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what's the largest freestanding cabinet you've built?

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Forum topic by HokieMojo posted 1620 days ago 2187 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2362 days


1620 days ago

The reason that I ask is I think I have a plan to solve a lot of my storage problems. I’m planning to build a freestanding unit that will be 8 ft tall. It will be 3 feet wide and seperated into 3 sections.

-The center section will be hollow and about 10” wide. This will hold full size sheet goods.

-The left section (10” wide) will have 3 shelves at the top accessible from the left side. The bottom of the left side will have 5 shelves (more 4 ft long horizontal tubes running front to back) that will be accessible from the front to store long items like Dust collection pipe/hose, mid-length pipe clamps, and lumber cutoffs.

-The right section will be 2 sets of shelves. The shelves accessible from the front will be about 15” x 15” and 1.5 feet high each. The back shelves will be accessible from the sides and will be about 30 inches wide and 15 inches deep. I may leave some out to allow for a hanging cabinet or something like that.

The reason I’m asking about other people builds is because I plan to make this out of 3/4” melamine MDF. My estimate is that this will require 6.5 sheets of plywood. Unfortunately, if home depot’s website is right (and I think it is), The unit will weigh in at just over 600 lbs, not counting all the stuff I want to put on it. I’d really like to hear your thoughts. I wish I have a sketch-up diagram or something, but hopefully my explanation is clear. Thanks all!


15 replies so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14726 posts in 2310 days


#1 posted 1620 days ago

7 ft high gun cabinet. Only weighs about 100 #,

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

View KayBee's profile

KayBee

1003 posts in 1880 days


#2 posted 1620 days ago

16’ High, 24’ Long breakfront cabinet. I don’t like using MDF for anything structural. In my experience, even with a solid edging, it doesn’t hold the weight well. It starts to warp, sag, bow- whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t stay flat. It’s what IKEA and wally world build their junky furniture out of. You’ll also get a hernia trying to move it.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1000 posts in 2015 days


#3 posted 1620 days ago

I think it’s 6’ tall, 3’ wide, and maybe 18” deep. It’s something I’ve been meaning to post as a project to LJs, but it has some problems I’m not proud of, like the doors swelling and not shutting right at all. Anyway, it has 2 front doors that are about 4” deep and internally lined with shelving standards and pegboard. It’s a mix of shelves and things hanging above shelves in each door from top to bottom. Inside, the cabinet is divided into a left and right half down the middle with a wall. The wall holds piano hinges for 2 more fridge-style doors inside that face out, so when you open the 2 main doors, you see 4 6’ tall sections of shelves, standards, and pegboard laid out before you. Then the inner doors can swing out and around revealing yet another section behind them. I love it, but my biggest gripes are the massive wood movement of the main doors that keeps them from shutting (I also think they might just be too heavy, even on 6’ tall piano hinges), and the fact that each of the 6 sections is only about 4” deep. There are so many things that can’t even close to fit in there. That’s why I built a wall cabinet, and why I continue to find new places to store my too many things :)

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

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Gary Fixler

1000 posts in 2015 days


#4 posted 1620 days ago

I mocked up something really rough in SketchUp to see if I got what you mean.

Left side:
left view

Left 3/4:
left 3/4 view

Right 3/4:
right 3/4 view

Right side:
right view

Some of the measurements were a little weird, like your shelves on the right are 15” and 30” front to back, but that doesn’t add up to the 4’ depth. I used 30 and 18. Anyway, hope it’s close, and that it helps you visualize it. I agree that MDF is crazy heavy. It has no airspace. It’s a slab of hot-pressed glue, basically. Might be better to just frame it out with 1x and 2x material – just a skeleton – then divide up the areas with 1/4” ply or similar. MDF really takes a thrashing over time with wood sliding around on it. I have miter saw wing table tops made out of it, and they’re pretty crummy looking now. Also, any moisture, like green wood, or a wet rag will cause the melamine to bubble up and wrinkle, and it looks water damaged after that.

If you want it, the file for this rapid, down-and-dirty mock-up is here.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View ralmand's profile

ralmand

162 posts in 1936 days


#5 posted 1619 days ago

A rolling cabinet, 7 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 2 feet deep. It is made from 3/4 birch plywood and has heavy duty casters. It was my 1st project and still moves with ease and has no structural problems.
Here is the link if you want to take a look:
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/16992

Good Luck

-- Randy, Allen Texas

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1397 posts in 2098 days


#6 posted 1619 days ago

i agree with the comments about MDF, as well as the alternative of using a frame/panel system.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2508 days


#7 posted 1619 days ago

This is the biggest piece that wasn’t attached to a wall (I assume that’s what you mean by freestanding) ...
Click for details
I’m not exactly sure of the weight, but it took four guys to carry it into the client’s home.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2362 days


#8 posted 1619 days ago

Wow Gary,
You really nailed it. You are correct that the measurement you mentioned was off by about 3 inches. I’m sure there are others that you corrected for too, but I was going from memory at about 1 AM, and I don’t think I accounted for the plywood thickness accurately at all points. All things considered, I must have done OK because this is EXACTLY what I envisioned. Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!

To those that posted their own project references: Thanks for providing these. It gives me hope that as long as I don’t plan to move this thing, I might just be ok. It won’t be so massive as to create it’s own gravitational field.

