How to Build a Corner China Cabinet

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Cabinets that fit in the corner of a room tend to be the focal point of that room. China is among the most commonly displayed items in a corner display cabinet. If you are the adventurous type, then you would love to be able to build your own corner china cabinet. To help you build that perfect corner cabinet, knowing the Pythagorean Theorem will help you determine the lengths of all three sides of the corner cabinet when you know the length of at least one.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 sheet of3/4-inch oak plywood (48 by 96 inches)
  • 8 pieces of 3/4-inch plywood 19 1/4 by 19 1/4 inches
  • 2 1-by-3-by-72-inch oak lumber
  • 3 1-by-3-by-36-inch oak lumber
  • Table saw
  • Electric miter saw
  • Circular saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Wood glue
  • Variable speed drill
  • Philips head screw tip
  • 1/16-inch drill bit
  • 1 1/2-inch drywall screws
  • 4d box nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Belt sander
  • 100 grit sanding belt
  • Oak wood putty
  • Vibrating sander
  • 100 grit sandpaper

Set the table saw fence at 24 inches. Next, set the blade on a 45-degree angle. Place the sheet of oak plywood against the fence along the 96-inch edge. Rip the plywood. You will have two pieces of plywood approximately 24 by 96 inches with one 45-degree angle along one edge.

Set the table saw fence at 20 inches. Place the mitered edge of one of the pieces from Step 1 against the fence and rip the plywood again. Measure the width from the long point of the miter to the square edge. It should be 20 inches.

Set the table saw fence at 19 1/4 inches. Place the mitered edge of the other piece from Step 1 against the fence and rip the plywood again. Measure the width from the long point of the miter to the square edge. It should be 19 1/4 inches.

Set the table saw fence at 2 1/4 inches. Rip the two 1-by-3-by-72-inch pieces of lumber. These are the end pieces for the face frame.

Set the table saw blade back to 90 degrees. Then, set the table saw fence at 24 inches to the left side of the blade (i.e., over the blade). Cut the two pieces created from Steps 1 to 3 across the grain. This should give you a length of 72 inches for the two pieces. These are the corner ends of the cabinet. Lay the two pieces so that the long edge of the miter is facing down. Measure up from the bottom edge 18 inches and make a mark. Place the framing square on that mark, and draw a line across the width of the plywood.

Set the table saw fence at 2 1/4 inches. Cut four pieces from the leftover plywood in Step 5. Measure and cut them at 19 1/4 inches with the electric miter saw. These are cleats and will be used for the bottom and top shelves.

Place the eight pieces of 3/4-inch plywood 19 1/4 by 19 1/4 inches on the table. Place the framing square from corner to corner and draw a line creating two triangles. Do this for all eight of the pieces. Next, cut these pieces of plywood on that line with the circular saw. You will have 16 triangles. Eight of them will be larger than the other eight. You will use larger ones for the shelves of the china cabinet.

Place the two end panels created in the previous section on the table with the long point of the miter facing down. Place the four 2 1/4-by-19 1/4-inch pieces of plywood from Step 6 of the previous section flush with the ends of the two end panels. Apply glue under them and secure them to the end panels with the 4d box nails.

From the 18-inch mark made in Step 5 of the previous section, measure up 10 1/2 inches and make a mark. Next, measure up 3/4 inch and make another mark. Then, starting from that mark, repeat the pattern twice more. Place the framing square on each mark and draw lines across the width of the end panels to indicate where the shelves will go. Do this for each of the end panels.

Drill pilot holes along the edge without the miter on the wider of the two end panels every 8 inches. Be certain there is one on either end as well. Next, apply glue along that edge. Stand it up on its edge so the other panel will butt against it creating an “L” shape. Secure the two pieces to each other with the 1 1/2-inch drywall screws.

Drill pilot holes everywhere the end panels will receive shelves (the marks and lines from Step 2). Next, run a bead of glue along the two edges of one of the 19 1/4-inch shelves and place it at the bottom of the end panels where the cleats are. Secure it to the end panels with the drywall screws. Repeat this for all the shelves. Be certain to clean up excess glue immediately with a damp cloth.

Place one of the 1-by-3-by-72-inch pieces of lumber on one of the end panels. Drill a pilot hole through it into each of the shelves. Remove it and apply glue along the edge of the end panel, place it back on the glue and secure it with 6d finish nails. Next, drill pilot holes on a 45-degree angle through the lumber into the end panels and drive 6d finish nails in each. Repeat this for the other end panels.

Measure the space between the two pieces of lumber (the width of the cabinet) at the top of the cabinet. Mark one of the three 1-by-3-by-36-inch pieces of oak lumber accordingly. Cut it with the electric miter saw a fraction longer as you want a tight fit. Repeat this for the other two pieces, measuring each as they may differ. Drill pilot holes with the 1/16-inch drill bit, apply glue to the shelves where each goes and secure them with the 6d finish nails.

Set all the nail heads with the nail set. Fill the nail holes and the face frame joints with the oak putty. Allow it to dry and sand it with the belt sander. Then, sand the cabinet with an electric vibrating sander.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • Exposed shelf edges can be covered with veneer or screen mold stained or painted to match the cabinet.
  • As an alternative, adjustable shelf tracks can be added to make the shelves adjustable.
  • Do not raise the table saw blade higher than needed for the cut.
  • Do not leave power tools unattended.
  • Do not apply pressure while using the belt sander as this can cut grooves into the wood.

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