Introduction: Spring Cleaning : Organize Your Things in a Small Space

About: I like to make things more simple with easily available resources. My favorite quote: A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a…

My daughter's dressing table has few shelves, but they are all filled up. Now she stacks frequently used items in the small space near the wall. It is spring... time to clean up. We decided to welcome spring by tidying up those scattered things in the dressing table.

I have planned to make a cupboard for her considering few design aspects as below :

  • The cupboard should be small enough to fit the available space
  • It should also look neat and tidy
  • Should be transparent so that time is not wasted in searching for things
  • It should also be light in weight so that it can be moved for cleaning the space behind

With the above pointers in mind, I have decided to make the cupboard with acrylic sheet which will be light, transparent and easy to make.

Step 1: Measure and Design

Take measurements of the available space and make a design

  • The available space between the mirror and the edge of Dressing table is 14 cm.
  • The space between the edge of mirror and the edge of existing built-in cupboard is 26 cm.

So , I have to limit the width and breadth of the cupboard within this available space. Though the vertical distance is not limited, it needs to be restricted to have an aesthetic look.

As you can see in the drawing,

  • The width and breadth are kept as 25 cm x 11 cm and the height as 40 cm
  • The total height of the cupboard is divided in to three portions of 20 cm, 10 cm and 10 cm from top
  • The top 20 cm portion will have two doors which will swing open out.
  • Both the bottom 10 cm portions will have pull-out drawers

With the above specifications, let us build the cupboard

Step 2: Materials Required

  • 4 mm thick acrylic sheet of size 120 cm x 60 cm. This sheet is more than sufficient for the planned cupboard and you will have some left-overs which can be used in another project. The acrylic sheet comes with protective masking on both sides to prevent any damage during handling. You can also see from the instructions on the masking, that this sheet can be drilled, saw-cut, routed, laser-cut, thermo-formed and cemented.
  • Araldite standard epoxy adhesive, a two part adhesive which strongly bonds pieces together
  • Fevikwik, one drop instant adhesive. This will help in holding the structure together while assembling
  • Hot glue gun sticks to be used with hot glue gun for fixing the sheets
  • Sandpaper medium 80 grit to remove minor undulations during cutting
  • Few jewelry making or office stationary pins to be used in the swing doors

Step 3: Tools Required

  • Dremel Ultra-Saw Kit. If you have this, use it for cutting acrylic sheet. Otherwise you can use a hacksaw or a hacksaw blade to manually cut the sheet. I received this as a prize from one of the contests, so I am using it here.
  • Variable speed mini drill press to drill holes for fixing the swing door. Here again I received this one as a contest prize. You can also make holes in acrylic sheet with a heated needle
  • A 150 watts step-down auto transformer from 230 volts to 120 volts. Both Dremel Ultra-Saw Kit and Variable speed mini drill press run on 110 volts AC. So I am using a step-down auto transformer for running these machines.
  • Hot glue gun
  • Wire cutter
  • Hacksaw and a loose hacksaw blade. the hack saw with frame will not allow you to cut more than certain length. Use hacksaw blade to cut longer sheets
  • A pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • A drawing square
  • A steel rule

Step 4: Mark and Cut Acrylic Sheet

You need the following sizes of acrylic sheets for the base structure

  • Vertical sides 2 numbers, size 40 cm x 11 cm
  • Top, bottom and partition pieces 4 numbers, size 24.2 cm x 11 cm (Deduct sheet thickness on both sides)
  • Back side one piece 25 cm x 40 cm

Do not cut pieces required for swing door and pull-out drawers now. Take measurement after assembling the base and then you can cut the required pieces.

  • Mark the required sizes on the acrylic sheet
  • Cut with the Dremel Ultra-Saw Kit or hacksaw
  • Remove protective covering from each piece
  • If there is any undulations in the cut edge, rub lightly with repeated back and forth motion over the sand paper.

Cutting the acrylic sheet produces lot of waste. Collect using an old brush and dispose of the waste safely.

Step 5: Drill Holes for Swing Doors on Top and Middle Sheet

Before assembling the base shape, we need to drill two 3/4th mm dia holes each on the top and one of the middle partition sheet for fixing the swing door. Please refer to the drawing where these holes will be drilled.

  • There will be two points on one edge of the top sheet and one partition sheet 4 mm away from each edge (that is thickness of the sheet).
  • Mark the hole position with the marker pen.
  • Using the bench drill press drill holes at the marked position.

No problem if you do not have bench drill press. You can make holes using a thin heated needle or with one of those pins we are using for the swing doors

Step 6: Make Main Body of Cabinet

  • Align all four side sheets on a base. Make sure that one of the sheet with drilled holes is placed on top
  • Apply a drop of fevikwik instant glue on the edges where two pieces are joined. This will quickly bond the pieces in seconds.
  • repeat on all four top corners
  • Now reverse the assemble piece and align it on top of the 40 cm x 25 cm back side piece. Make sure the drilled portion is on top on the free end
  • Apply fevikwik on the other side corner joints
  • Check that all pieces are correctly aligned with the use of drawing square.
  • Mix equal parts of Araldite epoxy adhesive in a container and apply on all joints on both sides including the joints of backside piece
  • Allow the joints to cure for minimum 6 hours undisturbed

Now our base structure is ready

Step 7: Make Partition

As we have seen in the drawing, we made three partitions of 20 cm, 10 cm and 10 cm inside the cupboard. These sizes are including the thickness of the acrylic sheet.

