Screws - use flat-head, take care in spacing and setting them and make them a decorative feature.

You'll need a circular saw and either buy or make a guide. THEN use the Table saw if you have one for the finish cuts.
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On Tuesday, May 13, 2014 4:04:38 AM UTC-5, SuperVHS wrote:

A lot of people are making plyometric boxes for Crossfit these days. You can google those terms to get some ideas. Here's an example.
http://josephhinson.com/2011/04/18/plans-for-building-a-20x24x30-crossfit-plyo-box-with-pdf-download/
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Thanks for the help everyone! It's given me a good idea where to go.
Lets see if I got this.
I like the idea of tansu, and those look great. These won't be that detailed but it might be something for the future.
I looked at track saws, but oh man expensive. I might start with a circular saw that I can get for cheap (but with a good blade) and make a guide myself. The cuts I can't get the shop to do anyway. If things go well and I like what I'm doing, then I'll get a table saw. Make sure I like it, but I do like making things so I don't think that'll be an issue. Btw, what blade, or type of blade, do you recommend?
Looks like I'll need a router from the start. I don't fancy carrying a bunch of books with only sanded edges. And the router template is a good idea.
I'm certainly not against buying hardware. (you should see my computer desk! hard drives, keyboards, wires all over the place.) I just don't want to waste money just in case I don't like it and drop this in a month.
Since a lot of it will be books, then heavier wood is called for. 3/4" ply for the sides, and probably 1/2" for the back. Internal bracing is pretty much out tho. Some of these books are pretty big and need all the corner space they can get. What I'll probably do is overengineer the back connection with more screws than usual. That should be strong enuf (shouldn't it?) I'm leaning toward pocket hole joints. That'll get rid of the bracing, then look strong, and for some reason I just think they're cool.
Did I catch everything? Anything else you'd like to add?
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On 5/17/2014 12:47 AM, SuperVHS wrote:

Take a look at the Grizzly track saws, way less expensive.
http://www.grizzly.com/products/Track-Saw/T10687
And a review which I have not read.
http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/grizzly-track-saw-review/
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Combination type, carbide tipped saw blade for a table saw and a good table saw fence when you can afford it.
I started off with a contractor's table saw in the beginning. Used it as is for about five years. The two biggest noticeable upgrades after that was adding a carbide tipped saw blade and a decent aftermarket fence to it.
Can't advise you on good circular saw blade. I gave away mine a number of years ago.
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*snip*

Go with the 7 1/4" saw & blade. They are extremely common, and you've got options if you need it. Most saws come with a blade that will get you started. Carbide tipped is the way to go.
Saw guides are available from a couple different places as well. It's easier and nicer than making one out of wood or angle iron, as you don't have to fuss with multiple clamps.

You may still have to sand those routed edges. ;-)

When I was cutting lattice, I put a piece of cheap foam on the floor and set the blade to just barely cut through the lattice. It worked great as the pieces didn't go anywhere, and if you don't have sawhorses or a table this could be a very cheap way to get some cutting support.
Puckdropper
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On Tuesday, May 13, 2014 4:04:38 AM UTC-5, SuperVHS wrote:

The absolute easiest, and strong to boot, is the lock butt joint. Its self squaring, has lot of glue surface and is easy to make. All you have to remember is that the inside if the front and back to TOWARD
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On Tuesday, May 13, 2014 4:04:38 AM UTC-5, SuperVHS wrote:

The absolute easiest, and strong to boot, is the lock butt joint. Its self squaring, has lot of glue surface and is easy to make AND it can all be do ne without any blade changes.
All you have to remember is that the inside if the front and back to TOWA RD the rip fence. The "How" is simple. You simply set your fence at 1/4" and raise your blade to the material thickness, usually 3/4" (if your mate rial is thinner, adjust accordingly). Rip a 1/4 x 3/4" dado on both ends o f the front and back. Lower your blade to 3/8" and and run both ends of t he front and back through, with the INDSIDE DOWN. Finally, cut a 1/4 x 3/8 " dado in both ends of the side pieces with INSIDE DOWN. Cut your bottom panel dado and you are ready for assembly.
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"Dr. Deb" wrote:
The absolute easiest, and strong to boot, is the lock butt joint. Its self squaring, has lot of glue surface and is easy to make AND it can all be done without any blade changes.
All you have to remember is that the inside if the front and back to TOWARD the rip fence. The "How" is simple. You simply set your fence at 1/4" and raise your blade to the material thickness, usually 3/4" (if your material is thinner, adjust accordingly). Rip a 1/4 x 3/4" dado on both ends of the front and back. Lower your blade to 3/8" and and run both ends of the front and back through, with the INDSIDE DOWN. Finally, cut a 1/4 x 3/8" dado in both ends of the side pieces with INSIDE DOWN. Cut your bottom panel dado and you are ready for assembly. --------------------------------------------- Want an arguement?
Change the subject.
A table saw, a good fence, and a quality blade.
The rest is history.
Lew
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