- Ideas & How-Tos
Choose Your Savings
Drop everything here when you come home -- shoes go in the drawer below, coats go on the hooks, hats and gloves in the nooks above, and anything else on top.
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Decide whether to build the project as shown or customize it. To add custom touches, you can resize it to fit your home, change the wood, add mouldings of your choice, change the paint color, use an alternate panel for the back, and/or add drawer pulls and coat hooks that fit your decor.
When painting a project, you get a lot more trim and wood options with the variety of different shapes available in the different wood species because the paint makes it all look the same. We used birch, pine, and poplar in this project. You can also substitute MDF instead of birch plywood.
Cut the 3/4-inch-thick plywood panels for the sides (A) and shelves (B) (Project Diagram and Cutting Diagram). A straightedge and a handheld circular saw are all you need to make the cuts. Use a blade with at least 40 teeth for the best results. Sand the cut panels with 150-grit sandpaper.
A project of this size is difficult to build on a traditional workbench. Two pairs of 2 x 4s and a couple of sawhorses make a perfect platform. Lay a 2 x 4 cut 45-1/2 inches long (narrower than the back of the project) across each sawhorse. Then lay two 78-inch-long 2 x 4s to span the two shorter boards. Screw the long 2 x 4s to the ends of the shorter ones for a custom workbench (Photo 1).
Lay out the locations of the shelves on the sides (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). The sides are slightly wider than the shelves, and the front edges should be set flush to conceal the edge of the plywood back. Clamp together face down -- the shelves and sides will rest on the assembly frame and create the offset at the back. Attach each shelf to one side by drilling countersunk pilot holes and driving the screws. Repeat for the second side.
Verify the accuracy of every step and make sure each corner comes together at 90 degrees. To check for square, measure and compare the corner-to-corner diagonal measurements. Shift the cabinet until the dimensions match before you add more parts to the case (Photo 2).
Cut the rails (C) to length, sand the parts, and glue them to the shelves. Cut the stiles (D) to fit between the rails. Glue two stiles to the sides (A) and set the third aside (you'll attach it to the back later).
Hardwood plywood can run up to 1/16 inch smaller than its nominal thickness. Always cut parts to fit as you go to ensure they fit properly without gaps.
Cut the back (E) to size and attach. Apply a light bead of construction adhesive to the shelves and the stiles and rails (because the back is prefinished, regular wood glue won't stick to it). Position the back and secure with 1-inch finish nails (Photo 3). If you want to vary the project design, select a different back to complement other furnishings or the room decor.
With the help of a friend, flip the assembly face up. To install the remaining stile, center it in the cabinet and mark the location with painter's tape. Remove the stile, add construction adhesive to the back, and set in place (Photo 4). Hold the stile in position with a few pieces of painter's tape while the adhesive cures.
Cut the bottom rail (F) and side trim (G) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List, and Cutting Diagram). Sand the parts, then glue and clamp them to the cabinet (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). The top edge of the bottom rail and the side trim parts should be flush with the top edge of the shelf. Across the front of the cabinet, use strips of painter's tape to act as clamps to hold the bottom rail against the shelf.
Cut 1 x 2 material for the base blocks (H) and glue them to the bottom of the case. Cut four pieces of 3/4-inch-square dowel to 5-inches long for the feet and trim blocks (I). On two of the parts, cut a angle on one end. Glue the trim blocks under the lower rail and the feet to the bottom front of the cabinet (Photo 5).
Cut the stiles (J) to length and temporarily clamp them in position with painter's tape. Place the boards for the top rail (K) and mid rail (L) against one stile, mark the actual length of the rails (Photo 6), and cut the rails to length.
Cut the eight dividers (M) to 9 inches long and drill two pocket holes on each end on the inside face (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Then drill three pocket holes on each end of the top rail and two on each end of the mid rail. Set five of the dividers aside to use for the drawer.
Mark the locations of the dividers on the top and mid rail. Glue and clamp the dividers to the rails.
Assembly methods vary with the tools you own. If you have a nail gun, no clamps are needed. Adjust the parts alignment to ensure the face frame is flush with the sides of the cabinet as you drive each nail. If you do not have a nail gun, clamp the face frame in position on the case and allow the glue to dry, adjusting the alignment as you place the clamps.
