Lower cabinets / upper bookcases flanking window seat built-in construction questions - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 03-06-2012, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Lower cabinets / upper bookcases flanking window seat built-in construction questions

My first built-in project for our home.

I am looking at constructing two custom base cabinets that flank either side of the window shown in the pic. The left side would be a 43" wide cabinet, the right side a 44" wide cabinet. There will be 2 of clearance between the edge of the window frame on the right and left so that the shutters can open (wall to left edge of window frame is 47, wall to right edge of window frame is 46). On top of the cabinet, there would be bookshelves that extend to the 8ft. ceiling, trimmed with crown that wraps around the built-ins. The base cabinets will have flush doors. The depth of the bookshelves would need to be 15" of usable space. The depth of the base cabinet will have 18 of usable space and will hold the bookshelf on its 3/4" thick countertop. This would make the sides of the cabinets have a total depth of 18 + + face frame or 19.25. I plan on using inch birch ply for the back of the cabs and bookcases, birch ply for the rest of the sides. In between, underneath the window, would be a window seat with frame molding on the front that would sit flush with the base cabs. Height of window seat is 17.5 inches. The window seat counter top will replace the existing window stool. The window seat would be fixed with perhaps a piano-hinged lid, Im not sure yet since the window seat will only be about 40 wide. The built-ins will be paint grade, white. I have attached a few photos showing the crown detail I would like at the top, an example of the cabinet bookshelf combo (I like the shaker doors just as in the picture and also the storage underneath the window seat), and my space in the room. I want an actual 2 wide face frame on this project (not 1.5).

For the lower cabinets, my plan was to build a box with a solid top, bottom and sides and then the back. I would then add a face frame that would reveal 2 all the way around andthen add some bull nose trim or a base cap to the top of it to form the cabinet top. Will a single thick top be strong enough to hold a 58 high or so upper bookcase? Will the ply back be strong enough to screw into the wall? I will be able to screw through on a side and the to the back for mounting the base cabs.
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Last edited by noone; 03-06-2012 at 01:52 PM.
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post #2 of 21 Old 03-10-2012, 12:23 AM
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The 3/4" top will be strong enough because the weight of the upper cabinet will transfer into the base cabinet sides and into the floor. I would add a mounting cleat inside the upper cabinets, the same way kitchen wall cabinets are made, at the top and bottom, along with the 1/2" back. Make sure this cleat is glued to the inside of the top so it has 2 way strength.
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post #3 of 21 Old 03-10-2012, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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The 3/4" top will be strong enough because the weight of the upper cabinet will transfer into the base cabinet sides and into the floor. I would add a mounting cleat inside the upper cabinets, the same way kitchen wall cabinets are made, at the top and bottom, along with the 1/2" back. Make sure this cleat is glued to the inside of the top so it has 2 way strength.
I was thinking about just using 3/4" all the way for the backs of the cabs and bookcases to make things easier since the 3/4 is just a few dollars more a sheet than the 1/2. Would this present any issues?

I was thinking that for this project I would make standard boxes with all 3/4 and use scribe mold for the exposed sides where they meet the back wall and scribe the face frames where they meet the side walls.

Seems this will be easier than cutting rabbets and scribing the side panels....
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post #4 of 21 Old 03-10-2012, 11:46 AM
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You can use 3/4" for the backs. It is just a lot of weight that is not necessary. If you use 1/4" ply for the backs, you can glue and staple it right onto the back edge if you don't want to rabbet it in, then use the scribe strip, as you mentioned. The cleat inside at the top and bottom, being fastened in place through the top and bottom with glue and nails is plenty strong to hold the cabinet in place, even with 1/4" ply as the back.
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post #5 of 21 Old 03-10-2012, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MNsawyergp View Post
You can use 3/4" for the backs. It is just a lot of weight that is not necessary. If you use 1/4" ply for the backs, you can glue and staple it right onto the back edge if you don't want to rabbet it in, then use the scribe strip, as you mentioned. The cleat inside at the top and bottom, being fastened in place through the top and bottom with glue and nails is plenty strong to hold the cabinet in place, even with 1/4" ply as the back.
I was planning in using the Kreg pocket hole system on the assembly of this entire project.

I couldn't find any decent 1/4 inch ply at Home Depot. All I saw was 'sandeply' 1/4" and I passed on that and bought the 1/2" birch ply instead. What do you buy in 1/4" for backs?

How about using a 1" deep rabbet, then install the 1/2 inch ply on the back and then a top 1/2" nailer that would make contact with the back wall?
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post #6 of 21 Old 03-10-2012, 04:57 PM
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I buy all my wood products from Menards, which may not be in your area. I still like the nailer cleat on the inside, just my preference. If you think about it, you are losing 1/2" of storage if you rabbet in 1". In some ways having a 1/2" void in back would accomodate any humps or bumps in the wall, but how many of them do you really have. The other thing I don't like is when you have this void in the back there is no way to add other screws for anchoring and from my experience installing kitchen cabinets, when screws are driven through that set up and into the wall, there often is a cracking and popping of the back tearing loose from the pressure. These are things I have encountered over the years...not necessarily what you will encounter.

