Stop clutter at the back door. This custom-built organizer holds winter clothes, adds welcome storage, and provides a handy seat for removing wet shoes.
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Stock cabinets and hardboard paneling make up the big components of this drop zone project; the rest of the work is just straight cuts and screws. Pre-assembled crown moulding corners eliminate compound angle cuts, and the MDF and poplar make this project affordable.
Cut the fronts and back (A), shelf rails (B), and seat rails (C) to length and sand with 120-grit sandpaper (Project Diagram, Cutting List).
After cutting each part to length, sand the part before assembly to speed the finishing process.
From 3/4-inch-thick MDF, cut the shelf back (D), shelf (E), and seat (F) using a circular saw and a straightedge.
Assemble the shelf (Project Diagram, Drawing 1) and bench (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). The process is the same for the shelf and bench.
Cut the top (G) to size. Cut the crown moulding ends (H) and front (I) slightly longer than needed. You’ll later trim them to length (Project Diagram, Drawing 3).
Apply glue to one of the crown moulding corners and tape it to the MDF top while the glue dries (Project Diagram, Drawing 4).
Starting at one end, set the crown parts into position and mark the length of the first side piece (H). Cut the piece to length and apply using glue and finish nails.
Set the second crown moulding corner in position and transfer a mark to the MDF to show the exact length the front crown moulding (I) will be cut.
Transfer the mark to the crown moulding and cut to length. Glue and nail the front moulding in position and add the remaining corner. Set the final crown side (H) in position, mark for length, cut, and secure.
Fill all of the nail or screw holes with wood filler and let dry before sanding the filler smooth -- it might take a few applications to get them full and flat. To seal the pores of the MDF edges and make the paint flow better, make a sizing solution by mixing one part wood glue with one part water. Brush the sizing on the edges of the MDF.
Cut the cabinet cleats (J) to length, and then apply primer and two coats of paint to all of the parts following the manufacturer’s instructions. Sand between coats with a 220-grit sanding sponge, and then wipe with a tack cloth for a smooth painted finish.
Before you start the installation, carefully remove a section of the room’s base moulding within 2 feet of where the project will go. Save the trim to use later for a custom built-in look. With an electronic stud finder, find and mark stud locations on the wall.
Set the first 84-inch pantry cabinet in position. Level the cabinet by installing shims under the base if needed. When the cabinet is vertical, drive cabinet-mounting screws through the back of the cabinet into a wall stud (Project Diagram, Drawing 4).
Cut the decorative beadboard (K) to length to match the height of the pantry cabinet and secure to the wall with construction adhesive.
If you simply apply the adhesive to the panel and stick it to the wall, the paneling may not make a secure bond, and you’ll have to hold it while the adhesive grabs. Instead, apply the adhesive, tilt the panel into position against the wall, then pull it away for 30 seconds. When you push it back in position the glue will grab and create an instant bond. Apply adhesive in 1/8-inch beads to avoid lumps beneath the paneling.
Lift the painted shelf assembly into position; the top of the shelf is 16 inches from the top of the pantry cabinet. Check that the shelf is level, and fasten it to the wall by driving screws through the back into wall studs.
After securing the shelf to the wall, drive screws though the side of the cabinet into the cabinet cleats (J).
To hold the cabinet cleats in position while you drill pilot holes and drive the screws, secure them in place on the inside of the each cabinet with double-faced carpet tape.
Install the bench seat using the same process as the shelf. First screw it to the wall and then to the pantry cabinet. Now screw the remaining pantry cabinet to the wall, the shelf, and the bench.
Add the top assembly to the cabinets. The top is secured by applying a small amount of construction adhesive to the cabinet tops and then setting the assembly in position.
Complete the installation by securing the clothing hooks to the shelf back (D) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Now cut the base moulding you removed earlier to fill in the areas next to and between the cabinets. If you have base shoe, cut and miter the parts around the base of the cabinets. You may need to stain or paint the base shoe to match your existing trim. Fill any nail holes and touch up the paint on the base trim. Drill mounting holes in the doors to suit the cabinet door hardware and install the knobs or pulls of your choice.