DIY Bathroom Cabinet

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Homeowner Jean Snider hired professionals to remodel her bathroom but had her own idea for a wall cabinet. Armed with novice woodworking skills and a few basic tools, she built her cabinet to fit between walls spaced 6 feet apart. For narrow spaces, plan the cabinet with just one door and make the door and open space the same width.

All of the wood in this project is 3/4-inch-thick poplar, an economical hardwood that takes paint well and is easy to work with.

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What You Need

Table saw
3/4-inch-thick poplar (about 20 board feet allowing for 15-percent waste)
1/2-inch straight bit or dado blade
Edge guide
Shelf pins
Scrap wood
Scrap of 1/4-inch perforated hardboard (commonly referred to by the brand name Peg-Board)
100-grit sandpaper
150-grit sandpaper
Pocket-hole jig
Pocket screws
Plastic plugs
Bearing-guide rabbeting bit
1/8-inch-thick mirrors (number and size depends on the final size of your cabinet)
1/4-inch-thick glass shelves
3/4-inch-wide UHMW tape (item #16L64;
#8x3-inch screws
#16x1-3/4-inch brad nails

Free planning diagram (download it here)

Step-by-Step: Cabinet Box

1. Cut two each of the following:

  • 5-1/2x27-1/2-inch sides (A) (Note: If the sides of your cabinet are exposed, rather than abutting a wall, cut the sides 6-1/4 inches wide so that they match the top and bottom pieces; no filler strips will be needed.)
  • 4-1/2x26-inch dividers (B)
  • 6-1/4x66-inch top/bottom pieces (C)

2. Cut four 2x23-1/4-inch hanging cleats (D).

3. In the top piece (C) cut a 7/8-inch groove 1/2 inch deep located 3/4 inch from one edge (see SIDE SECTION VIEW). If you don't have a table saw equipped with a dado blade for cutting the groove, use a router with an edge guide and 1/2-inch straight bit, making the cut in several passes for best results.

4. Make the same cut, but only 1/4 inch deep, in the bottom piece (C).

5. Measure the diameter of the barrel end of the shelf pins and drill a test hole in a piece of scrap wood to test for a snug fit. Drill two holes at evenly spaced heights on the inside of the sides (A) and both sides of the dividers (B). For perfectly placed holes, make a simple drilling jig from a scrap of 1/4 inch perforated hardboard. For accuracy, mark the jig's bottom and the holes used as drill guides. Carefully align the jig with the edges of the cabinet side or divider before firmly clamping it in place and drilling the holes. Drill only deep enough for the pins; do not drill completely through.

6. Sand the pieces of this project with 100-grit sandpaper to remove any mill marks. Then smooth the pieces with 150-grit sandpaper.

7. On a flat surface arrange the A, B, C, and D pieces as shown in the EXPLODED VIEW. Drill two angled holes in the ends of the board using a pocket-hole jig.

8. After drilling the pocket holes, position the boards to hide the oval-shape pocket holes as much as possible. For example, orient the dividers with the pocket holes hidden by the sliding doors in the closed position. Now assemble the pieces with pocket screws. If the appearance of the holes bothers you, fill them with plastic plugs made for that purpose.

Cabinet Doors

1. Cut four 2x26-1/2-inch door stiles (E) and four 2x20-inch door rails (F). Ensure the matching parts are cut to the exact same length with square ends.

2. Assemble the doors with pocket screws as you did the cabinet box, being careful to keep the screw nearest the inside of the door frame at least 3/4 inch from the inside edge of each rail.

3. Using a router and bearing-guided rabbeting bit, cut a 1/4-inch rabbet 1/2-inch deep along the inside edge of the door frame (see RABBET DETAIL illustration). Square up the corners with a chisel.

4. Test the fit of the doors in the grooves. You should be able to place the doors fully into the top groove and then drop them into the bottom groove. If necessary, trim the bottoms and tops of the doors equally for a good fit.

5. Sand the door frames with 100- and 150-grit sandpaper.

Final Touches

1. Prime and paint all wood surfaces except for the bottom of the bottom groove in the cabinet box. An interior gloss latex paint works well.

2. Measure the mirror openings and have 1/8-inch-thick mirrors cut 1/8 inch smaller in width and length than the rabbeted opening. Secure the mirrors with a bead of silicone.

3. Measure for the 1/4-inch-thick glass shelves and have those cut to size. Ask your glass supplier to polish the edges.

4. For smooth-sliding doors, adhere a strip of 3/4-inch-wide UHMW tape in the bottom of the bottom groove.

5. Mount the cabinet box to the wall with #8x3-inch screws driven through the hanging cleats (D) and into wall studs.

6. To bridge small gaps between the sides of the cabinet and an adjoining wall, tack on filler strips (G) with brad nails.

7. Insert the doors in the grooves.

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