I’m building a cupboard that will go outside and provide a store for the pottery and craft tools and supplies used by my wonderful wife, MakeWalkRead.
I spent the previous post designing, measuring, sketching, and deliberating. Now it’s time to get out the saws, screwdrivers and hammers.
Before I can assemble the frame, I need just one more sketch. I need to decide how the strips should be joined together. The strips are approx. 5 x 2 cm in section, and I have to pick their orientations; whether to have them 5cm wide by 2cm high or 5cm high by 2cm wide. Then, I have to decide what to do where a 2cm wide end meets a 5cm wide piece; where do I place the join? The following sketch shows decision this better than I can describe in words:
I decided to orientate all the horizontal pieces as 5cm high by 2cm wide. I then decided to orient the vertical pieces so that they had a 2cm width and 5cm depth. This meant that the pieces in the frame sides would line up nice and flat, while the front and back pieces would have narrow ends butting up to wider strips. (As I said it’s hard to describe in words.) I then decided that the pieces at the back would line up with the outsides of the vertical strips while the pieces at the front would line up with the insides. I chose to do this as the front of the frame would host doors that would open outwards. I realised that I could have the doors close up flush against the top and bottom of the frame, while the door hinges could be attached onto the vertical strips where they stuck out at the sides. Hopefully, this will become clearer in subsequent pictures.
So, I began construction by assembling the ends as wooden rectangles. I joined the pieces using decking screws that went through pre-drilled holes in the vertical pieces and screwed into the ends of the horizontal pieces. I was careful to pick where to put the screws so that I could interleave them with the screws that will join the front and back pieces onto these ends.
Then it was a simple matter of screwing those front and back pieces in and completing the basic frame.
At the top of the frame, I wanted to have a sloping roof that could drain rainfall away. So I would need a couple of triangular sections that covered the width of the unit and rose to a high point at the middle. I found a spare plank of wood that was suitable, marked one of the triangles out on this, and used the jigsaw to cut it out.
This left me with one completed triangle and two triangular off-cuts. I took the off-cuts and joined them together end-to-end to form the other triangle. I used a short piece of wood to form a brace across this join, and put the joined piece at the back where it would be less noticeable.
I mounted these two triangles onto the frame using screws up through the frame into the triangles. Then to compete this part I found a short off-cut section of shaped wood that was originally meant for the top of a fence panel, and fixed this between the triangles at their apexes.
Now for the shelves. I need four shelves to fit into the unit. One will be lined up with the bottom of the frame, the others will sit on brackets that run up the sides of the frame. I began by measuring out and sawing up strips of wood that would join the shelves together and form the brackets.
I then secured some of these strips into the frame at appropriate intervals up each side to form the brackets. (I then forgot to photograph that stage. Sorry about that!)
The shelves were to be made from sections of tongue and groove wood that would run across the width of the cupboard. So, I had more sawing to do.
The tongue and groove sections were to be joined together using strips of wood that would run from front to back. I used three strips for each shelf, one for the middle and two for either end.
Note that the end strips are not exactly at the ends of the tongue and groove. They are inset slightly to accommodate the brackets. The end strips will sit side by side with the brackets, up against them. The brackets will support the tongue and groove directly.
Measuring out the tongue and groove took a little bit of thought. I had bought packs of planks that were each 210cm long. Since the shelves were 80cm wide, I could get two and a half shelf sections out of each plank. This worked quite well as I would need five sections to cover the width of a shelf. I could make each shelf using the wood from two full planks, cut into four 80cm pieces and two 40cm pieces. The 40cm pieces could be put together end-to-end to make up the middle sections, attached to and supported by the middle strips of shelf support wood.
Five widths of tongue and groove were slightly wider than needed for the shelves, so one further step was to take off the excess width from each of the outer sections using the jigsaw. Then, after three liberal coatings of wood preserve, the shelves were ready.
Now I can begin to make up the walls and roof of the cupboard. I decided to use featherboard for the roof and sides, and hardboard panels for the back and for the doors.
First, the sides. I needed the featherboard to cover the outer width of the frame, cut flush to each edge. This meant I needed lots of sections 60cm long. The featherboard was supplied in 150cm long planks. So, I could get two sections out of each plank.
This leaves a fair amount of wastage, which is always a little frustrating, but I realised that the top and bottom sections could be attached to the frame at their middles, so I could use two 30cm waste sections at the top and bottom of each side to use some of these offcuts up.
So, with the sides covered nicely, it’s time for the roof. I wasn’t quite so lucky with using up waste pieces on the roof. I wanted the roof to overhang the front, back and sides of the cupboard, so the pieces had to be a little wider. I went with 66cm sections here to get that overhang.
I realised I would need a special piece to finish off the roof. The featherboard would come close at the top, but there would be a gap along the ridge between the two sides. I needed a strip to cover this gap that would have a triangular or curved profile to let the rain drip down one side or the other. I found a piece of wood from an old pallet that would do the job, and set about it with a Rasp Plane to give it a less-flat, more curved shape.
My roof ridge ended up like this.
With the sides and roof covered, my cupboard was beginning to take shape. In the next blog post I’ll talk about how I made the back and front, and describe my further travails with hinges.