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Corner cabinet for the weekend woodworker to tackle.

Corner cabinet for the weekend woodworker to tackle

Corners lead neglected lives, away from a house's main flow of activity. Long, straight walls get all the attention, because chests, tables, and couches fit comfortably against them.

In the past, triangular cabinets have made use of overlooked corners. Although you'll often find these in antique shops or as period-piece reproductions, they don't usually have the crisp, clean lines compatible with more contemporary furnishings.

We've designed an updated corner cabinet that most weekend woodworkers can tackle. It can add storage and display space to almost any room, and it cuts less than 2 feet in depth out of a corner.

We kept the design simple; it has a triangular shell with a rectangular frame screwed to it. The lower section has solid doors; you can leave the top open or install glass doors that pivot on hinges used for stereo cabinets. Materials will cost about $140 for an open cabinet and $210 for one with glass doors.

Planning the cabinet

Our design is 43 1/2 inches across and about 6 feet high. The two wall-facing sides run about 30 inches from the corner.

The shell and solid doors are made from 3/4-inch birch plywood. The face frame, of birch 1-by-4s, has decorative strips of birch centered on the boards. We stained the doors and face frame, then finished them with several coats of a penetrating oil sealer. The shell interior was sealed and painted with a semigloss enamel.

Tools and supplies

You'll need a circular saw with a plywood blade, table saw, hand or saber saw, an electric drill with a 3/8-inch bit and dowel-centering guide, a screwdriver, hammer, nailset, wood glue, wood filler, and bar clamps. You'll also need:

2 sheets 3/4-inch birch plywood

Birch 1-by-4: two 10-foot lengths, one 6-foot length

Birch 1-by-6: one 4-foot length, one 6-foot length

1 6-foot length of 3/4-inch quarter-round molding

4 feet of 3/8-inch dowel (cut into sixteen 3-inch lengths)

1 box 1 1/2-inch (6d) finishing nails

About 30 1 1/4-inch woodscrews (we chose self-tapping gypsum-board screws)

1 quart each sealer and enamel

1 pint stain, compatible with paint color

If you plan to add the glass doors, wait until the face frame is built before ordering the glass and its hardware. The glass must be sized to the final opening.

Building the shell

Following the diagram above, mark the same cutout pattern on both sheets of plywood. Note that the only change you need to make is in one of the triangles-- you'll need three larger ones for the top, middle divider, and bottom, and three smaller intermediate shelves.

Use the circular saw to cut out the cabinet sides, shelves, and doors (but better wait until the face frame is built to cut doors to the exact size). To ensure straight cuts, clamp or tack a wooden guide on the plywood. First cut out each 30- by 71-inch side, making sure the saw cut does not extend into any adjacent pieces.

You'll note that the larger triangles have two sides that measure 29 inches and that the side pieces are 30 inches wide. To make them equal, rip one long edge of each of the two side pieces with the saw blade at a 45| angle so their inside width equals 29 inches. Use either a circular saw or table saw to make the cuts. These cut edges are the outside edges of the shell; the face frame will attach to them.

Lay the two sides flat, narrower sides face down, angled edges butting together. Starting from one end (call it the bottom), draw lines across both sides at points 3 1/2, 18, 32, 45, and 57 inches from the aligned bottom edges. Turn both sides over and mark the same lines.

The quarter-round molding will make a rounded corner at the back of the cabinet, so it can fit more easily into irregular wall corners. Cut the molding to 71 inches, then glue and nail it to the long, square-cut edge of one of the side pieces so the molding's remaining flat edge is on the 29-inch side.

With a helper, or using a table as a brace, stand this side piece upright and butt the other side piece to the quarter-round; be sure the 29-inch-wide sides face each other. Glue and nail the two together.

Lay the shell on one side with the other side pointing straight up. Position one of the larger triangles so its top edge aligns with the line closest to the bottom, and tack in place. The corners of the shelf should be flush with the angled edges of the sides (smallest diagram). Repeat for the second larger triangle at the line drawn 32 inches from the bottom. The third large triangle should be flush with the top. Drive finishing nails through the back to secure the shelves to one side, then tip the shell onto that side and repeat.

Add the three remaining smaller shelves in the same way. Use a nailset to countersink nails, then fill holes with wood putty. Stand the cabinet upright to sand the back and insides. The shell may feel a little unstable, but that will change after you add the face frame.

