Potato And Onion Storage Bin

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For nearly five (5) decades, we have stored onions in our refrigerators and most culinary folks will tell you, it is best to store them in a cool dry place that allows some air flow around them as well.  The same goes for potatoes too!  Onions left in the refrigerator too long will definitely get mushy.  Many, many years ago, farm folks had some type of root cellar to store such items.  My Grandma Coley used an area underneath the back porch which was shaded and cool to store sweet potatoes, etc.

I surfed the internet looking for some ideas and free plans to build such a storage bin and what I decided on was a set of plans (not free of charge) from Woodcraft.  I ordered the plans which basically was one large folded sheet of paper 22 x 34 inches with a cover sheet.  I did have a little difficulty in getting the plans locked into the ole brain; might be a product of maturity.  The plans were not that costly and I didn't have to take out a loan or mortgage our properties to purchase the plans.....grin if you must.  Since the plans are copyrighted, I will not include a detail photo of them, but linked to the product above in case you desire to purchase a set.  BIN SIZE:  10 inches deep by 15 inches wide by 11 inches tall.  OVERALL SIZE:  40 inches tall by 19 inches wide by 12 inches deep. 

Pixs below of the finished potato and onion storage bin getting some usage on 05-24-17!

Below, a closer look at the Potato and Onion Storage Bin.  I purposely chose the stain not to match the dining room buffet and the original pine paneling which is the real wood; 9", 7" and 5 inch width tongue and groove boards at least 3/4 inch thick.  The medium walnut color makes this project "stand out" from the surroundings, otherwise it would blend right into the color scheme of the kitchen and dining room.


I am very pleased with the outcome of this fun woodworking project!  I made one boo boo which I corrected.


The plans called for using 1 inch pine shelving boards which are planed down to 3/4 inch in thickness that are from 8 to 12 inches in width in clear pine and high dollar; ranging up to 40 bucks per board 8 feet in length at some retail locations.  As with most woodworking projects, you have to let the materials acclimate to your workshop storage conditions; e.g., humidity to stabilize.

The door frames for the storage bin are made from 2 inch width pine boards.  I will check and see what common pine shelving boards that Lowe's in Rockingham, NC has in stock and will pick through their stuff and find something decent.

The joinery used is mostly butting the pieces together and held by glue and some 1 1/4" finish nails.  End grain does not glue well, but I guess it is strong enough for this application with the usage of the finish nails.  This is not the most secure method, whereas cutting dados would change the length of the inner shelve members, however would be much stronger.  In all probability, I will install wood dowels in the door frames (stiles and rails) and the face frame component.  You could use pocket hole screws for the door frames and the face frame, but I am not a big fan of pocket screws.  I might get a Kreg pocket-hole screw system in the future, but I have managed many decades without one.  The plans do not show a routed edge around the perimeter of the top and that is another possibility.  It is normally my mode of operation, (modus operandi) MO, to over build something, but I want something to last and strong as the Rock of Gibraltar....grin if you must!  

Will add pixs and narrative as I work on this project.

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-22-17.


It was misting rain on 04-24-17 and decided to drive to Lowe's in Rockingham, NC and check their pine shelving material inventory out and below is a pix of what I brought home.  I got extra pieces, because there is usually a need for extra, since there were knots on some of the pieces I purchased.  I did pick through what they had on hand and obtained the best of the best.   I normally find a usage for any scrap aka unallocated materials (as my friend Frank Schoepf of Hampstead, MD) calls left overs from a project and I do keep the ole "pack rat" theme alive and well.

I put scrap wood stickers between the boards to facilitate acclimating to my normal/average workshop humidity.  I also found a use for the heavy melted lead spheres.  

A close up of the end boards which will have to be trimmed to get rid of the non useable portions:

I purchased three knobs for the bins and a magnetic latch.  I didn't like what hinges that Lowe's had in stock and will see what H. W. Little Hardware, Inc. has in stock locally and/or do some internet shopping.

