Sunday, March 16, 2014

Vanity Construction Details


Here's what Sarah's vanity looks like behind the scenes.

The sides are cherry plywood. A cherry plywood bottom is attached using pocket hole screws. In the back are nail boards and the front sports a frame of solid cherry. Corner blocks keep things square and add structural integrity.

The doors are attached using face frame hidden hinges with a 3/4-inch overlay. Since there will be a sink here, the top drawer front is false and is attached to a couple hidden pieces of the face frame. The face frame is attached to the cabinet with pocket hole screws from the sides and from the cabinet floor.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Vanity Done

We got the vanity assembled. The frame was a little over 3/4-in thick, so the hinge ears bit into the frame. Not a big deal, I guess. Had to snug them down, though, because otherwise the doors would touch when closed. You need to have some gap, even if it is only a millimeter or two.


Not a bad little cherry vanity. It is certainly sturdy and, while it won't win any fashion awards, it works well and does the job. All it needs is a sink top and the handles (easier to install those once it is in place...less chance of damage when moving).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Kids Vanity Doors and Frame

We edge banded the doors, coated them with water-based polyurethane, and added hidden hinges to them.


We also made and installed a face frame of solid cherry.


This is starting to look like a bathroom vanity.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Vanity Carcass

Like before, we assembled the carcass once the sides and bottom were finished. We used pocket hole screws to join the pieces. For the plywood, we used #7 Kreg Screws. For the solid hardwood (the nail board, in this case) we used #6 Quick Screws. For both, we used a clutch setting of 12 on the cordless drill.


The pieces we cut from the sides to form the toe kick were cut on a diagonal to serve as corner blocks. Here, too, we used pocket holes.

The next step will be to make a face frame from solid cherry. This will be a rectangular frame, held together with pocket hole screws.

My daughter is helping me with every step. This way, she learns a little bit about how things are made. Even if she doesn't ever make things for herself, she will be a better judge of workmanship. There is, also, a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from making things yourself (the so-called Ikea effect). To be honest, what we are doing is much above assembling pressboard furniture. Better materials, certainly, but it isn't much harder to drill a pocket hole and drive a screw than it is pulling two boards together with a quarter-turn cam.

The biggest difference is, perhaps, in the finishing. We have had to coat the wood with polyurethane and lightly sand between coats. Doing that took all week, really, but only a few minutes per day. Since we used water borne coatings, we get a lot of grain raise on the first couple coats but there isn't any smell and it cures quickly. The first two coats were a flooring poly, with a high solid count. That effectively seals the wood surface. Then a couple thin coats of glossy polyurethane and we're done. Since we use cherry, we don't need to stain anything. In a couple years, these pieces will acquire a rich, red hue.

The nail board, in back, is a scrap piece of finished maple, salvaged from an old mortar board. Since it will be behind the sink bowl, you won't see it. And if you're wondering why we aren't assembling this in my shop, well, I'd rather lug this up one flight of stairs than two.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Kids' Bathroom Started

With the government furlough and general procrastination, I did not remodel my kids' bathroom this past fall. I tried to start. I painted the ceiling and, well, that was it. School began. The holidays needed attention. My back started killing me. Days turned to weeks turned to months.

But I did acquire the wood necessary to make the vanity and a shelf box. Like my master bath, these will be cherry. My daughter wants to help me do this every step of the way, and the bathroom is cluttered, so we went ahead and made the shelf box.

Sure, we will have to remove it to paint, but that's just four screws. In the meantime it holds all those Bath and Body Works soaps, rolls of toilet paper, Clorox wipes and other things.

Building the Shelf Box
Marking the Centerline and Stud Locations
Installed Shelf Box
Construction was really easy. Using cherry plywood, we attached the sides, top, and bottom to one another using pocket hole screws. We, also, drilled pocket holes to attach a face frame. We made a frame out of 1 x 2 (actual measurements 3/4-in by 1-1/2 in) solid cherry wood - again, using pocket hole screws. The shelves are cherry plywood with their front edge covered in cherry edge banding.

Edge banding is a wood veneer strip with heat-activated glue on its back side. You just cut a strip an inch or two longer than the shelf and use an iron to melt the glue and adhere it to the plywood. Trim the excess off with a razor blade, sand, and the end result looks like a solid piece of wood.

We used pocket hole screws to attach the shelves, along with solid 1 x 2 shelf backers (hold the shelves off the wall and adds rigidity to the box).

Everything got at least three coats of waterborne polyurethane. That is pretty straight-forward, as well. Clean and sand the parts as necessary. Apply two thin coats. Knock off the roughness (grain pop) with a very fine sandpaper, clean, and apply another thin coat. You can repeat the sanding and coating as much as your heart desires.

Installing the box wasn't hard, either. First, locate where you want the box's centerline to be. Then locate the nearest wall studs. I took a 1 x 2 of cherry and, using a level, attached it to the wall. The box hangs from this. With the shelf box perched on that board, I screwed the shelf backers to the wall studs. This secures the wall box.

The rest of this project will have to wait until school is out.