Cabinets are something that can end up costing quite a decent chunk of money. For people on a budget, a DIY storage cabinet can be a fairly straightforward project that will have you saving money and time while increasing your overall organizational effectiveness.
DIY storage cabinets are perfect to install in garages, basements, laundry rooms, and basically anywhere where you think you might need more storage space.
To get started, there are some basic tools you’ll need:
- Table saw or circular saw
- Edge trimmer
- Utility knife
The materials you’ll need for this DIY storage cabinet are:
- 1-1/4-inch screws
- 1/4″ overlay hinges
- 1×4 pine (ensure it’s construction-grade wood)
- Three-inch screws
- Edge banding
While using a table saw will be more convenient for a project like this – whether you’re building a garage cabinet or a wall cabinet – you can get away with using a circular saw. You don’t need to be a skilled carpenter or handyman to make a storage cabinet. If you can operate a saw to make cuts and are able to screw together things, you should be just fine.
The only two materials used to make these cabinets are particleboard and pine. If you don’t want to bother having to finish your cabinet, then just use melamine. Melamine is a coating that is used on particleboard.
All in all, you should be able to make these cabinets for under $40 per square foot of wall space. You’d never be able to purchase cabinets at a place like Home Depot for anywhere near that price.
Consider Where Your Cabinets Will Be Going
The first step is to think about what area of your home you’ll be installing your cabinets in. For example, DIY garage cabinets will have different requirements than kitchen cabinets. To determine where you want to install your cabinets, place some masking tape on the wall on the area you think your cabinets will be going. When considering your cabinet layout, keep in mind that a cabinet requires a stud behind the wall so it can be securely fastened.
The width of the doors on your cabinet should be two feet or less. If you want a cabinet with a wider opening area, consider installing two doors. Keep in mind that shelves on cabinets that are over two feet in length tend to sag when objects are placed on them. If you’re considering going with shelves that are longer than two feet, screw cleats underneath them.
Now that you’ve figured out your cabinet layout, you’ll want to decide what type of melamine to go with. A lot of hardware shops will have 4×8 sheets in white. If you don’t want to go with white, consider going to a lumberyard. They might charge a bit more per sheet, but you should be able to find a wider selection of colors.
Now that you’ve got your melamine and layout dimensions, you can start cutting it into pieces. Make sure that you’re cutting exactly the same widths for each side of the shelves. Melamine is sometimes difficult to carry around on your own. If you have a friend or family member nearby, consider asking them for assistance.
Melamine is also sharp. You’ll want to wear a pair of gloves while handling it because it can cut your hands. Always make sure you’re doing your cuts on cardboard or some old carpet you have laying around. You don’t want the melamine to scratch while you’re doing your cuts.
Always exercise a lot of caution when handling your melamine because it tends to chip easily.
Once you’re done cutting the width measurements for your melamine, get your iron and set it to the cotton function. Begin ironing the banding in a few smooth passes each way.
The banding will just need to be easily tacked and situated properly as you’re running the iron over it. On the second pass, go a little slower and ensure that the glue is sticking to the banding. After you’re done that, inspect the edges to see if anything is loose.
You’ll now want to trim the edge banding of the melamine. Get a block and hold it securely over one end while you cut off the additional banding. Get your edge trimmer and start cutting off the banding precisely.
If you’re not experienced with your edge trimmer, consider doing a few trials runs with a piece of scrap wood. If any damage occurs to your banding while you’re giving it a trim, reheat it with the iron and begin again.
The next step is to drill the support holes for your shelves. You’ll want to drill 1/4-inch holes into the sides of the cabinet. It helps to get a scrap piece of pegboard to help guide you. After you do that, you’ll want to put a label on your pegboard to make sure that all of the holes you’ll be drilling will line up perfectly.
When you’re drilling, make sure that you drill right through each side fully. The holes that you’re drilling should be around 3/8 inches deep. If you have any masking tape handy, you can wrap some around the drill bit you’re using to make sure you don’t drill too far or too shallow. If you really want to be precise, consider getting a stop collar for around $5.
Before you start to drill, you’ll want to inspect your shelf supports. There are some that need 1/4-inch holes, while other ones might need 5mm holes. If you have a brad-point drill bit, you’ll be able to get a more precise hold that will be free and clear of any chips.
Melamine panels and pine will be installed between each side of the cabinet. If you’re focused on aesthetics, you’ll want to pain the pine 1x4s to look the same shade as the melamine. If your cabinets are under four feet high, you will only need fixed shelves for the bottom and top. In order to construct fixed shelving units, all you have to do is slice both the melamine and the 1x4s into similar lengths and then proceed to screw both of them together.
A crosscut guide always helps to make your cuts. Using a stop block helps to ensure your precision for each cut that you make.
Many people start getting excited when they get to the assembly a portion of their DIY storage cabinet. For this step, all you have to do is secure the sides of the cabinets to the fixed shelves. To make things easier, it helps to predrill a screw close to the front of each shelf that you’ll be installing. When you’re doing this, ensure that the banded edges are completely flush.
You can then screw the 1×4 pieces of pine into the melamine. By this point, things will start appearing more like cabinetry. The shelves should be screwed to each side of the cabinet. Make sure to drill a screw in the rear of the cabinet so that your shelves are securely held in place before you begin to start using the rest of the screws. Make sure that you exercise caution when handling the cabinet box at this point.
In order to install doors on your cabinets, you’ll need to install hinges before that. Wrap hinges are fairly straightforward to use, and you simply wrap them around each front corner edge of your cabinets. If you don’t currently have wrap hinges, you can go to any hardware store and ask if they carry 1/4 overlay wrap hinges.
Wrap hinges are perfect for a DIY storage cabinet for two reasons:
- They provide a secure and solid mount for your cabinet doors
- They allow you to accurately position your doors even before fastening them in place
Make sure to keep your hinges around a quarter of an inch apart from the corners of your cabinets. If your cabinet doors are around 12 inches, then you should only need about four hinges.
Cabinet Door Positioning
Once you’ve got all of your hinges installed, you’ll want to take some measurements to figure out the width of your doors. You’ll want a 1/8-inch gap between each cabinet door. To figure out what length you’re going with, you’ll simply measure the opening of your cabinets and increase that measurement by 3/4 of an inch.
Begin to cut your cabinet doors and then situate them in place to make sure they fit properly before you begin to band the edges. After that, align the doors to the hinges with shims while making sure you have that 1/8-inch gap. Get your clamps and secure the cabinet doors.
Hanging Your Cabinets
After you’ve got everything put together, you can now hang your cabinets in the position on your wall where you made your layout with masking tape. It always helps to do this step with a helper, as the cabinets will need to be supported while you drill the screws into them, and it can be difficult to do both at the same time.
A DIY storage cabinet can be a fun and exciting project. They’ll have you saving money and feeling better about yourself in knowing that you didn’t have to consult with a professional cabinet installer to get the job done.