Building an ABS Pipe File Rack (Part 1)

Over the years I have amassed a number of files and rasps. Since storing these tools loosely together damages their cutting edges through contact, I had been storing them in old wine boxes. I used the separate compartments in the boxes to hold one file each. It achieved the desired outcome but was neither efficient nor elegant. I finally decided it was time to make a proper file rack for them.

After spending some time looking around at different options, I settled on something that looks like an over-sized spice rack that uses ABS pipe to compartmentalize the files. In hind sight, I could also have used PVC, which may have been a bit cheaper, but I already had some ABS in hand so went with it.

Here’s the build process I used.

Cutting the ABS

The first thing I did was to cut the ABS pipe into lengths. For this I used a large Rigid No 133 pipe cutter that I picked up off Kijiji a number of years ago. It is basically a giant version of the pipe cutters commonly used in plumbing for cutting copper pipe.

I think that I actually sourced it to do some plumbing but, once you have one of these and realize the number of things you can use ABS and PVC pipe for, the sky is the limit. Using a pipe cutter insures that your cuts are always square and finished looking – things that are not always true when cutting with a saw.

And so began the cutting to break down the 6′ lengths of 1 1/2″ ABS pipe I had.

Given the range of files and rasps I had to deal with, I planned on two layers of pipes. The back row is 10″ long and the front row is 8″. After some time spent on cutting I had 19 tubes ready to go.

Building the File Rack Frame

One of the reasons that I had put off building this file rack for so long is that, for some reason, I was obsessing about the type of lumber I would use for it. I was originally thinking about building it out of cherry or butternut, both of which I have some planks of sitting in waiting. Given the utilitarian nature of the project, I’d save these nicer woods for a project that will be more visible.

However, a few years ago we took down a number of Chinese Elms from the back yard that had come end of life and were constantly dropping branches, mostly onto our neighbor’s roof. I split a few lengths of trunk and set them aside to dry. The wood isn’t as nice as I’d hoped but will work for things like this so I grabbed a chunk to use in this project.

A bit of time with the band saw, jointer, planer, and table saw and I had wood for the sides prepared.

The ends of the long pieces have a bit of checking but because its utilitarian project and the joinery should help with any further splitting, I’m not going to worry about it. I still have to figure out what to use for the bottom of the file rack – haven’t decide whether to put in a piece of plywood or mill another chunk of the Chinese Elm.

In the next entry, I’ll cover cutting the joints and putting the file rack together.

Thanks for reading!

Part 2 of the build can be found here.

 

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