Posted by John on December 16th, 2014
In this post, you’ll learn:
- How to organizer your office cables with inexpensive hardware
– Tips for using a hole saw for large diameter holes
Now that we’ve actually been using our new home office for a few weeks, we’re starting to really enjoy the space. On top of that, we’ve noticed a few areas that aren’t quite as functional as we’d like them and in this post, you’ll see how we fixed those issues.
Office Cable Management
Let’s start with the biggest issue so far: cable clutter.
There’s a simple reason for this mess: the closest outlet for the computer, printer and paper shredder is inside the cabinets. There’s an outlet in each one, so we have to run the cables into the cabinets from the front.
The outlet locations were intentional. I wanted to make sure they were inside the cabinet and not under the desk. If they were under the desk, then I’d have cables more visible from the room entrance and I didn’t think that would be very attractive. I also didn’t want to loop the cables from under the desk onto the top of it.
So here’s what we did.
I pulled out my 2-1/8″ hole saw and drilled some holes.
If you’ve never used a hole saw, I recommend the ones where there’s a longer center drill bit in the middle. It allows you to locate your hole more accurately without the bit wandering around as these bits tend to do.
When you use a hole saw bit, it helps if you try to wobble the drill a little as you push down.
Once the hole is drilled, I’ll pop in one of these desktop cable organizers (affiliate link). Actually called a grommet.
The grommet gets held in place with a little adhesive caulk, but if I used a 2″ sized hole saw like I should have, it wouldn’t need the glue. It would fit snuggly without it.
After the hole is drilled, the hole saw will look like this:
You’ll have a wood plug in the drill that you’ll need to remove. The hole saw actually has these small slits in the side where you can stick a flat head screw driver and pop the plug out from behind. You can also run the drill in reverse and tap on the side of the bit. Either works.
In addition to the grommet in the desktop, I added one to the side of each built-in cabinet.
These side grommets will allow me to run my desktop cable into the cabinet. It’s also perfect for our paper shredder.
Inside the cabinet, I mounted a power strip with a built-in surge protector.
So now our office cable situation is under control.
Much, much better.
Thanks for reading. If you like our office remodel series, including this post, please share on social media. Later this week I’m going to give you the details for what we have in store for 2015.
Posted in DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,cables, hole saw, organization
Posted by John on December 2nd, 2014
Well it’s been a while, but our latest set of woodworking are now available. If you are a newsletter subscriber, you can download this tutorial from our plans page.
The media center plans includes:
- A complete shopping list
– Cut sheets for all the plywood components
– Cut list for all the hardwood parts
– Illustrated instructions
The plans are based on our Custom Media Cabinet series.
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,media center, plans, tv stand, woodworking
Posted by John on November 24th, 2014
With the year-long office remodel project behind us, I decided to take last week off from house stuff. As much as I enjoy working on adding value to my home, it’s important to have some meaningful down time, especially when the project is fairly large. You don’t want to get burned out with home projects or it sucks all the fun out of it.
Over this past weekend we welcomed a new addition to our family. My wife, Lisa, gave birth to our third child. We are blessed to now have three little girls. Life is great.
Now that I’ll be busy with a newborn and the other two little ones for the time being, this is a perfect opportunity to reflect on some of our past projects, think about the road ahead and most importantly, help you with YOUR home projects.
***To discuss your projects, sign up for a free user account by filling out the form on our Join Us page. Once you get a confirmation email, you can start using our Forums. This is a whole different system than our Newsletter. I suggest you sign up for both if you haven’t already. ***
In today’s post, I want to take a quick look back on the home office project and discuss some things I would’ve done differently. If you are considering some of the elements of our office in your home, then this post will shed some light on the tougher elements of the room.
Reflections on the Home Office Remodel
The Coffered Ceiling
This is my favorite feature of our new office. It was also a giant PIA. In our coffered ceiling design post, we discussed a couple different approaches to getting this look. The first is constructed from 1x (pronounced “one by”) the other is from framing lumber wrapped in drywall. Since I preferred the look of the drywall, that’s the approach we chose. It looks great, but it ended up being a lot of weight and a ton more finishing work. The drywall needed to be cut, installed, corner bead added and then three or four coats of joint compound were applied. Then it got primed. THEN I had to install the crown molding and paint it again.
