DIY DIVA
DIY diva

Adventures In Cabinet Making

DIY diva

I never thought I’d reach a point where my cabinet-making skills would be the sole determining factor in whether or not I get to take a bath in the next month, but hey, living in a garage here, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised.

With the inside of the full bath completely tiled I need to finish the outside edges with these standing stones…

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And in order to do that I need to finish the wood on the second wall…

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And in order to do that, I need to have a bathroom vanity in place. And since I’m too cheap to spend $1499 on this one…

I guess that means it’s time to break out the table saw. And I know all of that would lead you to believe that I’m going to show you a picture of that exact cabinet completely built and installed in my bathroom, but here’s about as far as I got with that one:

DSC_0618

And that’s because I’m a horrible daughter. Yes, it’s true.

Here’s why it’s not fun being related to me:

  1. If you don’t like your bathroom I will encourage you to rip everything out because “we can re-tile this in a weekend”
  2. And if you re-tile your bathroom and decide you need a new vanity but the 60″ version is too big to fit, I will say ” no problem, get the smaller version and I’ll build you a 12″ filler cabinet for the side
  3. And if I’m also building a house when all of this is going on, you will not get your cabinet for, um, eight months

So you can see why before I built myself a bathroom cabinet it was imperative that I finished my mothers bathroom cabinet, which basically has looked like this since some time in August.

10_basic_cabinet

And now that I’ve wrapped up the guilt-ridden-confessional portion of this post, here are some highlights from my first attempt at cabinet construction.

I basically used the construction of her existing cabinet as a template for how I’d build this one. I used 1/2″ stain-grade plywood for the sides and 3/4″ aspen stock for the front.

01_pieces

My plan was to use the router to cut a slot in the side panels that the back panel would slide into. And then slot the front frame to fit on the side panels.

I used a 1/2″ straight bit on the router and set the fence up on the table to give me 1/8″ on the outside. (In retrospect I’d make that 3/16″ minimum.)

02_router

I tested this theory out with a scrap piece first.

03_mortise

And I was all, hey, this cabinet making stuff isn’t too hard.

04_trial

Here are the sides, routered. Routered? Routed? Whatever… finished.

05_sides_mortised

The back fit in without too much trouble.

06_back_of_cabinet

The front was slightly more complicated because I needed to create a mortise and tennon joint for the top and bottom of the frame, and slot the back of the frame pieces to fit on to sides.

07_front_frame

08_tennon

Here it is dry-fit again, and that’s basically all the pictures I have of this process because at some point I must have deleted images from The Epic Struggle With Squaring off the camera without putting them on the computer.

10_basic_cabinet

I do however have a video of this process which I haven’t been able to edit yet because I haven’t sufficiently healed from the trauma of trying to make everything fit together at 90-degree angles. Even with the large cabinet clamps I stole borrowed from my dad it was still a struggle, and the cabinet still isn’t 100% square. Suffice it to say this is why my attitude changed to, hey, this cabinet making stuff is a pain in the ass.

I decided to use standard shelf brackets for both shelves because I’m a novice.

11_shelf_bracket

Mom got in on the staining action…

12_stain

And this weekend I finally cut the shelves to finish the thing up.

13_almost_done

The shelves just need a little stain and coat of poly for the whole thing, and then my mom can have her bathroom back.

I would say it’s not bad for my first attempt although you probably won’t be seeing me do a rendition of this project on This Old House or anything. I mean, you never see those dudes fit a square shelf into a not-entirely-square cabinet by using a prybar, but I can’t be the only person that’s had to do that, right?

This experience taught me that I’m good to build a cabinet every now and again, but I feel supremely confident that buying cabinets for the kitchen was a better idea than building all of them.

For the full bath cabinet I’m totally going with dowel construction because, you know, more quality time with my drill can’t be a bad thing.

DIY diva

    Comments

  • Page Farm Chick


    I’m eager to see what you do with the stones!

  • Remodeling Guy


    Hah! You might not SEE them fit a square shelf into a not-so-square cabinet, but I can assure you, it happens all the time. We used to have the funniest names for the giant crow-bar and sledge hammers. A guy would say, “would you grab the wall adjustment kit from the truck” and that meant the sledge hammer! So no worries. Your cabinet looks great.

    • kitliz


      “Adjustment kit” I LOVE it. And so true.

  • Lisa


    The cabinet looks great! I think Norm Abram would approve.

    All of the cabinet-like things we build, look good from 10 feet away and are held together with tons of cauk and wood glue.

  • Jeff


    Lisa is right about the 10 foot rule. I call caulk the woodworker’s friend.

    Good looking cabinet!

  • Dana Caffrey


    Beautiful!!! I really love your work, it’s simple yet elegantly looking. I also love the color, although it’s just plain, it stands out. Keep posting more great works!

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