While the wood is stabilizing, I will round up the butt hinges, support friction arm for the upper storage compartment, appropriate stain and check my inventory of 15 gauge angled finish nails for the pneumatic nail gun.  I thought I had a gallon or two of Mohawk nitrocellulose classic instrument grade lacquer, but only have a few gallons of the reducer, therefore will order a gallon of the Mohawk brand lacquer.  Mohawk, sent me to one of their distributors for such a small order.

NOTE:  I have to add 1 1/4 inch length 15 gauge angled finish nails to my procurement list.  I ordered a gallon of the Mohawk nitrocellulose classic instrument lacquer from Klingspor's Woodworking Shop in Hickory, NC and received it in one day via UPS.

Web published update on 04-27-17.


The plans comes with an excellent cutting chart and copied that section off the plans and placed on a clipboard.

First on the agenda was to cut the 8 feet length boards to a manageable length since my shop is very crowded and don't have out wings extending from either side of my table saw to allow working with an 8 ft. length of material which is a handicap, but I do manage as the need arises.  05-08-17.

Click on thumbnails for a larger screen view:

After getting the material to manageable lengths without much waste, it was time to use the table saw.  I used a rip blade, zero tolerance insert and fence to get boards to the proper width as needed.  

I used an impromptu crosscut slide I made when constructing a toy/blanket chest for our youngest Grandson to handle the 12 inch width boards which are actually 11 1/4 inches in width.  The slide will handle a 24 inch wide panel and makes it easy to square up the ends, etc.  I squared up to length a couple 10 inch width boards which are actually 9 1/4 inches in width.  I changed the blade to a crosscut blade.

I used the above smaller crosscut slide to cut the 2 and 3 inch boards used.

Above pix of the wood cut to the proper width and length and ready to start a glue up for the top and back member. 


I got the Porter-Cable biscuit jointer out and used # 20 biscuits and Titebond Ultimate III glue.  The dust collection bag with the biscuit jointer is worthless, therefore I use the hookup from my Shop Vac.

The plans do not call for the usage of biscuits or wood dowels in this project; keeping it simple as many woodworkers do not have a biscuit jointer or a doweling jig/fixture, but you know my MO by now!

I used three 18 inch length 3/4 inch diameter pipe clamps and a couple 1 inch square aluminum cross brace members to keep the wood from bowing under pressure.  A couple C clamps at the end, "sealed the deal".....grin if you must!

Tomorrow, I will use the same procedure for the back member, but will use four 24 inch bar clamps, since my other pipe clamps are at least 5 feet in length and cramped for room using them on the above outfeed aka work table.

I will also make the cut outs on the side pieces and the front bottom band.


Below pix of some of the scrap aka unallocated material left over that is to the left of the 5 gallon bucket which also has unallocated material from other projects....a pack rat for sure!

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-08-17.

SHOP WORK ON 05-09-17

I removed the clamps from the glue up for top of the storage bin and did the glue up for the back member.

I used # 20 biscuits and glue for the back member as well.

My 3/4 inch pipe clamps I used for the top member were too short to use for the back glue-up and I have four that were at least five feet long and too large to easily maneuver on the table saw outfeed aka work table and rarely use the five feet clamps.  I used the PortaBand saw and shortened the 3/4 inch pipe to manageable lengths......I can purchase addition threaded 3/4 inch black iron pipe if needed for other projects in the future.

I got around to getting my patterns transferred for the side, front and the two curved storage bins onto scrap wood and made a wood template in case I decide to do another one for someone else.


The storage bin door fronts use nails and glue for their attachment, but since I have the Dowel Max dowel system, I like going the extra step for building something that will last.  While it definitely takes more time, I don't mind doing it.  One could use a small biscuit or even pocket screws, but the pocket screws would be visible on the backside of the storage bin when you open it, but not from the frontal view. 

Also, slots have to be cut into the members to allow for the 1/2 inch square mesh galvanized wire to fit and the inside edges need to be stained prior to assembly.  I used my router table with a .097 slotting cutter and set it up where the end of the vertical stiles would not show the slot by using a couple stop blocks to limit the travel of the slot cut.  The plans call for .125 inch slot, but I have my slotting cutters dedicated for something else using the .125 inch width slotting cutter.  A table saw would work, but I wanted to stop the slot on the stiles, otherwise you have to fabricate and glue a filler strip in the end of the stiles.

