Building an Armoire (aka Wardrobe)

Introduction: Building an Armoire (aka Wardrobe)

About: I am an expat Environmental, Health and Safety manager (aka the Safety Guy) that has somehow spiraled into a specialty of setting up programs systems on very odd projects, or fixing strange/ unusual/ challengi…

The Philippine house April and I share (when I am not in Afghanistan) has a number of nice features.  NOT included are closets.  Apparently they, like foreign military bases, are forbidden here.

So April asked me to build her an Armoire for her to hang her school uniform, dresses, and such.

It goes into the space shown in the pictures next to the "April Desk."

Currently she stores all her clothes in the footlocker shown.   Not optimal.

Note that the darn spell checker  HATES "armoire."  But that is what I  think of it  as, so that's what it  shall be...

Step 1: Design Considerations. a Preliminary Design Sketch.

Obviously the piece has to fit into the  space available.  And be built from locally available materials with the tools I have.

I have:
Jigsaw with assorted blades
Drill with assorted bits
Use of a Skil Saw ONCE  (It was borrowed from the neighbor for another project by April's father)
Hammer & Screwdriver
assorted nails and screws
Tape measure, chalk box, square, pencils ect.

One and a half sheets of 3/4" plywood
2 pieces of 3/4" molding (I wanted quarter round and got the mirror image)
Some random hinges
Some random pieces of 2x2 wood from the family scrap wood pile.
There are some, left over, decent sized pieces of 1/2" ply in my stockpile also.

NOTABLY, there are no "wooden dowels" available here.  Looks like I will have to do some inventin' &/or searching for a substitute way for her to have something to put coat hangers on...

Step 2: Chopping Up 4x8 Panels of Plywood

I don't have ready access to a skil saw.  And a jig saw is about the worst kind of saw to make long straight cuts.  So when April's family borrowed one from the neighbor, I  made SURE that I had all the cuts I needed to make all planned out in my mind.

It is worth noting again (I said something about this in another "ible) that if you have planned out your cuts, and have your layout tools (and sketch/ drawing) to hand you can part out wood at a fairly impressive rate.  I cut up one and a half sheets of 3/4" plywood with the brothers in about 15 minutes, including the time needed to do the layout.  This also included cutting  some pieces for the"Baby Bus Bench."

Step 3: Painting the Panels

On Sunday, after everyone had finished using my workbench to eat lunch, April and I toted out the 6x2 foot 3/4" plywood panels that are going to serve as the sides.

April balked when I said I wanted to plaint the outside black (so the light colored inside would be a neat contrast).  So I pulled out the paint stockpile and told her she could have "Green, Blue, Red, Yellow. White or Black."  She didn't like any of these.

So I foolishly said, "so should I mix up some pink?"  She LEAPED onto that option, so here we are.

I made pink(ish) paint by slopping around roughly equal parts red and white into the roller pan and mixing them with the roller.

I think the color scheme will be sorta "Miami Vice" if we choose the rest of the palette carefully.  We'll see.  I get to paint tomorrow without April supervising, so I am planning on doing the shelves and inside of the side panels.  How about a pale, lemony yellow?

Turns out I don't have enough yellow to paint the inside of the sides AND shelves yellew.  So I did the reverse of the pink sides in pale yellow...

The next day I mixed up some medium to pale blue  for the shelves...

Pretty preppy,huh?

Step 4: Putting It Together

I bought some small 90 degree brackets from the "DIY Store" and we used these to position the Shelves & Top.  Then each shelf got 5 nails in each side to make sure it wasn't going  any where.

Note that I  didn't paint the faces that couldn't be seen unless you were a spider on the  ceiling or an  ant on the floor.

I DID edge the "front face" of the panels in black  paint.  Mostly to hide the MASSIVE amounts of wood putty I had to use to fill voids in this "premium marine grade plywood."

Seen in the pictures are the "April Brothers and Father."  I just wanted someone to hold the darn parts while I did my thing, but they really got into it.  Never let it be said I hogged all the carpentry work.

We snapped a line where the bottom of each shelf panel went on the inside.  This  let us line up the 90 degree brackets and put in the shelves fairly "square."  THEN we snapped a line on the OUTSIDE of the sides 3/8" above the bottom of the shelf.  So we could line up the nails easily.  Only one boo boo and we fixed that.

Step 5: A Home Made Clothes Hanging Rail/ Rod

I looked everywhere and "store bought" rails were not to be  found.  So I bought some likely looking pipe (it came  in 1 meter sections) and designed a solution around that...

First I decided that I wanted 3x3 inch square, 1 inch thick  "blocks" to hold the rail.

Then I glued, & clamped overnight, two scrap 1/2" plywood pieces so I had 1" thick material to  work with.  I then cut two 3x3 inch blocks.  Then I marked out the size of the rod.  I didn't have a perfectly matching sized drill bit so I drilled numerous smaller holes inside the  markings and then hogged out the hole with my jog saw.  Crude but good enough.  ONE of the blocks then got a channel cut in it so you can take the rod out for replacement (or whatever).

The blocks got painted black.  And after the paint dried, they got nailed & glued inside the Armoire.  One got positioned incorrectly (I blame  one of the brothers) so we had to pull it (using a block so the pry bar wouldn't mar the panel) and then position it an inch higher.

We then cut the pipe to length with a hack saw.  Pretty easy to cut (scarily so); so I am anticipating having to seek out a huskier pipe sooner or later to replace this flimsy one after my son manages to bend it to unsuitability...

Step 6:

I then cleaned up the entire unit as best I  could with my eraser and we tipped it upright  to tote it into position.

NOTE that this armoire has NO back panel! Or doors.

1) No back panel means it is not as resistant to "rack" where it's rectangular structure turns it into a parallelogram  right before the fasteners fail and then it falls to pieces.  If it gets a substantial side load.  Absent small child mayhem, shouldn't be a problem.  Since we have 2 toddlers running around (my son and his cousin) April is going to nag her father into putting one on while I am gone to the US for a few months.

2) No doors means my destructive son, and the terror toddler cousin of doom, can pull stuff out with impunity.  April's father has been tasked by her to build and install doors.  We'll see how that works out for her when I return in 3 to 6 months...

It's installed next to my FIRST all original "ible, the world famous "April Desk using hinges, mortise and tenon joints, and latches" which fills an irregularly shaped, trapezoidial, window bay...

Step 7: Finished!

Finally, I "dressed the stage" by carefully putting a few of her favorite tee shirts on hangers inside. For that first impression. SHE can deal with figuring out what goes into the Armoire and what stays in a footlocker stored somewhere else...

Update 3 hours later: SUCCESS! I am guessing I get "muchas smoochas" tonight!

Update: 4 hours later. April is started on her organizational quest. See the second pic.

Update: A few days later. Small son has decided that he likes to crawl into and hide inside the lowest shelf. When he isn't trying to crawl into the lap of anyone on the computer so he can paw the keys...

A couple years later I had to build another dresser for my stepson & baby boy. Theirs is the one I didn't have time enough to paint... It's less tall (44" so my 9 year old stepson can put stuff on top) and has 4 shelves. The "Hanging Bar" is yet to come...

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