Built In Closets #8: Installation Part I - Amateur mistake destroys weeks of work

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Blog entry by SPHinTampa posted 11-20-2010 05:32 PM 2519 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Getting the room ready - demo, patch, paint Part 8 of Built In Closets series Part 9: Installation Part 2 - Recovering from dumb mistakes »

Installation was not a pleasant experience. I made a mistake so dumb it makes me wonder if I should just put my workshop on Craigslist and take up knitting.

I had the closet units completed assembled, finished with face frames attached.

These units need to brought into the bedroom, brought into a hallway, lifted and tilted in.

I drew out the dimensions in advance to ensure I could get the unit in. My drawing were wrong. The d*#n units can not be tilted in, they are too big. I did not realize my daughter had brought friends home and I embarrassed her by cursing loudly in the bedroom. Not a good role model day.

I took a day of feeling sorry for myself and trying to figure out how to fix. I considered:
- cutting a section out of lintel (but I hate finish work and dry walling)
- cutting a section out of adjacent wall (ditto)
- burning everything and calling in real professional (where is Holmes when you need him)
- cutting cabinets into top and bottom components and rebuilding face frames in place

Finally I settled on trying to remove one side of the cabinets. I used a flush cut saw at face frame joints to cut them apart. I unscrewed the pocket screws. I scored along the edges where the shelf meets the sides. Finally, my amateur status helped me. My glue up was bad enough that I could separate the side wall with a rubber mallet and some anger without damaging the unit too badly and with biscuits intact.



Now they fit

(wife gloat) Eat your heart out Tim Allen, I have the best looking shop assistant in town:

Reglue and re install pocket screws and the first unit is in the closet.

And the face frames only suck a little bit:

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

12 comments so far

View sras's profile


4812 posts in 3158 days

#1 posted 11-20-2010 05:44 PM

You know what? After they are in place and in use, no one will EVER KNOW about what it took to get them there. You are not the first one to have to make a “minor alteration” to an original plan. Adapting is part of the game. They look great! I am sure they will be much appreciated as well.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3337 days

#2 posted 11-20-2010 05:56 PM

I made the same mistake years ago with a built in tall cabinet for our bathroom…it just would not fit through the hallway doors and around the corners. I ended up renting a scissors lift for about $50 for a few hours and had to raise the cabinet in through the 2nd story window. Worked out well except for my ego bruising and an additional $50 for the rental. Live and Learn.

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2912 days

#3 posted 11-20-2010 06:08 PM

Try not to be too hard on yourself; I’m sure many of us (including myself!) have done this. I’m in the midst of basement renos, and many times I have carefully measured boards, carefully cut, and then brought them back downstairs to find they don’t fit. My wife has just learned to ignore the stream of cursing coming from the basement…

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2909 days

#4 posted 11-20-2010 06:35 PM

I’ve never made a mistake just once….
and, if I were just a little more humble, I’d be perfect….

Careful with those knitting needles, I stabbed myself once and it really hurt!
. I took up woodworking instead…. ;-)

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4189 days

#5 posted 11-20-2010 06:45 PM

a good woodworker knows how to move beyond an “oops” and make it work.
I’m impressed!! Well done.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2989 days

#6 posted 11-20-2010 07:13 PM

i feel with ya, i had to dismantle a cabinet and shorten it to fit it in my newly insulated workshop.
lucky for us that biscuit joints are so incredibly weak and come apart with a few mallet hits.

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2963 days

#7 posted 11-20-2010 08:53 PM

We all make mistakes, the best are those who fix theirs.

good thinking.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Rick's profile


144 posts in 3538 days

#8 posted 11-20-2010 11:11 PM

I spent years in drywall learning what I needed so when I started woodworking I could modify the house to fit what I build to put in it.

I’ve not built anything as large as those and I just know someday I will. I am also sure that after learning from other people’s mistakes, I’ll have to learn from their work-arounds too.

But I can swear all on my own.

I think they turned out great, and as noted – NO ONE will know the difference.

-- There are many tempting parking places on the road to success

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

267 posts in 3217 days

#9 posted 11-21-2010 05:07 AM

I’ve got this very fear for the built-in bed project I’m currently working on. I’m going to assemble it in the room (I know it won’t fit assembled) but I’m worried that the large panels are just not going to fit around some corner or another.

I like the idea of a scissors lift, though! :-)

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3241 posts in 3741 days

#10 posted 11-21-2010 05:58 AM


That hurts! I’ve been working on a closet also and am hoping that after six months of work, my measurements are correct. It’s in three parts and they are all too big for me to carry in and out of the house for fitting. I’m on the home stretch now, but we have to move the bedroom doorway to install them where I want them.

I’ve made some pretty bad measuring errors in the past and am nervous about a repeat! I hope if I have made a mistake, I’ll be able to make as good a recovery as you did!


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Vicki's profile


1099 posts in 3373 days

#11 posted 11-22-2010 07:40 AM

I made a similar boo boo with a book case. A valuable lesson. I don’t know the highest size that will fit my house, but I learned to make everything about a foot shorter. A good height for my low ceiling workshop too. Your project turned out just fine. If you don’t tell on yourself, no one will know and you’ve got a great closet out of it.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3099 days

#12 posted 11-23-2010 11:03 AM

I hope you’re not offended by this but I’m really glad this happens to other people too. After all these years I’m starting to get the message I take a lot of measurements now particularly in entrances. Can you believe I’ve actually removed double glazed window panels to get into a room. Honest!
Great job though
Best regards

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

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