Canadian Woodworking

Recycle centre

Author: Michael Kampen
Illustration: James Provost
Published: April May 2008

With stories about landfill sites nearing capacity appearing regularly in the news, it’s hard not to be aware of the growing need to divert some of this material by recycling whenever possible. Build this simple rolling recycling station to keep your recyclable material sorted and your garage or utility room tidy.


This is a basic project that can be completed easily in a weekend using inexpensive plywood and simple construction techniques. There are no fancy ornamentations or details to worry about – its sole purpose is to hold four bins and provide a work surface to sort your recyclables. All pieces are made using ¾” poplar plywood. This is the least expensive grade of veneered plywood that was available locally, but I sorted through quite a few sheets to find some pleasant looking ones.

Cutting plywood with Black Jack guide and Skil saw

Trimming edge banding

Drilling pocket holes with Kreg K3 Master System

Attaching stretchers to bottom

Lay Out the Plywood

You will need two full-size sheets of plywood for this project. Laying out the cut lines on the plywood can be a somewhat frustrating exercise. The traditional method of juggling the pieces mentally until everything fits with minimal waste takes time and doesn’t guarantee you’ll get everything right. Alternatively you can use a software program like CutList Plus that makes quick work of laying out sheet stock and lumber so that you make optimal use of your stock.

When you have laid out the cut lines on your plywood, the next limitation of the average home shop comes into play – a table saw capable of ripping and cross cutting a full sheet of plywood. The safest way to cut the plywood is on a cabinet saw equipped with a sliding table or one that has an outfeed table placed behind the table saw to support the plywood. Of course, manhandling a 4′ by 8′ sheet of material onto the top of a table saw is not only heavy work, there is always the risk of kick back. I use another method instead. I first cut the plywood down to manageable size pieces using a Black Jack Clamp & Guide fence ( and Skil saw, ( and then trim the pieces to final size on the table saw.

You can do this on the shop floor, or on a work table if it’s large enough. I put a plywood support frame made up of 2 x 4s under the plywood and place the plywood, good side down, on the framework. Then it’s just a matter of clamping the Black Jack guide to the plywood, and running a circular saw along the guide to make the cuts. I extend the saw blade for a ⅞” deep cut, which only makes a ⅛” cut into the 2 x 4s. The 2 x 4s will last a long time before needing replacement. You can make a framework like this out of 2 x 2s as well. The half-lap joints make it quick to disassemble and the pieces can be easily stored. If you buy your plywood from a building supply centre, some of them will rough trim your plywood for about a dollar a cut. Simply take them your cut list, remembering to allow for a final trim-up at home.

Edge Band the Plywood

When working with plywood the exposed edges will need to be covered, typically with a material that matches the face veneer. For surfaces that will receive minimal wear, like the edge of a bookshelf, a veneer edge tape might be acceptable. Commercial pre-glued real wood edge banding is available in the same thickness as veneer, about 1⁄16″, and is applied using a clothes iron and a roller. This project is likely to see a lot of abuse as bins are balanced on, or collide with the edges of the cabinet on a regular basis. I decided to apply 5⁄16″ wood edge banding. The process is quite simple.

• Begin with enough 4/4 (1″) boards to generate the number of edge band pieces of the right length you will need for your project. Expect to get about six to eight pieces of edge banding from each 3″ wide board. The longest board you will need for this project is 48″. Flatten one face of the board on the jointer, and then flatten one of the adjacent edges.

• Set up a fence on the bandsaw and using a 3 tpi, ½” blade, cut a ⅜” slice off the jointed edge. Head back to the jointer and dress the fresh sawn face on the board. Back at the bandsaw cut off another ⅜” slice, and continue until you have enough pieces, plus a few extras.

• Run the ⅜” slices through a thickness planer to bring them to a final thickness of 5⁄16″. Take thin cuts, as the slices are thin, and can be easily chewed up by the planer. I find it best to run four or five slices through the planer at a time.

