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Get on Board with Our Cabinet Build

Posted by on July 7th, 2014

Happy Monday, folks.  We hope all of our American readers enjoyed their 4th of July weekend!  Lisa and I took the kids over to the USS New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.  It’s the closest Battleship to our home in South Jersey.  I’m a HUGE fan of the Iowa Class Battleships.

Gotta tell you… I was not disappointed.  Tremendous history there.  If you ever get the chance to go on one of the Iowa’s, I suggest you take it.  The USS Iowa is in LA, the USS New Jersey is in Camden,  the USS Missouri is in Pearl Harbor and the USS Wisconsin is in Norfolk.  I’ve been on the Wisconsin before, but if I recall correctly, the tour was limited.  The New Jersey tour is impressive, although the teak deck is in rough shape in some areas.


I’m leading today off with this Navy reference for a good reason.  If you haven’t yet subscribed to our free newsletter, now it the perfect time to GET ON BOARD!  See what I did there?

So we’ve finished most of the work on our coffered ceiling and later this week I’ll be prepping to build the built-in cabinets for our big home office remodel.  Part of the prep work will include setting up my basement workshop and I’m planning on filming a 30-40 minute long episode after it’s all done.  I will also be filming some quick five minute long videos going over each of the power tools I’ll be using for the cabinet build.  If you’ve never used a table saw or a router, this is right up your alley.  I’m also in need of a larger table saw station and a more permanent miter saw stand before I get started.

That’s why this is the PERFECT time to get on board with our free newsletter and follow along with the project as it unfolds.  Building cabinets is our bread and butter and if you’re interested in learning how to make your own, you’re going to enjoy this series.

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What I’m going to cover:

1. The Table Saw
2. The Miter Saw
3. The Router
4. The Cordless Drill
5. The Kreg Jig
6. Cabinet Building Jigs
7. Design and Dimensioning
8. Face Frame
9. Cabinet Boxes
10. Assembly
11. Finishing
12. Installation

Sounds good?  Have any questions on the cabinet build process that you’d like answered?  Leave me a comment below and I’ll try to answer it.  Big fan of big ships?  Would love to hear what ships you’ve been on!

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,

Your Home from Scratch #4: Andrea’s Custom Vanity

Posted by on May 27th, 2014

If you ask me what I enjoy the ABSOLUTE MOST about blogging, my answer is always helping others with their home projects.   Hands down the best part of this gig.  I love getting comments or emails from readers expressing their gratitude for something they found on our site.  Really makes my day.  Just last week, one of our newsletter subscribers emailed me some pictures of her custom bathroom vanities she built from scratch.  She told me that she was able to complete the task after reading our TV stand series.  I was so impressed with her work that we’re featuring her vanities as our 4th installment of Your Home from Scratch.

You guys.  Wait to you see these cabinets.

Andrea’s Custom Vanity

white vanity

1.  Your vanities are beautiful.  Why did you decide to build them instead of buying them?

Thanks for inviting me to share in your blog!  I decided to try to build these vanities after pricing ones that I really loved and found them over-the-top expensive for the value and quality of construction.  For the double sink vanity prices were $1000 +, the single vanity $700+ – add on tax and shipping and that was the deal breaker.  Also, I wanted my mirrors and vanities to match.

vanity mirror

2.  How much money do you think you saved by building them yourself?
Assuming I bought the two vanities mentioned above at $1800, minus my supplies $300 (?), I guess I saved about $1500.  

custom vanity
3.  How long did it take you to build and did you have much carpentry experience before you started?

It took me 1 month of on-and-off work while carpenters did complicated bath renovation including moving walls, plumbing and electric.  My only other carpentry experience comes from building a step back cupboard a few years ago.  I had a picture from an antique catalog, so I started by drawing a picture on the wall where I wanted it to be to get the starting dimensions and then drew up plans on graph paper.  Oh, I am also building my 2nd canoe.


