Introduction: Making Simple Cabinet Doors From Scrap Wood

About: I am currently converting a 1988 40' Bluebird school bus into a motor-home / workshop that I plan to live, work and travel in. This is my second such project. This one will probably be my retirement home. Sti…

You may recall a previous Instructable of "Installing Square Cabinets In A Round Bus". I got a good deal on those cabinets at a Habitat for Humanity Restore in Gainesville, GA. I had planed on installing cabinets throughout the entire bus but I haven't run into any more deals like that. However, while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Hobbs, NM an appreciative local resident donated a load of scrap moulding from a defunct woodshop.

After pondering over my new found windfall a light bulb lit up as to how I could use these small pieces of wood. All the cabinets are a basic 2" X 2" frame with 1/2" OSB for a base and the bus wall as (what else) the back wall.

Step 1: Supplies

  • Scrap wood (moulding worked best my project plus it was free.)
  • Wood glue
  • Fasteners (Brads will work. I used an air finishing nailer.)
  • Hinges and screws
  • Chain and hooks (If your doors will swing down)
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain or paint (or however you wish to finish them)
  • 1/8" laun plywood (for style 2)
  • 1/8" laun Plexiglas (for style 3)
  • Cabinet latches (I tried three different types. I liked the magnets best)

Step 2: Style 1

I was so beside myself when I received the load of moulding that I started right in on it as soon as I figured out what I wanted to do. I didn't think to take pictures along the way. But the process was so simple I should be able to explain it without confusing anyone.

Basically I made all the exterior frames 24" wide by 18" high (see the first picture). Then I used a smaller moulding and cut enough pieces (slats) 24" long to cover the backs of the frames. While making sure the frames remained square I glued and nailed the slats to the back of the frames. I then used a wider moulding and glued and nailed it to the front of the back slats keeping it within the exterior frame for support.

I wanted my doors to fold down so I hinged them at the bottom and added a chain and hooks to hold them at level when open. I chose this method so the door would serve as a counter when I am taking something out or putting something in.

Step 3: Style 2

I found some thin fancy moulding in the bunch and wondered what I could do with that. The frame is the same as the first. 24" wide by 18" high. I then cut 1/8" thick laun plywood into 24" X 18" boards. I then glued and nailed these to the back of the frames. I then cut the fancy moulding into mitered strips to form two rectangles on the face of the laun. Then glue and nail the mitered strips to the face of the laun to form an inner and outer trim. You may use any shape design that appeals to you. You now have another simple cabinet door design from scrap wood.

Step 4: Time for Thought

Each frame design was a moment in time, design. Originally I only thought of the first design. After I finished the first style, which I used in the bedroom, I thought that was so easy I'd like to get a little more fancy.

Next I wanted a somewhat more fancy cabinet in the living room area, which is across from the kitchen. My first thought was to try to match the kitchen cabinets I got from the Restore. A friend suggested I make them different to define the different areas even though they share the same space but are on opposite sides of the bus. That gave birth to style 2.

When I started on style 2 I divided the area into seven spaces for cabinets. The first cabinet door is a compound door hinged in the middle that opens from the bottom. I wanted that door to swing up because it is over the entry door. This shows the difference in loading and unloading the cabinets. I have to hold this door up with one hand while I look for anything inside. All the others fold down and remain until I close them.

I had enough laun to complete the first five cabinets. In the time between finishing the first five cabinets of style 2 and waiting to get more laun another light bulb lit up.

Another problem I was trying to solve was to find a place to display coffee mugs and shot glasses I began collecting in my travels. I decided to use the last two cabinets as my curio display cabinet. Instead of buying more laun I bought two sheets of 1/8" X 24" X 18" Plexiglas. I knew I wanted to use these as display cabinets but I also wanted them to match the other cabinets in the living area. I had to think of a way to trim these to match the other cabinets. The wheels began turning again. First thought was glue. Messy and may not hold up bumping down the road. I finally decided to screw the moulding to the Plexiglas.

Onward, Forward, March!

Step 5: Style 3

While this is still a simple design it takes a little more preparation than the previous two styles. The exterior frame is the same as before. The Plexiglas just happen to be stock in the right size at Homedepot. The biggest concern was to not break or crack the Plexiglas while screwing through it.

  1. First step is to attach the Plexiglas to the frame with screws. I pre drilled screw holes into the Plexiglas. After determining the right size screws I started in on it. For my project I used #4 screws X 3/8". Remember to pull back any plastic protective liner before screwing it to your wood. I only pulled back enough to do what I was trying to do at the time so as not to scratch any area I wasn't working on.
  2. After I screwed the Plexiglas backing to the frame I used excess wood the same size as the frame as spacers and miter cut my trim moulding to fit inside. Tape the spacer and the trim moulding in place to prevent shifting and turn the entire frame over face down. Pre drill and screw the moulding in place.
  3. Repeat step two If you want two or more trim pieces.
  4. Remove the tape, spacers and excess plastic and you're done.
  5. At this point all that is needed is any necessary sanding and finishing and mounting your doors and latches.
  6. However, for some strange reason I was not done. I attached them, (I made two), to the cabinet and thought, "What good is it to have a curio cabinet if you have to strain to see inside?" So I added some LED strip lights I just happen to have around and the rest is history. (These still have the plastic protective liner on the inside which give them a sort of frosted look. I haven't decided if I will leave it or remove it for a more clear view.

FYI: Not part of this project but I also plan to build stands or shelves inside these two cabinets to hold the mugs and shot glasses in place while I drive down the road and yet not obstruct their view.

And as usual,

Stick around... There's more to come.

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