I also used dowels in the face frame instead of just nailing and gluing them to the sides and lower front. 

Click on the below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view:

SHOP WORK ON 05-10-17

I got a chance to work some more on the potato and onion storage bin and made pretty good time.  I did find one boo boo of a part that didn't fit just right and according to the cutting chart, the part was correct....misread something somewhere, but able to fix it.  The problem was the orientation of the lower shelf onto the back member......my bad!

I glued the door frames together with the wire mesh and started assembling one of the bins, since the other door frame glued last evening was dry.  The 1/2 inch square galvanized wire mesh was at least 25 years old.  I purchased it to keep bats out of the attic by closing off their access through the end gable vents, of which the regular screen wire had rusted out.  I can certainly see a "pack rat" theme. 

Did a trial fit and everything was ok and ready to spread some glue and fire the nail gun.  This nail gun is magazine fed; hope the Liberals don't outlaw the 100 "round" nail magazine capacity......grin if you must! 

After the storage bin was glued and nailed, I sanded the back and the top using an orbital sander.  I have a belt sander but the orbital will do just fine and I can locate it quicker than the belt sander, since I rarely use the Porter-Cable 4 x 24 belt sander.  On the pine boards, the 4 x 24 belt sander might be too aggressive on the soft wood unless you have a delicate touch.

With the back and top sanded, I need to cut the detail out on the sides using a jig saw.



Since the project from now on will be glue and nails, I needed some alignment marks on both sides of the back in order to get the three shelves in the proper place and some witness lines to make certain the 1 1/4 inch 15 gauge finish nails will hit the center of the shelves.

I dry fitted the parts and everything looked pretty good and have to figure out the easiest approach the aligning and nailing the shelves to the back.

The back member was held vertical with the aid of a large 4 inch block of wood and a bar clamp.  The glue was applied to each shelf member and then nailed from the back side, whereas the witness lines worked great keeping the nails into the center of the shelves and the shelves centered to the witness lines.


You about need Orangutan length arms to reach around to the back side of the back with the nail gun and keep the shelves aligned.  I had to stand on a steel bottom chair to get the extra reach....a safety hazard for sure.


I used the same procedure for marking the sides with a pencil line to center the nails into the shelves.  The Starrett 18 inch machinists square below, is far too heavy for routine work.  I purchased it solely to calibrate my jigs and fixtures with.  I need to purchase an accurate framing square that is much lighter in weight for everyday usage!

After the witness lines were drawn, it was time to glue and shoot some finish nails.


I inserted one of the completed storage bins to see what the project looks like and pleased so far.

I order three pairs of hinges on line from Amazon and still waiting for them.  They were shipped GHL Global and probably coming from China, etc.  I couldn't find what I wanted within 20 +- miles and is the reason for the internet order which most of the time is extremely fast.

SHOP WORK ON 05-11-17

This morning, I set my router table up with a decorative border bit to route an edge around the top member of the potato and onion storage bin.  The plans do not call for a border, but I wanted to dress the top edge up a little; remember my MO?

I like the decorative edge for the top versus the plain edge.  It is best to make several smaller passes instead of trying to remove all the wood wood with one pass to prevent chip out and reducing the life of the router bit.

I finished up the other bin by installing the door front to sides, back and bottom with glue and nails.  I used a couple clamps to help pull the glue line tighter together before driving home the nails with the pneumatic 15 gauge finish nailer.  I had to laugh at myself; e.g., while gluing and nailing this bin together, I was hammering away, not realizing the nail magazine was empty.  The piston aka plunger that drives the nails into the wood was still making an indentation into the wood as if a nail was installed.  The reason if wasn't obvious at first, is because I used a couple bar clamps which held the parts in place.... ......grin if you must!


