How I make a cabinet with shelves from scrap wood

Throughout the time I’ve been writing this blog I’ve occasionally posted pieces on simple furniture I’ve made. Nobody taught me how to make stuff; I figured it out for myself. Unlike many other things I’ve self-taught, I don’t turn to library books or other instructions because frankly, they tend to look intimidating and demand a lot more steps, effort, and purchases than I am willing to undertake. I make things that suit me – they’re not meant to be heirlooms or wow any carpenter who happens along (I’m smart enough to not let a carpenter or anybody skilled get too close a look at my homemade creations). Point being, I’m not killing myself here; just saving money and having the satisfaction of making something. Oh, and exercising – all that sawing and hammering and hauling stuff about is burning calories.😁

I was seeing a man many years back who did offer the suggestion that I should use screws in my endeavors rather than just the nails I had been. This was good advice (I mean what the hell did I know?). Screws make pieces stronger and are easier to remove, particularly if you’re making something that might be subject to change down the line.

One style I return to again and again is a simple one for building shelves or cabinets. I took the time two weeks ago to take photos of how I made a simple small cabinet. It’s pretty much the blueprint for every one I’ve previously made. If you’re at all handy, it really isn’t difficult and it’s fun.

I had a few small shutters that I took off a cabinet I remade in the kitchen. They were cute and after I unsuccessfully tried to “re-home” them, I decided to use one in a project. In December I purchased a wonderful little set of five essential oils on Amazon. They’re not available now so the link is there just in case you want to see what I got. I thought it might be nice to have a small cabinet to hold the oils and my tealights. I love tealights and use them almost exclusively. If you wander off to another room for something and aren’t watching them like a paranoid hawk, they’re far less likely to catch your house on fire than tapers or pillars as tealights generally mind their own business quietly and don’t go shooting huge flames skyward.

Here are the four pieces of wood I sawed to the dimensions I needed to make a unit – essentially a box – to be hidden behind the shutter. The teaspoon is there just for size reference.

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Next I started screws in the four corners of the top and bottom pieces. It’s easier to get them started on a flat surface.IMG_20190203_134404.jpg

Here is the bottom and top screwed into place.IMG_20190203_135345_kindlephoto-4750960

I made sure the shutter wood fit nicely as a door the way I intended before proceeding. IMG_20190203_135555_kindlephoto-4707815

Here I have cut a board for a shelf and am checking to be sure I’ve made it the right size before sawing the others. I tend to be a sort-of-measure-once and cut-multiple-times kind of person.😐IMG_20190203_140259_kindlephoto-4656523.jpg

I sawed two more shelves and eyeballed them to see where I’d want to place them in the cabinet. I got the essential oils out to make sure they’d fit on a shelf.IMG_20190203_141825_kindlephoto-4615242

With a shelf like this that isn’t going to hold much weight, I feel free to just use nails as shelf supports. It is the easiest, cheapest method and they don’t take up any space. I pounded two into either side of every spot I wanted to support a shelf.

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If I am making a shelf that will hold weight I make wood supports like this one I did in the food cabinet. These are just short boards nailed into place. In this case prior to assembling the tall cabinet I lay the two sides down on the ground and attached the supports; this way I can line them up and the shelf will be even when upright. The photo is a typical support for a heavy shelf, in this case my food “pantry.” I made this one many years ago and it has dutifully held the weight of my overstuffed shelves, including lots of canned goods.

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The shutter already had two hinges attached so I used them as is. I only bother to place one screw into each one as a time saver, especially  with a very lightweight door like this.

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I painted the whole thing white.

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I often skip adding a back of any kind and just let the wall be the back of a shelf unit. If I build a tall cabinet, I typically add a support piece to the back, though, so the whole damn thing doesn’t sway back and forth. It’s quite something what a little back support will do! In this case, just to keep the wall clean and because it was no trouble, I decided to add a back made from a cardboard box. Here’s the plain box and the piece I cut to size and painted white.

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The back stapled into place.IMG_20190204_135129

Lastly pounded two picture hangers into the top of the back. These have pointy ends that drive into the wood.IMG_20190204_141036

The final cabinet hung on two small nails in the wall. I added the red dots since I already have a similar cabinet nearby that has red dots on its larger shutter door. So cute!IMG_20190215_170140_kindlephoto-143755.jpg

The inside look. I added a second coat of paint before taking this picture just to make it a little nicer.IMG_20190215_170050

The door wasn’t staying quite shut so I added this simple hook.IMG_20190215_172108.jpg

 

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