4.  Give us a quick overview of how you built them.  Did you use roughly the same build method as our TV stand?  What material?
I built the first single vanity using your plans for the entertainment cabinet.  I figured out the width dimensions first and built the face frame.  I did want the cabinet to sit on Shaker legs to appear as a piece of furniture, so I extended the right and left vertical face frame pieces to extend about 3″ below the lower horizontal piece. I used poplar wood as you suggested, along with cabinet grade birch veneer plywood for sides, base and shelves.  For the second, larger double sink vanity, I again determined the width first.  I knew I wanted 3 doors so I evenly spaced them and repeated the same steps as the first vanity.

vanity legs

5.  What sort of finish product did you use (Latex paint, acrylic, lacquer)?

As far as the finish,  I again used your advice of applying 2 coats of latex primer and 2 coats of latex paint.  I got the most perfect finish using a velour covered, small roller from Sherwin Williams.  The finish is so perfect that it looks factory applied.  I was very pleased with this roller finish.  I did lightly sand between coats.  Beautiful.

6.  What was the hardest part of the project?

The hardest part of the project was becoming familiar and comfortable with using the radial arm saw, skill saw, table saw and biscuit jointer  (affiliate) ( I don’t have a router set-up).  I am a real safety freak, so I took this part very seriously.  I am really alone on all these projects, so your quick response to my hardware questions, etc. was a big confidence builder – like, I had a big brother that was just a email away!

7.  What are you planning on building next?

I am planning on building a second mirror/cabinet for above the first single vanity.  I have gained so much satisfaction from this project that I know I can do just about anything just taking it one step at a time.  Thanks again, John.

Thanks to Andrea for sharing this incredible home improvement project.  If you have a home improvement project that you’d like to share with our readers, shoot me an email: John at Our Home from Scratch dot com.

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Your Home from Scratch. Tagged in ,, , ,

Free Built-In Cabinet Plans

Posted by on January 10th, 2014

Well, we’ve had another busy week.  Fortunately for you, we’ve been busy working on our next set of free woodworking plans.


These plans took FOREVER! I kinda went a little overboard too.  They’re more like an ebook than plans.  Complete with a material and tool list, step by step instructions, etc.  It’s more than 30 pages long!  The plans were based on our built-in cabinet series we made last year.

So how do you get access to these free built-in plans?  You subscribe to our free newsletter, that’s how.  The signup form is just to the left of this post.  Within minutes of signing up, you’ll get an email with a link to our plans page.  Sound good?

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Custom Media Cabinet: Complete Wrap Up

Posted by on November 24th, 2013

The TV stand is finally done.  During the week I wrapped the bottom of the cabinet with some baseboard molding using the same procedure we used on our first built-in.  The only thing I may still do to the cabinet is re-coat the top and shelves with some cabinet grade enamel paint.  The latex paint doesn’t seem to be holding up quite as well as it does on the built-in.  Latex paint isn’t designed for cabinets and it lifted up somewhat after I rested my camera tripod on it.  No biggie.  Here’s what it looks like now.

white tv stand

The baseboard molding seems to give the cabinet a fuller look.  Big fan.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the features…

The baseboard trim ties into the wall and the seam where the cabinet meets the wall has a thin bead of painters caulk to make the cabinet look fully “built-in.”  It only sticks out from the wall about 18″ to match the depth of the other piece in the room.


From the front you can see the open center section is just wide enough for our PS3 and a DVD player.  I measured some of the electronics in our family room to make sure that they would all fit.  All three sections feature a plethora of shelf pins for adjusting the shelf height.  The cabinet hides all the outlets on the wall as planned.


Lisa is thrilled to have some more toy storage.  She moved the shelf on the left side up to accommodate a larger plastic bin she bought from Target.

inside tv stand

Here’s a little trick I learned from Norm Abram back when he was on New Yankee Workshop: the bottom plywood shelf sits a little higher than the face frame.  It acts as a door stop.  The cabinet has a door stop device on the top, but this beats adding a second.

cabinet door stop

So let’s do a quick recap.

build a tv stand

1.  Design the overall look of the cabinet and rough dimensions
2.  Design the face frames
3.  Design the cabinet box
4.  Draw our cut sheets
5.  Buy our lumber and plywood
6.  Face frame construction
7.  Cut the plywood
8.  Add dados
9.  Build our shaker doors
10.  Assemble our cabinets
11. Cabinet Installation

I hope this post inspires you to not only build something from scratch, but to build something that meets the needs of the space.

