Customize a single cabinet design into a home office organization cabinet, dining hutch, or entry bench coatrack.
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These three cabinets begin with the same simple plywood box thats easy to build using pocket-hole screws. Then add shelves, one of two different tops, one of three different bases, doors, and your choice of finishes to lend each a distinct use in your dining room, entry, or office.
Choose one of the three projects and print the set of project diagrams you’ll need: the entry bench coatrack, dining hutch, or home office organization cabinet.
To make it easier to transport the plywood and handle it when you get home, use the Cutting Diagram for your project as a guide to have a Lowe’s associate cut each sheet into oversize pieces that you can trim to final size at home. If applicable for your project, have a Lowe’s associate cut the material to final size.
Cut the sides (A), divider shelves (B), and shelves (C) to size. These parts are the same size for all three versions of the cabinet. Use the Project Diagram, Cutting List, and Cutting Diagram for your desired cabinet.
Finish-sand the cabinet parts with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper before assembly. After assembly, just touch up any spots that need smoothing.
Drill three pocket holes in both ends of each shelf, centering one hole along the width of the shelf and the others about 2 inches from the front and back edges.
Plywood has a front face with better-quality veneer than the back face. Drill the pocket holes in the back face.
For the entry bench coatrack, skip this step. For the dining hutch or home office organization cabinet, cut the shelf trim (D) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting Lists). Glue and nail the trim to the front edge of each of the shelves (C) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Make sure the top edge of the trim is flush with the top surface of the shelf and that the ends are flush. With a hammer and nail set, drive the nails slightly below the surface of the wood.
Orient a side (A) with the better veneer on the outside of the cabinet and glue and clamp the top divider shelf (B) to the side. On all versions, orient the topmost shelf (B) with the pocket holes facing up so that the holes are not visible inside the cabinet, then drive the pocket screws.
Continue installing the divider shelves moving from the top down (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Check each shelf with a square as you proceed.
Glue and clamp the remaining shelves to the cabinet side (Project Diagram, Drawing 1 and Drawing 2) as shown.
Clamp the second side (A) in place, check the shelf spacing, and drive the pocket screws to attach the shelves to the side.
For all of the versions; cut the back (E) to size from 1/4-inch-thick plywood (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Turn the case assembly over and clamp the back in place (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). The bottom edges of the back and sides are flush, and the back is set in from the sides by 1/4 inch. Drill countersunk pilot holes through the back and into the sides and top shelves. Fasten the back to the cabinet with #8 x 1-in flathead wood screws.
Why not just nail the back in place? When applying a finish, it will be easier to paint or stain the case after removing the back. Reinstall the back after the finish has dried.
Cut the vertical trim (F) to length. Glue and nail the vertical face frames to the sides (A), flush with the top and bottom ends and outside faces of the sides (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).
Cut the divider trim (G) a few inches longer than listed (Project Diagram, Cutting Lists). Fit and mark the final length of each part and cut the parts to the mark.
Cutting parts longer than the listed length and then fitting and marking them before cutting them to final length is the best way to ensure tight, gap-free joints.
Glue and nail the divider trim (G) to the divider shelves (B) between the side trim with the top edges of the trim flush with the top surfaces of the shelves.
For the entry bench coatrack, cut the side caps (H) and front cap (I) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Glue and nail the caps to the top of the cabinet case so the top assembly protrudes 1/4 inch beyond the cabinet case on the front and each side (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). The parts will be even with the back edges of the case sides and top.
For the dining hutch, cut the side caps (J) and front cap (K) to length. Glue and nail the caps to the top of the cabinet case so the front cap protrudes 1-1/4-inches beyond the case front and the side caps protrude 1/2-inch beyond case sides (Project Diagram, Drawing 3).
Cut the side double cap (L) and front double cap (M) to length. Glue and nail the double caps to the caps (J) and (K) so they overhang by 1/2-inch on the front and each side. Wipe away excess glue with a damp cloth.
For the Home Office Organization Cabinet, there are no top parts to install (Project Diagram, Drawing 3).
Cut the base front (N) and base sides (O) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Lay out the front and one side cutout. Jigsaw the cutouts and sand the profiles smooth. Using the finished side as a pattern, trace the profile onto the second side and cut and sand it to shape.
Cut the base braces (P) to length. Glue and clamp the front, sides, and one base brace together at the back to make the base frame -- secure with nails.
Drill pocket holes along the length of the two remaining braces and clamp the braces inside the base frame. Drive pocket screws to secure the braces.
Nails are a great option at this step. You can use a nail gun or a hammer and nails in lieu of the pocket-hole screws.
