This bathroom underwent a professional renovation—and you'd never be able to tell that the vanity wasn't part of the plan. Instead, armed with novice woodworking skills and a few basic tools, the homeowner built her own bathroom cabinet. Though it was designed for her specific space, the basic plan can be modified for any bath—including yours.
To make your own cabinet, follow our how-to steps. Keep in mind that this project will take some time, but the result is well worth it.
What You Need
- 1/2-inch straight bit or dado blade
- Table saw
- Miter saw
- KREG pocket hole jig
- Tape measure
- Wood pocket hole plugs (optional)
- Scrap of 1/4-inch peg board (optional)
- Wood glue
- 1-1/4-inch coarse thread panhead pocket-hole screws
- Bearing-guide rabbeting bit
- Mirrors cut to size
- Paint and primers
- 8 x 3-inch wood screws screws
- 8 x 1-1/4-inch wood screws
- 16 x 1-1/4-inch brad nails
- 3/4-inch-wide UHMW tape (item #16L64; woodcraft.com)
- Edge guide
- 18 shelf pins
- (2) 1 x 8 x 72-inch poplar board
- (2) 1 x 6 x 72-inch poplar board
- (3) 1 x 2 x 96-inch poplar board
- (1) 1 x 2 x 72-inch poplar board
Step 1: Cut Wood and Grooves
Crosscut one top and one bottom to 66 inches long from the 1x8-inch boards. Then rip-cut both to 6-1/4 inch wide.
Using the dado blades on your table saw, in the top piece cut a 7/8-inch wide groove, 1/2 inch deep, located 3/4 inch from one edge. 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.
Make the same cut, but only 1/4 inch deep, in the bottom piece.
Drill two pocket holes for 3/4-inch material at both ends of both pieces as shown. Make sure to inset your pocket holes to accommodate the grooves you just cut.
Step 2: Cut Sides and Dividers
Crosscut two sides to 27-1/2 inch long as shown from the 1x6-inch boards. (Note: If the sides of your cabinet are exposed, rather than abutting a wall, you will begin with a 1x8-inch board and rip-cut the sides to 6-1/4 inches wide so they match the top and bottom pieces; no filler strips will be needed.)
Crosscut two dividers to 26 inches long from the 1x6-inch board. Then rip-cut both to 4-5/8 inch wide. Drill two pocket holes for 3/4-inch material at both ends on one side of both dividers.
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 holes at evenly spaced heights on the inside of the sides and and both sides of the dividers.
Tip: 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.
Step 3: Attach Top and Bottom
Attach the top and bottom to the sides with wood glue and 1-1/4-inch pocket screws. Make sure the back edges of all pieces are flush. The front edges of the top and bottom will protrude 3/4 inch past the sides. This is to accommodate the filler strips in Step 8.
Step 4: Attach Dividers
Attach the dividers to the cabinet assembly with wood glue and 1-1/4-inch pocket screws. Make sure the pocket holes face the sides so they won't be visible when the mirror door is closed. If the appearance of the holes bothers you, fill them with glue wood plugs, then sand flush.
To make sure the dividers are evenly spaced, cut a scrap wood to 23-1/4 inch long. Insert it in between the divider and the side, then attach with screws. Repeat with the other divider.
Step 5: Attach Cleats
Cut four 1-1/2x23 1/4-inch cleats from the 1x2-inch boards. Drill two pocket holes for 3/4-inch material at both ends of all the cleats.
Insert cleats into the back of the assembly at each corner, and flush with the back. Attach with wood glue and 1-1/4-inch pocket screws.
Step 6: Assemble Doors
Cut four 1-1/2x26-1/2-inch door stiles and four 1-1/2x21-inch door rails. Ensure the matching parts are cut to the exact same length with square ends.
Drill two pocket holes for 3/4-inch material at both ends of the door rails, 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.
Attach with wood glue and 1-1/4-inch pocket screws.
Step 7: Insert Mirrors
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. Square up the corners with a chisel.
Sand the door frames with 100- and 150-grit sandpaper.
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 along the back edge where the mirror sits in the rabbeted groove.
Step 8: Paint and Mount
Sand, prime, and paint all wood surfaces except for the bottom of the bottom groove. An interior gloss latex paint works well.
Mount the cabinet box to the wall with 8x3-inch screws driven through the cleats and into wall studs.
To bridge the approximate 3/4-inch gaps between the sides of the cabinet and the adjoining walls, tack on filler strips with brad nails.
Step 9: Test Doors
Test the fit of the doors in the grooves. You should be able to place the doors fully into the top groove, then drop them into the bottom groove. If necessary, trim the bottoms and tops of the doors equally for a good fit. Touch up paint as needed.
For smooth-sliding doors, adhere a strip of 3/4-inch-wide UHMW tape in the bottom of the bottom groove.
Insert shelf pins and shelves as desired.