It’s long overdue for an update. I still struggle to find time/desire for working on projects AND then the time writing about them.
When I first started working on the pantry, I figured I would fix and paint the walls, replace missing molding and throw some freestanding shelves in there; no big.
So close! Slap some paint up and put those shelving units in.
But, no. That would be far too simple and fast, and then a project I started would be done in a timely matter. And that is completely unacceptable.
I decided I wanted a somewhat more permanent solution for storage and wanted to try my hand at built in shelves.
I almost immediately climbed into the corner in the fetal position and ceased to function.
I finally got it together and built floating shelves on one side of the room. It was much easier than I thought it was going to be and I found a new love for the kreg jig and pocket holes.
It felt really good to accomplish part of my goals and my confidence was building.
Every year, I take a week off for my birthday (July 16th) and thought I would be super industrious and continue working on the pantry with renewed zeal.
Not exactly what happened….. I enjoyed the week so thoroughly though! I spent time with my daughter, since she is out of school. I ate all sorts of delicious meals and stayed up late drinking wine. Sleeping in past 5:45am was amazing! I did make some progress in the pantry, but it was not at the forefront of my thought process. #noregretshere
All this is to say that I finally finished the built in cabinet and shelves on the other side of the room.
It was both so much harder and ultimately so much easier than I expected. As with most of my projects, the difficult part for me is finding the several consecutive hours to spend on it – and the want to spend my time like that (ok, that’s probably the bigger problem.)
I learned new things and used new tools, I had never used a router before and what the hell is a ‘dado’?
Now that I’m done with it, I really feel confident that pretty much any person could complete this project. So if you’re overwhelmed like I was in the beginning, please don’t.
Now bear with me as I try to explain it. I had a general plan but mostly did it as I went along, and my thought process is pretty jumbled.
You’ll also have to excuse the pictures – it’s a small room with a doorway and it makes it hard to take decent pictures without a wide angle lens (which I clearly do not have.)
So. Here are some things that I had to contend with:
- Only one outlet in the room and the placement is exactly where the face frame would be with the ikea wall cabinet depth – the wiring had to go through an external wall and I was not going to attempt to move it’s location.
- Walls and floors are not plumb and not level
The width of the area I wanted to fill was 67″ and I wanted two sets of shelves. That meant two 30″ cabinets (60″) and three 1x3s (7 1/2″) for the frame (a picture below will hopefully make more sense) = 67 1/2″. You might notice that amount is more than my width, I had to shave down two of the 1×3 slightly.
I had to keep reminding myself that the cabinet doors are overlay and go over the cabinet frame; so the 1x3s will be flush with the cabinet doors when on, and the space between the cabinet frames/doors had to allow for the full space of the 1×3. Or whatever width chosen.
Also, all lumber dimensions are not what they say they are and it’s helpful to write down the actual dimensions for reference. Examples:
1×12 = 3/4″ x 11 1/4″
1×3 = 3/4″ x 2 1/2″
Math. My brain, ugh. Moving on.
I picked up two of these 30″ wide Sektion wall cabinets from Ikea. The depth with the suspension rail is 14 3/4″ – I did not use the rail but with the wall brackets it was pretty comparable to that depth. The depth of these are more than the 1×12 and 2×12 that I used for the shelf frames, so the shelves will not be flush with the cabinets. The old akurum line would have been, but those are no longer.
I was going to make a base out of 2x4s and didn’t want it to be standard cabinet height so I went with the 30″ high version, 30″x30″, but any desired height could be used.
I built a platform on the floor with 2x4s, using the 1 1/2″ side for the height. I screwed it directly to the floor with some long wood deck screws that I had on hand. This was a good first step since it allowed me to shim everything and make sure my base was level. I left space on the left and right sides between the walls and base for 1x12s and a 1×2 wall cleat (again, I think pictures will help).
In addition to the platform, I screwed two 2x4s to the studs – with a space for the 2×12 to slide into perpendicularly, onto the walls to attach the cabinets to. and to add 1 1/2″ to the overall depth of the cabinets. This way, my outlet is now inside the cabinet and I have a little more countertop space.
Since the size of the space on the sides of the cabinets are 2 1/2″ wide and the width of the 1×12 is 3/4″, I attached some 1x2s to the wall to screw the 1×12. When the 1×3 face frame is put on, there will be a small overhang and the shelves will be set back a little bit and everything will be all snug.
With the walls and floor framed out, I put the cabinets in place so I could slide the two 1x12s (sides) and one 2×12 (middle) into place to make shelf placement. Of course, never that easy. The room is just a few inches more than 8′ tall, so I had to get the 1x12s at 10′ long and trimmed them down to the right height with a circular saw. The math worked out for the 2×12 to be 8′ since it was on the platform between the cabinets, but natch it didn’t actually fit in reality and that one had to be shaved down also.
This was probably my least favorite part. You guys, I am 5’2″ on a good day and wrestling these tall ass pieces of wood into a small room and removing them to work on them and putting them back repeatedly sucked major. They fell on me more than I’d like to admit. Moral of the story, it would be helpful for another set of hands during this and your husband doesn’t wander off to do something unrelated.
