First attempt at Cabinetry

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It was one of those weird side-projects that you start up oh-so-smoothly, then ideas get too grand, things get in the way, excuses start getting thrown, and all of a sudden six months have passed you by and you're still not quite done.

While it may seem like this project was a sham from the start, it was actually the most beneficial project I've taken on in quite some time. It helped me learn so many things I had never even thought to consider when it comes to building with wood.

So here's how it went:

We bought a new house last summer, of 2016, but the kitchen really, really, totally, completely falls short when it comes to being even the least bit functional. It took a good nine months of living, thinking, deliberating, and head-to-wall bashing before we finally decided that our best option was to seal off the doorway to the dining room in favour of a few extra feet of usable counter space.

The very next day I managed to find a secondhand countertop that was just the right size for only $20! As soon as I got home, I got to work building the cabinets that the counter will sit on, using leftover wood from previous shelf-building extravaganza.

Bare-bones cabinet, image A
Bare-bones cabinet, image B

But then things really started to slow down. the wood on the far side, due to the fact that it was from leftovers, didn't quite fit completely, leaving small jagged cracks that bled light and quickly became a dreaded eyesore. That's why I came up with the idea to glue slats of wood on the end, making the cabinet look like it was made several hundred years ago.

To do this, since I was using only scrap wood, I took a four-foot length of spruce 2x4 and ran it through the table saw to make small strips of wood that were about 1/4" thick and 1 1/2" wide. I then glued them vertically to the side of the cabinet. Another downside to this was the table saw's quite old, and the arm doesn't like to stay still, so every piece of wood that I cut ended up varying in thickness, so I had to do a lot of planing by hand. The planing by hand bit sounds tedious, but I actually found quite fun.


With that part finally figured out, I quickly found myself thrown into a whole new corner without any clue on how to get out. The realization that these bloody cupboards were going to need doors dawned on me and the budget was non-existent. That meant I was going to have to build the doors by hand, using scrap, having never done such a thing before. The idea just wouldn't soak in, and I was at a mental block on how to approach the problem for a good eight weeks.

I don't even know what it was that got me back in that garage to start building the doors. There was no "AHA!" moment nor dreams of inspiration. I just decided one day that it had to get done. Of course, it might have had something to do with the counter already being installed in the kitchen for Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving), and everyone saw my failure of a project as 100% functional and 0% pretty.

So I cut some more strips of 2x4 and scrounged up some pieces of plywood, and for three days I planed and sanded and routed and sanded and planed and sanded and glued and sanded and washed until finally, FINALLY, I had my cabinet doors ready to be stained and sealed.

Cabinet doors before stain.

Then a few days later, the countertop was whole.

Image of installed counter top.
Stained and installed cabinet doors.

There are still some things to do, of course. The kick plate (baseboard) needs to be installed, and some levelling needs to be done. On the other side, I'll build a few small shelves to utilize that now-empty void of a doorway and have a bar-style shelf so that we can pass food through to the dining room.

All of that will have to wait, though. Winter came early this year and I haven't found a good heater for the garage yet, nor have I researched proper ventilation. I don't want to die of carbon monoxide poisoning and such. Chances are strong that these bigger projects will all have to wait until warmer weather.

Until then, I'll be whittling away the days.