*** UPDATE:  Forgot to mention the cost.  The total for the cabinet was around $155.  Not too shabby.***

So what’s up next?  Well, these two cabinets may be done, but the sitting room isn’t even close.  We picked out some paint and lighting and we’ll be dressing this space up later this week.  Stick around.


Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,

Custom Media Cabinet Part 11: Cabinet Installed

Posted by on November 18th, 2013

So I was going to make another video of the cabinet installation, since we were already at that point.  Then I realized, I’d be showing a 30 second long clip of me screwing the cabinet to the wall.  (I just secured the cabinet to the wall with a couple of 2″ drywall screws.  The screws went into the backstrap that runs along the back of the cabinet and into a stud in the wall.)  I don’t think you need to see that.

Let’s go ahead and skip that video and get right to the good stuff.. the pictures.

Here’s what our TV wall in the sitting room looked like just a couple of hours ago..

tv on wall

And here’s how it looked with the new cabinet installed…

diy cabinet 2

Much better…

Looks pretty close to that concept drawing we made a few weeks ago.

50 inch side view

Here’s a front view…

diy cabinet

And that front view concept drawing…

50 inch finished

So that’s it for this tutorial series.  The only thing we have left to do is wrap the bottom of the cabinet in some baseboard trim to tie it into the wall and do a bit of caulking and touch up paint.  If you’re interested in learning how to apply molding to cabinets*, you can check out the tutorial we did when we built the bigger unit.  It’s the exact same process.

Next time you see this cabinet, it will be completely finished… and the walls may be painted too.  We’ll see.

*Lisa actually really liked the look of the cabinet without the baseboard molding and was reluctant to add it.  Then she saw the baseboard molding on the cabinet and thinks it looks even better.

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,

Custom Media Cabinet Part 9: DIY Cabinet Doors

Posted by on November 7th, 2013

So our Custom Media Cabinet is nearly complete.  I’m hoping to get it painted and then assembled this weekend.  Instead of putting it together and then painting it, I’m going to try painting most of it first and then gluing it up.  It was a major PIA to paint our built-in once it was finished.  Especially the interior of the cabinet.  Hoping to avoid that aggravation.  Anyway, in today’s post, I’m going to show you how to DIY cabinet doors.

diy cabinet doors

Back when we made our built-in, I threw together a video on YouTube showing our readers how to build inset shaker style cabinet doors.  That video was up on YouTube for a couple months and got over 12,000 views!  I took it down to make some changes and re-uploaded it a few weeks ago.  There’s really no sense in making another video on shaker style inset cabinet doors, obviously, so I’m just going to re-share the original video.

Shaker style doors are fairly straight forward to make.  Making them inset instead of overlay just screams custom and in the video I show you how I go about getting that result.

Oh, and head’s up… Sherwin Williams is having a 40% off sale this weekend, so you can be sure we’ll be heading over there.

If you don’t see the video, click here for the link to the YouTube page.

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Custom Media Cabinet Part 6: Face Frame Construction

Posted by on October 15th, 2013

During my three day weekend, I managed to finally get some woodworking done.  I built the face frame for our custom media cabinet.  As promised, I whipped up a tutorial video.  Let me know if you have any questions.  You’ll see it’s not all that difficult to cut the pieces to their finished length and width and then assemble them using pocket screws.  Hope it helps!


Up next we’ll be cutting out our box components and adding our grooves and dados.  Fun times.

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, , ,

Custom Media Cabinet Part 5: How to Buy Lumber

Posted by on October 13th, 2013

Happy Columbus Day!  Or as my Italian wife refers to it… “Better than St. Patrick’s Day.”  We hope you all had a great weekend.  We made some solid progress on our media cabinet.  The face frame is built and I’ll be starting on the cabinet boxes shortly.  I filmed almost all of the face frame construction and I plan on doing the same for the rest of the build.  Hope you like videos, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of them soon.

