Friday, 3 May 2013

Building laundry wall cabinets

In my previous post, I wrote about the laundry table that I built using mostly knotty pine for the table top and carcass, with plywood for the drawers and 2x3s for the legs. So the next step is the laundry wall cabinets!

The painted wall all ready for the wall cabinets
I left the wall unpainted where the cabinets would be going since I didn't want to waste paint (and time) painting behind them. After plastering and priming this wall I had applied three strips of masking tape to remind me where the three wall studs were. The cabinets will be fixed to the wall with the centre stud marking the mid-point of my cabinets.

I built the wall cabinets and doors using 17mm thick plywood (roughly 3/4 inch) this time, unlike the bench that has knotty pine for the carcass and door. The reason I went with plywood this time was because I found it quite difficult drilling the 35mm (1.4 inch) wide hole required for soft close hinges in the pine. Its much easier to bore a wide hole in plywood. The open shelving is still made using 19mm knotty pine and the decorative moulding is clear pine. I bought the decorative shelf supports from Bunnings.

I planned for the cabinets to be 30cm deep (a foot) but the by the time I cut the plywood sheets with the circular saw they ended up more like 29.7cm as expected due to the saw blade removing a few mm with each rip cut. The pine shelving is 23cm deep - I wanted to have more head room around the laundry sink so I've designed it so that the shelving sits up higher than the cabinets and is narrower.
(Note that the open shelving is not attached to the two cabinets yet - otherwise it would be too heavy to lift it up onto the wall).

The finished cabinet pieces ready for painting
I attached cleats to the cabinets using glue and screws. The cleat beneath the middle shelf is 4.5cm wide and 19mm thick, while the top cleat is 9cm wide. The worst thing would be to spend all that time building cabinets and have them fall off the wall, so I decided to place a wide cleat at the top to take three 65mm screws into the stud and two screws through the lower cleat into the stud.
After painting all of these in the same French cream colour (Resene Eighth Sisal) used on the laundry bench, I painted the shelving backboard in the same purple used on the walls. As I said in the last post, the backboard is made from 7mm thick (1/4 inch) plywood that I cut even grooves into by setting the circular saw to about 2mm deep and making false cuts to give the impression that it is tongue and groove panels. I then cut it into appropriate sized pieces to create backboards for the table cabinet and wall cabinets/shelves.
After cutting and painting the backboard, I glued and brad nailed it to the back and waited for it to dry.
I marked out the middle of the open shelving and drilled pilot holes through the cleat and the backboard (I did six holes) then Chris held it up to the middle stud on the wall so I could pre-drill the holes through the stud before adding six 65mm 8ga screws. If this was a kitchen wall cabinet with heavy bowls, plates etc, then I would also use Liquid Nails on the back to give it extra hold to the wall, but since it is just a laundry cabinet then it will mainly hold cleaning products and cloths (nothing heavy).
Once this was secure, Chris held up the right side cabinet so that its top was aligned with the top of the open shelving and I repeated the same process as above except that I used five screws through the cleats into the studs. Once that was fixed on, I added a few 35mm screws through the side of the open shelving and into the side of the cabinet to firmly secure these together. Note that I left the doors off while we hung the cabinets, otherwise they add extra weight and get in the way.
We repeated this for the left side cabinet and then I fixed the hinges onto the doors and fixed these into position on the cabinets. I measured and drilled the handles on after the doors were hung because I wanted to make sure the handles were at the right height for me to reach easily without needing a stool (I built a stool out of the off-cuts from the cabinets so that I could reach the very top when I needed to). I attached the decorative shelf supports using plenty of wood glue and two clamps on each to hold them tightly to the sides of the cabinets and shelf underside.
The very last step was to measure and cut the crown moulding for the top. The moulding is identical in style to the moulding I have used to frame the doors, except that it is a larger size. I gave the pieces two coats of paint before gluing and brad nailing them onto the cabinets, starting from the middle piece and working outwards. I touched up the brad nail holes and any gaps with wood filler before sanding and giving them a further two coats of paint.
And here is the finished job. I'm in the process of building some rustic looking wooden boxes to go on the shelves, and then I'll add a plant or two.


  1. Oh WOW!! This is fabulous - I really like the open shelving between the two cupboards. So different from what I imagined when you said 'wall cupboards'. It's coming together so well - good on you!

  2. Chris said its starting to look like the best room in the house now instead of the worst :)