Custom Cabinet – Part 1

We have this awkward closet in the basement that was serving no purpose. We took plywood, put it at counter top level, then nailed down some red oak flooring. It look great, and soon we will pull the tv off, stain it with walnut, polyurethane it and it will match the stairs. We have to address the big hole in the middle first, CUSTOM CABINET TIME!

Lessons learned.

  • To cut two pieces the same size, do it at the same time on a table saw
  • Clamp when using pocket screws and it goes better
  • Don’t forget the face frame overhang

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Step 1, go buy most of the cabinets. Building cabinets and drawers is tough. Which is why I’m building just one :). I’m following these plans from Ana White – Build a 18″ Kitchen Cabinet Drawer Base. Mine won’t have the drawers and her plan is a lot simpler than the Kreg Jig plans!

Step 2, buy some plywood. I bought three 3/4″x24″x48″ Oak Plywood  pieces, two for the sides, one as a spare. You can never have enough plywood.

Step 3, cut the plywood. You cut the sides to height, do not adjust the table saw during this time. If you do, trim both pieces to keep them even.  I kept the offcuts to use as the bottom and top supports.

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Step 4, cut the bottom to width. Cabinets have a 1/4″ overhang of the face frame plus the 3/4″ width of the plywood, and count it twice. So subtract 2″ to from the total width. This is my second cut.

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Step 5, cut the supports to width. If you have not adjusted your table saw, the measurements will match.

Step 6, cut to height, which you will be doing 5″ wide, not confusing at all.  These are for the bottom. When setting your fence, sight it down with one eye at the blade (blade off of course). Also push on your tape measure, the play at the end is the tape measure adjusting for the hook’s width.

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Step 7, push the fence closer for the top supports. Wide enough for two pocket screws, I picked somewhere around 3-4″ wide. No sense to waste wood no one will see or use.

Step 8, lower the table saw blade and use it as the surface to assemble the cabinet.  Then start drilling the pocket holes. Keep in mind the finish side versus the ugly side of plywood.

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Using the Kreg Jig® R3

 

Step 9, you need to cut the toe kick. Ever try to stand against a wall, the toe kick lets you bump up against the cabinet. I cheated and used my jigsaw and hand held a combination square. If you clamp a square, it squeezes the metal like a dent in your car door.

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Straight and perfect

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Step 10, clamp while screwing the pocket screws. I used the coarse threaded Kreg Screws, there is some internet debate on which to use. Considering pocket screws can hold 600lb of force, it doesn’t matter which. The cabinet will have downward force from the counter top, or lateral force from the cabinet hinge. A touch of glue on the face sides, a double dose for the end grain sides. End grain soaks up glue, so you have to saturate it to get any to stay on the surface. (End grain glue joints also have no strength, hence pocket screws)

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I slightly boxed myself in with my long clamps.

 

 

 

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I might need more room

 

To align things, I just smack it with my trusty hammer. It has a wide flat face, which keeps you from slamming something to far away.

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Step 11, make some shelves. I decided to go with adjustable shelves since this will hold an Xbox, DVD player, and a APC UPS for battery backup and surge protection. To better paint the shelves, and add strength, add a piece of solid wood to the front. First attempt was with a biscuit joiner. Biscuits are not for alignment, more adding strength.

Clamping a biscuit jointed board
Clamping a biscuit jointed board

Festool Domino 500 to the rescue! It produces a mortise plunge cut, and provides precisely matched tenons to glue in place.

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New tool halfway through the process

All put in place, and ligned up ready for glue.

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Dominos in the edge banding

Way less clamping needed, and no seem between the plywood and the piece of oak.

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Domino jointed edge clamped

Coming in part two, cut the pin holes for the shelving, prime, paint and face frames with the Festool Domino!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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