Introduction: Colorful Kitchen Cabinet

About: I am an old mother, grandmother, and wife, and have just in the past few years realized how much I like and am able to make things out of wood. I have always liked making things, just little stuff out of clay…

I needed a cabinet in the kitchen because we have a very small house and I have a lot of stuff, evidently…. I decided to make another pallet cabinet. I made one like this two years ago, but used regular wood, and fence planks. It was prior to my realization that there is an amazing amount of free wood of all different kinds available in pallets. And since I have virtually a small lumber yard now, I thought it would be a wonderful choice. I also had a bunch of left over tile from the last cabinet I made, so decided to use that as the top of the cabinet, which is kind of like a counter top.
This cabinet is 24" deep and 53 inches wide and 42 inches tall at the counter top part. I think this is just how the lengths of the pallet boards turned out, or close to it, and as long as I wanted to make the cabinet. So I cut out the frame boards and started screwing them together, I already had lots of pallets torn down, so don’t have any idea how many this took, but probably not more than 2. I used the 2x4 parts of the pallets for the framing. And I screwed it together mostly with 3” #9 screws, except in stress places and if it was thick enough wood to stand the 3.5” #10 screws, torx drive of course. Whenever I use the Phillips head screws, I seem to twist off the heads. Not good.

Step 1: Making the Frame and Shelves

I put the first frame down by screwing the pieces of the pallets that are like 2x4s together to make the rectangle the size I wanted it, then the first uprights, then put the first shelf. To me, it is easier this way, and less stuff in the way if you put shelves in as you build. This was the part of a pallet that had this weird solid piece instead of slats. It was this white wood laminated over this really pretty dark wood, so I scraped and sanded as much of the white off as I could and varnished as I went along also, less problem with drips and stuff like getting varnish in your hair.

I put another shelf on there at the height I wanted, considering what I wanted to put on the bottom shelf (mixer, pressure cooker, etc.) on the bottom, and cookbooks and smaller stuff on the second shelf up from the bottom. Well, it is also the second one from the top. Also, I have to bring it inside before putting tile on it, due to weight, and also I didn’t want it to smell up the house with the Polyurethane varnish. I used Satin finish varnish. I could have used the water based Poly since I am keeping this cabinet inside, but I just wanted to seal everything up with the regular Polyurethane since I used pallet wood, and it is not new.

Step 2: Adding the Top

So when I got that done, I put some MDF on the top for the base for the tile. I just had it laying around, so used it. Then I took the tiles and placed them in the pattern I wanted to have it be for the top. This took me a while, kind of like a puzzle. Then I glued them down with Power Grab in the caulking tube thing. That had to dry overnight. Then I grouted the tile. That had to dry overnight also. I hate doing the grout, because it seems endless when you start wiping the excess off with the big sponge.

Step 3: Lighting

While the grout dried I put little led strip lights under each shelf and attached a power strip to the leg on the inside to use for an on/off switch. They have stick on ones. These, I got from and they have all the stuff you could want to make lighting in any situation. But you could use any little lights inside. I just try to make the switch for turning them on close to the front of the cabinet so it is easy to reach. So it is way easier to do this prior to putting the front boards and doors and the planks on the sides on the piece.

Step 4: The Sides

In between all this other stuff, I planed down some fence planks, those rough, cheap ones with the dog eared tops. If you get them smooth by planing them, you don't really need to sand them And I stained some with bright wood dye and some with stain from Pure Color, Inc. The ones from Pure Color are really nice, and don’t smell at all and are water soluble and water clean-up. So you can adjust the brightness of the colors and blend them before applying, during, or after they dry, and come up with really cool combinations. Or you can use them just plain, like I did the Lemon color on the doors. I wanted this cabinet to be really bright. Most of the colors, I planed the wood, applied the stain, planed it again, and varnished it. I made the planks all 60” tall across the back of the cabinet and then on the sides, staggered them down to a couple inches above where the tile is at the front. But there was a lot of time spent painting, drying, planing, etc… so did those steps in between the structural parts.

Here are some of the planks before attaching them to the cabinet with #8 2” torx drive screws. I screwed them on at the places where the 2x4s were in the frame.

Step 5: The Doors

Let me first say that I have problems making anything square, so when you add in that I am using scrap wood to make this cabinet, it doesn't help with the square thing. Also, I like to use hardware cloth (I call it rabbit wire) for the face of the cabinets.

I put pallet slats across the front of the frame by the tile at the top, and on the front to frame out the place for the doors. That way you can use cheap strap hinges because they lay flat. I used my miter saw to cut pallet wood at 45 degree angles to make the doors, and I put little brace metal pieces on the back of the doors as well as putting screws in at the corners. Putting those brackets kind of kept it all together so I could put the doors together kind of square.before adding the screws on the side edges to hold it tight. Then I had to put it in the place where it goes on the front of the cabinet to play with it to make it fit. Notice how I had to put wood putty in the corners to make it go together properly? I didn’t allow for the thickness of the sawblade. And the brackets…..they make it all better for me. I think if I were to use plywood for the face instead of the wire, it would be easier to make it square, but I like how it looks with the wire, and the lights show through the wire nicely.

So then I put the hinges on the doors first instead of the cabinet, and then put them into the hole made by the pallet boards screwed onto the front of the cabinet, and screwed them into the cabinet with a shim underneath the doors so they will swing freely when the hinges are screwed in.

Step 6: Finished

So that’s about it. It took about four days, but most of that time was in preparing, painting, planing and waiting for paint, glue and grout to dry.

Shelving Contest 2016

Participated in the
Shelving Contest 2016