Card Catalog – CD Case

July 13, 20153 Comments

Continuing along with my trip down memory lane and revisiting old projects, the next one I’m sharing was a huge step up for me and something I’m still very proud of and not the least bit afraid to show off.

Card catalog inspired CD storage for 500 CDs

Card catalog inspired CD storage for 500 CDs

Music had always been a big part of my life, and as it turned out, it was also a huge part of my wife Samantha’s also. Between the two of us, we had amassed a pretty sizable “collection” of CDs, so eventually when we moved in together the combination of all of our titles was overwhelming.

We tried all sorts of different ways to store them, but none them worked well for us. We wanted something that was sturdy, decorative, and equally important was that it was functional in our small house. Eventually we found an idea in a catalog, and that’s when I decided I was going to make the effort to build something really special for us.

At the time I still didn’t have a lot of tools in my shop. A bench top bandsaw, a small job site table saw, circular saw, a plunge router with a handful of router bits, a corded drill and a sander. I didn’t even own a block plane or a single chisel, but I did have plenty of ambition.

Most of the body for the CD case was made of select or better pine from my local home center. I also used a some 1/2” birch plywood for the panels in the frame and panel construction, and the drawer bottoms and dovetail runners (more on these below) were constructed from solid red oak for durability.

Because I didn’t have a jointer, gluing up the wide top was a little tricky, but I somehow managed to glue together two boards with a lot of pressure from my pipe clamps and a whole lot of finessing. I’m convinced any day now I’ll hear a tearing or popping sound when the glue in the joint lets go, but over a decade later there’s still no issue yet.

CD top

The sides and back are a simple frame and panel construction. The stiles extend down past the bottom rail to create the legs that hold it up off the floor, and for a reason I can’t remember any longer, I applied a small dowel around the border of the panel to add a decorative element similar to cockbeading.

Why did I repeat the frame and panel construction on the back also? Just in case we ever bought a place big enough that we could set it in the middle of the room as part of a divider to define two areas of a living room, and also because I could.

The joinery of choice for me at this time was dowels and glue. They were simple to construct with and held up amazingly well, which is plenty obvious by the fact this piece has literally been dragged across carpet and taken an unexpected fall or two while being moved, and yet has shown any signs of coming apart.

Unfortunately, as always seems to happen at some point during construction, I wasn’t paying close attention and managed to drill through the show face on one rail. Thankfully it was on the back end and out of view.

CD oops

For the interior and exterior frames that support the twelve drawers I also used the same select and better pine and joined everything together with dowels and glue there also. In hindsight, I probably would use something more like poplar for the interior frame work. I imagine it would hold up better to the wear and tear of the drawers opening and closing, but so far the pine shows no signs of stress.

Probably the main reason for that is the red oak drawer bottoms and dovetail runners. The runners carry most of the workload as the drawers are opened and closed so all the wear and tear falls on their shoulders.

This was my first attempt at making anything like a sliding dovetail and I have to admit there were a few times when I remember thinking this would probably be the last time I did anything like it.

Why? Probably because there were a close call or two when I was routing them. Not so much a close call as in my fingers were in the way, but more like a greater danger of the piece flying across the room like a missile.

Regardless, I managed to make all twelve runners and matching drawer bottoms and then attached them to the pine drawer boxes I had resawn on my bench top bandsaw.

This was one of my first attempts at resawing thicker stock. It was very much a learning experience as I discovered how some of the pieces liked to bow after being cut when the fresh faces were exposed.

Of course the other issue was that since I didn’t have a thickness planer it required a lot of sanding to clean up the blade marks, so it’s not too surprising that some of the drawer sides aren’t of the same thickness when I was done.

By the time I assembled the boxes to the drawer bottom I discovered they worked perfectly fine and haven’t had any obvious issues since.

The final couple of steps I had left to complete were to cut the drawer fronts to size, router a decorative edge profile (which I hoped would give the piece a sense of being thinner versus the full 3/4” it actually was,) and then to attach them to the drawer boxes.

CD front

Once all of that was completed I then cut a couple of small decorative pieces to attach to the legs so the front face of the cabinet looked a little more complete, and then it was off for staining and finishing.

CD foot detail

Even though CDs have kind of gone the way of the Dodo Bird for the most part, we still get a lot of compliments on it, and the occasional “you listened to this?”

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Comments (3)

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  1. Tom says:

    Looks great, the vertical grain on the drawer fronts see like an odd choice to me but I don’t think it hurts the look at all, for some reason I suppose drawers should have horizontal grain

  2. Hey, I like that a lot! If I built one, it would have a section for vinyl at the bottom, then cassettes in the middle and discs at the top. No need for an 8 track section, none of them survived. Maybe a little tray on the top for micro sd cards.

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