Introduction: Make a Bahut, From Scratch

About: So many things to learn and make, so little time! I like things that are cool, useful, efficient, well crafted.

In order to create more storage space and surface, to hopefully unclutter our kitchen island, we were looking for a wide bahut.

I ended up making one, with only basic handheld tools. It all took less than three days. Sounds interesting? Then please vote for me in the Hands Tools Only contest!

The quest

Our requirements were:
- 2.40m wide (7.87 feet)
- Sleek minimalist style
- Colors matching our island
- Massive wooden frame
- Reasonable price (a few 100 bucks, but far below 1000).

It was not easy to find one. In fact with such requirements it was impossible.

The move

So I decided to build one.

I have only basic hand-held power tools, an no easy access to a professional woodworking shop.

The trick

There are, around here (in Switzerland) hardware stores selling wood that you can get cut to your specifications, very precisely. You may have this luck too.

So, all what is required, is a very good planning, and some experience using hand-held power tools.

Step 1: Process, Wood and BOM

In short, the goal is to get all your pieces cut at the right sizes, in one single trial (*), with all sizes determined in advance, and not during the making.

(*) If possible. Otherwise, no worry, but it will take more time.

The process is the following:

1. Have an idea

Sketch it. Optionally, make a 3D model in order to visualize the sizes and proportions, from various angles.

2. At home, make a precise 1st blueprint

If you have a rough idea of the available materials, this can drive your design. Otherwise, depending on the maximum sizes available, be prepared to possibly heavily revise your design in point 4. below.

Depending on your design, a 2D drawing software may be enough.

3. Go to the store, and do your materials research

Take a copy of the blueprint (or even your laptop), and a camera/smartphone with you.

- Look for all required materials, and kind of wood boards that you can obtain at custom sizes.

- Write down the price per surface or length.

- Write down the available thickness.

- Note the color (take some pictures) and wood kinds.

4. Back at home, revise the blueprint

- In particular, take the real materials properties (especially the thickness) into account.

- Establish a bill of materials (BOM).

- Calculate the total price.

- Triple-check.

5. Back at the shop, fill out your order,
according to your BOM. Re-triple-check.

Depending on your design, it may be useful to get a scrap piece (ask the shop employee for some leftovers, or add it to your order) in order to train yourself on a particular technique. I did it to train working with the router.

Step 2: Designing a Bahut

As said before, the blueprint is key.

- It shall not only let you appreciate the proportions,

- but also reveal all places where sizes depend on other pieces' thickness, mutual and recessed positioning, necessary thickness for structural function or to bear screws or tenons.

- In particular, the doors and back panels must be sized so that they extent inside the frame panels' grooves.

In my case, as the design is very simple, I made a blueprint in LibreOffice Draw, at a 1:10 scale.

Decision that drove my design

- Sliding doors bring a lot of simplicity. Less pieces. No tedious hinges alignment. Very light doors.

- The only tricky part are the grooves. We'll see that in a later step.

- The back panel will be held in place by means of grooves in the frame boards.

- No sophisticated joinery. No dovetails or the like.

- However, no apparent screws. Being an entry-level woodworker does not mean producing crap!

- Slightly smaller sizes than our existing kitchen island, so that the addition of the bahut does not look massive. Although looking nice, the bahut is not meant to be at the center of the attention.

Choice of materials

Simple shapes do not mean boring design. For this, attention must be focused on appropriate materials, good proportions, good color combinations, and the addition of few well-thought details.

- I opted for glued laminated (glulam) 2-cm-thick beech panels for the frame. Glulam can be considered as massive natural wood, looks nice, is affordable, and does not distort over time.

- The inner shelves are made of 2-cm-thick particle board, with white melamine lamination.

- The doors and back panels are 5-mm-thick MDF panels, with white melamine lamination.

- The front and back plinths are 2-cm-thick MDF.

- Custom knobs, made of beech, add the final touch.

