Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vanity Insanity - Part 1

Those that follow this blog will recall i started a bathroom renovation, oh about 15 months ago. I can finally say it is done (almost). So next week there will be a big reveal, but in the meantime i wanted to share how i built my vanity.

It's difficult to say whether building it myself was cheaper than buying a vanity or having one built, because from the start i knew i wanted to try my hand at building cabinetry, so frankly i didn't shop around. I was hoping to use this as an opportunity to practice and learn some cabinet making skills, so i could one day build my own kitchen cabinets. The materials and hardware cost me about $150, the paint i already had on hand and the counter (my splurge) was $550. Unfortunately the time it took me to start, stop, restart and finally complete the vanity, has convinced my wife never to let me try building cabinets myself again, so who knows if i'll ever get a chance to build my dream kitchen. Ah well, designing it and seeing the end result is most of the fun anyway.

Here' s how i did it:
All cabinets are a variation of a basic box, which is often called a "carcass". I built my carcass out of 3/4" good on 2-sides birch plywood. I had Home Despot cut the 4' x 8' sheet into the dimensions i needed. Then on the inside carcass sides i routed out a dado (groove or channel) so that the floor of the cabinet can rest in the groove. Once you glue and brad nail the cabinet floor into this groove it creates a very strong carcass and forms an "H" shape as seen in the picture below. I then cut a piece of plywood and glued and brad nailed it to the top backs of the side. This piece will eventually be what i use to attach the cabinet to the wall. The diagonal piece of wood is just a temporary brace to hold the cabinet square while the glue dries.



I then built a face frame out of 1 x 3 poplar. The face frame does 2 things, it hides the ugly plywood cuts and it makes the whole cabinet super-strong. I could dance on top of this cabinet (not that i would...often). Having cut the 1 x 3's to the right lengths, i tried out my new pocket screw kit. Honestly i don't recommend this version of the kit, it was very hard to keep the guide stable while i drilled the pocket holes, and the bit would often jam full of shavings making drilling quite tough. I'm guessing one of the higher end kits that includes clamps to hold the guide stationary might be easier to use. That said, pocket screws and glue definitely make for a strong butt joint.


Here is a glued joint using two pocket screws:

Face frame fully assembled and ready to attach to the carcass with glue and brad nails:

And voila the finished cabinet, next comes painting and installation:

Next post building the drawers

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