If I had to do it all over, I would just use the 1x approach. The wood can be pre-assembled into box channels, pre-primed and pre-painted before installation. Once it’s up, the crown still needs to be added, but since it’s getting fastened to a wood box, installation should actually be easier.
In a few years, I’m planning on adding a coffered ceiling to our family room and kitchen. If I did it with drywall like our office it would take WAY WAY too long. The 1x method seems to be the way to go if you have a time crunch. On the other hand, if you’re building a home and the house isn’t drywalled yet or a whole room is being re-drywalled, then a coffered ceiling from drywall is probably much more manageable.
The Built-In Cabinets
If I had to do the cabinet over again, I wouldn’t change too much. I love the beaded face frames and the shaker doors. These aren’t the first cabinets I’ve built before, so I’ve been able to incorporate some previous lessons learned from those earlier projects. I skipped a full sized back piece and instead left the back of the cabinet open to the wall. The cabinet was significantly lighter because of that change. Since I ended up scribing the right side cabinets, I probably should’ve added a wider stile to account for that scribe. I ended up adding it after the fact.
My biggest regret is not building these ahead of time. I think it may have been easier to make these before the coffered ceiling. I also took a few weeks to make my larger table saw station, which slowed the office progress down, but it made the cabinet build loads easier. Oh and those darn screw heads on the upper cabinet are too noticeable.
The counters look great and are smooth to the touch. To hide the plywood edge, I nailed on a piece of red oak hardwood. Pretty standard practice, but the seam is noticeable. For this project I wanted to try something different and it just didn’t work. I wanted to cut the plywood edge and the hardwood at a 45 degree angle so when put together the seam would be on the corner and therefore nearly invisible. Unfortunately, my table saw would only go as far as 42 or 43 degrees. It’s supposed to goto 45, but it would bind up before it got there. I actually found that out when was trying to cut my notches for the beaded face frame. Before I used the notching router bit, my intention was to make the cut on the table saw. Should I get a new saw? Yes, but that’s not a good enough reason right now.
There are four overhead lights: one over the workstation and three evenly spaced throughout the room. We really could’ve used one more. The room is perfectly lit in the functional sections of the room, but it’s a bit darker near the door. Not really a regret, just an observation.
That’s probably the only real feedback I’d give myself on this project. I don’t want to sound like a whiny perfectionist since the room REALLY pictures well and looks damn near perfect. I think it’s helpful to do a look back because there’s always some room for improvement and you may find it useful on your next project.
Later this week I’m run in a discount giveaway with our favorite hardwood flooring cleaner, Bona. Stay tuned for details. Next week I have a power tool giveaway. Good times.
What home improvement stage are YOU in? Did you just finish a major project, are you in the middle of one or are you planning your next big effort?
Anyone buying tools on Black Friday?
Posted in DIY Projects,Lessons Learned. Tagged in ,DIY projects, home office, lessons learned
Posted by John on November 12th, 2014
Well, the time has finally arrived. We’ve crossed the finish line and are now ready to give you a tour of our home office. It’s been nearly a year since we first started and boy has this room changed. Even though we’re saying it’s done, the room still needs to be dressed up with some decor, but we’ll get to that later. For now, here’s our home office remodeled.
We’ll start our tour with a quick flashback to what the room looked like LAST November.
After ripping out the carpet, we installed some new hardwood flooring and tied it into the hardwood in the foyer without a transition. It looks like it was installed when the house was built.
With the new floor down, I shifted gears and started on the coffered ceiling. The ceiling ended up being the most time consuming part of the job, but it was totally worth it.
After the ceiling was done and the crown molding installed, I started building the cabinets. There are three cabinets in total: two built-ins and a single filing cabinet. The center desk section is just a large piece of stained oak plywood. It’s large enough for two people to work side by side, but for now we only have the one chair.
Let’s get to the finished photos…
Here’s a picture of the room from the very same angle as the Before photo.