• Glue the banding to the edges that require them, and once the glue has set, trim the edge banding flush to the face of the plywood with a top bearing guided trim bit or a hand plane.

Join With Dowels and Pocket Holes

To keep things simple, without a lot of visible fasteners, I used ⅜” dowels to locate and hold the dividers (D) to the top (A), shelf (C) and bottom (D) pieces, and the shelf to the sides (B). I typically space the dowels every four inches. Dowel centers (#66J45.02 are a quick and easy way to accurately align stock for hole placement. Pocket holes would work as well, but wouldn’t provide the self-aligning feature that the dowels do. Dados are another option, as are biscuits. Choose a method for which you are equipped, but remember to adjust the material dimensions as required.

• Drill a row of dowel holes all the way through the center of the shelf from back to front and then drill a set of holes ⅜” deep in the center of the underside of the top, and the top side of the bottom piece.

• Drill corresponding holes in the top and bottom edges of the two dividers.

• Drill dowel holes in the ends of the shelf and matching holes in the sides.

To attach the top (A) and bottom (D) to the sides (B) and the gussets (F) to the top and shelf I use the Kreg K3 Master System ( It makes for quick and accurate pocket hole joinery. I place the pocket holes about 5 ½” apart on the long sides with a pair on each of the narrow ends. Drill the pocket holes on the inside top edge of each side to fasten the top. You can fasten the gussets to the top and shelf from the back side. Use the same procedure to drill the pocket holes in the base.

Assembly and Finish

Sand all surfaces including the faces of the edge banding in preparation for finishing. Ease the edges of the banding with a block plane or a piece of sandpaper. Remove any residual sanding dust and then, if you wish, apply a stain of your choice.

Follow this up with a tough film finish like Helmsman Spar Varnish ( that will protect the surface from moisture and surface damage. Assembly is straightforward.

• Begin by putting the base frame together on a flat surface. Place the bottom face down on a table (or over a piece of cardboard on the floor) and place the base upside down on it. Fasten the base frame to the bottom using #8 flat head wood screws.

• Glue the dowels into the bottom of the lower divider and glue it into the dowel holes in the bottom piece. Place dowels in the top edge that will pass through the shelf and into the bottom of the upper divider.

• Glue dowels into the ends of the shelf. With someone else providing assistance, place the shelf on the lower divider and glue the sides to the shelf. At this point the only connection between the base, divider, and sides is the one row of dowels. Carefully apply some clamps to the sides at the base and turn the unit over.

• Fasten the sides to the base using some #8 flat head wood screws. Turn the unit over again. Fasten the two lower gussets in place with pocket screws.

• Glue dowels into the top of the upper divider and set the top piece in place. Drive pocket screws from each of the sides into the top as well.

• Fasten the upper gussets in place with pocket screws.

• Turn the cabinet over and place the wheel blocks in each corner with some glue. Use a couple of screws to hold the block in place until the glue sets. Screw the castors to the blocks and turn the unit over.

Now that your recycle centre is finished, put it to good use. Place the cabinet in the garage or car port, and stock it with blue bins.

You are now ready to do your part to recycle.

CutList Plus

If you find yourself spending a lot of time preparing cut lists, then it might be time for you to consider automating the process with CutList Plus. This program takes the hassle out of calculating optimized stock layouts. When you create a project in CutList Plus you have the opportunity to set certain parameters such as stock selection, costs, waste and edge banding that pertain to the specific project. You simply enter the dimensions from your materials list and CutList Plus compiles a shopping list of materials, calculates the costs, and best of all, provides layout diagrams for cutting your sheet goods. When viewing the sheet layout screen, you have the option of choosing one of five options to define the parts layout based on your preferences for rip cuts, cross cuts and off-cut sizes. There is also a standard layout option and each of these is available to view at any time. Choose the one that suits your needs, print it and take it out to the shop with you. The program will also print out labels for each part you cut to help keep things organized as well as calculating the number of feet of edge banding you will need.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More Cabinetry projects to consider
Username: Password: