I’ve debated for quite a while between just having open shelves inside the locker, or making cut-outs for instruments – dedicated spaces for binoculars, GPS, short-wave radio and other things. Although this makes design and construction more complicated, it is a simple practicality for security of the items: they will stay put if held captive with the cut-outs. I have also decided to make the shelves removable. I can’t put the entire thing together and mount it if it’s all pre-assembled and glued. This is because of the wire runs that have to pass through the cabinet. The wire chase and shelves have to be installed after the wiring is in place. It is also easier to paint the inside of the locker if it all comes apart, so the shelves and wire chase will be mounted with screws., easily removable for future access.
A word on materials. I am very disappointed with the .5 inch birch ply from Home Depot. The top veneer is paper-thin, and chips off the edge very easily. I have not discovered a cutting technique that will not produce a chipped edge while cutting it with any kind of circular blade. Jig saw cuts come out pretty clean, but of course it is very difficult to produce a straight cut with it, even if using a guide. The blade bends so easily that it is possible to produce a curved cut even when the foot is guided by a fence. 10 years ago when I was reproducing the interior cabinets, I used birch ply from Home Depot and don’t remember having a problem with it. Perhaps their source for this material has changed. I’ll need to look for a different low-cost material for these projects in the future. Meanwhile, I’ll cover the problem edges with trim – something that I needed to do to most of those areas anyway, due to the need to cover seams and edge-grain.
I installed two shelves for the instrument cut-outs: the lower one supports the weight of the items, and the upper keeps them upright. The shelves are supported with permanent cleats, but are themselves secured with one screw per side. The lower shelf is also supported (though the support isn’t really necessary) by the cross member. This cross member will be the door-stop for the lower door and both upper cabinet doors. Where they meet will be concealed with trim.
I’ve learned a lot about radio installation using a sleeve, and so far I’m not too impressed with the security of the sleeve system. It’s basic principle is to support then entire weight of the unit from the front with bend-down tabs that secure the sleeve to the front mounting surface. Also typical of this installation is absolute inadequacy of instructions. I guess this sort of thing just doesn’t generate enough profit margin to justify spending time or effort on technical writers, so the installer just has to figure out how to do it by the seat of his pants. I’m anticipating the need for some sort of support for the back of the radio, and not sure what that will look like yet. I’ll sort it out when I get to that stage. I have also decided to secure the bend-down tabs with small screws and washers. That will provide a lot more security and strength to the front of the installation.
I’ll install another shelf higher in the locker (just below the circular depth gauge cut-out) for smaller items. I need to select hinge and clasp hardware and install it a way that minimizes gaps. I won’t be able to mill and install the trim until the hardware is installed.