I would rabbet in 1/2" for the back and glue and nail it in place, nailing through the back and down through the top and up from the bottom. I would add the nailing cleats inside and glue the cleat edge to the inside of the top and if you put one at the bottom, glue the edge to the bottom. This is over-kill for these cabinets since they are setting on the base cabinets with no chance of falling off the wall, but it is good construction practice for you.
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post #7 of 21 Old 03-11-2012, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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What if I just left the backs off entirely and just use one 3/4 nailer on the top part of the lower cabinet and one upper and one lower nailer for the upper bookcase and then just paint the exposed drywall the same color as the cabinets?

Will this not look good?
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post #8 of 21 Old 03-11-2012, 12:16 PM
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That will work fine. I have done a few closets like that. I would run a 3/4 x 3/4 cleat down the insides, then, to hold the sides tight to the wall and from flexing. You will probably have to insert zip-its into the drywall to hold screws through these cleats. It will only take 2 or 3 in each cleat. Actually, you would only need these cleats along the window side, not the side away from the window.
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post #9 of 21 Old 04-17-2012, 09:39 PM
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Talking Any progress?

Hey noone,

Have you started your project?

We would like to see what's happening.

As NORM always says...
"and don't forget to wear these, safety glasses"
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post #10 of 21 Old 04-20-2012, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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Just finished installing the lower cabinets and caulked them in (last night). One is 3/16 of an inch lower than the other. It doesn’t look noticeable though.

Long way to go still.
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Last edited by noone; 04-20-2012 at 04:19 PM.
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post #11 of 21 Old 04-24-2012, 01:38 PM
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Wall Outlet

Did you cover up the wall outlet or remove it?

Tools are like guns, You can never have enough.
Where did I put that tape measure???
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post #12 of 21 Old 04-24-2012, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Did you cover up the wall outlet or remove it?
I cut a hole out for it so it will mount through the cabinet back. I'm debating whether to wire this outlet in the right cabinet as switched so I can run a transformer and low voltage lighting off of it.

Any other ideas on how to integrate some cabinet lighting into this project? Keep in mind that it will be molded up to the ceiling with crown.

I do have attic access above this outside wall. Could I wire up some switched 120v in the attic and mount the low voltage transformer up there?

Last edited by noone; 04-24-2012 at 02:01 PM.
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post #13 of 21 Old 06-11-2012, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Updated project pics.

Made and fitted the inset doors over the weekend.

Still need to complete the hinged lid and make shelves for the lower cabinets.

The project is getting closer to the paint stage!
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post #14 of 21 Old 06-12-2012, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noone View Post
I cut a hole out for it so it will mount through the cabinet back. I'm debating whether to wire this outlet in the right cabinet as switched so I can run a transformer and low voltage lighting off of it.

Any other ideas on how to integrate some cabinet lighting into this project? Keep in mind that it will be molded up to the ceiling with crown.

I do have attic access above this outside wall. Could I wire up some switched 120v in the attic and mount the low voltage transformer up there?
Sure looking good there noone.

One question, will access be a problem getting to attic or have you already figured that.

Also, will those nice shutters be reinstalled?

A very nice custom job and we can't wait to see her finished.

As NORM always says...
"and don't forget to wear these, safety glasses"

Last edited by thomask; 06-12-2012 at 02:57 PM.
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post #15 of 21 Old 06-12-2012, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Sure looking good there noone.

One question, will access be a problem getting to attic or have you already figured that.

Also, will those nice shutters be reinstalled?

A very nice custom job and we can't wait to see her finished.
Thanks for the compliments!

I already ran the wires for the lights. You can't see them in the pics but they are taped to the top of the underside of the right cabinet, which just so happens to have that electrical outlet in it.

And at each light hole the wire is taped to the inside of the cabinet. I will install the 3 LED flush lights, transformer and touch dimmer switch after paint.

Yes, those pricy shutters will be reinstalled (I didn't make that, unfortunately.). I'm actually having the shutter people make a new one for this room that will be painted the exact same color as the built-ins (an off-white Pottery Barn Kids color). Then I will have the old white shutter installed in another room that has the same size windows.

Also, just to mention as it may help other newb carpenters out there, I ended up resetting the base cabinets. At first, and this is something I didn't initially think of, I just pushed them to the walls in the corner and then screwed them in. Bad idea. You of course have to square them up perfectly to each other on all axises to be able to insert a window seat and top lighting strip in squarely. Just something that was like a DOH moment for me that I thought i'd share!

Last edited by noone; 06-12-2012 at 03:58 PM.
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post #16 of 21 Old 06-12-2012, 11:14 PM
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Thanks for the compliments!


Also, just to mention as it may help other newb carpenters out there, I ended up resetting the base cabinets. At first, and this is something I didn't initially think of, I just pushed them to the walls in the corner and then screwed them in. Bad idea. You of course have to square them up perfectly to each other on all axises to be able to insert a window seat and top lighting strip in squarely. Just something that was like a DOH moment for me that I thought i'd share!
That is great information to pass on to friends out there. Mentoring is a lost art and passing information on to those wanting to learn is a good thing.

As NORM always says...
"and don't forget to wear these, safety glasses"
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post #17 of 21 Old 08-24-2012, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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I finished these built-ins back in July. Hope you like them. (a new shutter with the same paint color will be installed in a few weeks)
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Last edited by noone; 08-24-2012 at 11:39 PM.
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post #18 of 21 Old 08-24-2012, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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A few more.
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post #19 of 21 Old 08-25-2012, 04:00 AM
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nice job!
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post #20 of 21 Old 08-28-2012, 05:39 AM
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Great job on those.
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