Verify the alignment of the parts and drive the pocket-hole screws (Photo 7). When the top divider assembly is complete, glue the ends of the rails, clamp the stiles in position on the ends of the assembly, and drive the remaining pocket screws to complete the face frame.
Sand the face frame and glue in position on the front of the case (Photo 8). When the glue dries, sand the edges of the face frame where it meets the case.
Cut the case trim parts (N), (O), (P), (Q), (R), (S) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). These parts will be about two inches too long, cut a 45-degree miter on one end of the front and one side of each of the parts.
When cutting mitered parts, cut them 2 inches longer than specified so you can custom-fit each part as you go. First cut a miter on one end of each part -- the extra length allows for a test fit and marking the exact final length.
Place the the first set of trim, parts (N) and (O), in position (Project Diagram, Drawing 4) without glue by aligning the parts (Photo 9). If the joint is tight, tape the front trim in position.
Mark where to cut the other end of each part (Photo 10). Make a cut, reposition the part using the side trim to reset the exact location, and secure with glue and nails. For the side trim parts, place them against the front trim and mark the length. Make the cut and secure to the case with glue and nails.
When the first pieces of trim are secured, lightly sand the parts and apply the next layer of trim using the same process. After the glue dries, stand the cabinet on its feet.
Cut the drawer rails (T) to length from a poplar 1 x 3. Retrieve the dividers (M) remaining from the assembly of the face frame. Glue and screw the drawer face frame together (Project Diagram, Drawing 5) and sand the assembled frame.
Cut the drawer face (U) from 1/4-inch plywood. The face is 2-1/2 inches shorter than the length of the drawer face, and 2 inches shorter than the height. Center the panel on the back side of the drawer face frame -- the side with the pocket holes -- and secure with glue and 3/4-inch finish nails (Photo 11).
Flip the drawer face over and prepare to add the drawer trim (V) (Project Diagram, Drawing 4) by cutting 16 pieces of drawer trim to 10 inches long. Cut a miter on one end of each part and position one piece of trim at a time against the drawer face to mark the location of the second miter so the trim will fit into the recess created by the face frame (Photo 12). Glue the trim in position and repeat for the remaining trim parts.
Cut a poplar 1 x 8 into 4 parts for the drawer front and back (W) and drawer ends (X). Sand the parts and assemble using glue and screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 5). Cut a piece of 1/4-inch plywood for the drawer bottom (Y) and secure with glue and nails.
To install the drawer glides, cut a 3/4-inch-thick spacer and set in the cabinet (Photo 13). Secure the cabinet halves of the drawer glides in the assembly with their front ends inset 1/4 inch from the front edge of the sides (A) and resting on the spacer (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). On the drawer box, screw the remaining drawer hardware on the bottom so the hardware is flush to the front of the drawer. The 1/4-inch difference between the hardware in the cabinet and on the drawer allows the drawer face (U) to be attached later to recess into the cabinet.
Slide the drawer into the cabinet. Apply two strips of double-faced carpet tape to the drawer front (W). Lay quarters on the feet (I) to serve as spacers and press the drawer front against the drawer box (Photo 14). This will space the drawer off the feet so it will open and close smoothly.
Open the drawer, drill countersunk pilot holes through the drawer box into the dividers, and screw the front to the box.
Locate the drawer glides on the drawer face (Project Diagram, Drawing 4), drill holes for the screws, and attach the pulls.
Cut the back brace (Z) to length and attach to the back of the cabinet, the top of the brace should be 21-1/2 inches from the top of the cabinet. Use construction adhesive to attach the brace and temporarily clamp it to the cabinet while the adhesive cures.
Attach the garment hooks to the back (E), driving screws through the hooks and back and into the back brace.
Remove all of the installed hardware before painting. Use a hammer and nail set to drive any exposed nails slightly below the surface of the wood. Fill the holes and any small gaps with a sandable wood filler. When the filler dries, lightly sand the entire project and soften any sharp edges with 220-grit sandpaper.
Apply a primer, lightly sand the primer when it dries, and then apply two coats of semigloss paint. After the paint cures for 48 hours, re-install the hardware and put the project to use in your home!