Intro: DIY Built Ins for Living Room
Some friends of mine asked me to build 2 identical Cypress built ins on both sides of the fireplace for their new home.
They wanted the built ins to extend from the floor to the ceiling and have a farmhouse style to match the rest of the house. Since I had to build these DIY custom built in cabinets in my shop, it was easier to build them in 3 different sections. These sections would stack on top of one another to comprise the final piece. The DIY custom built in cabinet doors with glass panes, shiplap on the sides, and all black hardware.
Tools I Used
- Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig - https://amzn.to/2HXoOrd
- Pocket Hole Screws
- Dewalt Trim Router
- Biscuit Joiner
- Track Saw
- Festool Guide Rails
- Festool Rotary Sander RO125
- Drill Driver Combo
- Wood Glue
- Bar Clamps
- Pocket Hole Clamps
- Bench Cookie
- Cabinet Hardware
Step 1: Bottom Section
The first step to this project was to build the bottom section. It was important that I build this as sturdy as possible because the middle and top sections will sit on top of it.
I started by ripping 3/4" plywood to size. Next, I attached the 2 sides to the bottom piece with glue and pocket holes.
Then, I put the back piece in position and secured it to each side and the bottom with a bar clamp. I spread glue, drilled pilot holes, and used pocket screws to secure the back.
Next, I attached the front and back floor supports using pocket screws and fastened 3 evenly spaced between them. I also screwed into them from each of the outer sides.
Step 2: Bottom Section Insert and Top
Then, I attached the front and back floor supports using pocket screws and fastened 3 evenly spaced between them. I also screwed into them from each of the outer sides.
This was my own design and I'm sure it's overkill, but I made sure the bottom piece was as sturdy as it possibly could be.
The top laid perfectly on all 4 corners, but I still used a clamp to prevent shifting. I secured it with glue and pocket screws.
Step 3: Middle Section
I constructed the middle section the same way - with pocket holes, glue, and screws.
This section is twice as tall as the bottom section and has 2 large cabinet doors. I used 3 1x4's cut from plywood to attach to the back of each section. This will help provide spacing from the wall in case wires need to be ran down the back.
Step 4: Top Section
Of the 3 sections, the top was by far the easiest to build. This section was small enough to have 2 sides, bottom, and top. It did not need any support in the middle.
Step 5: Cypress Wood
My friends were going for the farmhouse style and wanted the built ins to be constructed with Cypress wood with a shiplap pattern.
Since cypress plywood is very hard to find, I decided to use plywood for the cabinet carcass and trim it out with cypress. I bought the rough cut cypress from a local cypress sawmill and spent many hours milling the lumber. More than I had originally anticipated.
Step 6: Cypress Overlay and Shiplap
Since the interior of the bottom cabinet would be visible through the glass panes, I had to cover the interior with Cypress.
I repeated this process for the middle and top sections. I used a vertical pattern for the middle section because of the length and to conserve as much cypress as possible.
The cabinets would be installed on each side of a fireplace, so only one side would be visible. This is where I installed the shiplap with a 1/8 inch space in between.
I used tile spacers and a level to keep things consistent and level as I went up the side of the cabinet.
I didn't attach the transition piece which would go between each section. I simply put it in place, I attached the one above it and removed it to install at a later time.
Step 7: Built in Doors
The custom built in cabinet doors were fairly easy to build and were solid cypress.
I built the middle cross of the cabinet doors by using my dado blade to cut a cross halving joint.
I cleaned up the joint with a chisel, spread glue, and clamped them together.
Next, I built the outer frame and marked where to put the biscuits.
I used glue and #10 biscuits to join everything together.
In total, I made 4 doors for the 2 bottom sections and 4 more identical doors of smaller height for the top sections.
I made the middle doors by first building the outer frame. I used my router with a straight bit to cut a notch on the inside of the frame.
Since these doors needed to be very light in weight, I resawed some shiplap to 1/4 of an inch thick and laid them in the door.
Step 8: Built Ins Cabinet Door Hardware
My friends wanted corner brackets on each door. The brackets had no functional purpose, they are only for show.
These brackets are expensive if they are purchased in black, so I bought the cheapest brackets I could find from my local big box store. I scuffed-up the brackets with a metal wire brush and coated them with 3 coats of black spray paint.
To ensure consistency, I made a 90 degree jig to install the brackets in all 4 corners of the cabinet.
Step 9: Cabinet Door Glass Panes
I ordered 32 glass panes for the bottom and top doors from my local big box store. I picked them up already cut to size the following day.
First, I used my router to cut a notch for the glass to sit in slightly deeper than the thickness of the glass. Then, I placed the glass in place and used silicone around the edges. I let this dry for 24 hours.
Step 10: Built in Installation
I recruited my buddy Lester to help me install the cabinets. These cabinets are extremely, extremely heavy.
We put the bottom section in place and secured it to the wall studs from inside the cabinet. Then, we installed the middle section, secured it, and then the top section.
After about 6 weeks, I reinstalled the doors and the door handles.
Step 11: Lessons Learned and Conclusion
My friends seem very happy with the custom built ins.
This project was a lot of fun and I learned many new woodworking techniques; however, I severely underestimated the time it took me to complete this project. I barely broke even on this project, but I'm glad I was able to help out some friends and learn valuable lessons about properly pricing my work.
Would I take on a project like this again in the future? Yes, for 5x the price I charged for this one. :)
I hope this project provided you with some value because this is, and always will be, my ultimate goal.