a bathroom cabinet / sideboard

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Blog entry by KDL posted 02-22-2008 09:31 PM 1559 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I thought it was high time I did a more detailed post. It’s not exactly blogesque, but at least it’s not clogging up the main projects with details. This goes with the cabinet I just posted on the projects page. Enjoy.

This bathroom cabinet/sideboard was a house-warming present for a friend’s oddly-shaped full bathroom. At least, that’s what she thinks. I think it was a great excuse to use up some wood I had lying around, and a chance to try several things for the first time. It’s the third cabinet I’ve built (you can see the other two on my “Bigger proof of concept” post). It’s also my first piece of decent-sized, “furniture.”

The size: The cabinet is 34 inches wide, to fit between the bathroom door and sink. It’s 40 inches tall, to fit under the chair rail. And sits in a narrow walkway, so it’s only 11 inches deep and has bifold doors. The inside dimensions are all based on use. The narrow, tall space on the left is good for a plunger and toilet brush. The bottom shelf is tall enough for rolled-up bath towels and shampoo bottles. The next two shelves are spaced for wash rags and toilet paper. The drawers are deep enough to allow all the little stuff that litters a bathroom.

The wood: I considered plywood for it’s dimensional stability in a humid / dry / humid / dry environment, but I was afraid it wouldn’t hold up to wet hands and steam. Plus, as I said, I had that leftover wood. Most was oak, plus some poplar I could use for secondary pieces. So that meant solid wood and taking extra care to allow for wood movement.

The carcass: the bottom, sides, inside divider, and shelves are all oak. They are nearly the same width across their grain, and are assembled with matching grain orientation, so no worries about movement there. The back (more below) is frame-and-panel, which shouldn’t move much. All those parts, and the front toe-kick, are assembled in as many dados as I could dream up, with glue and a few hidden screws. The whole thing sits on a couple plastic feet to help keep it dry.

The drawers: the draws are oak fronts on poplar dovetailed boxes, with plywood bottoms. They ride in an oak/poplar cope-and-stick dust rack that shouldn’t move much. The rack itself rides in rabbits/dados in the sides. It gets extra support from the internal divider and little cleats on the back panel stiles. The rack is glued only at the front, plus there’s extra room at the back to allow for carcass movement. I could have saved a lot of bother by making the dust rack solid like the sides and bottom, but I was stretching that small pile of wood.

The back: what you can’t see very well is that the bottom rail is also the back toe-kick. It is dadoed into the sides and receives the cabinet bottom in a dado of it’s own. I had to resaw the boards for the panels, which was a first for me. I found some wonderful grain to book-match, but alas the single prettiest combination left a defect in the middle of one panel, so I had to reverse that panel’s book-match.

The doors: again, frame-and-panel, with resawn wood. The story here is all about hardware. The bifold is held together a piano hinge. I lucked out there, because the stock hinge is just a bit shorter than the door. I set the hinge in a shallow dado I routed on the backside of each door. With all those screws, the hinges hold really well. Where I didn’t luck out, is that the left piano hinge’s knuckle falls exactly on the inside divider—duh. I had to rout a shallow groove in the divider for the knuckle. I mounted the doors to the carcass using non-mortise hinges I’ve had laying around for years. My logic was that I already had them, and they wouldn’t interfere with the fully-open bifolds (a real issue in the tight space). They work, but in retrospect, I wish I’d allowed for the smaller-sized full-overlay European hinges. Those hinges do stick out from the back of the door, but they would have looked and operated much better. The carcass doesn’t allow for knife hinges. Having built this, I have a better idea how to plan for hinges in the future.

The top: the top is granite. I got the stone fairly cheap off the “remnant” heap at a stone yard, and cut it using a cheap diamond tile blade in my circular saw. The top was already polished. I cleaned up the edges with a grinder and belt sander. The edges aren’t perfect, but they look pretty good.

The finish: spray acrylic and wax. Oil-based poly would have been better, but I can’t stand the smell for the first couple weeks.

Hope you enjoyed. I’d be happy to hear all opinions.

2 comments so far

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 4938 days

#1 posted 02-23-2008 01:11 PM

I love the description…I didn’t see the pictures in your project post at first :). I was particularly interested in what you had to say about cutting the granite with a tile blade. I’ve wondered in the past if that can be done, now I know, thanks to you! Great looking project, thanks for sharing.

-- Robb

View KDL's profile


36 posts in 4771 days

#2 posted 02-23-2008 04:26 PM

Robb, thanks for the kind words—yeah I need to get the pictures posted somewhere where I can pull them into the blog. Cutting the granite was surprisingly easy. The diamond blade is from Lowes and is for their wetsaw. I made about three passes on each cut, lowering the blade each time. Of course dust is a big issue, you don’t want to get silicosis, just for a table top. I wouldn’t use an abrator blade, their too messy and rough. I wanted to use my ancient cheapie wet-saw—it looks like a tiny portable table saw—but the table is too small.

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