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Turn stock cabinets into a custom credenza with just a few plywood parts. Modify it with different cabinets, different finishes, and different hardware to make it fit your home perfectly.
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This project is built around stock wall-hung cabinets available in a variety of sizes. We used two 24-inch-wide cabinets and one 12-inch-wide cabinet to make the credenza. These wall-hung cabinets measure 30 inches in height. You can change the design to fit your needs. We made our cabinet box approximately 17 inches deep; you can also modify the depth if you need a shallower cabinet in your room. You will lose serving surface area, but you may gain a great project that fits your room better.
The top and base assembly are made from two layers of plywood with a veneer edging. Cut the 3/4-inch plywood to size (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Drawing 1) for the top/bottom panes (A) and the sides (B) (Photo 1). If you are using different-size cabinets, measure the overall length of the boxes and add 2 inches to determine the actual length.
Note: Even if you have a table saw, full-size plywood sheets can be heavy and awkward to cut. To make it easier, break the panels down on your garage floor with a circular saw. Lay a full sheet of rigid foam insulation on a flat surface and center the plywood sheet on the foam. Then set the saw cutting depth to 1/4 inch greater than the plywood thickness. Lay out your cuts and use a straightedge to guide the saw. Double-face carpet tape will hold the straightedge in place and the foam will allow the blade to cut through the plywood without damaging the floor or the saw blade. Unlike cutting on a table saw or on sawhorses, this method prevents cut pieces from falling to the floor and sustaining damage.
On one of the bottoms, drill 3/8-inch holes 2 inches from each corner for the threaded inserts used to attach the feet. This panel will become the lower layer of the base assembly.
Align the two layers that make the top or base assemblies, glue them together, and secure them by driving screws through the bottom layer into the top player (Photo 2).
Once the panels are assembled, sand the edges smooth to prepare for the iron-on veneer edging (Photo 3).
Note: The 2-inch-wide veneer edging for the top comes in 8-foot lengths; if you add up the two ends and the front of the top/bottom assemblies, you will see they total almost 8 feet. Cut the edging 1/8 inch longer than needed for the ends, and then use the remaining long strip for the front. If you cut them any longer, you risk not having enough veneer -- or having to go back to the store for more.
Use a household iron to attach the veneer -- the strips of wood veneer have glue on one side that melts when heated. Set the iron on a low setting and allow it to warm up. The 2-inch veneer is wider than the 1-1/2-inch-thick panel, so center the veneer on the edge before placing the iron against the veneer. Slowly move the iron to activate the glue (Photo 4). Allow the veneer to cool for a few minutes, and then trim it using a backer block and a utility knife. Use four or five light passes to make each cut. If you press too hard, the knife can slip and damage the wood.
Apply the front veneer using the same method. Lightly sand the veneer and the edges smooth, and set the panels aside. Add the 3/4-inch-wide veneer to the end panels using the same method (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). The 3/4-inch material will not need to be trimmed on the edges; a little sanding will make the corners smooth.
Open the cabinets and remove the doors. Cut the end spacers (C) and center spacers (D) (Project Diagram, Cutting Diagram) to match the height of the cabinet boxes. Affix the spacers to the cabinets using a few pieces of double-faced tape (Photo 5 and Project Diagram, Drawing 2).
Note: Typical cabinet frames overhang the sides of the boxes by 1/4 inch. This allows the cabinet face frames to be trimmed to fit against a wall that's not perfectly straight. At the sides of the cabinet boxes where you'll affix the ends later, you'll add a 1/4-inch-thick end spacers. Where two cabinets come together, you'll need a 1/2-inch-thick center spacer (B) to fill the void between the two boxes.
Align the cabinets and clamp the face frames together. Drill countersunk pilot holes and drive #8 x 1-1/4-in flathead wood screws though the sides to join the boxes (Photo 6).
