Project Laundry Room – The build

It occurred to me that I didn’t really spend much time talking about the process of building the cabinets for the laundry room so I thought I’d do a quick write up on that.  The project started here with a set of plans my wife drew up for what she wanted.  The ask was pretty basic – two matching cabinets with two floating shelves in between them.  This would have been my 4th time building cabinets and I have to say that I rather enjoy the process.  Once you figure out all of the ‘gotchas’ it’s pretty straight forward.  The first thing I always do is plan out the plywood.  This means getting measurements for all of the pieces I’ll need, and then mapping them onto 4×8 sheets of plywood so I can see how many sheets I need to buy.  As it turned out, in this case, I could fit most of the construction on a single sheet but I was short slightly because we initially intended for the floating shelves to be made out of the same material as the cabinets.  We later changed our mind and it all worked out coming out of a single 4×8 sheet of maple faced plywood.

After I know what the rough pieces need to look like I start the process of busting up the sheets with my track saw (which is hands down, the best tool I bought in 2017).  It makes the job ridiculously easy and accurate.

Using my track saw to bust up a sheet of ply wood
Using my track saw to bust up a sheet of ply wood

Once  I had the sheets busted into pieces I needed for each cabinet I used a plunge router and a shelf pin jig to cut a variety of shelf pins in the middle of the cabinet.  Each cabinet would have a single shelf and we wanted the option to adjust it as needed in order to account for taller detergent containers etc.

Using a shelf pin jig and plunge router to cut the holes for the shelf pins
Using a shelf pin jig and plunge router to cut the holes for the shelf pins

The shelf pin jig makes quick work of a job like that and gives you a lot of flexibility when building the cabinets.

Drilled shelf pin holesDrilled shelf pin holes

Once the shelf pin holes were drilled I could move on to actually constructing the base cabinets.  To do this, I typically use pocket hole screws and glue.  The trick is figuring out where the pocket hole screw holes should be so that they’re not noticeable.  When possible I prefer to keep them completely hidden which worked out for the top of the cabinets as they’d be facing the ceiling during installation.  However – since the cabinets were floating, I couldn’t put the pocket hole screws in the bottom of the cabinets so I put them inside.  I didn’t want them fully exposed though so I ended up using pocket hole plugs for the first time which ended up working out rather well in the end once puttied and sanded.

The last piece of the base cabinets was attaching the face frame.  In applications where I’m painting I’ll use poplar which is a decent inexpensive hardwood that handles drilling and nails well.  I construct the face frame with dowels and glue and then typically glue and finish nail it to the front of the cabinet.  After that, the base cabinets are complete with the exception of finishing (you can read a little bit about my adventures in finishing these cabinets here).

So the next step was the doors.  As mentioned in the initial post, my wife wanted the doors to closely match what we had in the rest of the house.  I was able to find a set of bits for my router table that closely mimic’d the existing doors which made the rail and stile construction a breeze…

Cutting the slots for the rails and stiles
Cutting the slots for the rails and stiles
Lining up the cutters for the rails
Lining up the cutters for the rails
A pretty close fit - some slight adjustment needed but its close
A pretty close fit – some slight adjustment needed but its close

The rails and stiles went quick.  The hard part was the panels that needed to be made of solid poplar in order to be carved with the panel bit.  This meant edge gluing multiple poplar boards together and then planing them flush to get a solid board.

A final door before gluing the rails and stiles in place
A final door before gluing the rails and stiles in place

Using solid wood for the doors meant that they each came in at around 10 pounds a piece but that was still within the weight range for the euro concealed hinges I planned to use.  While the doors were being glued up I installed the base cabinets in the laundry room and prepared them to have the doors installed.

Base cabinets installed
Base cabinets installed

After that – there really wasnt much left to do.  The floating shelves were made of solid oak and stained and poly’d before installation.  The doors were all pre-drilled so after they were finished I simply screwed them in place.  And that was that!  I now realize I missed some pictures of some crucial build phases so I’ll try and get more pictures next time.  You can see the final product in this post.

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