Craft Room Cabinets

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Project by DustyMark posted 05-01-2015 02:07 AM 2054 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We moved into our new home 10 months ago. My wife’s craft room is 5’ 8” wide by 9’ long and I promised her custom cabinets so she could utilize the room as an office and craft room. She’s very happy with the design and the functionality of these cabinets in her new room.

I used the construction methods detailed by Paul Levine in his 1988 book “Making Kitchen Cabinets: A foolproof system for the home workshop.”

The cases and shelves are 3/4” maple plywood with 1/4” thick solid maple edging and no face frame. The doors are solid maple, mortise and tenoned frames, with 1/4” maple plywood panels. The backs are 1/4” baltic birch for strength. The drawers are dovetailed of solid maple with 1/4” baltic birch bottom panels and a solid maple false front. The crown molding is made from a 6” piece of solid maple set at a 40 degree angle and installed with custom-made plywood brackets. The counter is built up from two layers of 3/4” plywood with solid maple edging and Wilsonart laminate. I used Varathane’s Oil-Based Colonial Maple stain. The final finish is Varathane’s water-based polyurethane in a satin sheen. Hardware includes Blum hinges, Accuride full-extension drawers slides, and satin nickel pulls and knobs. Under cabinet lighting is four Slimlite fluorescent lights. Materials came to about $2,200.

I normally build free-standing furniture and was surprised at the vast scope of this project. There was a tremendous amount of repetitive cuts, sanding, and finishing to push this through to completion. By taking the European cabinet approach, this project consisted of 8 individual cabinets, a desk extension, and a countertop. It took me three months to complete this project while working nearly full time as a substitute teacher and traveling a fair amount. That’s not bad for a “hobby” pace.

I would do three things different based on the building experience. First, I would buy a door panel bit set for my router table. I see little value gained in the tedious process of plunging mortises with my router and cutting tenons on my table saw for the door frames. That was an incredible waste of time for a plywood cabinet project with 12 doors. The end result would have been cleaner joint lines and much saved time with the router bit set. Second, I should have sprayed the cabinets with my HVLP sprayer. It would have been worth the time to build a make-shift spray booth and shoot a water-based finish on these cabinets. I haven’t used the sprayer since 1996, but I was pretty good at it back then. Third, I would experiment with matching the stain better on the door panels. The panels match better in person than they do in the photographs. The 1/4” maple plywood for the door panels was a slightly darker tone than the solid wood maple I used throughout the rest of the project. This transmitted through the stain. Perhaps I could have used a stain sealer on the plywood or cut the stain with a lighter color to get a better match. I rarely use stain, so I just rolled with it. My wife is happy with it, so that’s what really matters. Sometime being a “fussy” woodworker is a curse!

-- Mark, Minnesota

7 comments so far

View RustyHacksaw's profile


145 posts in 1718 days

#1 posted 05-01-2015 02:18 AM

I think they look great. Thanks for sharing what you would do different. I think that is very valuable information to share.

You have done a great job on these.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3367 posts in 4166 days

#2 posted 05-01-2015 03:17 AM


What a great use of the space. The cabinets look great.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View DustyMark's profile


380 posts in 2524 days

#3 posted 05-01-2015 03:24 AM

Thanks! It was quite the transformation and was neat watching the plan come together…

-- Mark, Minnesota

View seriousturtle's profile


101 posts in 3785 days

#4 posted 05-01-2015 11:49 AM

great looking project. And thanks for sharing the cost and what you would do differently, very good info.

-- ~the turtle

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4336 days

#5 posted 05-01-2015 11:58 AM

Good job.
I have built several cabinets using the same techniques. One is fast, multiples become a lot of repetition. I hear ya.

The result looks real nice. I veneered my panels, just to add another hundred hours :-)


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3321 days

#6 posted 05-01-2015 12:58 PM

I can see how your wife would be well pleased with this. You did a fine job on these cabinets and who wouldn’t love to have this as a craft room/ office in their home?

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View dshute's profile


219 posts in 3140 days

#7 posted 05-04-2015 12:24 AM

Very nice work. Absolutely nothing wrong with mortise and tenon doors, when done right they are stronger than cope and stick unless you also bore and dowel your cope and stick joints, which few do.

-- dshute, Warsaw, New York

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