Sand all of the surfaces of the top and bottom assemblies, the ends, and the feet with 180-grit sandpaper. Wipe with a tack cloth and apply Rust-Oleum Sunbleached stain or a color of your choice (you don't need to apply the stain to the bottom face of the bottom or top assemblies).
When the stain dries, apply two coats of satin or semigloss polyurethane following the manufacturer's instructions and allow it to cure for 24 hours.
Sand the feet with 150-grit sandpaper, spray with primer, and let dry. Then sand with 220-grit sandpaper and spray with two coats of white paint.
Install the four threaded inserts into the bottom face of the bottom assembly (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). The threaded inserts we used are normally driven with a screwdriver, but this can be tricky. To set them accurately, use a bolt and twist two nuts onto the threads so there is 5/16 inch of thread exposed (Photo 7), and then twist the insert onto the thread.
Thread the threaded insert into the hole using a wrench. The bolt helps guide the angle of the fastener so it's seated straight into the wood (Photo 8). A soft cloth placed under the wood keeps the finished pieces from being scratched on the work surface.
Cut 1/2-inch-thick strips to fit the recesses on the top and bottoms of the cabinets (Project Diagram, Cutting List, and Drawing 3). Lay the cabinet assembly on its back and with the help of double-faced carpet tape, secure them to the bottom of the assembly. You'll set the top ones in position later.
With a helper, set the cabinet assembly onto the base. Align the cabinets so they are centered on the length of the bottom and 7/8 inch back from the front edge (Photo 9). Clamp the assembly down, drill countersunk pilot holes, and drive 2-1/2-inch screws through the bottom of the cabinet, through the spacers, and into the base.
Place the side panels onto the base against the cabinets with the front of the panels flush with the front of the base. Clamp in position and drill pilot holes. Secure the ends to the cabinet by driving screws through the side, through the spacers, and into the panels (Photo 10). Repeat for the opposite end.
Place the spacers (E) on top of the cabinets; no carpet tape is needed. Set the top assembly in position as you did the base assembly. Drill pilot holes and drive screws up though the top of the cabinet, through the spacers, and into the top (Photo 11).
Re-install the doors on the cabinets. Select the pulls of your choice. Lay out and drill the hardware mounting holes (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). To protect the finish on the cabinets, place painter's tape on the inside and outside face of the door (Photo 12) where you'll drill to prevent chipping the finished surfaces. Mount the pulls to the doors with the screws provided, and reinstall the doors on the cabinets.
Move the cabinet so it overhangs your work surface, and then thread the feet into the threaded inserts on the bottom of the assembled cabinet.
To create a holder on the inside of a credenza door, first measure the width of the inside panel on the door and the longest edge of the place mats you’ll store. The placemats, on end, should be at least 2 inches smaller than the door panel width. (We cut a 19-in x 16-1/2-in metal sheet to fit the door shown.)
To cut the steel, use a utility knife and straightedge to make repeated light scoring cuts in the metal -- this will take several passes. Lay the scored line over a sharp edge and flex the metal slightly in both directions until it snaps. Gently remove any sharp edges with light sanding.
You can use the same metal-cutting technique to make a metal message board on the inside panel of another credenza door. (Ours was cut 19-in x 25-in.)
Cut two 1/2-inch square dowels the length of the metal sides, one piece the width of the sheet and two 6-inch pieces. From a 1/4-inch square dowel, cut one piece the width of the metal sheet. Paint all of the dowels to match the credenza.
Use epoxy and tape or clamps to fasten the 6-inch dowels at the bottom end, leaving spaces between each other and the sides to avoid collecting dust or debris. Then attach the long side dowels. After the adhesive cures, flip the sheet over and glue the 1/4-inch dowel to the top front of the sheet.
Apply epoxy to the inside faces of the side and bottom dowels and press the holder against the door panel. Tape the assembly in place until the epoxy cures.
For a clean look, cut a piece of sheet metal to fit the area above the place mat holder and glue it in place.