Introduction: Upcycled Window Cabinet

About: I'm a coffee & Craigslist addict,up- cycler, garbage picker, thrift store digger, scrap wood hoarder, nap time warrior, writer, and blogger. Come see all my DIY projects where I show you how …

I love to turn trash into treasure. My favorite finds are old windows that someone else has thrown out. Let me show you how I turned this old window into a great cabinet for our powder room. The window was free and the lumber/supplies only cost about $20. For this tutorial, I'm going to use the dimensions of my particular window, but you can easily change them to fit any window.

My window dimensions are 31″ tall by 28 15/16″ wide. Yes, I’m super precise and awesome at math… Neither of those are true.


  • 3- 1″ x 6″ x 6′ boards: I used the cheap pine for around $3.50 each. Look through all of the boards at the store to find the straight ones. I had about 10 laying out across the aisle trying to find the good ones. Yes, I looked a little crazy, but not as crazy as when I pulled a roll of TP from my purse to measure if a 1″ x 6″ would comfortably hold my TP rolls. It does.
  • 1 piece of 1/4″ ply for the back the size of your window.
  • Brad nailer with 2″ brad nails.
  • Kreg Jig K4 or Mini Kreg Jig
  • 1 1/4″ Kreg Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Small hinges
  • Stainable wood filler
  • 3/4″ brad nails
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain of choice
  • 2 pieces of scrap measuring the width of your window for the back cleat. Mine was 28 15/16″ and I used 3/4″ x 2″ x with 2 1/2″ screws to attach to wall
  • Stud Detector

Cut List:

1″ x 6″

  • 2- 31″
  • 4- 27 1/8″
  • 6- 1″- for the shelf brackets

1/4″ ply cut to- 31″ x 28 15/16″ for the back

Step 1: Mark Where the Shelves Will Be.

I placed the side pieces onto the window to mark where I would place the shelf brackets. I wanted them to line up perfectly with the wood between the panes of glass so when the door was closed, the shelves would be covered by the wood of the window.

I marked where the top of the bracket should line up.

Step 2: Attach Shelf Brackets

Attach the brackets for the shelves using wood glue. Make sure they are level and attach with 2″ brad nails.

Repeat for other side of window. Measure the other board on the opposite side of the window instead of using the first finished side. If the window is even a hair off of square, you’ll be able to see the shelves and they will look crooked.

Step 3: Make Sure Your Shelves Are Level.

Make sure your sides are the right direction. If your window isn’t equal, you need to make sure the sides are right. For example… Right and wrong. You would have some really uneven shelves if you aren’t careful.

Step 4: Even Steven.

You want them to be even like this.

Step 5: Use Pocket Holes to Strengthen Sides.

Using my Mini Kreg Jig, I added pocket holes to the top and bottom into the sides. This made it super strong.

Step 6: Test the Shelves.

Add the 2 shelves to make sure they go together like Diet Coke and Pickles. You are checking to make sure they are both level and where they need to be so your items will not roll off of your cabinet shelves. That would be embarassing.

Step 7: Prep the Back Side.

Stain the back. I know this seems a bit out of sequence, but I knew it would be easier to stain the back while it was off than when it was attached and the shelf brackets were in my way.

Wet the wood with a water soaked rag to get the wood ready to accept the stain. Necessary when using this kind of cheap wood. IMHO.

Step 8: Stain the Back Side

Now stain. I used 1 coat of Minwax Provincial. You can fill in all your nail holes with wood filler now, then wipe off the excess with a wet sock or rag. This prevents you from having to sand it off later.

Step 9: Attach the Back.

Attach the back to your shelf. If you don’t have a buddy, use a clamp to hold it in place and then us 3/4″ brad nails to nail around the perimeter.

Step 10: Finish the Rest of the Piece.

Stain the rest of your piece. I allowed it to dry a few hours in my nice airy garage. Then I gave it a bit of a sanding on the edges and corners so that it matched my worn window.

Step 11: Installation Bracket

Add your wall bracket. I initially was going to use a french cleat, but decided against is since the space in my powder room is super small and the shelf is quite heavy. I just felt more comfortable attaching entire piece directly to the studs.

Using self tapping 1 1/4″ screws, I attached the 1 x 2’s to the top and bottom of my shelf unit. Not to the back 1/4″ ply, but through it into the 1″ x 6″ pieces.

Step 12: Installing on the Wall.

If your cabinet is as heavy as mine is, you’ll need a buddy for this step.

Using your stud detector (so many dumb jokes are running through my brain right now.), locate the studs in the wall and mark, measure, level, etc. Then, pre-drill some holes through the wall into the studs and through your cabinet. Attach to the wall with 2 1/2″ screws. I attached mine at 4 points on 2 studs and it is like a rock.

Step 13: Finishing Up and Attaching the Window.

Attach the hinges to your shelf and your window. If you have a large enough space, you can do this after attaching it to the wall… I was not so lucky and had to do it before, therefore my hubs had to set down his Thor hammer and get lifting. Remember, it’s all in your back. (That is not true...)

If you need to, use a magnet closure, but I didn’t need one, my window just behaves itself. At least something does in this house.

I hope you go out and find some great windows!

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