Curved Cabinet





Introduction: Curved Cabinet

I promised my girlfriend that I'd make her a new nightstand some time ago, and yesterday I finally had the time to do it. And it being Valentine's and all it also proved to be a perfect gift :)

Let me show you how I made this curved cabinet...

Step 1: Plans & Materials

The plan is to make a curved cabinet, divided equally into 4 spaces. Two are accessible from the front, and the other two from the side. This way you can have some stuff within reach when you're lying in bed as well.

I made this cabinet 900mm high, because of the standard sizes for MDF that I can easily buy here. You can change all the dimensions to your liking, these are just used as an example.

The curve is consistent, so all the arcs have the same curve and size. If you print out (or draw) 1 part of the arc to scale (4th image below) you can trace all the curved lines onto the wood, by rotating and mirroring the piece.

I made the cabinet from 9mm thick MDF and a thin 0,4mm 'MDF cardboard' (this is how we call it). You can also use a thicker MDF or wood for the main structure, and perhaps a thin, bendable triplex for the curved shape.

Draw the curved shape onto the MDF/wood and mark which pieces you want to cut out.

Step 2: Sawing the Parts

Start by sawing the 2 holes out of the front piece of MDF/wood. This is easier now when the piece is whole if you're using an figure-saw machine like I did, because of the 'shaking'. If you use a band-saw for the outer shape it shouldn't be a problem when the sides become thin because the saw is always pushing the material down.

After this you tape the back & front pieces together and saw the outer shape of the cabinet. This way you only have to saw this curved shape once, and it will be exactly the same on both pieces.
[you can of course also use a laser-cutter if you have access to one]

Saw the 5 shelves. Make sure you have a little extra width, so you can sand 3 of the shelves at an angle to match the curve. The 2 other shelves are nearly straight so they don't need sanding.
I made the shelves to be 220mm wide (width of my cabinet) and 200 deep (with back & front together is almost 220mm=square!), but you can make them as deep as you wish, according to what you want to put in...

Cut 2 strips of about 220mm width of the MDF 'cardboard' or triplex for the curved sides. Lay them around the curved side of the back (or front) piece, mark the length and cut it to size. Mark where the holes will be in your cabinet and carefully cut out the holes in the MDF 'cardboard' or triplex. Make sure you leave the width of your back 7 front pieces on either side.

[extra] If you want to make a drawer like I did, you can trace the outline of 1/4th of the back or front piece on another piece of MDF/wood, and make it a little smaller than the hole is going to be. This way you make sure it can still slide in and out. From this trace you can make the 2 sides of the drawer. You'll need a part of around 200x200mm (a little smaller as well) for the bottom, and you can use the pieces of the thin MDF 'cardboard' or triplex you'll cut out the sides to make the back and front of this drawer.

Step 3: Glue the Frame

Use wood-glue or some other sticky stuff to attach the shelves to the back of the frame. Make sure you put the sanded shelves at the right positions, and the straight shelves as well. Also make sure they stay vertical, then it will be a lot easier to glue on the front piece without any trouble of bending the shelves to fit the holes in the front part.

When the shelves are secured, glue on the front piece, and line up the holes with the shelves. Tape them in place while the glue dries to make sure they stay in position.

Step 4: Glue the Sides & Drawer

When the frame is glued and dry, you can add the sides and the drawer. It's easiest to start with the side without the holes, and then glue the other side. Use tape or clamps to make sure the sides stay in place while the glue dries. Be careful with the thin MDF 'cardboard' or triplex. Some tapes can become hard to pull of without damaging the material, so use 'painter's tape' or other temporary tape.

Test if the drawer fits into the cabinet and glue the drawer together.

Now you wait until the glue has dried...

Step 5: The Finished Curved Cabinet!

...and your curved cabinet is finished!

You can now choose to paint your cabinet, or do some other finishing touches. Mine will be painted soon, so I will update this 'ible when it is.

I hope you liked this project, and as usual I'm very interested in any comments or cabinets of your own!



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    I payed about 10 Euros for the materials at the university workshop, but it's not much more expensive in a regular DIY shop.

    For those who are interested, I have just put the 3D model of this design on Google's 3D Warehouse, click here to go there directly!

    LOL, 0.4 mm, really?

    its 9 mm for the shelves and 4 mm for the side panels
    0.4 mm is the thickness of a latex sheet.....
    looking for mdf af 0.4 mm would be kinda dangerous.... even if you would go to to gnome office :)


    Federal Way, WA

    5 replies

    Sorry Jean-Pierre, but it really is 0,4mm for the side panels!

    The material is called "MDF cardboard" here so I guess technically it's not really MDF but more like a cardboard with wood fibers or maybe just a brown color, I'm not sure.

    I wouldn't try bending 4mm MDF by the way, that's going to be way too difficult to keep in place, even with superglue.

    Check the picture. The ruler is in mm. If you can't get this material where you live I would suggest the thinnest MDF you can find, or to use triplex.


    PICT0001 [640x480].JPG

    there is a company here in the states called Anderson International Trading (I believe) do a web search for they sell a product called "Bending Birch plywood panel thats some sort of thin wood with a birch vaneer on one side, you can get it in full 4" x 8" sheets and in your choice of bending directions, you can make a 4 foot tall tube with one and a 8 foot tall tube withthe other option.I used to buy it and make birch drum shells by bending it around a piece of 12" and 10" peice of PVC coupling i had machined down so i could add 4 plys and have the od and id of the shell exactly to that of a 6 ply keller brand maple shell. its good stuff. Here are a couple picks of the molds, and some shells I had made from this Bending Birch. look at the grain! This is a buddy of mines site and he hosted these for me a few years back.

    That looks really nice, Zacker! Do I understand correctly that it's not actually vaneer? Because that's usually pretty pricey... Even thin triplex I think is quite expensive.

    its thicker than a vaneer.. its more like a birch vaneer glued to a flexible board that looks like that cheap luan stuff that those inexpensive closet sliding doors are skinned with. its probably about 1/8 of an inch (or 4MM) thick. Nice looking stuf and you can cut it just by scoring it with a sharp razor knife as its hard to run through a table saw cause it wants to curl up.

    Very cool, similar to what they call door skin, a laminate for well, doors... sold in 4x8 sheets. Wonder if other laminates would work as well.

    Come clean with us. Did you really plan the cabinet to be all curvy, or did you go back and redraw the plans when it turned out that way???

    4 replies

    Yes I really did plan it to be all curvy. Somehow I always design stuff to be curved, and then when I'm cutting or sawing the pieces I wonder why I didn't just make it straight and orthogonal...
    You should see my room, all the stuff I made myself is curvy.

    post some more of your work, id love to see what else youve made in curves!!

    You can see a few more examples on my website:

    lol.. nice, when i try to make straight lines, I make curves and stuff, but not like My stuff tends to look like it got hit by a truck!

    Been wanting to do this for awhile but never knew what it was called so i couldnt find anyplans. I love it, your my hero for posting,lol,lol seriously though, thanks for the instructions, you rock!!! Thanks again!

    Saw this being sold for $350.00. Well, it was painted in some funky colours.

    WoW men. Nice job!

    Wonderful! I've been waiting for someone to make an Instructable on curvilinear forms!

    Thank you so much for this. Duly favorited. :)


    That looks fantastic! Beyond my skill-level, but written well enough I could follow it!