The filing cabinet:
The left built-in:
The center desk:
The right side built-in:
Here’s a closer look at the molding on the wall and ceiling…
We also added some recessed lights. There are three overhead and a single light over the work desk.
I’ll be sharing some of the more minor upgrades we still have planned for this room. I think you’ll like our ideas.
Since no room overhaul would be complete without a project list, here’s the complete run down of all the steps/posts we shared in completion this project from start to finish. If you’re interested in renovating a room in your own home and would like results similar to what you are seeing here, then this list of posts will walk you through exactly how I remodeled this room. You may also find my Custom TV Stand Recap post helpful if you are interested in designing cabinets for yourself.
1. The Before
2. Brainstorming Home Office Ideas
3. Hardwood Floor Installation
4. The Home Remodeling Process
5. Layout Options
6. Coffered Ceiling Concept Design
7. Home Office Detail Design
8. Coffered Ceiling Framing
9. Wiring for the Office Lights
10. Tips for Hanging Drywall
11. How to Finish Drywall (Video)
12. How to Install Recessed Lights
13. 5 Tips for Better Crown Molding Installation
14. 6 Cabinet Building Challenges
15. Cabinet Painting 101
16. How to Scribe a Cabinet
17. My Countertop Approach
18. How to Build Your Own Shaker Doors (Video)
19. Making Built-in Cabinets (Video)
20. How to Install Cabinet Hardware without a Jig
21. Hinges and Drawer Slides (Video)
Thanks for reading and if you think this office came out awesome, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and pin the living crap out of it for me. That would really help! Thanks!
Posted in DIY Projects,House Tour. Tagged in ,built-ins, cabinets, office
Posted by John on November 9th, 2014
In this post, you’ll learn all about
- Cabinet door hinges
- Cabinet drawer slides
- What you need to consider when selecting this type of hardware
After nearly a year of part time work, our home office remodel is finally finished. Stop back on Wednesday and you’ll get a close up of our newly remodeled space. In the meantime, today’s post is about cabinet hinges and drawer slides. During our recent series on cabinet building a received a few emails asking about the hardware I’ve selected so I thought I’d put together a helpful reference post to help you select the best hinges and drawer slides for your next project.
The easiest way to explain all of this is in a video. Can I talk about hinges, drawer slides and drawer boxes for 20 minutes? What do you think?
(If you can’t see the video, click on this link to be taken directly to YouTube)
Let’s recap the most important aspects of the video.
To select a hinge for your project, you first need to know what type of cabinet and cabinet door you have. Cabinets are either frameless (European) like Ikea cabinets or have face frames, which is typical for most American made cabinets. Next you’ll need to determine if the door is full overlay, partial overlay or inset. My kitchen cabinet doors are full overlay, but our office cabinet doors are inset. Generally, most kitchen cabinet doors on the market today are full overlay. Inset doors are more labor intensive and therefore are higher in cost and tend to be associated with custom and higher end cabinets. Partial overlay doors were more common in the 50’s and 60’s, but you can still occasionally catch them on some other pieces.
Once you know the cabinet type and the door type, you just need to determine if you want the hinges to be hidden or decorative.
I prefer Blum hinges since they are high quality. There is a planning tool on Blum’s website that will help you plan the doors and the hardware. I used the tool for the Clip Top Hinges with face frame.
For our home office project, I used Blum Tandem drawer slides. They install with some rear brackets and side mounting blocks. They are a little more expensive than the basic European or epoxy slides, but they work great. Blum also has a Tandem drawer planning tool on the same page as the hinge tool. The big difference between drawer slides is usually the length. You can use the planning tool to get a recommendation on the slide hardware as well as the drawer box dimensions.
I hope this video helps give you a better understanding of cabinet door hinges and drawer slides.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Videos. Tagged in ,blum, cabinet hardware, door hinges, drawer slides
Posted by John on October 27th, 2014
In this post, you’ll learn:
- a simple method for installing cabinet hardware
It seems that the closer I get to finishing this home office project, more small tasks keep popping up and they’re taking much longer than I anticipated. Case in point: the cabinet hardware. It took me a good two and a half hours to get two cabinets done. Killer. Still have to add the hardware to the filing cabinet. At this rate, our office should be completely done by the time our 3 year old heads to college.