The plans do not call for an inside border underneath the top, whereas they have the top simply glued and nailed in place.  From my personal experience, end grain wood does not glue well to regular horizontal orientation grain wood.  Also, the top will contract and expand along the width of the wood, depending on the humidity conditions and the width of the top.  In all probability, there would not be a problem, but might as well plan for the top width expansion.  The top inside border aka band, will also supply support to the back, side members and face frame to keep them from bowing in/out at the top.  There are many ways to install expansion brackets, etc., but will go as low tech as possible on this one without purchasing additional hardware.

With the inside border installed, I will elongate the screw holes in the border to allow for width wood expansion of the top and install the wood screws from the bottom side of the border into the top.

Since the inner border will not be seen, I didn't use my dedicated miter sled for the table saw to cut the angles, but used my cut-off saw which just gets you close.  It was calibrated for a hopper jig/fixture and left it as it was set which is not a perfect forty-five degree calibration.  I will re-calibrate it at some point in time!

I plan to round up some pine colored wood filler this afternoon, fill all the nails holes and tomorrow, start some sanding with the orbital sander and finish up using a couple Porter-Cable Speed Bloc Palm sanders progressing up to about 220 grit sandpaper.  Sanding is good personal therapy, but you have to contend with the dust generated and the cleanup. 


With the sanding completed, I applied a medium brown walnut alcohol based stain, product name Behlen Master Solar-Lux, which is non-grain raising.  This product is compatible with using nitrocellulose lacquer, of which I plan to use.  Many States including California has strict regulations on using a high VOC (volatile organic compound) type lacquer such as the nitrocellulose, but water based lacquers do not give the same results in my humble opinion.  This is speaking from my musical instrument finishing experience going back to the late 1960s and continue to use that type of lacquer today when needed.

The inside of the potato bin, back and bottom will not be too visible, but went ahead and applied stain to those areas.  I also applied stain to the top, which will be installed after the final finish.  I went back later and blended the stain more evenly on the sides of the main frame.  Above pix with the stain still fairly wet.

I need to install the wood support for the magnetic latch for the upper door before spraying the sanding sealer and final top coats of lacquer.  The door hinges have not arrived yet and still have to obtain some type of door support for the top compartment door.

After the glue dried overnight, I applied a coat of stain to the wood support for the magnetic latch.

In a few days, I will spray a "wet" coat of Mohawk sanding sealer and then start applying a few finish coats of the nitrocellulose musical lacquer.   Updated 05-13-17.


My basement woodworking shop is too small to spray finishing materials aka lacquer and without an exhaust system and/or spray booth, therefore I must spray finishing materials outside, of which is not the ideal situation, but manage nevertheless.  

I have a link which describes my finishing methods and will not re-invent the wheel on this one, but will give a few highlights as I go along.  I don't use my spray gun regular enough to be proficient with it, but I do get by.

I will install a roofing nail in each corner of the base of the potato and onion storage bin to keep the bottom off the surface I have the base resting on.  I will drill a pilot hole about the same diameter as the roofing nail to keep from splitting the wood.  I will remove the nails after the project is finished.

Lynx L-300H HVLP spray gun with lacquer reducer and sanding sealer.  Using 1 qt. pressurized can.

Top of the potato and onion storage bin with a coat of sealer and ready for a light sanding and then to the lacquer.  The knots give the top some character. 

Above, the door frame for the top shelf compartment.

Storage cabinet/bin upside down and storage bins below.

This afternoon, I will lightly sand the components down with a Scotch-Brite pad, remove the sanding dust and apply at least one or two top coats of Mohawk brand nitrocellulose musical grade lacquer.

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-15-17.


I put my last coat of finish on this project today, being May 19, 2007.  I have to keep reminding myself this is a furniture type project and not a musical instrument that requires about twenty (20) coats of lacquer, of which most of that type of finish is wet sanded down to get rid of the so called orange peel effect and then polished and buffed out to a literal "mirror finish."  See the banjo resonator pix posted below to get my meaning of a mirror finish:

I had to re-order the hinges for the potato and onion storage bin the third time, due to vendors too slow in their delivery and/or processing.  I ordered the last three pairs from Woodcraft, Inc. and they created the shipping label on the 19th and ready for UPS to pick it up.  Below pixs of the parts waiting for the final assembly.