Glue and clamp the base to the bottom of the cabinet so that it projects beyond the front and sides of the case by 1/4 inch.
Cut the base front (Q) to size and the base sides (R) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Lay out one base side (Project Diagram, Drawing 3) and cut the shape. Sand the profile smooth with a firm sanding block. Using this base side as a pattern, trace the profile onto the second side and cut and sand it to shape.
Cut the base braces (S) to size. Drill pocket holes in the ends and along the front edge of the parts.
Assemble the base upside down. Place 1/4-inch spacers (1/4-inch dowels work well) under the base brace and position it between the base sides (R) with front (Q) (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Clamp the parts and drive pocket screws to fasten the brace to the base sides and base front.
Raise the front/sides/brace assembly on 3/4-inch-thick scrap spacers and clamp the base back brace (S) in place between the sides. Pocket-screw the back support to the base sides.
Drill 5/16-inch pilot holes into the base brace (S) for the bun feet, and glue the bun feet to the support with the foot’s bolt through the hole. Glue and clamp the base to the bottom of the cabinet. The base protrudes 3/4-inch beyond the front of the cabinet so the front faces of the doors and base front are flush.
Cut the base front/back (T) and base sides (U) to length. Glue and clamp the frame together and reinforce the joints by driving nails through the front and back into the sides.
Cut the narrow legs (V) and wide legs (W) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Glue the four corner leg assemblies together (Project Diagram, Drawing 3) and clamp until the glue dries.
Place the frame on a bench, and then use a 3/4-inch-thick spacer to offset the legs from the top surface of the frame (for now, the surface against the workbench). Reinforce the connection with screws.
With the cabinet case on its back, apply glue to the top edges of the base frame and slide the base assembly into the 3/4-inch-deep recess in the bottom of the cabinet. Stand the cabinet on a flat surface until the glue dries.
Cut the back hook rail (X) and the side hook rails (Y) to length.
With the back of the cabinet on a flat surface, glue the back hook rail in place (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Put weights, such as cans of paint, on the rail to press it tightly against the cabinet back. Glue and clamp the rails to the cabinet sides.
For the dining hutch and the home office storage cabinet, cut the door stiles (Z) and (DD) and door rails (AA) and (EE) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Drill two pocket holes in each end of the rails (Project Diagram, Drawing 4).
Clamp the rails between the stiles, making sure the outer edges of the rails and the ends of the stiles align and that the faces of the parts are flush. Drive the pocket screws.
Position the doors on the cabinet. Using a combination square, mark the positions of the hinges on both the door and the cabinet case (Project Diagram, Drawing 5). The doors have a 1/8-inch gap between the bottom/top of the door and the base/top of the cabinet.
Place the hige on the door against the layout mark and uing the holes in the small leaf as guides, drill pilot holes into the back of the stile.
A self-centering bit will drill perfectly positioned pilot holes for the hinge screws. Otherwise, misaligned pilot holes/screws may cause the hinges to twist and bind.
Align the large leaf of the no-mortise hinge with the mark on the side of the cabinet case. Using the holes in the large leaf as guides, drill pilot holes into the front of the vertical face frame (F).
Screw the small hinge leaves to the doors. Hold the doors in position against the side of the cabinet case and screw the large hinge leaves to the face-frame stiles. Close the doors to check the fit. Unscrew the hinges and remove the doors.
Cut the door panels (BB), (CC), and (FF) to size. We used plywood for the bottom doors of the dining hutch and acrylic for the top doors. For the office cabinet, we also used acrylic panels (Project Diagram, Cutting List). You can make all of them from plywood or acrylic to suit your taste.
With the panels cut to size, drill 3/16-inch pilot holes around the perimeter of each panel (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Center the panels on the backs of the door frames. Using the holes in the panels as guides, drill 1/8-inch pilot holes into the doors. Drive the #8 x 3/4-inch panhead sheet-metal screws. Drill a hole for the knob in the stile opposite the one where the hinges were mounted. Remove the panels.
To prevent cracking the acrylic panels, always drill oversize holes for the screws and drive the screws so they are snug, not tight. When drilling, clamp the acrylic between two scrap wood blocks and drill through one block and the acrylic into the second block.
With the acrylic removed from the doors, remove the protective coating. For an optional frosted look, sand the panels on both sides using a random-orbit sander with a 120-grit disc.
Fill the nail holes with stainable filler. After the filler dries, sand it flush. Inspect all parts and re-sand areas as needed. Apply the finish of your choice following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Screw the acrylic and plywood panels to the doors and attach the knobs. Hang the doors and install the door catches. For the entry bench coatrack, screw the coat hooks to the hook rails.