Introduction: Recycled Cabinet

This cabinet is made from mainly recycled or repurposed materials. For the birch plywood, which comprises our cabinet, we used only scrap wood from previous projects, and we scavenged the "disabled parking only" sign from a pile of scrap metal. Our goal was to make a fun, well constructed, and aesthetically pleasing cabinet from everyday materials which can be used for years to come.

Step 1: Ideating and Designing

We started this project by brainstorming a couple of completely different ideas. These ideas ranged from a color changing light, to a planter box, to a cabinet, which we eventually settled upon. Once we had our idea we began to think about the materials, its purpose, and how it would be constructed. We decided on wood as our main material as it was easily accessible and easy to work with. We then came up with the idea to use the sign for the face of the cabinet as it was a fun addition and would set our cabinet apart from most others. Designing is a crucial step when building anything as it helps you catch mistakes and flaws in your ideas before they can become a problem. The more thorough you are in the design stage, the easier the actual building process will be.

Step 2: Gathering Supplies

Once we had our idea and had designed our cabinet, we started gathering our supplies. We headed down to an area full of scrap metal, stone, and other discarded materials to grab our sign which we had noticed a few days earlier. We found the parking sign and brought it back to our workspace. Next, we went into our woodshop and dug around the scrap wood pile for the wood to make our cabinet. We chose to use only recycled or repurposed materials as a way to show the potential of what some may only see as garbage.

Step 3: Removing the Sign

Our first step in building our cabinet was to remove the sign from the metal post from which it was attached. We used a corded drill along with a hammer and a chisel to drill into and then pry the massive bolts from the sign. Once we had removed the sign we used a wet cloth to remove the dirt and grime which had accumulated from the sign being in the elements for months.

Step 4: Making the Cuts

Once we had removed the sign from the post and had cleaned the sign we began to make the cuts for our cabinet. Due to our thorough design stage, we already had the dimensions for the pieces which made this step quick and easy. We used a table saw to cut our large pieces and then a chop saw for the smaller and more delicate cuts. Your dimensions may be different based on different needs, but ours were:

Top/Bottom Pieces:12in x 12in

Side Pieces: 24in x 12in

Back Piece: 25.5in x 12in

All from 3/4 in birch plywood

Step 5: Assembling the Cabinet

The key to a successful assembly is acting with complete precision when cutting each piece. Once each piece is cut with the precise dimensions the assembly process can begin. We started by laying the back piece of the cabinet on a workbench and put the bottom piece on first. We used wood glue and then nails to secure the joint together. Next, we attached one of the two side pieces to the back and bottom. This helped ensure that everything was squared together nicely with precise right angles. Next step was to attach the second side piece followed by the top which completed the build of the cabinet walls. The last portion of the assembly step was to add the shelf about two-thirds of the way up the cabinet. The exact location of the shelf can depend on the maker's preference for shelf space.

Step 6: Attaching the Sign

After we had built the cabinet and attached the shelf we moved on to attaching the sign. We first attached the hinges to one of the sides of our cabinet to make attaching the sign easier and less complicated. Then, in order to attach the sign to the hinges, we drilled eight holes, or four for each hinge, into the metal face. We then used a specialized drill bit to adjust the size of the holes so that they fit the screws we needed. Finally, after we had added the screws and nuts, which we used to hold the screws in place. We used a four and a half inch angle grinder with a cutoff blade to trim down the excess part of each screw to both make the sign work and look better.

Step 7: Final Touches

After attaching the door to the cabinet we needed a handle to be able to open the cabinet. We made two holes with a specialty drill bit and then added the screws to attach to the door. After we had completed the assembly of the cabinet, we sanded the rough edges and corners and cleaned out all the metal and sawdust creating a finished project.

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