Building the Built-ins! Part 1

Okay so-  you guessed it, we are talking construction today!  How did you know, maybe you read the whole story already?   This project reaches both FAR and wide, in the construction realm.  From framing walls, and building cabinets to making doors, and molding columns…  and because words don’t always do a big project justice, I of course have tons of photos!   (and two posts cuz I ran out of time getting it all fleshed out!)

But I must warn ya, that this project was one of the first projects that I started fooling around with the manual settings of my camera… ( I really need to learn how to use it- I’ve had it for over 3 years after all)  So, the pictures are kind of all over the place in quality… meh, such is life – sorry!)

We started with framing the wall/column… we were considering at the time adding another column, along that section of the wall, but now, I am not sure if we will ever have the chance to do it.  The good news is, that the wall covered our strange ceiling issues…

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One little strange detail-

Because this is an addition to the existing living room we did have to make some changes with the carpet, and while I am chomping at the bit to replace this crappy carpet, the budget (seriously what budget?) doesn’t allow for it…

So, we were very careful in how we cut it, because we couldn’t just build a wall on top of it.   Before cutting, in order to keep the carpet stretched and free from wrinkles, Justin stapled (with inch long staples – gun / compressor, it had to be strong) the edges in place where we cut it.  Then, we only cut out the sections of carpet as we needed to. While it might be a little harder to remove than tack board, it will be removable, but we won’t have any major problems with wavy upstretched carpet in the mean time  (Just a tip, don’t ever cut the carpet out without securing it, or you WILL have major problems!

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Cabinet building 102- (maybe a few more tools than basic… but pretty simple construction all around!)

The depth of these cabinets was pretty specific, and not close enough to standard, so we built the cabinets ourselves.  The good news is that this made the overall cost significantly less than prebuilt and the quality a LOT better!  The cost of one board of melamine board is about $45.  We could get two sides and a few shelves for that price, plus they were custom 8 ft. tall cabinets.  All told, a pretty good deal if you ask me!

In order to be sure they were really strong, we opted for dados supporting the shelving.  A dado is a small groove cut into the structure, the fixed shelf sits in the groove securely.  Then they are glued and nailed in place through the outside of the cabinet.  To cut the dado, Justin set up a fence with a few clamps and a straight board, then set the depth of the router and got to cutting.

Below (on the cabinet sides) you will see that there are also an additional dado that runs the height of the cabinet.  These grooves hold the cabinet shelving supports.  Which are little metal adjustable shelving strips that you can move shelf supports on where ever you want them.  (pictures below, we got ours at Home Depot)


The little dado makes the supports flush with the sides, which helps the cabinets appear a little cleaner on the inside.

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Once everything was cut to size we just had to put them together.

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Oky-doky,  I have debated about putting this nasty picture of myself in here (below), but lets be honest, when I am working on projects, this is what I usually look like – C.R.A.P. ratty p.j.’s covered in paint, no makeup, hair unbrushed and pulled into a ponytail.  My poor husband, we are always working on projects…  Maybe this needs to be a new year’s resolution.  But on the same hand, I have learned over 10 years of remodeling houses, that if I put on nice clothes, I tend to get paint on them… and thus they get trashed.  So if I even think I am going to paint, I go casual-ghetto, it should really be a new style, maybe I will pin this to my style pin board… start a new trend in DIY chic – Casual Ghetto. (ha ha)

But also the picture needed to be included so that you can see that I do help occasionally…. Actually this is sort of a running joke, I do help- but since I do it with no photographer, I never get proof, unless I ask.  And why I asked to have my picture taken while looking like this I will never know.

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Once assembled, Justin checked if the piece was square.  The easiest way to do this is measure diagonally both ways from corner to corner, see the pictures below for examples.  Just nudge the pieces into place.  When the measurements are equal you have a square cabinet!

**This is a good thing to know whether the cabinet is custom or a kit you assemble!  Always check for square before attaching the back.

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Justin routed out a small lip onto the back of the cabinet to place the back.  This small cut allows the back panel to sit inside offering a lot more strength and stability once secured.

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We had to enlist some help to get the “bookcases” in place, .  Sorry the pictures are blurry I took them in action, and this was not going to happen twice, those things were HEAVY!  (Thanks Nathan!)

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Next another little section of carpet cut out, (only after being stapled in place!)  Then the back was cut to fit and attached.

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Once the window bench was installed, we were ready to add the face frame.  We choose to do this in place.  It has worked really well, although woodworkers are probably cringing at the thought!  BUT by doing it in place we were sure it fit exactly, without filler moldings or little mistakes, so I am happy!

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Okay at this point we had all of the structures in place and this is what it looked like:

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I will show you the rest of the building on Thursday morning!  Hope you will stop by again!

Also see Built in Storage for Family Room – post 1 and  Building the Built-ins; Part 2 – post 3

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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. You guys rock! I never get pictures of myself during DIY work, either. But when we go on vacation, it’s the hubs with the camera, and it looks like he was never with us on trips.

    1. That is so funny! But so true! We need to somehow hire a photographer to follow us around on trips and projects… never mind, you saw how I looked, and that pictures wasn’t the worst I’ve ever looked!

  2. It looks great! I have to ask for someone to snap pictures of me too. At first I felt dumb, but I’m getting over it. Plus I have lots of big kids you jump at the chance to play with my camera. I was wondering how thick your boards were that you used for the side walls of your cabinets. We are building some shelves and debating on whether to router grooves for the shelf supports.
    Thanks for sharing, can’t wait for the next part.

    1. Ronda, I think the boards are 3/4 inch thick (or within a 1/16ish) Our dados are only about 1/4 inch deep! Hope that helps! I can’t wait to see what you do!

    1. You take a straight board like a 1 x 2 and lay it parallel to the dado cut (you will need to measure the width from the point where you router cuts to the edge of the guard so that you line up the board in the proper place, I hope that makes sense)… Then you just clamp that board in place on either side of the board. with two small clamps.

  3. These are great! We’re so inspired and plan on working on our living room soon. Did you use the Melamine board to make all the structures?