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Downstairs Built-ins Extravaganza! #1: Time to get started

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Blog entry by BethMartin posted 03-29-2009 04:39 AM 1225 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Downstairs Built-ins Extravaganza! series Part 2: Time to mooch the table saw. »

So recently we had gutted our downstairs. Our home is a 70’s split-level and the walls were previously covered in painted-over wood paneling. We took off all the walls, ran 5 new circuits, put in a ton more lights, and redid the fireplace with gas inserts.

Now the walls are back up and painted, and it’s time to build all the built-ins that I have planned. I’m putting shelving/drawer units on either side of the fireplace, then making a double desk for our computers, a vanity for the bathroom, and of course all the trim, mantel, etc. will be done too.

This is my inspiration pic as far as style, colors go:
inspiration pic

The first thing that I need to make is the built-in where all the electronics will be kept. Right now it is a bare wall with a huge snarl of wires and cables and I need to get it all covered up and tucked away. I’ve already strategically placed outlets and the low-voltage boxes so that they will end up on the shelves where I want that particular equipment to be. The bottom half of this built-in will be a drawer cabinet to store DVDs and games, and little drawers for the extra remotes. It will be 3’ high, 4’ wide and 2’ deep. It is probably the most complicated part of my whole project, and hopefully I’ll figure it out okay and the rest will be easy peasy.

Here is my sketch:
sketch of drawer cabinet

Once I get that done, I will build the shelves for the upper part of the unit. They will be all open shelves so the equipment stays nice and cool. Except for the speaker – I’m going to make a nice screen that will hide it away but let the sound out.

I should probably note that I have not made furniture before.

I have some tools of my own already. I am mooching a table saw from a friend who says I can borrow it for at least a couple months. I’ve got a compound miter, router (+dovetail jig), jigsaw, circular saw, and I just picked up a dewalt biscuit joiner off of craigslist for cheap today. I need to get some pipe clamps too. I’m not sure what else I’ll need? I guess I’ll figure that out! Hopefully I can get by with what I have so far.

Tomorrow I will go pick out my first batch of wood from my local lumberyard. A plug here for Dunn Lumber. I heart them. I’m going to be making stuff out of cherry since I can get it in boards and plywood both. This drawer cabinet can mostly be made from regular cheap plywood for the parts you don’t see and then I’ll make the face frame, top, side, and drawer fronts out of cherry.

What else can I ramble about? I think the hardest part of being a newbie to this is planning out the strategy for assembling everything. I have a pretty good idea of how to put it all together just from reading and checking out the furniture I have. And I’ve installed premade cabinets. But this will be an adventure! I’m looking forward to it. (Except the part where I have to park outside the garage in the cold temporarily – brrrr!!!)

Anyhoo, stay tuned and watch the noob work out her project. I’ll post lots of pics along the way. :)

-- Beth



11 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3560 days


#1 posted 03-29-2009 05:06 AM

Great inspiration. I am a remodeling contractor and I would be like a pig in mud with your project.

I am doing a built-in banquet for a period home right now. The built-ins like I am doing or what you are going to do are a lot of fun.

If you have questions let me know.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View BethMartin's profile

BethMartin

111 posts in 2838 days


#2 posted 03-29-2009 05:14 AM

Thank you, Todd! I’m sure I will have tons of questions along the way! :)

-- Beth

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3137 posts in 3173 days


#3 posted 03-29-2009 05:27 AM

Beth,

Since you’re new to furniture making, you might find Google’s SketchUp software (a free download) to be a valuable tool for designing your project. It really saves time when you get to the build. I find “building” on the computer is a lot less costly when I make mistakes and easier to rework when I’m not completely pleased with the design and need to tweak it.

We’re anxious to see your progress.

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View BethMartin's profile

BethMartin

111 posts in 2838 days


#4 posted 03-29-2009 05:48 AM

I do have sketchup, and I used it to plan our downstairs layout to see how to fit everything. :) But I’m still faster with graph paper (though I don’t get the 3D visual). Oh, and I do have the double desk all sketched out in sketchup, I forgot about that. It is a great little program for being free!

-- Beth

View BethMartin's profile

BethMartin

111 posts in 2838 days


#5 posted 03-29-2009 05:53 AM

Here’s my sketchup of one side of the downstairs layout. Ignore the shelving in the bottom left, I just wanted to see much I could cram in that corner, but I will likely do something else there. The desk is just roughed out to figure out the cabinet sizes, the details will be worked out later. Ignore the colors and style. :) The built-ins that I’m making first go in the bottom right corner that you can’t see in this view.

sketchup

-- Beth

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

938 posts in 2853 days


#6 posted 03-29-2009 06:11 AM

Nowadays, with all this technology fuss, it’s refreshing to see an sketch like your!
That little sketch, gives a LOT more information, about the woodworker sensibility and the project…..it’s not the cold computer generated, cuasi perfect view…
What type of runners or slices are you considering for the drawers?

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3560 days


#7 posted 03-29-2009 06:33 AM

I have Sketchup and still have not learned to use it. It is a great way to show clients a proposed project and yet I still draw by hand because it is so much faster for me and I do not have to take my computer.

I admire the sketchup skills demonstrated here on LJ, but in the end I still have the skills in the shop.

Good planning does save money.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17654 posts in 3136 days


#8 posted 03-29-2009 09:16 AM

I’m with ya’ll on the paper plan. Hi-tech is great, but too slow…........then there is the learning curve :-( I do too much without anything on paper. My wife says i can visulize anything ;-) Just food for thought, the inspiration picture has a lot of dark. We have remodeled out a lot of dark walnut to light oak. The same with the original floors. It sure makes things a bit more cheery, open and larger. Anyway, Good luck with your built-ins!! ;~))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3282 days


#9 posted 03-29-2009 01:44 PM

Beth, it sounds like you have a good plan and a mental commitment to your project which are the initial hurdles that must be surmounted. You have selected a nice wood to work with as well. Cherry happens to be my personal favorite. Keep us posted on your progress as you go along.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View BethMartin's profile

BethMartin

111 posts in 2838 days


#10 posted 03-29-2009 05:52 PM

Thanks for the encouragement everyone. :) And it’s nice to have some commisseration on the low-tech approach. ;) I’ve got more sketches too that I haven’t posted – of the case, the face frame, drawers, cutting diagrams.

Moai, I’m not entirely sure what you are asking about the drawers – but I will be using some sort of drawer slides where I’ll be able to pull the drawer all the way out. If people have recommendations for brands, that’d be great. Also, I’m a little unclear about how long of drawer slides I need – the chest will be 24” deep, and the drawers will be flush (I think – I might change my mind later). So I’m not sure what length slide that translates to – I was going to get 20” long ones.

Topamax Survivor – I picked this inspiration pic for it’s earthy colors and the cozy feeling of the dark wood. It’s okay if it makes the room feel smaller. This is where I’ll be snuggling up with the family on the big couch and watching movies. So I want the room to feel snuggly and comfortable, if that makes sense. :) The rest of the house is slowly evolving into more of a rustic-y feeling house too. We’re not planning on moving ever, so I get to do whatever I want to do to the house without worrying about resale. ;) Sometime I’ll have to put up a blog entry and show you all the crazy things I’ve done to this place.

-- Beth

View BethMartin's profile

BethMartin

111 posts in 2838 days


#11 posted 03-29-2009 06:18 PM

Sooo….I have another thread in the forums asking about what wood to use, and my cherry idea isn’t going over so well. lol! So instead of buying all my wood today, I’m just going to pick up some various boards and some stain and will start experimenting. :)

-- Beth

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