Introduction: Quilting Utility Cabinet

About: Furniture builder and content creator who enjoys teaching. Please visit my site - - for more free plans and videos.

We recently built a new building which includes my shop as well as my wife's quilting room. With everything being brand new, we're really pulling out all the stops on both the shop as well as the quilting room. My wife has been asking for this table for a while but, her previous quilting room just didn't have the room for it. Now that she has the room, it was time to build the utility cabinet that she wanted.

This cabinet is designed to match the quilting desk in a previous Instructable.

The design is per my wife's direction and the CAD work was prepared by mtairymd. The cabinet is a couple inches shorter than the quilting desk for ergonomic reasons.

Plans available on my website as well as at the end of this Instructable.

Step 1: Tools and Materials


  • Table Saw
  • Jointer
  • Planer
  • Router
  • Drill
  • Misc. Electrical Tools
  • Festool Domino (Optional)
  • Band saw (Cutting the plexiglass)


  • ~25 BF 4/4 Alder
  • ~15 BF 6/4 Alder
  • 1/2 sheet 1/4 plywood (Back)
  • 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood (Enough for 2 drawer boxes)
  • 18" Drawer Glides
  • Drawer pulls
  • LED Light
  • Junction Box
  • Light Switch
  • Electrical Wire
  • Plexiglass

Note: The lighting items listed above are what I used. There are many options available.

Step 2: Drawings

Although you will be building to this drawing, it’s important that you take actual measurements from your build so that any error created isn’t compounded throughout the remainder of the build (Relative Dimensioning). All dimensions are in inches unless noted.

Step 3: STEP File

A STEP file is included for those that would like to look at the details of the quilting utility cabinet.

Step 4: Frame Drawing

You will be building the frame to these drawings. Although there are specific measurements listed in these drawings, this desk could be easily configured to fit your particular needs.

Step 5: Side Panels

This build all revolves around the side panels. Although this case could be built from plywood material, because it's a stand-alone cabinet, I chose to build it from solid material.

I started by milling enough 4/4 alder flat and square to make each side panel a little bigger than what I needed. I laminated these boards together on edge to create the panels. Once each panel was cured, I trimmed to final size at the table saw.

A rabbet was cut on the inside top of each panel and a dado was cut per the plan for the lower drawer divider. As well, a stopped dado was cut to accept the lower shelf. Finally, a rabbet was cut in the back of each side panel to accept the 1/4 back panel that will be installed later.

Step 6: Shelf, Drawer Divider & Partitions

The shelf and the lower drawer divider are both solid panels. Again, 4/4 material was milled flat and square ensure that they fit well into the dados cut in the side panels. These were glued up and allowed to cure and then cut to final size at the table saw.

Note: This is a good time to mill the stock that will be needed for the vertical drawer dividers.

2 dados need to be cut to accept the drawer dividers that will be installed in a later step. Cut these dados per the plans. Although I used a router and a jig to cut these dados, a table saw with a dado stack would probably be a better option for cutting them.

Step 7: Back

The back is 1/4" plywood that fits in the rabbets that were cut earlier. I would suggest leaving this panel off until all the electrical work is completed.

Step 8: Top Web Frame

A web frame was created to sit in the top rabbets of each side panel. This web frame will keep the top of the cabinet square and provide an attachment point for the top.

Step 9: Gluing Up the Case

With all the case parts now made, glue up the case ensuring everything is square.

You can also install the vertical drawer dividers at this point. Slide them in the dados with glue and secure from the top with screws at the front and rear of the cabinet.

In the picture, the boards for the top are set on for reference. Also, the back is not attached yet to allow for room to work on the light box.

Step 10: The Drawers

Drawer sizes should be taken from the project piece and not the plans. Any error during the case construction could cause issues with the drawers functioning properly. The drawer glides called out in these plans need 1" of clearance to function correctly. To get the measurement for the width of the drawers, measure the width of the opening and subtract 1".

All drawer sides are constructed from 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood and the drawer bottoms are made from 1/4" plywood.

I've included a video describing in detail how these drawer boxes are constructed.

Install the drawer glides inset far enough to allow for your drawer fronts to sit flush with the front of the case. These glides and be installed to the sides of each drawer opening sitting directly on the lower drawer divider.

Step 11: Drawer Fronts

Although I used walnut for my drawer fronts, any nice hardwood could be used.

Drawer fronts need to be precisely cut to fit each drawer opening leaving 1/16" gap all the way around.

Note: The drawer front where the light box will be needs to fit snugly in the opening. A small chamfer around the outside will create the illusion of the 1/16" gap like the other drawers have. It will eventually be secured in that location. Do not install this yet.

Once the drawer fronts fit nicely, locate for the drawer pulls and pilot drill those holes. Set the drawer front back in place ensuring the proper gap and use the drawer pull holes to secure the drawer front to the drawer box with screws. Next, open the drawer and install screws from the inside of the drawer to secure the drawer front to the drawer box.

The screws from the drawer pull holes can now be removed and the drawer pulls installed.

Step 12: The Top

The top starts with about 15 BF of 6/4 alder. Cut each board a little longer than needed selecting the best material for the top. Mill the boards flat and square.

Before the glue up, locate for the opening on the light box and cut each board. It's easier to cut the opening before the glue up.

I used the Festool Domino for alignment during the glue up to ensure alignment but, because it's a long grain to long grain glue up, these dominos are not needed structurally. Glue up the top and allow to cure.

Once the top is cured, I used a 3/8" rabbeting bit set at 1/4" deep around the opening in the top to create a shelf for the plexiglass to sit in. I squared off the corners using chisels so that I could simply cut the plexiglass square but, you could also round off the corners of the plexiglass as well.

Install the top on the cabinet with 1 1/4" wood screws through the web frame.

Note: It's best to elongate (front to back) the holes in the web frame to allow for wood movement in the top

Cut the plexiglass at the band saw to fit the opening.

Install the back panel.

Step 13: Completed Build

As stated earlier, this cabinet was built per my wife's design specifications. This cabinet now sits just behind and to the right of her quilting desk for easy access.

Step 14: Finish

General Finishes Arm-R-Seal was used for the finish. 2 coats were applied to all the base cabinets and drawer fronts and 5 coats were applied to the top. After each coat cured, a light sanding with 400 grit paper was done to ensure that there were no dust nibs.

Step 15: The Light Box

I am not an electrician so, will not go into detail on the wiring for this build. You'll need to follow your local codes and regulations for your electrical work.

Locate and measure to an electrical junction box per the plans. Cut this area out using a jig saw and install the junction box. Once the wiring is all complete, install the switch cover.

I used this light and mounted in the center of the opening. Once the wiring was complete and tested, I installed mounting strips on the inside to secure the false drawer front for this opening. The false drawer front was installed using glue to the mounting strips.

Step 16: Closing

I'm super happy with how the cabinet turned out! The light works great for tracing objects and the height of the cabinet works really well for all the activities at this table. This table is about 2" shorter than the actual quilting desk.

More importantly, my wife is super happy with how this table turned out and uses it nearly every day. The additional drawer and shelf space is already filling up as she figures out her work flow in her new quilting area.

Condensed Plans are available on my website as well as attached here.

Thanks for viewing!