How to Build a Vanity Cabinet


Many homeowners save money by learning how to build custom cabinetry. Understanding the steps to complete a project such as a bathroom vanity will teach you the basics of building cabinets. With some working knowledge of power tools, building a bathroom vanity is a feasible do-it-yourself project.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet of ¾-inch plywood, 48-by-96-inch
  • Sheet of ¼-inch plywood, 48-by-96-inch
  • Table saw
  • Electric miter saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Measuring tape
  • Carpenter's square
  • Air compressor
  • Pneumatic nail gun
  • Pneumatic corrugated fastener gun
  • Pneumatic stapler
  • Corrugated fasteners
  • 1 ½-inch nails for nail gun
  • ¾-inch staples for stapler
  • Wood glue

Cut the Parts

  • Set the fence of the table saw to 29 ½ inches. Cut the ¾-inch plywood across the grain for a piece that measures 29 ½ by 48 inches. Next, cut the 1/4-inch plywood across the grain on the same setting. Then make a second cut along the grain. Set the pieces aside.

  • Set the fence of the table saw to 28 inches. Cut the ¾-inch plywood across the grain for a piece that measures 28 by 48 inches. Place this with the ¾-inch plywood from Step 1. Set the leftover piece of plywood to the side by itself for now.

  • Set the fence of the table saw to 20 inches. Rip the piece of ¾-inch plywood from Step 1 on this setting to give you two pieces that measure 29 ½ by 20 inches. These are the end panels for the cabinet.

  • Rip one piece of plywood from Step 2 on the same 20-inch setting. This will be the bottom shelf.

  • Set the table saw fence at 3 ½ inches. Rip four pieces of plywood on this setting from the leftover plywood that is 28 inches long. This will yield four pieces that are 3 ½ by 28 inches.

  • Measure and cut two of the 3 ½-inch pieces from Step 5 to 15 ¼ inches long. This will give you the pieces needed for the toe-kick and shelf cleats. You should have two pieces that are 28 inches long and two pieces that are 15 ¼ inches long.

Construct the Face Frame

  • Set the fence of the table saw to 1 ¾ inches. Rip five pieces from the leftover plywood in Step 2 of the previous section. Then set the fence at 3 ½ inches and rip one more piece.

  • Measure and cut two of the 1 ¾-inch pieces of plywood to 26 inches in length with the electric miter saw to make the ends of the face frame. Cut one of the 3 ½-inch pieces 4 ½ inches long and another piece 16 ¼ inches long to make the stiles.

  • Measure and cut the other three 1 ¾-inch pieces 26 ½ inches in length to make the rails. Lay these pieces side by side and mark the center of each piece. Next, measure over 3 ½ inches on both sides of the center mark and draw a line across all three pieces with the carpenter's square. This gives you the location of the 3 ½-inch pieces you cut from Step 1.

  • Place two of the pieces from Step 3 at the top and the bottom of, and between, the two 26-inch pieces from Step 2. Fasten the pieces together with the corrugated fastener gun. Next, place the 4 ½-inch long piece at the top of the face frame and make a mark on the end piece. Repeat for the other end piece.

  • Place the 3 ½-by-16¼ inch piece on the center marks that you drew in Step 3 of this section. Secure it to the frame with the corrugated fastener gun. Repeat for the remaining 4 ½-inch piece.

Assemble the Cabinet

  • Measure and cut two of the pieces from Step 5 in the first section to 16 inches in length. Secure these to the 28-inch pieces from the same step so that you have a box with the two 15 ¾-inch pieces between the two 28-inch pieces.

  • Place the 28-by-20-by-¾-inch piece of plywood on top of this box so that it is even with one edge and hangs over the other. Secure it to the box with the pneumatic nail gun and the 1 ½-inch nails.

  • Set one of the end panels on its edge and secure the shelf and the box to it with the pneumatic nail gun. Be certain to shoot the nail through the end panel and into the shelf. Repeat this with the other end panel until you have a cabinet shell with two end panels, a bottom shelf, and a toe-kick.

  • Place the ¼-inch plywood on the back of the cabinet and secure it to both the cabinet and the bottom shelf with the pneumatic staple gun. Turn the cabinet back over so you can place the face frame on the front of the cabinet. Secure it to the cabinet with the pneumatic nail gun.

  • Place the carpenter's square on the side of the end panel where the face frame meets it and draw a 4-inch line. Draw a line perpendicular to the first to the bottom of the cabinet. Cut along the lines with the jigsaw. Repeat for the other end panel. These are the toe-kick cutouts.

  • Install the two 5 ½-by-17 ½-inch plywood over the drawer holes at the top of the face frame with the pneumatic nail gun. Next, install the overlay hinges on the two 12 ½-by-17 ½-inch pieces of plywood, and secure them to the cabinet with the hinge screws.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always check your measurements twice to keep from making mistakes.
  • You can substitute the pneumatic nails and staples and the corrugated fasteners with regular nails, staples and corrugated fasteners.
  • Wear safety glasses.
  • Never raise the blade of the table saw any higher than is necessary to make the cut.

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