Improvised Cigar Box Guitar Parts Organizer

Completed Parts Organizer

We’ve been going through this massive remodeling project at work so a LOT of stuff has been getting thrown away.  Some of it is getting tossed because it doesn’t fit in the scheme of the remodel.  Some of it is being tossed because it’s old, or there’s no place to keep it anymore.  One of the things that was being tossed were these paper racks.  They used to have one in each of the printer stations to hold different types of paper.  In the new space, they don’t want anything on the counter, so they had to go.  I looked at them and thought, “Hey, I could put drawers in these.”  I grabbed 3 of them.  I might have grabbed more, but they’re pretty big.  They’re made of out of Plexiglas or acrylic or something, and there are six slots that would almost fit a ream of paper in each.  Then there are four compartments on each side for holding Post-It notes or something.  They were big, awkward and kind of heavy.

Before I even got home, I had a pretty good idea for making the drawers.  I had furring strips and paneling sitting around in the garage.  At home, I slid a piece of furring strip into one of the slots, and seemed like it would be a perfect fit.  I planned to use the fake wood paneling as the drawer bottoms, but it was a bit thick.  So I bought a 4×4 sheet of ¼ inch hardboard.  I measured the opening of the rack, side to side, and front to back and marked out the hardboard for the drawer bottoms, and furring strip for the drawer sides.  I thought about doing lap joints, but decided I wanted to keep it SUPER easy and just went with butt joints.  The sides ran the whole depth of the drawer, and the fronts & backs were cut to fit between them.

4 drawer bottoms would fit across one edge of the hardboard, so that’s what I started with, cutting them out with the circular saw.  Then I cut enough sides for those 4 drawers.  This was a mistake, which I’ll get to in a minute.

I laid out the drawer sides, front and back on the driveway.  Set a drawer bottom on top, drilled a hole and drove in a little nail.  Drilled another, drove another.  One at a time until the boards were all attached at the ends.  Then I drilled holes in the middle of each and drove nails in those .  These were little carpet nails that I had dumpstered somewhere.  I’ve had them in my possession for over 10 years, and just ran across them a couple days previous while reorganizing the basement.  They were perfect.  Once the bottom was attached, I drilled holes and drove some rink shank nails (dumpstered at the same time) to hold joints of the drawer sides together.

Then I started on the next one.  With this one I remembered that I had planned to glue the joints as well, so I ran a line of glue around the edge of the drawer bottom and on the ends of the front and backs of the drawers (where it butts against the drawer sides).  Then I set the sides on the bottom, and flipped the whole thing over onto the driveway.  The glue kept the pieces from sliding around, so I could drill more than one hole, and drive a few nails at a time.

Here’s where the problem came in.  I realized I hadn’t bothered to test fit the first drawer.  So I grabbed it, slid it in, and it got stuck about an inch from being all the way in.  Further inspection showed that toward the back of each rack, the plastic bulged out a little bit making the back of the drawer slot narrower than the front (where I had measured it.)  Now I had parts cut for 4 drawers that would all be too wide.  I took the completed one to the belt sander, shaved a bit off both sides, and then it fit.  I did the same for the other one that was almost done.  Then I trimmed the pieces for the other two drawers I had already cut.  All pieces cut after that were compensated for the bulge.

After doing a few drawers with 2 nails in each butt joint, I started running low on rink shank nails and grabbed another jar of them from the garage.  This one had come from an estate sale and had a bunch of steel corrugated fasteners mixed in with them.  This was pretty much the perfect use for those, so I started putting one nail in the bottom (without bothering to pre-drill) and then driving one of the corrugated fasteners into the top.

I got done with the first 6 drawers and realized “Doh! I wanted dividers.”  They’re super easy to do before you build the drawer, so I built 6 more with dividers.  All I did was lay the two sides (or front & back) together and draw lines on them using a square about where I wanted dividers.  I didn’t do any measuring, I just eyeballed everything.  My first one I split front-to-back and side-to-side.  Then I realized that the back section of the drawer would be hard to get to without taking the whole thing out, so from then on I just did the dividers running front to back.  Mostly I divided the drawers up in to 2 or 3 sections.  Then I used the band saw to cut slots in them just wide enough for the hardboard.  I used a piece of furring strips to mark strips on the scrap pieces of hardboard and cut them out with the band saw.  Once the drawers were all assembled, I’d just lay the strip on top and mark how long it needed to be to fit in both slots.  Then I’d cut the hardboard to length and slip it in.  I didn’t glue them or anything, in case I wanted to remove them later.

The last thing these drawers needed were handles.  I had a few in the basement, but I was planning to use them for building guitars or cases, so I decided to make my own handles.   For the first drawer I’d used one that I cut off a gas can when I was making a gas can banjo.   Now I didn’t have much left that was handle-like, so I started looking around the garage for things that could be converted into handles: spokes, screws, washers, hinges, wing nuts, nails, pieces of water ski bindings, bike parts.  I really enjoyed this part of it.  Trying to figure out what could be pieced together into a handle.  I made sure that on each rack of 6 drawers, no two handles matched.  There are a couple that match between the two racks, and I wished I’d made my brain work a little harder to figure out something original for those too.

Now  I’m just trying to figure out whether to make deep drawers for those compartments on the sides or just cut them off with a saw.  Also, I need to figure out where I’m going to put them.  (Them and my new tool box)


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