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How to Build a Storage and Supply Center

Turn a messy area into a usable storage space. Use these step-by-step instructions to build a large cabinet that even has a mail-sorting center and a hideaway computer desk.

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Step 1: Design the Unit

Measure the space for your cabinets and decide on the desired size, shape and configuration that will work best for you. The two main upright cabinets for this unit, and the center piece with computer workstation, are a simple rectangular box design made from birch plywood. Each unit incorporates a center shelf, which also adds bracing and support.

Step 2: Cut the Plywood and Assemble the Unit

Once the overall dimensions for the cabinets are decided, measure, mark and cut the plywood pieces. Remember to allow for a toe-kick at the bottom of each upright cabinet. Assemble the box units one at a time, in each case starting with a side piece, then adding the center shelf and top and bottom, affixing first with wood glue then nails. Once the shelf, top and bottom are in place, turn the assembly with side-piece down, and affix the opposite side piece and the back, again using wood glue and nails.

Step 3: Paint the Cabinet Units

Once fully assembled, paint the cabinet units using a color that matches or coordinates with the existing kitchen cabinetry. Tip: If you're painting cabinet doors, painting is easier with the doors off. Install them once the paint is fully dry. To create a custom glazed finish, first prime and paint the doors. Allow the paint to dry fully.

Use sandpaper or an abrasive pad and brush across the surface of the painted surface. The idea is to lightly remove some of the paint to make it a thinner coat in some spots. It's OK for the white primer to partially show through in some areas.

Use a tack cloth or rag to remove any dust residue, and then use a water-based dark glaze to coat the surface of the doors. Wipe the glaze on lightly with a rag. A weathered finish can be achieved using a slight contrast between the paint color, the white of the primer underneath and the darkness of the glaze. The degree of darkness can be customized to taste depending on how much glaze is applied. Allow the glaze to dry fully.

Step 4: Secure the Cabinets to the Wall

Once the paint and glaze is dry, set the cabinets in place and affix them to the wall with wood screws making certain to sink the screws into wall studs — not just into the drywall. Also secure adjacent cabinets to one another using wood screws.

Tip: If you're having difficulty getting wood screws to penetrate into a wood surface, apply a bit of soap to the threads and points of the screws to help them go into the wood more easily. Discard any screws with flawed or damaged points.

Step 5: Build and Secure the Mail-Sorter Unit

The mail-sorter unit is mounted between the new cabinets and the existing kitchen units. Build the mail-sorter piece using the same material and following the same basic technique as for the larger upright units. To secure the mail sorter to the adjacent cabinets, use furniture clamps to hold it in position as you attach the unit to the wall studs and adjoining cabinets using wood screws.

Step 6: Attach the Keyboard Slide

For the center section that will house the computer workstation, a keyboard slide makes it possible to create a keyboard tray that slides out of the way when not in use. Attach the keyboard slide using the screws and provided hardware following the manufacturer's instructions. In this case, since the keyboard slide attaches beneath the lower shelf of the center-cabinet insert, installation is made easier by installing the slide with the cabinet insert turned upside-down, before it's put into place.

Step 7: Customize the Units

The interiors of the larger cabinets are outfitted with slat-wall paneling to expand their storage capabilities. Slat-wall accessories include baskets, shelves hooks and other fixtures that allow you to customize storage solutions to fit your needs. Decide on where you want to position slat-wall panels, then cut the panels to size using a circular saw or chop saw. Secure the panels to the cabinet interiors using wood screws. In this case, the wood slat-wall panels were left unpainted to match visually with the natural wood interior of the existing kitchen cabinets.

Step 8: Affix the Cabinet Doors

Once all cabinet units are complete and installed, and the cabinet doors have been painted, follow the manufacturer's instructions to affix the cabinet doors using the appropriate door hardware.

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