Let’s talk cabinet hardware for a second. Lisa picked our gear out. I was completely hands off on this one, although I let her know which ones I definitely didn’t like. It’s pretty much the exact same conversation we have when we’re trying to pick a restaurant for dinner, except slightly more expensive. Although.. you can return hardware if you don’t like it even after you’ve taken it home. Can’t do that at a restaurant.
We were originally thinking some shell pulls, but we didn’t see any we liked. We ended up with a basic 3.5″ nickel pull from Lowes. Instead of using a jig for this job, like the one I made for our Large Built-in cabinet, I went old-school and just drew some lines and drilled some holes. Not quite as fast, but just as effective. Here’s how it went.
How to Install Cabinet Hardware without a Jig
Here’s the cabinet before we got started.
I started by applying some blue painters tape across the drawer front. I roughly aimed for the middle, but it wasn’t terribly important at this point. Once the tape was on, I measured down from the top of the drawer edge to the middle of the drawer front. I did that on both sides of the drawer front and used a straight edge to connect the dots. I now had a straight line across the drawer front that marked the center line.
I also applied some painters tape vertically to coincide with the center of the doors below. I marked those vertical tape pieces at the same dimension as half the width of the door.
Now I was ready to use my hardware for the next step.
I lined up the hardware on the center line of the drawer front and positioned it over the mark for the door centers. That way the screw holes will both be in the same line and the middle of the piece will be directly over the middle of the door. If this sounds confusing, just take a look at the pictures, it’s a bit cumbersome to describe.
While I was holding the hardware in place, I traced around the hardware where it sat against the drawer front.
Now I had my drill marks.
The first hole I drilled was a small pilot hole just to get through the drawer. I then went up to a drill bit diameter that was slightly larger than the screw for the drawer pull. I repeated this same basic process for the door pulls. Just tape it, draw a center line and then position it where you want it. Drill twice and you’re done. The painters tape helps keep the wood from tearing and you can draw right on it without having to worry about touching up your cabinet’s paint job.
We were originally going to go with just one pull on the drawer fronts, but I think it looks more substantial with the two.
Here’s what’s left for this room:
1. Paint the new baseboards, window sills and inside of the door.
2. Install quarter round trim
3. Clean up and touch up
4. New window shades
5. Drill some access holes for computer power cord, printer cable, etc.
6. Finish decor and wall hangings
Oh and I’m also repairing a few nail pops, because you know… I didn’t have enough to do in here already.
Later this week I’m going to be starting to configure our new forum section. Keep your fingers crossed! Hoping to setup an area on our site where everyone can share their own projects, show off their results and ask for help with home projects! I’ve also commissioned a new blog theme, so our look is going to dramatically change. Hoping to get that in place before the holidays. I won’t be coding it myself this time, so it should go fairly quick. We have some big, big changes headed your way over the next few months… if this office doesn’t kill me first.
Posted in DIY Projects,Kitchen. Tagged in ,cabinet hardware, cabinets, hardware, office
Posted by John on October 20th, 2014
In today’s post, you’ll learn:
- How to make built-in cabinets
- How to make a beaded face frame
- What the build process for a cabinet looks like
After spending the better part of a week and a half painting our home office, I’m finally down to the last couple of detail jobs. Although the office isn’t officially finished quite yet, it’s done enough to take our video camera in there and film some shots of the new furniture. I also managed to film all of the important aspects of the cabinet build, so you get to see both the (mostly) finished project and the how-to’s that go along with it.
Here’s the video:
If you don’t see the video window, you can click this link to be redirected to YouTube.
Just to be clear, this isn’t a “reveal” post. Once the room is totally finished with all the bells and whistles, we’ll share a ton of photos with you.
There’s a lot to talk about after building these cabinets, but I realize the video is pretty long (~19 minutes), so I’d rather circle back with you in a follow-up post to discuss more lessons learned. For now, just check out the video. If you make it to the end, you can catch my wife and I goofing off.
