A month ago my sister asked if I would build a couple of bookcases for their new home. For some strange reason, I told her I would. Still not sure what I was thinking lol. But anyway, both of the cabinets are made out of 3 sheets of 3/4" plywood, 1/4" MDF for the door panels and 1 1/2" beadboard back panel. The color of the paint is 7074 in satin by Sherwin Williams and the top coat is a satin Polycrylic by Minwax. To learn how I made them, check out the video below or the step by step photos.
The supplies used (affiliate links below):
Kreg Hinge Jig
Kreg Cabinet Hardware Jig
Kreg Face Clamp
Sherwin Williams Latex Primer
Sherwin Williams 7074 Software paint in satin
Satin Minwax Polycrylic
Blum Half-Cranked hinge adapter plates
Blum Half-Cranked hinges
Blumotion soft-close adapter mechanisms
Showcase photo first!
I made two of these bookcases out of 3 sheets of plywood and a few sheets of beadboard. Since my shop is in my 2-car garage, that means I need to break down the sheets to save room and to allow me to move around a bit.
My method for breaking down plywood is pretty simple. I put a piece of ½” foam insulation down on the ground and then lay the plywood on top. The foam will protect the face of the plywood and it also gives me a soft surface to cut into with my track saw.
The first pieces I cut are the side panels for the case. Since I don’t have a longer track, I crosscut the waste at the top of the panel. My goal when breaking down the plywood is to leave enough room to remove the factory edges on all sides.
The next panel that I’m breaking down will have the 10 shelves, the top, middle and bottom panels. The way that my cutlist software organized the pieces, I’m able to break this sheet down into 3 manageable pieces.
With all of the pieces cut to rough size I can put away the foam panel and start to use the table saw to cut them to their final sizes and that starts with the cabinet sides. I start by ripping the 4-foot panel in half and then reset the fence to 11 inches to cut all 4 sides.
The final length of the side panels is 7 feet long. This is too long to cut on my miter gauge so I’m going to use my track saw.
I clean up one end of both panels and once flush, clamp them together and rotate the boards. I’m going to cut them to their final length at the same time to ensure they are the same exact length.
The final pieces to cut to width are the top, middle and bottom panels. These pieces are narrower than the side panels. I set the fence to 10 and ¾”s and cut those to width.
After knocking out 16 pieces to width for the two cases, I need to cut them to length. I bust the crosscut sled, set the fence and cut the 10 shelves to length. Next, I adjust the stop block for the top, middle and bottom panels because they sit in dados therefor are ¾”s longer.
Speaking of dados, that’s the joinery method for the middle and bottom shelves. The top shelf will be attached a little bit later so for now, let's talk about the dados. I just released a video on my channel showing how I made a zero clearance dado jig to make this process foolproof. Make a mark from the bottom of the side panel to the bottom of the dado and line the jig up.
The jig has a kerf the size of the bit so I know exactly where it’s going.
Speaking of the bit, I used a 23/32 plywood bit that’s made specifically for plywood since we all know plywood’s not ¾”s of an inch thick. I’ve used the crap out of my bit and it’s a little dull so I took two passes to get to the depth of ⅜”s of an inch.
Next, I mark the line for the middle shelf dado and repeat the same steps. To ensure that the dados are in the same spot on both panels, I lay them side by side and transfer the marks.
To hold the beadboard panel, I route a ⅜” wide, ¼” deep rabbit on the back edge of the side panels for the back panel using my dado stack at the table saw.
And finally before assembling the case I need to drill about a million holes for the adjustable shelves. I like using the cheap kreg jig because it’s fast and easy and produces accurate holes. To begin I place a shim on the top of the panel which will make sure I start the holes in the same location on both sides.
One quick warning about drilling the holes.. If you are going to put ¾” edge banding on your shelves, make sure you put the holes in far enough that the solid wood banding won't hit them. Don’t ask me how I know…
To glue up the case it’s awkward due to the size, but it’s not too bad. With glue in the dados I place the shelves in one side of the case and lean it over to attach the other side.
Since I used the plywood router bit, the grooves are pretty tight. I throw a couple of clamps on the case to pull everything together and shoot a few brad nails in.
Now I can attach the top and I do by putting 4 pocket hole screws on each end of the panel. I put the cabinet face down on my assembly table and place the panel in position. I use a clamp to prevent the panel from moving and drive in the screws.
The face frame of the cabinet is made out of solid lumber. While I typically mill my own lumber, for this project I saved a lot of time by using S3S poplar. It was only 15 cents more a board food and since I wasn’t footing the bill, it wasn’t a concern.
The rails and stiles of the frame were 2 inches wide so I set my table saw fence to 2 inches and batched out the pieces.