The above top has a lot of dings in it, but is Lowe's "Top Choice" wood, grin if you must.  Nevertheless, it has plenty of character due to the dings and knots present.

The top storage door.


I kept the basement shop door up and a large fan blowing out the finishing vapors while the parts were curing out some.  Luckily, I didn't have any insects making a permanent home on the wet lacquer.

While waiting for the hinges to arrive, I will elongate holes in the top inner band for attachment of the top with screws from underneath, of which will allow for any width expansion due to changing humidity conditions.  Tomorrow, I will see if I can locate a friction latch for the top door to limit its travel to a horizontal position when opened.  I will install the magnetic latch to the top door when I install the hinges. 

This project is winding down and look forward to placing it in the kitchen/dinning room beside the buffet and start "field testing" it out with some potatoes and onions.  Probably store hamburger and hot dog rolls, etc., in the top compartment, whereas regular loaf bread is stored in our roll top bread box on top of the refrigerator.  I normally keep New York and/or Jewish Rye Bread in/or both our refrigerators.

I have to do some serious vacuuming and dust removal before my next woodworking project!

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-19-17. 


Hinges were received and installed on 05-24-17, pixs below.  I used a scratch awl and a 3/32 inch bit in a portable hand drill.  The pine wood was soft enough that the drill was used very little.

The 3/32 inch diameter pilot hole will definitely reduce the risk of bursting out the edge of the wood.

Installed the friction lid spport.

This has been another one of my fun woodworking projects and still thinking about doing a curly maple coffee table when I can locate the proper thickness and length wood required.


Wood 116.37
Wood - extra 26.21  Not needed if you have first quality wood
Knobs 5.61
Hinges 13.87
Stain - 1 pint 13.50
Finish Nails - 15 gauge 1 1/4" length 23.50  Had to purchase 4K
Lacquer 51.30  Had to purchase 1 gallon
Plans including shipping charges & ST 14.91
Door Support 10.98
Glue - Titebond Ultimate III 9.50  Already had the glue in stock
TOTAL             $ 285.75           

NOTES:  It only takes about a quart of finish, but I had to purchase a gallon of the lacquer of which a regular Min-Wax product would work fine, but prefer the musical grade lacquer.  I could not find a small quantity of 15 gauge finish nails, 1 1/4 inches in length for my nail gun and had to purchase a case of 4K.  Probably used far less than 100 nails altogether.  I purchased extra pieces of wood since the Lowe's Top Choice wood had bad places in them and had to work around those areas.  The extra wood left over, will probably find its way into other projects.  I didn't factor in the cost of the biscuits used for the back and top glue-ups, of which 9 wood biscuits were used in size # 20 or the cost of the 3/8 inch diameter x 1.5 inches length wood dowels used, which was a total of 32.  I picked through and got the best of the best wood that was in stock at Lowe's in Rockingham, NC and my definition of Top Choice, is apparently different from theirs......grin if you must!

It is much easier and cheaper to purchase something production made, but you will not get the personal satisfaction of doing something yourself.

You can purchase potato and onion storage bins on EBay or Etsy from 50 bucks on up and most are of a Rustic style or Shabby chic design which does not appeal to me.  I want to build something that emulates a quality piece of furniture that is made in the USA.

As I like to say when necessary, "Most of the time, you get what you pay for" and it goes for purchasing materials and supplies. 

As "Hannibal Smith" of the A Team would say, "I love it when a plan comes together."


I added a half depth shelf to the upper storage compartment which allows for the storage of a loaf of bread.  The lower portion of the compartment is used to store hamburger rolls and hot dog buns, etc.  The additional partial shelf makes more effective usage of the upper storage compartment. 

Webpage updated by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 06-16-17.


If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be attained.   

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Open this link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King James Version Bible (KJV).

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

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