Posted by John on June 16th, 2014
Happy Monday folks.
Today I have just uploaded our latest set of free woodworking plans. The plans are for the sliding kitchen cabinet drawers.
The plans are free to our newsletter subscribers.
The plans feature a calculator that lets you enter two simple measurements to generate custom dimensions for each cabinet in your kitchen.
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,carpentry, drawers, Kitchen, plans, woodworking
Posted by John 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
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.
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.
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.
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 ,bathroom, cabinets, carpentry, vanity
Posted by John 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.
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.
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.
So let’s do a quick recap.
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 ,built-in, cabinets, carpentry
Posted by John 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..
And here’s how it looked with the new cabinet installed…
Looks pretty close to that concept drawing we made a few weeks ago.
Here’s a front view…
And that front view concept drawing…
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 ,built-ins, cabinets, carpentry
Posted by John on November 13th, 2013
This is part 10 in our series on building a custom TV stand. There won’t be a part 12, I promise. Maybe a wrap up post, but that’s it. We’re almost, almost done. The cabinet is pretty much all built. I just have to attach the doors and install it. In today’s video I show you the cabinet assembly including shelf pins, sanding and painting.
There’s a lot of info in this post and video so I’ll give you the highlights in case you miss any of them…
Shelf pins: I use a Rockler jig that makes it super easy to add holes for shelf pins. It’s much easier to add these holes before the cabinet is assembled. The drill bit tends to split the wood somewhat so adding them to a cabinet that’s already been painted may require some touch ups.
Sanding: I use a random orbital sander from Porter Cable. I start with a 100 grit sandpaper and then finish with a 220 grit. I intentionally avoid hitting the edge of the doors and face frame with the sander and instead give them a quick swipe with a piece of sandpaper over a block of wood.
Painting: My all time favorite cabinet painting method is two coats of a sprayed on primer followed by two coats of a finish spray paint. For a more custom yet clean brushed on look, brush on the last two coats of a cabinet grade paint like Satin Impervo from Benjamin Moore instead of spraying them. For this cabinet, since I wanted to tie it into our existing trim, I rolled on regular semi-gloss latex paint. The doors, countertop and the face frame, however, did get two coats of spray paint first though. Rolling or brushing on 3-4 coats of regular paint store latex paint tends to get less than ideal results with more prominent brush marks and a goopy texture. That sort of approach is fine for inside the cabinet, but for outside parts that get handled a lot, use the better paints.
Assembly: The advantage of using grooves and dado’s totally pays off when it’s time to assemble the cabinet. I used minimal brad nails since I don’t want to do much touching up and I’d like the cabinet construction not to be extremely obvious. Pocket screws were also used strategically with the goal of keeping them out of sight.
I hope the video is helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.
This post contains affiliate links.
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,built-in, carpentry, wood working
Posted by John 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.
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.
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,built-ins, cabinets, carpentry, shaker, woodworking
Posted by John on October 30th, 2013
Two videos in one week. I’m starting to feel like Steven Spielberg, sans the ability and talent. Although let’s be honest, my scripts are WAY better than the Star Wars prequels. Am I right?
If you’ve been following this build along, so far you’ve seen us come up with the concept design and do the dimension work. Next we made our cut sheets and bought the wood. We started the construction process by building the face frame with pocket screws. In our last post and video, I demonstrated how to use a table saw and hand held circular saw to cut out the plywood pieces. Now it’s time to prep our plywood box for assembly. In today’s video, I’m demonstrating how to make dado cuts.
Whenever I build cabinets, I almost always use grooves and dados for the box portion of the build. I do use pocket screws, but I save those for things like the face frame and attaching the countertop to the cabinet. Why don’t I use pocket screws for the cabinet box instead? Well, I actually think it would be HARDER to use pocket screws for the box. Pocket screws are great when you’re joining the edge of one board to the edge of another, which is why I love them for face frames. All you have to do is make sure the edges are flush together and you’re set. Now think about using pocket screws to attach one piece of plywood to the middle of another. How do you guarantee the pieces will be where they need to be when they come together? Well, you could draw a line on the one piece and line up the second piece over it as you join them. Doesn’t mean they won’t slip or move while you’re doing that though. What if they’re big pieces too? How will you support the weight of the pieces while you join them. Since the answers to these questions seemed to be a bit more work than they’re worth, I skip pocket screws for cabinet boxes.
Instead, I’m using dados and grooves. (I explain what the difference is between a dado and a groove in the video. They are essentially the same thing.) A dado does two things for me. It provides a means of alignment and it serves as a glue joint. If you put a 3/4″ wide groove into a piece of plywood 5″ from the bottom, the plywood piece that gets inserted into it isn’t going anywhere. What I mean by that is it won’t slip down to 4.5″ or up to 6″. It is literally stuck in a groove. If I use wood glue in those joints and throw in a couple of brad nails, I have a pretty strong joint that’s much easier to work with than a pocket screw.
Hope that makes sense. Let me know if you have any questions. In the video, I use a router and a 3/4″ cutting bit. Routers are versatile additions to the workshop and you can pick up a quality model for around $100 new. Dado blades come in kits that start around $90. Dado kits are totally worth it if you’re even building one cabinet. You just have to make sure your table saw can handle them.
Posted by John 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 ,built-ins, cabinets, carpentry, face frame
Posted by John 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.
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.
Now here’s the bad news: the 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.
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 ,built-ins, cabinets, carpentry
Posted by John 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.
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…
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.