Here are the router bits (affiliate links) I used in the video:
If you have any questions about anything you see in the video, or if you think I’ve totally botched it up, please fire away in the comments!
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Videos. Tagged in ,beaded face frame, cabinets, router table, video
Posted by John on October 9th, 2014
In this post, you’ll learn
- How to build shaker cabinet doors with a router
- How to inset the doors into a face frame for a high end look
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you’ve probably seen me write about building shaker cabinet doors before. I’ve built them for both my large built-in cabinet, the TV stand and they were the same style doors I built for our first home. Last year, I filmed one of my first how-to videos on how to make them. To date, that video has over 140,000 views and is by far my most popular. In that video, which you can see here, I primarily used a table saw to cut the tongue and groove joints for the doors. Even the center panel was machined using a table saw.
In this new version, I’m only using a router table for the tongue and groove joints and the center panel. I thought it would be worth trying something new and see what works better. I’ll probably put together a third video at some point to illustrate what combination of tools and techniques are easiest and provide the best results.
Since these doors are also inset into the face frame, I also used this opportunity to try a new technique for setting the inset gap. In the first video, I just built the doors to the finished dimensions, which was a challenge. In this new version, I built the doors a bit larger and shaved them down to the final size. It ended up being much easier than I thought.
So here’s the video. Let me know if you have any comments or questions!
Oh and by the way, if you don’t want the doors inset and instead you just want them to be full overlay, that’s much easier. Just build the doors 1-1/2″ wider and longer than the door opening. You also won’t need to trim them once you’re done.
If you can’t see the video window, you can click this link to take you right to YouTube.
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Videos. Tagged in ,cabinet doors, cabinets, inset, overlay, router, shaker, video
Posted by John on October 5th, 2014
In this post, you’ll learn:
- How to configure a cabinet for installation and counters
- How do get a deep, rich stain
Well, we’re down to the wire in our home office project. Officially, all I have left to do is add some trim beneath the crown molding, install the baseboard trim and do some painting. Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be done everything by the end of next week. Then it’s just setup and decorating. So thrilled to wrapping this room up.
I’ve got a bunch of new videos coming your way soon. Hopefully later this week I’ll be publishing my second video on Inset Cabinet Doors. May actually put together a third door film at some point. I’m going to release a video on building the built-in cabinets, so you get a more continuous perspective on the work. I also owe you more videos on my workshop tools, including the miter saw and the jointer. Thanks for your patience on those!
Now let’s talk about some features I added to my cabinets to both make them easier to install AND easier to top with counters.
Here’s a top view of the inside of the base cabinets.
Couple things worth pointing out. There is a plywood brace on top that spans from one side of the box to the other. It’s secured in place with a couple of pocket screws. There’s also a second brace along the back. That’s also a plywood piece that supports the drawer slides and gives me something to secure the cabinet to wall.
Let’s take a look at how I install the cabinet to the wall using the back brace.
First I use a studfinder and mark the walls. Since my brace is set back into the cabinet by a 1/4″, I use a couple of shims and pre-drill my hole. Then I drive a 2-1/2″ long drywall screw through both the shims and the brace until snug. I make sure to use a finish washer for both a better look and it also prevents the screw from digging into the brace.
Once the screw is tight, I’ll score the shims with a box cutter and just snap them off.
The uppers will install the same way, except their back braces are exposed and painted.
The brace that spans the top of the cabinet is for attaching the countertop. I can just drive a couple screws from below and the counter will be snug.
Now for the counters. I used 3/4″ thick oak plywood and the edges are wrapped with oak hardwood to hide the plywood edge. Since the walls aren’t perfectly square, I used a technique that granite installers often employ. I took some cardboard strips (granite guys use luan, which is stiffer) and hot glued them to trace out the footprint of the tops. I then dropped the cardboard outlines onto the plywood sheet and just cut along the lines. After the plywood parts were cut out, I used a brad nailer and some wood glue to attach the oak strips to the plywood.
