Basic Carpentry / easy assembly questions...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by jill.costello, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. jill.costello

    jill.costello Well-Known Member

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    Lets just say first off that I am fairly handy. I can work basic power tools, understand basic engineering/structural needs, am very comfortable with exact measurements, and am pretty creative/ have an "eye" for what looks good.

    Our new house is wonderful; we love it. But being 100 years old, it has only ONE bathroom, and very small at that.

    I have been trying for weeks to find a cupboard or cabinet (a free-standing 'tower' or linen closet) that is TALL enough to actually hold all our bathroom "stuff", but still SHALLOW enough to go against the only available wall and not take up too much floor space. The perfect dimensions would be: 70-78 inches tall x 30 inches wide x 10 inches deep. Unfortunately, anything tall enough and wide enough is 16 inches deep in all the stores I've looked at! It seems to be an industry standard. (or, those that are 10" deep are only 16" wide and 54" tall; just not enough storage to justify the price of $199-$300!!)

    So, I have decided to build it myself! I have drawn up plans from all sides, measured and re-measured my space, and contemplated how many cabinet doors/open shelves we would need. Now, I'd just really like some construction techniques!

    I saw a special on TV about "biscuit joining", and it looked very easy and good for frame-style cabinet doors. I guess basic glue-and-screw for the basic cabinet-box, as well as some of the shelves. Other shelves will be adjustable.

    Am I being too ambitious? Never having built furniture before?

    Am I forgetting anything? I'm ready to go buy materials, but wanted to do my last "HT Reality Check" before I bit the bullet!!!! :p
     
  2. Jex99in00

    Jex99in00 The Angry One

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    I think if you have plans drawn out and are confident in your skills, you should go for it. I think it's a good project to start out with. Just remember with the base being that shallow you should secure it to the wall stud in some way to prevent it from tipping. And about biscuit joining the parts; it is a very good and strong technique, but a biscuiter can run upwards of $200, and unless you're going to be doing alot of it, it might not be a worthwile investment for you.
     

  3. BearCreekFarm

    BearCreekFarm Well-Known Member

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    I second the motion- go for it!

    Maybe you could rent/borrow a biscuit joiner instead of having to purchase one.

    Another consideration- if the wall you are going to place the cabinet against is not an outside wall, you could make a recess into the existing wall between the studs to gain a few extra inches of space.
     
  4. CatsPaw

    CatsPaw Who...me?

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    1001 ways to build a cabinet. Alot of it depends on what kind of tools you have.....biscuit joiner, router, table saw, brad nailer, etc.

    The easiest and strongest way, I think, is to get a pocket hole jig. Cut up your face frame stock. Screw/glue that stock together. Build your carcass. Nail the face frame to the carcass.

    Here's a list of some things associated with cabinets.

    Toekick height and depth if any
    Shelf standards - flush or recessed - or pins and holes
    Door/Hinge style - Flush/Full overlay/Half overlay/Euro's
    Open or closed back
    Scribe on back edges
    Horizontal Dividers - sometimes used for strength on taller cabinets
    Mounting ledgers

    If you've never biscuited before you probably won't like it. Nailing the face frame on allows for some cheating. Nails and glue on the face frame will be more than strong enough. (it never ceases to amaze me how fine carpenters insist that glue is stronger than the wood, yet, when asked why they biscuit they'll tell you that it makes the cabinet stronger......stronger than the wood itself?)

    All the things above make it sound difficult, but, it's not. They're just things that you plan ahead for. They can all be done with simple tools. If you can use simple tools you can account for all of them.

    Hint: When you cut items that are identical, such as panels, panel dadoes, face frame stiles or rails, cut them together. That helps to insure they are equal. 'course if you measure wrong you screw them all up at the same time.
     
  5. Ed Norman

    Ed Norman Well-Known Member

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    I have a cheap Harbor Freight biscuit joiner that I bought from a guy who had a fire in his shop. The handle and part of the case are melted a little. It works fine. It isn't as easy to adjust as a high quality joiner, but I leave it set for one thickness and it stays right on the mark. I bet a new unmelted Harbor fright joiner might work even better.
     
  6. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To get a good looking front, you can buy new cabinet doors in suitable sizes, then build the frams work and shelves your self. If you make a skeliton type frame using furing strips, or similar sized pieces, you can cover the frame with 1/4 plywood and eliminate a ton of weight, and joint cracks in the boards you would otherwise have used. Put a plywood or a paneling back in it. Put it in place after it is constructed and finished. A couple lighe screws in the back will hold it solid to the wall. Around here there are places that handle trailer and modular house salvage where you can pick up good cabinet doors of various sizes very reasonable.
     
  7. FolioMark

    FolioMark In Remembrance

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    Now Im not suggesting you not build it, but have you considered using a couple of upper cabinets and stacking them to the right height. Uppers are usually only 12 -14 inches deep. You could get them to match your other cabinets. Bit of trim and putty at the seams where you stack them and they will look just fine. I made a bathroom cabinet and a tall china cupboard in an alcove in my dining room doing that. They look great. :)
     
  8. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Folio Mark has convinced me. I just measured our wall cabinets, and they are 12" deep x 30" wide x 30" high. We also have one above the stove that is 12" deep x 30" wide x 12" high. That would get you 72" by 30" by 12'. Set them on a 2x4 kick board. That makes them 75.5" high.
    And ain't they beautiful?? Ours are natural hickory.
     
  9. jill.costello

    jill.costello Well-Known Member

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    You guys are awesome!
    Very good advice about securing it to the wall; also, I just checked and I DO have the option of 'recessing' into the wall 5 inches!! The 100-year-old Red Oak 2x4 studs are an unusual 19" on-center, so I would have to do a bit of creative cut-outs in the back of the shelves, but what an increase in storage space!

    Forgot about the cost of the biscuit joiner.... Nails and glue really should be sufficient to hold up towels, shampoo, medicine, and stuff.

    I love the idea of building a frame and then adding a 1/4" plywood skin! With careful sanding and the right stain technique, I have seen plywood turn out beautiful. Also, never thought of "pre-made" cabinet doors- that would really cover up any boo-boos in the cabinet box!

    Just wanted to clarify why the MAXIMUM floor footprint is 30"x10" - The bathroom is 8'x5'. There are TWO doors opposite one another on the long sides toward the sink end. The tub is at one end, the sink at the other, (centered between the two doorways on the short side; talk about right smack in-your-way!), and the toilet is in the middle of one long side. The only free wall space is the 30 inches opposite the toilet. Well, the distance between the rim of the toilet seat and the opposite wall is only 35". If I build a cabinet 30" wide and more than 10" deep with double cabinet doors (15" a piece), then some poor soul is gonna get cracked in the knees by a cabinet door if he needs to get something out of the cabinet whilst on the throne! So 10" deep or less measures out to have enough clearance to swing doors (whether on the pot or not) without looking oddly cramped or risking pinching a hand or leg in the crush between the toilet rim and cabinet door.

    I will have to get pics of this painfully-poor layout; someone really couldn't have utilized the space worse!