Step 3: Needed Tools, and Getting Ready

Needed tools and supplies

- Router

- Router groove bit, 5mm thick

- Router straight-cutting bit, 12mm diameter

- Hand-held power drill, drill bit, with stop collar for the 6mm bit

- Rubber hammer

- Clamps, corner clamp

- Dowel markers, and dowels, e.g. 6mm diameter

- Shelf pins

For the joints

- Threaded inserts, threaded rod, hex washer, wrench

- Angle brackets and screws

For the finish

- Parquet flooring gloss

- Black paint, white paint


- Screwdriver, measuring tools, pencil

- Last but not least:Take your time, no rush. A mistake can ruin your project.

Step 4: Making the Grooves

Narrow grooves for the back panel

- 5mm thick, 6mm deep.

- On rear-top side of the bottom board

- On rear-bottom size of the top board. Be careful that the groove stops before the ends of the board!

- On the inner sides of each back side.

Wide grooves for the sliding doors, in the bottom board

- 12mm thick

- On the front-top of the bottom board. 6mm deep.

Wide grooves for the sliding doors, in the bottom board

- This is the critical part of the project!

- As the bottom board's front edge is slightly recessed from the top board's front edge, the position of the groove must be measured so that their distance to the back is the same for both the bottom and top board.

- The groove in the top board must be deeper, so that the door can be lifted inside it, in order to remove it.

- The groove shall stop 1cm before both ends of the board.

- In fact, I made a 6mm-thick groove, and made it 1cm-thick only in the central part.

Step 5: Tightening the Sides

I have (possibly re-invented) a joinery technique using threaded rods, threaded inserts, and a groove and a hole.

Bottom side of the top board

- Drill, using a stop collar to avoid boring through (which would ruin the project).

- Screw the threaded inserts.

Inner side of the lateral board

- Make a short groove

- Make a hole (aligned to the threaded insert on the top board, from the edge, to the groove.


- Cut the threaded rod to length.

- Screw the threaded rod in the insert

- Position the boards, and tighten them with a corner clamp.

- Screw the hex washer into the threaded rod's end.

Note: In addition to this technique using a threaded rod, you can use dowels, which will increase the solidity, and positioning precision.

Step 6: Making the Middle Board

No we're working upside-down.

- Align the middle board against each side board, and mark the edge. This is where the bottom board will be aligned.

- On the edges of the middle board, bore two holes for the dowels.

- Using dowel markers, mark the places on the inside of the top board (which is currently on the floor, since we are working upside-down).

- Make holes in the top board, not piercing through (which again would ruin the whole project).

- Add the dowels.

Step 7: Bottom Base Board

- Slide the back side into the grooves of the top- and side-boards.

- Position the bottom board. Its groove must fit nicely into the excess height of the back side.

- Ensure that the middle board is well positioned, at a right angle.

- Secure the bottom and middle boards together with two screws, traversing the bottom board.

Step 8: Making the Plinth

- Paint the front side of the front plinth black.

- The front- and back-plinth may be tightened to the bottom of the bottom board, and to the inner of the side boards, using dowels. They may also be glued to the bottom board.

- With angle brackets and screws, tighten the bottom board to the side boards. This is ugly, but will not be visible.

During all this step, you may want to use clamps in order to keep the bottom edges of the plinths and side boards perfectly flush.

Now you can turn it upright again and give it a first appreciation.

Step 9: Coating All Natural Wood Surfaces

Time to dismount everything, for the paint job.

Treat all natural wood surfaces
(namely the top, bottom, and side boards):

- Sand them as needed

- Apply two thin layers of parquet vitrification gloss.

Remount everything

- Apply some additional treatment to the top side:

- apply two to three thin layers of parquet vitrification gloss.

- Sand wet in-between.

Step 10: Adding the Shelves

- Bore holes inside the side boards (again, not through) and inside the center board (this time, go through. Add shelf pins.

- Add your shelves. Optionally and if needed, paint their front edges white.

Step 11: Adding the Doors

Add the doors.

If needed, sand the edges, until they move perfectly freely.

Step 12: Adding the Door Knobs

Now you can add any door knob you like.

I did not find any that I found would fit the design, so I made one from scratch, see

Step 13: Enjoying the Finished Product

Now it's time to admire the work, and start using it.

Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Hand Tools Only Contest 2016