To those that posted suggestions/comments:
Most comments seemed to involve my material choice. Here is why I was thinking melamine MDF.
1) it should be flat at the time of purchase. Plywood or other similar materials in this price range probably won’t be.
2) it is prefinished – no need to paint/varnish this thing to prevent chipping and splintering. The reflective white surface would also help illuminate the inside of some of these deep shelves. The smooth surface and light color may also deter bugs from making a home in these shelves.
3) I thought I’d have enough intersecting pieces that would allow me to sufficiently brace this against sagging. none of the shelves would have an edge that is more than 15 inches from a screwed in support. I don’t think any of the horizontal surfaces should sag.
4) mdf should be easy to clean with a dust rag, even if I forget to run my DC. Its also easy to tell when it needs a cleaning.
5) the smooth surface allows for easy sliding. I hoped this would protect the faces and edges of some of the finish grade plywood I’ll be storing in the cabinet. I thought it might also make it easier to slide heavy tools onto the shelves.
6) cost – I know that sometimes you get what you pay for, but if I really do end up buying 7 sheets, that’s about $200. Not cheap at all, but compared to even mid quality plywood that still might warp, it is about 1/2 the price. Factor in my time to apply finishes and that is one big reason.

Here are the things people seem to not like:
1) weight – yes, this would be ridiculously heavy, but I’m hoping I could force it into place and add the shelves after the frame is in it’s final location. Hopefully I’d never have to move it after that. Maybe 1/2 inch ply would be a good substiture for the top, bottom, and back?
2)moisture – this is a concern i hadn’t considered. It shouldn’t be subjected to anything that is truly wet (not even green wood), but it is in a garage so humidity could factor in. I don’t have experience with how this would hold up though.
3) sagging – as I mentioned earlier, wouldn’t lots of screws going into the back of the shelves prevent sagging? The shelves wouldn’t be adjustable, but I think this would still work
4) wear – I thought melamine was pretty resistant to damage. I can’t argue with peoples experiences, but maybe I can clarify what I hope to get from this. IF it wears evenly but stays smooth, I’m not concerned. If it wears through or scratches through easily, that would be a bigger problem.

Alternative Construction Method
I’m intrigued by Gary’s alternative method he suggested. The main problems I foresee are that I will need to choose to make this purely a functional design with 0 aesthetic appeal, or I’ll need to go all out to make the whole thing consistently attractive. Any effort to make something in between will probably just produce the former result anyway. Regardless of the approach, I think it would take substantially more time. I’m going to have to think about the feasibility. I might not be thinking this through clearly though. Don’t worry Gary, this is not an attempt to get you to draw me more stuff. LOL. I just need to let it soak into my brain for a few hours and see what comes to mind!

View RobWoodCutter's profile

RobWoodCutter

111 posts in 1864 days


#9 posted 1619 days ago

Hokie,

You are going to want to make the unit taller than 8’ if you are planning are putting a 4’x8’ sheet goods in the center bin. If the sides of the center bin is made from 8’ tall sheet goods, the 8’ sheets goods you try to store in it will in most case bind up. Leaving 1-2” clear above will make getting sheets in and out alot easier.

Just a thought.

Rob

-- Rob-Yorktown "Shop's still not done, Tools are bought, Wood is bought, need to find time to start a project.."

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2362 days


#10 posted 1619 days ago

Rob,
Thanks. I wrote a lot of pros and cons in my last comment, but forgot one of the biggest pros. the melamine sheets are supposed to be oversized by 1” in each direction. That would give me just enough wiggle room to get everything in and perfectly upright. If they are forced to lean, I think the bow in the material can become somewhat permanent.
Thanks again!

View RobWoodCutter's profile

RobWoodCutter

111 posts in 1864 days


#11 posted 1619 days ago

My built-in sheet good storage is 4’ wide, divided up into three sections. It is rare to have any bin completely filled up to alleviate leaning.

I just keep some scrap 48” x 2”(or 3”, 4”,5”) widths of plywood and just wedge them in at the upper side of the sheets to keep them pressed together to stop any potential bowing.

Rob

-- Rob-Yorktown "Shop's still not done, Tools are bought, Wood is bought, need to find time to start a project.."

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1000 posts in 2015 days


#12 posted 1619 days ago

Glad I could help, Hokie. I agree with your final point, too. I’ve had so many grand ideas for my storage solutions that then became rather plain and uninteresting after budget or time interfered.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1397 posts in 2098 days


#13 posted 1619 days ago

sounds like me, gary. that’s resulted my in storing things in sturdy shoeboxes and ancient kitchen cabinets… it works, is all i can say.

View oluf's profile

oluf

256 posts in 1673 days


#14 posted 1619 days ago

What is your celing height? Remember you can not stand up an 8 foot tall cabinet up in a room with an 8 foot celing and you can’t get it in the door standing up.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2362 days


#15 posted 1619 days ago

I’m not sure of the exact ceiling height, but its about 14 feet. One of the reasons I like this design is that the left side (when looking at it) will be up against a 4 foot stairway. that means the top shelves will just barely be above the railing so I can put stuff in the garage without having to put shoes on. LOL!

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