The face frame The face frame consists of a grid of 1-by-4s dressed with a layer of decorative 1 1/4-inch-wide strips cut from 1-by-6.

Start by cutting the 1-by-4s into the six pieces shown in the drawing. We assume that the width of a 1-by-4 is 3 1/2 inches, but check your wood, because its actual size will affect the height of the short center vertical piece. A pair of blind, countersunk, 3/8-inch dowels reinforces each joint. Use a dowel-centering guide when drilling holes for the dowels.

To assemble the main frame, start with the I-shape made of the center vertical and the bottom and middle crosspieces; make sure the tops of the crosspieces are flush with the tops of the large bottom and middle shelves. Drill dowel holes, insert dowels, glue, and clamp.

Lay the 72-inch-long sides on the ground with the top crosspiece and lower I-shaped section in their proper locations. Mark and drill the dowel holes in crosspieces and the inside edges of the sides. Glue and clamp to finish frame assembly.

Rip the 4- and 6-foot-long 1-by-6s into 1 1/4-inch-wide strips to make the decorative outer layer of the frame and the edging for the three small shelves in the shell. Center the strips on the 1-by-4s, then glue and nail them in place. Countersink nails, fill with wood putty, and sand. For the shelf trim, you must cut (or rabbet) a 3/8-inch-wide, 3/4-inch-deep notch in the top back edge of each piece.

The completed frame establishes the exact size for the plywood doors. Cut them now if you haven't already, 1/8 inch smaller than the openings in the frame.

Painting the shell, staining the frame

Our cabinet has a two-tone look with its painted interior and its stained frame, doors, and shelf trim.

On the shell, we used two coats of a cream-colored semigloss enamel over an undercoat sealer. For a smooth finish, sand lightly between each coat.

For the face frame, doors, and shelf trim, we chose a semitransparent limed-oak stain which allows the birch grain to show without darkening the wood. Stain and seal all these parts before adding them to the painted shell.

Final assembly

With nails or screws, mount narrow strips of scrap wood along the shell's top and under the large middle and bottom shelves (see photograph, page 138). Run self-tapping screws through them to draw the frame tightly against the shell. Angle other screws through the outside edge of the shell into the back of the frame.

Complete the basic cabinet by mitering the ends of the three L-shaped shelf trim pieces to fit snugly against the sides of the shell and the exposed shelf edges. Glue them in position.

Add the two plywood doors to the lower openings. We hung ours with brass-plated butt hinges mortised into the frame and doors. A block of wood 1/2 inch wider than the frame's center vertical acts as a stop. Add catches, if you wish.

Glass doors and special hinges

To avoid the difficult task of building wood-framed doors with inset panels of glass, we selected an easily installed glass door system used on many stereo cabinets. You can order the panes and door hardware for them at glass stores.

Start by measuring the opening for the upper part of the cabinet. Order the two 1/4-inch-thick plate glass panels so each has 1/8-inch clearance from the face frame. Have the glass edges polished and the corners slightly rounded.

The hardware to suspend the doors is remarkably simple. Two sets of pivot hinges (about $6 a pair), one at the top and bottom outer corners of each door (see photograph above), turn in holes you drill in the frame. Metal strike plates (about $2 each) slip over the glass near the other upper corners and lock the doors against a double-barreled magnetic latch (about $4). A slight push allows the door to open. The hardware comes in chrome, brass, or black finishes.

For mounting the magnetic latch, center and screw a small block of scrap birch to the top inside of the frame.

Photo: Rectangular face frame was built, stained, and sealed before it was mounted to triangular shell

Photo: There's display space above, storage below. Glass doors swing on unobtrusive pivot hinges

Photo: At top of cabinet, attach birch frame to plywood shell with screws through scrap

Photo: Quarter-round molding, attached to side pieces, makes rounded corner at cabinet's back

Photo: Lay out same pattern on both sheets of plywood. For triangular shelves shown at right, cut two As and a B from one sheet, two Bs and an A from the other

Photo: Pairs of 3/8- by 3-inch dowels reinforce each butt joint of face frame. The frame is wider and taller than shell, but the tops of lower and middle crosspieces must be flush with tops of larger bottom and middle shelves

Photo: Glass doors are held in hinges by small metal plate forced against glass by set-screws. Hinge pivots on pin set in frame
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Apr 1, 1986
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