Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Tale of Three Cabinets

This is one of those times where odd circumstances in life all align in some novel way.


The other day the girls were out riding their bikes when they noticed someone had put a kitchen base cabinet out on the sidewalk with a FREE sign taped to it. The girls promptly came home and asked if they could have it. We said yes and they went over to the house with their little red wagon, loaded it up and brought it home.

The cabinet itself was sturdy, probably original to the kitchen in the house and built in the late 40's or early 50's. It had a drawer up top and a cupboard below. The drawer and cupboard both work fine. There were some issues, of course. For starters, there was no top! It used to be part of the lower cabinets in a kitchen and so it didn't need a top since the counter top covered it. Also, it had an opening in the back and some odd trim on the sides.

The girls wanted to use it as a "potions" stand in the yard. I like that that wanted to re-use something that might have gone into the landfill, so I said I'd help. This then, was the plan:

  - Attach a top and then tile the top (we have left over tile and grout from other home projects)
  - Cover/close the hole in the back
  - Clean out the drawer (old shelf paper and 60+ years of "crud")
  - Attach wheels to the base (this was my idea, and we're all glad we did this one)
  - Cut/remove/trim the trim on the sides
  - Paint the exterior

I got to work on the casters right away, which made the cabinet easily portable and I ended up using it as a kind of garage helper/cart for other projects. My older daughter and I attached the wheels, and she did a good job with the screw gun.

The girls primered the outside after my wife removed/shaved/hacked away the trim on the sides.

The next step was the top. I cut two layers of 1/2 plywood to fit and attached them with glue and finishing nails to the top of the cart. I did two layers because I wanted it to be sturdy and so that I'd have something to screw into. Then I cut and attached some cement board to that, using some screws.

I cut a piece of cement board (we had a LOT left over) to fill in the hole on the back (15" x 8") and attached that.

Next up is tiling. Not sure when we'll get to that, though, as we'll need a tile saw.


While all of this was going on, my wife noticed a cabinet on freecycle. The person posting "chest/dresser/cabinet" thingy said it had three really nice drawers that were salvaged from a liberty ship and then a cabinet was fashioned around them. My wife replied to the freecycle ad, but was sad to hear that she was too late -- the piece had been taken. Then the next day, the lady contacted my wife saying that the person who claimed the cabinet said it "wasn't what she was looking for."

That should have been our first clue.

Anyway, my wife went to pick it up and I went about working on the first cabinet.

My wife drove up and showed me the cabinet. It was in terrible shape. It had started falling apart during the 10 minute drive home! The middle drawer was so stuck we couldn't get it open and other pieces had split or had fallen off completely.

But my wife is a dedicated person and she decided she could fix it. So she took it all apart, finally removing the stuck middle drawer and then shored it all up with finish nails (we do love our cordless nailer) mostly hidden so that the original look wouldn't be lost. We had to add some extra bracing on the inside, but in the process we managed to fix the rails for the drawers.

She put the thing back together and now it looks good and works great. Turns out it's far too big for the spot we have, so we'll have to give it away. I bet she could sell it, as it's sturdy and has nice drawers, but we're really big fans of giving away stuff you don't want/need.


During all of this work on the other two cabinets, we got a phone call. A cabinet we had ordered a few months ago had arrived. This one is built by professionals in the US, from actual wood. The thing looks amazing, but it's unfinished. So we took off the doors, removed the shelves and got to work filling the nail holes and sanding it down. Then we applied a couple coats of clear finish. It's still a bit bumpy so we still need to sand it one last time and give it a final coat of clear.


Three cabinets in one week!

I hope to have some pictures to post later, and I'll try to remember to take some shots of the kids tiling the top of the cart.

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