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For versatile storage and decorating, build simple cubes that work alone as end tables or together as a coffee table.
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The parts and techniques used to build the enclosed and the open-faced cubes are mostly the same. For the enclosed version, the top is cut slightly smaller than the top opening to allow easy removal and placement of the lid. For the open-side version, the front is omitted and a few extra rails are required.
To make either version, cut the sides (A), back/front (B), bottom (C), and top or lid (D) to size (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Each version varies slightly in the quantity of panels needed. Organize the parts based on the number of enclosed or open-face cubes you are making. Sand the faces of all the panels with 150-grit sandpaper prior to assembly.
These cubes can be made from a variety of materials. For a stained version, you can use oak plywood and oak craft boards. For birch plywood panels, use poplar craft boards. If you want a modern look, use construction-grade plywood and either pine or poplar for the trim -- all coated with a wipe-on oil finish.
For both versions, glue and clamp the sides (A) to the back (B), add brads to reinforce the joints, and allow the glue to dry (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Now glue, clamp, and nail the bottom (C) in place.
For the enclosed cube (Project Diagram, Drawing 1), add the front to the box leaving the top open. For the open-face cube (Project Diagram, Drawing 2), attach the top leaving the front open. For either style, glue, clamp, and nail the panels in place.
For the enclosed cube, drill two 1-inch finger holes through the lid (D) to create a handle to open the cube (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Sand the edges of the lid and the holes smooth.
If you’re making the open-face version, cut pairs of inside rails (E) and inside stiles (F). Glue and clamp the rails and stiles in position with the trim edges flush with the MDF edges.
For the trim on both cube styles, cut the stiles (G) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).
Glue and nail the stiles to the corners of the cubes, starting with the stiles that attach to the sides (A) (Project Diagram, Drawing 3 and Drawing 4). Align the stiles so the bottom is even with the bottom of the cube and the edges of the stiles are even with the front and back edges of the side panels (A). On the enclosed cube, the stiles stick above the top of the sides 1/2 inch to create a pocket for the top.
Add the remaining stiles to the front and back of the cubes -- this time the stiles will cover the edges of the MDF and the edges of the side stiles to create a finished look.
Cut the side trim rails (H) to fit between the stiles and secure with glue and nails. Cut the front/back trim rails (I) to length to fit between the stiles, and secure them with glue and nails.
To help keep a group of four cubes together after the optional casters are added, attach slightly recessed optional magnets to adjacent cube sides. Place the cubes next to each other in a grouping, and mark the adjoining faces using painter’s tape labels. On these adjoining faces, mark for the location of holes that will receive the magnets (Project Diagram, Drawing 3 and Drawing 4).
If you would like to skip the casters and magnets to create a different look, use 4 nail-on non-swivel furniture glides to the bottom corners of each cube.
Drill a hole that matches the diameter and thickness of the magnets you are using. The magnets we used require a 3/4-inch diameter bit and a hole 3/16-inch deep.
Wrap a piece of painter’s tape around the bit the same distance from the end of the bit as the thickness of the magnets. When drilling the holes, drill until the tape is even with the surface of the wood so the holes will be a perfect match for the magnets.
On the bottoms of the mobile cubes, add the swivel casters with 1/2-inch-long panhead sheet-metal screws so the caster mounting plates are 3/4 inch in from the edges of trim.
Adding the casters at this time will make the cubes easier to paint, if you wish, cover the casters with painter’s tape to protect them while you paint.
Fill any nail holes using wood filler and a putty knife and allow it to dry. Sand the surface where the filler was applied and sand the cubes so all surfaces, edges, and corners are smooth. If you are installing the optional magnets, apply painter’s tape to the holes to retain a good bonding surface.
Apply primer and two coats of paint following the manufacturer’s instructions. To add some extra color to your room, paint the cubes in multiple colors. We used quarts of Valspar paint in Grandma’s Cherry Pie, #CI 106; Swiss Coffee, #7002-16; Sea Sage, #CI 181; and Loofah, #CI 162, for the wheeled versions.
Remove the painter’s tape from the magnet holes and set the magnets into the holes using the 5-minute epoxy. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best bond.
Magnets either attract or repel each other. Be sure to orient the magnets in the proper direction so your cubes are pulled together.
For versatile home decorating, build these simple cubes that work alone as end tables or together as a coffee table. With two design options, they can help solve your storage needs.