Our home office also features a center desk section. This is just a large piece of plywood with the same edge banding. Since it’s not sitting on top of a cabinet, it’s actually lower than the built-in counters, it needs to be supported in a different manner. In this case, I’ve attached a few strips of oak hardwood to the cabinets and the wall it butts up against. In the front, to reduce flexing, I’ve screwed in a piece of angle iron that rests on the oak strips. It’s also screwed into the plywood from below.
Here’s a shot of the completed counters.
It took me a few days to get that deep, rich color. Here’s how I did it.
I used three different stain colors. I started out with Varathane’s Black Cherry. I applied it with a sponge applicator and let it set it overnight. I never wiped it off at any point. In fact, I never wiped off any of the stains. Next up I applied a coat of Minwax’s Cherry stain. After letting that set all day, I finished with a coat of Minwax Red Oak. After around 12 hours of drying time, I sprayed on three coats of satin polyurethane using a regular spray can. In between coats of poly, I sanded with 600 grit sandpaper.
I went with the three different stains method to get a more complex look. I’ve never liked the results I get from applying one color and then wiping. I also much prefer spraying on the poly as opposed to brushing or sponging it on since the sponge tends to drag the stain around with it. If you spray the poly, it just layers on without causing much of a mess. Although you do have to watch out for overspray.
So, that’s a sneak peek of our office counters. If you’re interested in the latest photos, you can check them out on our Instagram account.
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,cabinets, counters, stain
Posted by John on September 25th, 2014
In today’s post you’ll learn:
- How to Scribe a Cabinet
In an ideal world, all walls and floors would be square and true (and all mortgages paid off). Since that never seems to be the case, you need to know how to modify your cabinets or built-ins to account for uneven walls. If you want a professional look to your work, this is a must read. Luckily, this process is fairly simple and only requires a circular saw and one of those compasses you used in grade school art class. Whoever thought you’d need one of those again?
Let’s start with reality. Here’s one of our home office cabinets pushed tight into the corner.
You can see it’s tight against the bottom of the cabinet, but open along the top. No bueno. Could you caulk that seam? Sure you could. I actually plan on caulking it. However, you shouldn’t caulk anything wider than 1/4″ or it will look sloppy. That opening at the top is around 5/16″ wide so it’s much too wide for caulk.
Here’s what we’ll do to fix it.
First, we’ll take a look at the top of the cabinet to see what kind of overhang I have on the face frame.
In this photo you can see that the face frame overhangs the side of the cabinet by about 1/4″. If I was smart and better prepared, I would’ve designed in a larger overhang, say 3/8″, to allow for scribing as-is. Alas, I only gave myself around 1/4″ (probably closer to 3/16″).
Since I don’t have enough “meat” overhanging the side, I’ll just add some more wood and make it work.
I start by measuring the gap between the edge of face frame and the wall. It’s about 5/16″. I then cut a strip of wood 5/16″ wide and I glue and nail it to the side of the cabinet.
Now I have plenty of overhang on that side of the cabinet.
Next, I shove the cabinet back in the corner. The gap will be identical before I tacked on the wood strip, since the wall is still curving away from the cabinet.
Now I take my compass and I set the distance between the needle and the pencil to the same distance as the gap between the cabinet and the wall.
Then I just run the compass down the curve of the wall with the pencil on the cabinet. The compass will mark out a line on the cabinet that matches the curvature of the wall.
The last part is easy. Just take your circular saw and cut along the line. You’ll be removing material from the strip so it will then match the wall.
After the cut has been made, the cabinet gets shoved back into the corner and we can see that the gap is pretty much gone. Any open seam can be filled in with a much smaller amount of painter’s caulk.
To finish the project, I’ll just make sure I fill in any gap between the wood strip and the cabinet with wood putty and I’ll sand and paint it.
I’ll have to repeat this process for the top cabinet that sits above this lower unit.
If you can’t tell, I’m intentionally trying to keep the reveal of this project as hush hush as possible. Thus, the lack of pictures of all the cabinets.
Now that you know how to scribe, do you think you’ll use this trick?
P. S. I also had to use this technique for my raised panel wainscoting.