Next, I used the crosscut sled and the stop block to cut them all to length.
For the joinery method, I used my domino but pocket holes or dowels work perfectly for a task like this.
To cut the joinery I push the piece up against my bench dogs, line up the centerline with the domino and make the plunge. This process is super quick and I was able to knock out the entire frame in less than an hour.
Before assembling the frame I cut the curve in the top rail by first taping the template on.
I remove the majority of the waste at the bandsaw
Then using a flush trim bit, make an exact clone.
The glue up is super simple. I put glue on the dominos and put it together like Legos. I throw a few clamps on and wait about an hour before removing them.
You’ll notice that I glued the frame together on top of the case. It was the only surface in the shop that would support the frame.
To attach the face frame I just put glue on the edge of the case and clamped it in place for a few hours. Plenty of glue surface.
One thing I did do while making the frame is cut the rails a ⅛” longer than it needed to be so that the frame would overhang the sides of the case. This gave me a little wiggle room to make sure the frame was the correct size.
Once the glue dried I came back with a flush trim bit and flushed the sides up.
So moving on to the doors. They are a basic shaker style door with a ¼” MDF panel in the middle. I wanted to keep the design minimal so I opted out of any sort of molding.
I cut the rails and stiles to length using the crosscut sled. They are made out of the same S3S lumber so it was a quick process.
Next, I make a centerline on the rails and then transfer that line to the stile for the domino. I put a single 6 x 40 mm domino on each corner.
And finally, I cut the ¼” MDF panel to size at the table saw. For painted projects, I really like using MDF.
To glue up the doors it’s pretty much identical to the face frame glue up. I put glue on the dominos, stick the MDF panel in the groove and assemble the door.
I throw a couple of clamps on the corners and let it sit for a couple of hours.
The shelves are ¾” plywood and to hide the edges and to strengthen them a little, I added a 1 ¼” strip of wood on the front edge. I rip a bunch of strips at the table saw and then glue them to the plywood shelf.
Since I had 10 shelves to work on I nailed the strip using 18 gauge brad nails.
Since the cabinet is going to be painted I can easily fill the holes and it won't be seen.
To mount the hinges I strike a line 2 inches down from the top and 2 inches up from the bottom. This is the centerline for the plate.
I then bring that line to the back side of the face frame to make it easier when lining up the adapter plate.
The hinge plates have a little lip on the front edge that seats on the corner of the inside edge.
To make the installation a little easier I drew a centerline on the bracket so that I can just line it up with my mark and know it’s in the correct place.
To install the hinges in the door I put the door in the opening and shimmed it so that the gap is exactly how I wanted it and transferred the centerline to the back edge of the door. I used the Kreg hinge jig to drill the 35 mm cups. This jig is awesome and is perfect for installing euro hinges. The centerline lines right up with the jig and with it clamped in to place, I drill the holes.
Using my double square I make sure the hinge if parallel to the edge and install the screws.
To soften the edges of the shelves I put a light round over on the top and bottom edges using a ⅛” round over bit.
Since the doors are inset, they need some sort of stop to prevent them from hitting the shelves.
I glued a wooden block on the back side of the face frame that the doors will rest on once closed. There are other options that companies like FastCap sell to stop the doors but I found this method worked out well.
The back panels are an area that I wanted to add a visual element other than a smooth painted panel. I decided on a 1 ½” beaded MDF panel.
To cut the panels I set up a couple of roller stands to support it while ripping it to width and then using the track saw, cut them to width.
The finishing process starts by spraying 2 coats of a latex primer followed by 2 coats of the latex paint. The color of the paint is 7074 Software in satin by Sherwin Williams. And finally, to add a layer of protection I sprayed 2 coats of a satin polycrylic.
I didn’t get a chance to record too much of this process because I didn’t want to damage my camera but I sprayed the paint and poly using my 3 stage HVLP. The gun had a 1.8mm tip. I did have to thin the primer and paint using water, but it sprayed really well. The poly didn’t require any thinning so it was as simple as pour and spray.
With the finishing done, I can re-assemble the case by first reinstalling the hinge adapter plate and then the hinges in the doors. One thing I learned while doing this is to remember not only where each went but also the hinge adapter plate. It took me about an hour to get that lined back up.
To install the back panel I put it in place and drew a line showing where the middle and bottom shelves were and shot a few brad nails in to keep it in place.
Since I ordered the hinges without soft-close I installed a blumotion soft-close mechanism on top of one hinge on each door.
And finally, The last piece of the puzzle is to install the door knobs. I again use my Kreg jig to drill the holes as it’s accurate and easy. I put the knobs about 2 inches down from the top edge of the door.
Here they are completed. I love the minimal design and think the color is perfect. The hardware was a nice touch as well.