I also looked ridiculous getting the four 10′ and 8′ pieces of lumber into my Honda Civic in the middle of the Menard’s parking lot. Good thing that I don’t have a lot of pride. Perseverance and perspiration!
I bought relatively inexpensive pine boards from Menards, but even the quality aren’t perfect. I laid them flat and used wood filler for any knots and imperfections and sanded them with my orbital sander before priming them.
Once I had them in place and my shelf heights marked, I used a level to mark the other sides. I went with a 2×12 instead of a 1×12 for the middle because it had to support dados on both sides and I didn’t want it weakened.
My shelves are also 1×12, which means a 3/4″ wide dado. I picked up this little router from Home Depot and a 3/4″ straight bit.
Ya’ll. I do not know how people make it look so easy to make straight lines with a router. Truly exceptional. I had never used one before and my grooves looked like a worm on crack ate through the wood. Make sure to practice on a spare piece of wood, or innately possess this skill. I decided to forgo a lot of practice and use a piece of scrap wood for an edge guide and used the square base on the router. It worked like a charm. I put the edge of the wood guide 1 1/2″ from my shelf placement mark (I marked the bottom of the shelf, apparently. I didn’t even think of that. You can mark where you want the top of the shelf to end, or the bottom.) The dados I made were 1/2″ deep, nice and strong (remember the wood is only 3/4″ thick.)
I feel it’s important to note that with the edge guide, my dados did NOT perfectly line up where I had marked the shelves. But since I consistently marked them all 1 1/2″, all the shelves were level and lined up.
Except that one that I made based off the wrong mark and put the groove in the incorrect spot. It was heart dropping. I almost scrapped the whole project. I did some major catastrophizing and then took some deep breaths and drank some root beer (yummmmm) and cut another groove where it was actually supposed to be. 4 coats of wood filler and sanding made that mistake groove erased.
Also, nothing could prepare me for the sheer amount of wood chips that would be flying at me from the router. I looked like a tree when I was done.
Now that the grooves were all in, it was time to start attaching everything.
The cabinets were attached to the 2x4s on the back wall, and the side 1x12s were screwed to the 1×2 side wall cleats. Because the base cabinets were not snug against the middle 2×12 (remember 2 1/2″ space for the 1×3 face frame and the 2×12 is only 1 1/2″ wide), I cut a 1×4 poplar board into two pieces and made pocket holes to attach on both ends to the shelf frames, and screwed those into the studs. I tell you, they didn’t fall on me anymore after I did this. General life improvement.
Ok. Now, cutting the shelves down. They will be the width between your frame pieces + 1″ (two 1/2″ depth dados), mine ended up being 32 1/4″.
Holy hell. Getting those shelves in were a task. They are supposed to be snug and not wiggle, that’s where they get their strength from. It took me several hours with a hammer and a 2×4 (to distribute the force and not damage the boards). I find most problems can be solved with a hammer and 2×4. You can quote me on that. I also added some wood glue in there, for extra staying oomph.
Those are the bones of the built in and now it’s ready for the counter and to be face framed! Hooray!
If you’re still reading this… hooray!
Since the base of 2×4 had the cabinets off the floor 1 1/2″, I wanted to do a similar height on the top. I attached several 1×4 on the top of the cabinets and 1×2 cleats on the sides of the cabinets, flush with the frames. When the 3/4″ plywood is added on top of the 1x4s, the total height will be 1 1/2″, same as the bottom.
To make the countertop, I measured the exact width between the left side 1×12 and middle 2×12, then the middle 2×12 and the right side 1×12. The exact depth of the left 1×12 from the wall, the middle 2×12 from the wall and the right 1×12. And the depth of the cabinet frames’ from the wall.
I marked my measurements on the plywood and used a drill to make two holes for the corners of the middle 2×12. Then I used my circular saw for the side cuts, and a jig saw for between the drilled holes. From there, I measured the distance between the 2×12 and the 1x12s. Those 2 cuts were simple Ls. Next, I ripped the length down to 16 1/4″ (2×4 wall cleat + 14 3/4″ cabinet + variance in wall), and trimmed the sides to 67″ (wall width).
Now, you bring it to the cabinets and wait with bated breath to see if it all lines up, it doesn’t go in, you grab the hammer (see: above in post) and help it out and then find that it does, in fact fit almost perfectly.
The rest is all the finishing with 1x3s and 1x2s poplar boards. Like so:
I decided to paint the shelves not white, which means the Ikea Sektion cabinets and doors are to be painted too. I like the Zinsser BIN primer for this.
Then it all got 2 coats of Benjamin Moore Cumulus Cloud, color matched to Valspar Aspire paint. I hadn’t used it before, and it is a very impressive paint! I debated even doing a second coat, it was that good.
So. Wow. That seems like a lot of steps, and it is, but totally manageable.
Now quarter round on the base boards!
I installed the beautiful light and it’s gorgeous!
I haven’t filled it up yet, and I can’t wait to!