On Friday, we left off with some cut sheets that I used to draw up a shopping list.  Today, we’re going to discuss actually buying the material.

Our shopping list consisted of one 4×8 sheet of 3/4″ thick paint-grade plywood and a couple boards of paint grade hardwood.  Let’s start with the plywood.

What to avoid: Framing, roofing or flooring plywood.

framing plywood

Why not?  Well, these types of plywood are designed for their particular application.  For a paint-grade project, we want something that has a smooth finish on both sides that’s also knot free.  Most of these construction quality plywood sheets are going to have a significant amount of defects that won’t leave you with a quality finish.  The tempting thing about these lower grade plywood options is their price.  They may be up to half the cost of the plywood I normally use.

What to look for:   A quality furniture grade plywood, like this Birch plywood.  It’s finish grade on both sides, it’s strong and it’s designed for cabinet builds.

birch hardwood plywood

Now here’s the bad news: the price.

birch hardwood plywood price

The good news is I only need one sheet.  That’s a lot of money for some plywood.  Here’s the deal though, in total, this cabinet will probably cost under $125 and I’m hoping it lasts a long, long time.  So, spending $50 on some plywood isn’t that terrible if you put it in perspective.

With my sheet in hand, I took it over to the panel saw and had the lumber associate cut it into four sections so I could fit it in my car.

panel saw

For the hardwood boards, I like poplar.  Poplar is fairly inexpensive and it’s perfect for paint.  Maple would also be a great choice.  Unless you are planning on staining a project like this, I’d avoid oak or cherry.  And yes, you could use pine, especially a high quality pine, but it’s a softwood so expect it to show wear and tear over time.  The hardwoods like poplar tend to hold up better.

So that’s my 2 cents on buying paint grade lumber from your local big hardware store.  You may also want to look for some local non-chain lumber yards as well.  Sometimes they have a better variety of plywoods and most will special order some if you’re looking for it.

In our next post, we’ll have a video on building the face frame.

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,

Custom Media Cabinet Part 4: Cut Sheets

Posted by on October 10th, 2013

Happy Friday!  This weekend I’m hoping to make some major progress on our custom media cabinet.  Really looking forward to getting back into the workshop.  Once this cabinet is done, we’re going to finish off the decor in our sitting room, which is pretty much the entire point of these recent furniture builds.

In our last two posts, we designed and dimensioned the face frames and the cabinet box.  We skipped the doors, the shelves and the countertop, but we’ll circle back to those later.  Since we know the dimensions of all the pieces of hardwood and plywood we’ll need, I can make cut sheets and a shopping list.  We all know what a shopping list is, but if you’re not familiar with a cut sheet, then this will be a good learning experience.

A cut sheet is a drawing of a piece of wood with each component marked off.  Sound confusing?  Why don’t I just show you the cut sheet I came up with for our media cabinet.

plywood cut sheet

I’ve drawn a 4 foot by 8 foot rectangle, which represents a standard sheet of 3/4″ plywood.  On that sheet, I’ve drawn and labeled our cabinet box parts.  This then becomes a blueprint of how I’ll cut out each part.

There are several advantages to making a cut sheet.  It takes the guess work out of how many sheets of plywood you’ll need.  It allows you to maximize each sheet so you end up with as little waste material as possible and it gives you a blueprint you can use in the workshop.

So you can see from the cut sheet above that I can fit all my plywood box parts on one 4×8 sheet of plywood.  I’m also not including any of my shelves here or any of the door parts.  I’ll probably make the shelves last with some scrap plywood I have laying around.

What are the red and blue lines?

We don’t have a truck or a big SUV anymore, so I can only fit smaller pieces of lumber in our family car.  I need to have the hardware store cut down the plywood to a more manageable size.  The red line is where I’ll have the store make the first cut on their panel saw, which breaks down the plywood into two pieces.  Then I’ll have them cut along the blue lines to make the pieces even smaller.  Doing this ahead of time saves me from having to figure it out when I’m there at the store.

