Introduction: Bathroom Vanity
The Instructable that follows is a Bathroom Vanity that I built for a client's new home. Unfortunately, at the time of this Instructable, the client's home isn't finished so I don't have any "in-home" pictures to show. Thanks to mtairymd for the plans and rendered drawings! These videos catch some of the info I might have missed in the writing.
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Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Table Saw - with Dado Stack
- Jig Saw
- Miter Saw
- Router / Router Table
- Domino - Optional
- Pocket Hole Jig
- Hettig Jig - Optional
- Various sanders
- Pin Nailer - Optional
- HVLP for finish - Optional
- 4/4 Walnut
- 8/4 Walnut
- 3/4 Walnut Ply
- Euro Hinges - Soft Close
Step 2: Drawings
The client requested a vanity to meet the dimensions above. However, the design can easily be modified to meet your requirements. I've tried to include drawing/dimensions for the key parts in the following steps. I've also included a pdf of the plans which might be easier to follow in the shop.
Step 3: Material Prep
Like with most projects, I started by breaking down the material into usable sizes. For safety reasons, I use the jig saw to cut material to rough length. Then, I joint one edge and use the bandsaw and cut the material to rough width.
For those that may not understand those "safety reasons", I'll try to explain. When crosscutting large material, it's best to start with the jig saw. If this large lumber does not fit flat in your miter saw, it can become pinched and cause kickback. A circular saw would also work well for this step provided good support of the lumber.
After jointing one edge, I use the band saw to cut to rough width because the wood could pinch the blade in the table saw causing a kickback. By cutting a little oversize at the bandsaw and finishing at the table saw, I can avoid any issues in this process.
Step 4: Leg Preparation
Because I needed oversized material for the legs, I chose to laminate two pieces of 8/4 stock together. Once the glue up was finished, I used the planer to ensure that the legs were perfectly square.
The glue line on the legs will be positioned in the vanity to face the outside ends. The way the vanity will sit in its final home, these glue lines will never be seen.
Note: There's still a small portion of this glue line that is visible from inside the case. Because of this, I made sure to pull each part from the same board ensuring good color and grain match.
Step 5: Face and Back Frame
Because this piece has to be a very specific size, this was a critical step for me. By setting the pieces in place and taking actual measurements (relative dimensioning) I could ensure that the final piece would meet the client's needs.
The center cabinet stiles were notched to create the stile for the center cabinet as well as the stile for the outer cabinets. My goal was grain continuity on these stiles to enhance the look. What I didn't account for is that I was not able to fit the Domino into that location for the joinery. I chose to add pocket screws in that location which worked out great! The rest of the frame joinery was done with the Domino.
Pocket screws could have been used for the entire frame. They are located on the inside and will be covered with fake strips in a later step so, will never be seen.
Step 6: Leg Joinery and First Dry Fit
Once again, the Domino was used for the leg to frame joinery. The frames were aligned with the legs so that I could get marks for the domino locations. Once the dominos were cut in the face and back frames, the Domino was reset 1/8" deeper to allow for a setback for the frames.
This joinery could also be accomplished using a router to cut a mortise in the legs and the frame material and then creating your own tenon stock to fit that mortise. Exactly the same principle as the Domino, just more labor-intensive.
Once this joinery was complete, a dry fit was done to locate for the center divider dados.
Step 7: Dados and Panels
The Case dados were cut at the table saw using a dado stack. Although the plans call out for these locations, I find it best to locate them from the actual piece to ensure accuracy.
I used the router table and a 1/4" spiral bit to create the grooves for the panels in the center of each section of the back as well as the panels for the sides. Once these grooves were created, the pieces were dry fit to get actual measurement for the panels and the 1/4" panels were then cut to size. Another dry fit was done to ensure that everything would go together nicely.
Step 8: Center Panels
With the piece dry fit, I was able to take measurements for the internal dividers. These were cut to size and dry fit in the case to locate for the additional dados needed for the bottoms of each section. I also marked the locations for the notches that needed to be cut in each leg to house the bottom shelf material.
Note: The center dividers get a front to back dado that will house the bottoms of the 2 side compartments. The location of this dado is determined directly by the rabbet cut in the bottoms of the face frames of the side compartments as well as the side panel. This ensures that those bottoms are fully supported in the case.
Step 9: Notching the Legs and Cutting the Bottoms
A shop jig was made to cut the notches on the legs with a router. I used a collet and a 3/4" spiral router bit to cut the notches and then test fit them using a piece of scrap. This step is hard to describe in words but, I do go into more detail on this step in the video.
I used the table saw to cut corresponding notches in the case bottoms and then did another dry fit to ensure that everything fit together as it should.
Step 10: Gluing Up in Sections
Because of the size and complexity of this piece, I needed to do the glue up in sub sections. I started with the front and back face frames ensuring that each was square during clamping. I then glued up all the center sections with the bottoms in place to ensure that everything was square. The bottoms were glued in place on the two side compartments but, the center bottom was not glued in place. I used screws on this section so that the client could later remove this bottom piece to access plumbing if needed.
Step 11: Inside Strips and Shelf Material
1/4" strips were added to the inside of each case to mimic the panel look on the outside. These were secured in place using glue and light clamping. A pin nailer was used for places that I couldn't get a clamp-on. This detail isn't required as it's purely decorative. If you used pocket screws for joinery in the previous steps, these strips would easily hide those fasteners.
With the piece now assembled, I milled the lumber for the bottom shelf to final dimensions. The actual measurements from the case are important to ensure that each slat is the same size. Although the plans are accurate, they do not account for small errors that are bound to occur as you build.
Step 12: Making Doors
The doors are a "Shaker" style which is just a frame and panel design. The client requested no edge profiles but, a profile could be added if desired. If I were going to add an edge profile, I would have done it at the router table after the door was glued up.
Again, the material was milled to the appropriate dimensions. The Domino was used for joinery and then dry fit to locate for the grooves. Pocket screws could once again be used in this instance as they're on the inside and rarely seen.
The center grooves for the panels were cut at the router table. Because the tops of the stiles would be visible, I needed to drop the stile onto the spinning router bit and then stop before exiting the workpiece. If you're not comfortable with this step, a plunge router could be used to accomplish this task.
Once all the grooves were cut, the doors were dry fit to measure for the panels. The panels were cut to size and the doors were glued up. These are "floating" panels so, do not add glue in the grooves.
Step 13: Door Hardware and Fit
At the client's request, Blum soft close euro hinges were used. I used a Hettig jig to drill the cups and pilots but, there are lots of jigs on the market to accomplish this task. One of the nice features of this style of hardware is the ability to adjust them after installation.
Step 14: Finish
I spent several hours sanding and going over the piece for flaws in preparation for finish. Because my finish of choice was a film finish, the entire piece was sanded to 180 grit.
The finish for this piece was done in two stages. I started by applying General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. This is an oil-based wipe-on polyurethane that really "pops" the grain in darker woods like walnut. I followed that up with several coats (sprayed) of General Finishes High Performance (satin). The entire piece was block sanded with 400 grit paper between coats of the High Performance.
Once cured completely, I reattached the doors.
Note: Door pulls were not added as the client hadn't decided what they wanted. They chose to install that hardware themselves at a later date.
Step 15: Closing
Super fun and challenging build! I'm looking forward to seeing this piece in it's final home and seeing what the client chose for a top, pulls, and fixtures.
Complete plans available here or on my website.
Special thanks to mtairymd for his work on the plans!
Participated in the