Build an Apothecary Cabinet From Scrap

Introduction: Build an Apothecary Cabinet From Scrap

About: What's up everybody?! I am a self-taught hobbyist that loves DIY projects. I like to make food, drinks, décor, repurpose/recycle and some fandom type items. I learned a lot from books, friends, YouTube, and Te…

I feel like I have gained enough experience points to attempt my own apothecary cabinet. In this Instructable, I will show you various methods that inspired me to execute this project.


Safety gear
Wood (I used scraps)
Woodworking tools (there are so many possibilities)
Wood glue
Measuring tools
Grinder with wire wheel, or a steel wire brush
Epoxy (optional)

Step 1: Check Out My Video

Check out my video of my planning and process.

If you like what you see, check out my other projects on Instructables and YouTube. Please consider following me here and also subscribing to my YouTube channel, Make It Kozi.

Step 2: Planning and Prepping

I got the wood for this project from my scrap pile. The main body is constructed from a used 2 x 6 that was left over from past construction. I got rid of the round over edges, the copious amounts of wood glue, and cut it down into half inch strips. I got two short pieces and one long one. I use my tablesaw to do that but I still wanted to pass it through my “planer” to remove any wobble.

I wanted a 12“ x 12“ cabinet with nine drawers. You can tell from my picture that there is a bit of math involved but in order to get the half lab dimensions cut properly, I use the Rockler website calculator that was very handy. You just have to ensure your math is correct!!

I put the wrong numbers in the Rockler calculator twice and when I went to measure, it was easily noticeable that my marks were incorrect.

Step 3: Assembling the Frame

Knowing that my “planed” sheets were 5/8 inches thick and that my space in between the drawer slides was 3-11/64 inches, I could start doing my dadoes and lap joints for the frame. I set up my smaller table saw to do the dadoes and I use my larger table saw to cut the lap joints. For ease of reproducibility and efficiency, I set up stock blocks for both table saw‘s. Once I knew they were set properly & I didn’t have to think about it anymore, I could start cutting. These type of set ups definitely help with production, in my opinion.

Once everything was cut, I did a dry fit and then glued and clamped everything together.

Step 4: Adding Some Style

This next part is optional but I wanted to give my frame an “aged look.” For whatever reason, a popular website kept feeding me DIY aging wood, barnyard wood, wood texture, etc. and thought, “Yeah, let’s do that.”

You can see from my pictures that there are some good distinct rings in my outer frame. The differences in the soft and hard pine are going to be an excellent subject for this experiment. You could just use a wire brush, but I used my angle grinder with a wire wheel. But if you see in my video use extreme caution when handling this. Clamps would probably be the better idea.

Step 5: Staining

Now that I had distinct raised grain in my wood frame, I gave the whole thing a once over with a light maple stain. This was followed by, literally getting in the grooves, with a dark walnut stain. My idea here is not only having the contrast in texture but also the contrasts and color to have this pop of “aged wood.”

I was reminded of the calming nature of Bob Ross when he would say to let the brush lightly touch the canvas. He would also talk about giving depth to his paintings by thinking about how the brush should stroke naturally based on your perception. I took this to heart while putting the dark walnut accents in the groove of the wood.

Step 6: Making the Drawers

Moving on, it was time to create the drawers. This was also done with scrap wood which was about 3/8 inches thick. This was also cut on my table saw and I wanted the darker (aged) face of the wood to be the drawer fronts. Not only that, but I wanted the woodgrain of all drawers to run in the same direction. When I had the side pieces and bottoms cut, I glued them into place and you will notice that I did not use a jig.

This is probably a good point to take a sidebar conversation. I understand and was quite intimidated (in all honesty) about the videos of making an apothecary cabinet. Probably 90% of the videos I saw were what I deem as “fine woodworking” craftsmanship. Yes, I could have gone this route, but an overall goal of what I am trying to accomplish in general, is that you don’t have to be a “fine woodworker” to create something. If that was the case. I would not have used pine. I could have used walnut or acacia. Something as simple as making a box to put more boxes in was where my head was at. I wanted it to be simple & I didn’t want people to be intimidated in making their own “apothecary-style“ cabinet.

All that to say, no I didn’t use a jig. Yes, I could’ve used a jig but I wanted my drawers to look rustic and used and if they were out of square, then (in my opinion) that’s perfect.

Step 7: Finishing With the Knobs

I did have to add an extra sanding step to get the bottoms to glue and fit into position properly. I could have left them press fit, as was my original idea, but I figured even as small as they are, they might carry a little load where that would blow out the bottom. I don’t want that!

To wrap up this project, I found the center of the drawer faces and marked it. I cut 1/2 inch long pieces of a 3/8 inch dowel and glued that to the center of the drawers. After those were secure, I used epoxy to place my “knobs“ on. You may notice that these are textured round pieces of copper, similar to another Instructable that I did. I left those to dry overnight and all that was left was mounting it on the wall.

For that I used a store bought French cleat system. This was only a couple of bucks and I felt it was the best route to take.

Thanks for checking out this Instructable and I hope you give this a try. These dimensions are what I wanted to fit in my space but they could be sized to whatever you’d like.

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