That’s just the plywood.  You can also make cut sheets for pieces of hardwood.  Here are the cut sheets for the face frame…

hardwood cut sheet

The top board is a 1×4 and the bottom is a 1×2.  The letters are the same letters I used in our face frame post.  So, from here we can see that I only need to buy two boards for the face frame.  I’ll also need a couple more boards for the doors, but you get the idea.

Cutsheets are where it’s at.

Next up, we take you shopping.

Any questions?


Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,

Custom Media Cabinet Part 3: Cabinet Box

Posted by on October 9th, 2013

Welcome back to our custom media cabinet series!  If you’ve been following along, so far we’ve unveiled our concept design and dimensioned the face frames.  In today’s post, we’re going to design and dimension the cabinet box portion of the media cabinet.  We’re nearly done this drawing and dimensioning phase of the project and I apologize if it’s a bit boring.  Believe me, no one wants to fire up the power tools more than me, but showing the whole process from start to finish should be extremely helpful if you’re thinking about making your own furniture down the road.

Here’s another look at our media cabinet with the major components labelled.


In our last post, we mentioned that the face frame is only 3/4″ thick and attaches to the plywood box.  All of the box components will be made from plywood for a few reasons.

- It’s the least expensive option.  You could use solid hardwood, but you’ll pay big bucks for pieces this wide.  An entire 4 foot x 8 foot sheet of plywood will only set you back $40 or $50.

- It’s dimensionally stable.  It won’t expand or contract too much throughout the changing seasons nor will it cup or warp like solid wood.

- It’s very strong.

The big draw back to using plywood for any project though is its edge.  Plywood is a laminated product and you can see all of those layers if you look at the side of it.  Part of the challenge to furniture building with plywood is hiding those edges.  In this case, all of the plywood edges will be either hidden behind the face frame or will be against the wall, floor or countertop.

Let’s do some design and dimensioning of our cabinet box.

Here’s a side view of our media cabinet.


After we subtract the countertop overhang and the face frame, the remaining width of the cabinet sides are 16 1/4″.  The length is just the 27″ height minus the 3/4″ thickness of the countertop, leaving 26 1/4″.

Here’s a solo shot of one of the cabinet sides.


In this image you can see a groove I’ve added across the width of the side piece.  That groove is where the cabinet bottom will intersect the sides.  I’m going to get more into that whole process later on in our tutorial, but for now, all you need to know is that the groove is 3/4″ wide, 3/8″ deep and it runs the entire width of the side.

Here’s what the bottom piece looks like plugged into the groove in both side pieces.


The bottom piece has the same 16 1/4″ width as the side pieces, but clearly is much longer.  The length is 46 3/4″.  I calculated that length with some simple math.  I started with the countertop length of 50″ then just subtracted out the overhang, the extra 1/4″ from each side of the face frame and then the depth of the grooves in the side pieces.

One of the most important things to take away from this design process is how to figure out your design’s dimensions.  It’s all  just a matter of book keeping.  Don’t be intimidated by it if it’s not making too much sense yet.  I’ll save the rest of the dimensions for the next post.

For added support, I’ve included a piece of plywood strapping across the back of the box.  I could’ve used a solid plywood backing board instead of just a strip, but since this stand isn’t going to see a ton of weight, I figure a strip of wood oughta do it.

You may also notice that the bottom piece has two grooves.  Those groves are where two dividers will be located.

Here’s what the cabinet box will look like assembled with the dividers…


Now our media cabinet is almost completely designed.  Next up, we’ll transfer our dimensions that we got from our design phase and make some cut sheets and shopping lists.

What about the doors and the countertop?  Well, the countertop design I’m not showing since it’s just a piece of 3/4″ thick plywood with some edge banding.  The dimensions are 50″ x 18″.  The doors I’m going to fit into the face frame once it’s built rather than try to build those from a drawing.  I think I’ll get a better fit that way.  Same goes for the shelves.  You’ll see.

Any questions so far?

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