Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Workshop Drawers Rack From Cryovac Food Trays

Cryovac is the food packaging products division of Sealed Air. They make all kinds of stuff that supermarkets use for packaging meat and what-have-you, and one of their meat trays struck me as way too good to throw out.

The trays are about 6 3/4" wide x 8 7/8" long x 1 3/4" tall, and they're pretty sturdy. When I had nine of them saved up, it occurred to me that I could make a rack for them that would just tuck in nicely in a space under my workbench. I made the rack and it turned out ok. It's been serving me well ever since for keeping some miscellaneous, seldom used items stashed where I wouldn't lose track of them.

I've since saved up another eleven of the same trays, so I thought I'd make up another rack. I have some wall space available in my workshop's 'annex' where the thing can hang. For this rack, I thought I'd try to do a proper design job, and present a scheme for a standardized rack that can be made to accommodate any reasonable number of the subject size and style of tray. I'll include a sketch with this post so anyone who might want to can reproduce a unit.


I'm not trying to make heirloom furniture here, so I'll be using pretty rough stuff for the carcass. A nominal 1" x 10" x 8' pine shelving plank for the Home Depot will serve. Those are 3/4" thick by 9 1/4" wide actual, and they're riddled with knots and sundry other defects, but I manage to use them for utility objects in the workshop to quite good effect. Here's one example, and here's another.

For a back, I'll use RevolutionPly 5.2mm plywood.


I've recently acquired some Kreg pocket screw tooling, and I've been quite favourably impressed by it, so I'll use it for this item's carcass assembly. Here's a view of a trial assembly of the carcass prior to cutting the drawer slide grooves.

Eight pocket screws are holding that together quite well. Here's a view of the bottom's pocket screw joinery.

No one's going to accuse of doing fine woodworking here, but that's ok; I'm strictly aiming for a utilitarian object that will do a job for me.

The Kreg pocket screw method of construction works well. It's a good idea to clamp up the work however you can for starting the screws, so your alignment doesn't shift or drift on you as the screw first bites. I was a little lax with that here, as the photograph reveals.

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And here's a trial assembly with the drawer slide grooves cut, and all the trays in place.

It's turning out ok. The grooves are 1/4" wide by 3/8" deep. I'm a little bit snug on my overall width dimension, though; the trays aren't quite as free-sliding as I'd like them to be. I made the top and bottom 6" wide, and I should have gone to 6 1/8" for the sake of a free-sliding drawer fit. I'll shim the top's and bottom's ends with edge veneer to get them to approach 6 1/8" in width. That should give me a freer action to the tray slides.

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Ok. That's done, and I've made the final assembly of the carcass sides and ends with some Gorilla Glue thrown in at the joins. On with attaching the back.

The Back

As I mentioned earlier, the back is to be 5.2mm thick RevolutionPly plywood. Here it is installed oversize so it can be router-trimmed to be perfectly flush with the sides and bottom.

I attached the back with Gorilla Glue and 1" finishing nails, and then set the nail heads slightly.

The top is at the left side of the photo. That overhang will be a tab that I can use for wall-hanging the rack.

Trimming The Back

My Jobmate folding work bench turned out to be just the thing for supporting the rack while I flush-trimmed the back's edges.

At the extended top of the back, I rigged this arrangement to let me maintain the side trimming all the way to the very end of the top.

That worked well. And here's the back fully flush-trimmed.

Kreg's Pocket Hole Plugs

A bit of a digression here; I didn't really need to plug the pocket holes, but I thought I'd do so just to get some more Kreg experience, since I'm relatively new to Kreg's pocket hole gear. I used paint grade plugs. Here's a view of the plugs just installed in the top.

I had to shorten the plugs a fair bit to get them to fit anywhere near to flush. It seemed to me that the plugs protrude way too much if they're installed just as they are out of the package. From what I've seen of the plugs so far, I'd have to say that they're a bit 'iffy'.

Anyway, after a final sanding, here's the finished project ready to be hung on a wall.

Not a bad outcome, all things considered. The 'drawer' action is smooth and cooperative. That rack gives me a nice bit of orderly storage space for workshop odds and ends that I may want to have readily at hand.

Bill Of Materials
  • Qty 1: 1" x 10" nominal x 8' pine shelving plank. Select for best flatness and straightness.
  • Qty 1: Plywood back panel 8" wide x length to suit length of carcass. Add 2" to length for a hanging tab if you mean to wall hang the unit.
  • Qty 8: Kreg No. 8 x 1 1/4" screw.
  • Qty 8: Kreg pocket hole plug.
  • Qty A/R: 1" finishing nails.
  • Qty A/R: Gorilla Glue.

Following is a rudimentary sketch with enough information on it to guide construction of a rack carcass of any practical length.

Right click on the sketch and 'Open Link in New Tab'. You'll be able to magnify the sketch so it's readable.

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