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Construction of the custom butcher block begins with 5/4" maple. Maple is a good choice for this application because it's a very hard and dense wood so it will be able to take wear and abuse better than a soft lumber.
Rip the maple into identical strips using a table saw and stack the strips side-by-side on an even work surface. (A makeshift work surface can be created by setting a sheet of OSB or plywood on top of some saw horses.) It's helpful to do a dry run first, arranging the strips in the desired order actually gluing.
When ready to assemble, begin attaching the pieces side by side, gluing each successive strip with non-toxic wood glue to the one adjacent to it, then following up with the nail gun (Image 1). Try to secure the pieces together to form as flat a top surface as possible, but they don't have to match perfectly at this point since the assembled piece will be sanded to a flat, smooth surface later on. After all pieces are glued and nailed together, wait for the glue to dry fully. Using braces or clamps will help achieve a tighter fit and better glue adhesion.
Butcher Block Fact: Wood is stronger when it's oriented on its side or on its end. That's why butcher blocks are made using the "side grain" or "end grain" technique. This butcher block is built using the side grain method. The end grain would work equally well, but the side grain technique is a quicker build process.
Once the glue has cured fully, cut any excess length and uneven edges from the assembled block. Once the excess is cut away, round the corners using a router, then sand the top, bottom, and all sides of the butcher block with a palm sander to ensure even proportions and smooth surfaces and edges. Once the surfaces are smooth and even, finish the block by oiling it with salad-bowl oil or mineral oil. The oil has to be nontoxic and safe for consumption as food will come into direct contact with the butcher block.
The base cabinet for the butcher block is essentially a straightforward plywood-box design. Measure and mark the plywood pieces and use a circular saw or table saw to cut them to the proper dimensions. Use a jigsaw to cut out the access openings for the front panel.
The back panel should be 3 inches taller than the front panel since the front of this piece will be supported by table legs (detailed below). Once all the pieces are cut, assemble the pieces — side, back and bottom panels first, then place the shelves inside, then add the top and front. Secure the pieces together using wood glue and nails (Image 1).
With the back panel extending 3 inches below the bottom, the front of the finished piece will be supported by table legs added at the front corners. This decorative technique gives the piece a distinctive look, essentially adding a faux molding for visual interest. To create the faux moldings, purchase decorative pre-made wooden table legs (available from home centers), and rip them in half lengthwise using a table saw. Secure a cut-in-half table leg to the front of the cabinet at each corner using glue and nails. Just make certain that the height matches that of the back piece so the cabinet will sit level. Once the cabinet structure is complete, sand, prime and paint it.
Once the base cabinet is complete, install the finished butcher block on the base cabinet by gluing the block onto the top surface. Secure it also with screws, inserted from below the cabinet surface, making certain the screws are of the proper length that they don't penetrate through the block.
Build the remaining cabinets using the same materials and the same basic techniques as for the base. This design calls for two tall units, each built to identical outer-cabinet dimensions of 2' deep by 7' tall. One serves as an office storage/work space, with built-in computer workstation, and the other is specially designed for storing a variety of bread makers.
For the work station, a rectangular cut made in the lower portion of one side of the cabinet accommodates the computer tower, while the upper portion contains a spice rack that slides out by means of drawer glides (Image 1).
On the adjacent side, a monitor shelf, keyboard slide and divider panel are incorporated into the unit. Shelving is custom cut to accommodate the homeowners' computer monitor, keyboard and printer (Image 2).
Whenever building a cabinet to house computer or other electronic equipment that may generate heat, be certain to allow for the electronic devices to have adequate ventilation. Use a hole saw to cut holes through the panels as necessary to accommodate feeding through cables and electrical cords and allow access to wall outlets. The holes will also help with ventilation. Once the construction is complete, sand, prime and paint the cabinet.
The bread-maker's cabinet incorporates a unique shelf design that allows each shelf to swivel out for easy access to its contents (Image 1). To create a shelf system like this, determine how many shelves you'll need, and cut out the individual shelves from birch plywood. Since these shelves will rotate out from a pivot pole, two of the sides and the corner that connects them, need to be cut with a curve that will allow for swiveling within the tight space. Use a jigsaw for cutting the curves.
On the corner opposite the "curved" corner, use a hole saw to cut a hole about one inch inside the edges. Then cut an identical hole in the exact same location on each of the remaining shelves. The shelves will be vertically stacked and must be identical.
Once all the shelves are cut, sand them to remove rough edges and surfaces. Prime and paint the shelves prior to assembling the shelf tower.
To assemble the swinging tower, use 1" galvanized pipe as the pivot pole, and then use 1-1/4" sections of pipe to act as spacers. Rings made from cut sections of 1" PVC pipe act as "buffers" between the sections.
Attach a pipe spacer on top of the hole on each shelf using a flange secured through the wood using nuts, bolts and washers. The length of the pipe spacers is based on the height of the items being stored on each shelf. Stack the spacers and shelves according to your design. The PVC buffers, situated between the spacers and shelves, prevent the metal surfaces grinding together and enable ease of movement.
Once the shelf tower is assembled (Image 1), slide it inside the cabinet, check the fit to make sure the shelves pivot freely, and then fasten the pole at the top and bottom of the cabinet using metal flanges.
For this design, the tall tower cabinets are outfitted with hinged swinging doors. Smaller cabinets bridge the upper portion of the large upright sections.
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