  • Measure the distance as per drawing and mark the positions of partitions on top of the vertical sheets including thickness of sheets
  • Check the alignment using the drawing square
  • Place the earlier cut acrylic sheets in position and apply fevikwik instant glue. Make sure the one with the drilled holes is placed in the 20 cm mark, holes facing out.
  • Once again check alignment with drawing square and apply araldite epoxy resin on all joints.
  • Allow the joints to cure for 6 hours

After curing, use the hot glue gun with the glue stick to fill up gaps where ever found.

Step 8: Make the Pull-out Storage Cabinets

As we have our cupboard shape ready, we can make the pull-out drawers now.

  • Measure the exact inside dimensions of the pull-out drawer portion and note down the measurements.
  • For the free movement of the pull-out drawers inside the cupboard, we will give an allowance of 0.5 mm on all sides. You will also have to deduct the thickness of longer side sheets from the measurement of short sheets, which will be place inside the longer sheets.
  • Mark the measurements on the acrylic sheet and cut to size.
  • Assemble all four sides and apply fevikwik instant clue on top of joints.
  • Check the correctness with drawing square. Also insert the partially assembled pull-out drawer inside the cupboard to see that it moves freely in and out
  • Now place this shape on the acrylic sheet and mark the inner sides for the bottom portion.
  • Cut this piece using hacksaw / hacksaw blade
  • Remove protective covering from one side which will face the inside of drawer
  • Place the sheet inside and apply araldite adhesive on all joints.
  • Allow it to cure for 6 hours.

You need to make two pieces of this pull-out drawer

Step 9: Handles for the Pull-out Drawers

A little handle in front of the drawers will help in pulling out from the cupboard. Here I have used a left-over 10 cm long 4 mm wide piece to make the handle.

  • Remove protective covering and cut into two equal parts
  • Mark the center on these pieces with marking pen.
  • On the drawers also, mark the center and place of handle leaving about 4 mm from top
  • Apply araldite adhesive on one side and fix over the marked portion
  • Allow it to cure

Step 10: Make Swing Doors

  • Measure inside dimensions of the top portion of cupboard.
  • Mark and cut a piece of acrylic sheet to the required size.
  • Again mark a vertical line in the center of this piece and cut in to two. These pieces will act as swing doors for the top portion.

Make Handles

  • We need to attach little handles on these pieces for opening and closing the doors
  • You can find some left-over during cutting. Make two pieces of 2 cm long with 4 mm sides
  • Mark the center on the swing doors, 4 mm away from the joint
  • Fix the handles using aradite epoxy resin and allow them to cure.

Holders for Swing pins

  • From the left-overs, cut 4 pieces of 4 mm cubes
  • Attach these pieces on top corners with araldite, leaving about 2 mm from edge.
  • Make sure these pieces are fixed on the opposite side of the handles, that will be inside the cupboard

You can see the finished doors in the last picture

Step 11: Drill Holes on Swing Doors

  • Place the swing doors in position. Now you can see that the holes we drilled earlier are on top of holders we fixed on the swing doors on all four corners.
  • Mark the exact position on all four corners of the swing doors, where holes are to be drilled
  • Take out the doors and drill 3/4 mm dia holes on the marked portions

You can see in the pictures here of the drilled hole and the pin inserted through the hole.

Step 12: Fix Swing Doors

A pin cut to the required length will be permanently fixed in the holes we already drilled in the top and partition sheets. However, once you fix the pins, we can not insert the swing doors without disturbing the fixed pins. So, we have to place the swing doors in position, insert the swing pins and glue them down with epoxy resin.

  • Cut four pins to the required length using wire cutter.
  • Place the swing doors in position and fix them in position with tape or something so that they will not move.
  • Insert pins at each pair of hole separately. The pin will pass through the hole on the sheet into the hole drilled on the holder pieces.
  • Apply epoxy resin on the pins so that they are fixed to the sheets only. Make sure the adhesive is not bonding the holder pieces also, otherwise it will be very difficult to open the swing doors.
  • Allow the glued pins to cure. After about six hours, you can easily open and close the swing door

Step 13: Assemble and Place the Cupboard

Our small cupboard is finished in all respects. Now it is time to assemble, clean up the space on the dressing table and place it.

  • Insert both the pull-out drawers in the cupboard.
  • Clean up the area on the dressing table where we have planned to install the cupboard
  • Place the cupboard in position. See how it fits snugly in position

Step 14: Organize Your Things in the Cupboard

This cupboard is meant for my daughter. It is time to organize.

Sort out the items that were scattered on the dressing table. Both the pull-out drawers are of same size and can hold items not higher than 9 cm. Her set of nail polish and jewel case occupied the bottom drawer. Few perfumes, eye liner and other smaller items went to the middle drawer. Face powder, hair oil and few plastic jars were placed in the top portion with the swing door.

I have not removed the protective covering from the back side of the back panel and also from bottoms of pull-out drawers.

Step 15: The Happy Ending

You can see that all those little things cluttering the dressing table are neatly arranged in the cupboard. The transparent acrylic sheet also makes it easier to find things which my daughter placed in it. For her part, my daughter made a bangle holder from a dried out tree branch from the garden. She trimmed the dried out branch, painted it with some leftover paint and fixed it to a piece of plywood. Now her dressing table is properly organized with the very little space available.

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
― Leo Tolstoy...

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