How I Built Our Beautiful Barn Workshop Cabinets

There are some places that just turn into a “catch-all” mess. You know what types of places I’m talking about: those spots around your home that always end up as cluttered messes that no one makes time to organize. For you, it could be a closet, or a drawer. For us: our storage barn. It’s embarrassing how bad this space got, but I can tell you it wasn’t intentional. We never imagined that we would be using this barn for this long, and as the project to-do (and project completed) lists grew, so did the mess. We never made the time to fix the problem: until now. I am so excited to be able to take you on the journey that transformed our space, and let’s be honest, I’m so happy that it doesn’t take 15 minutes to find anything in here any more!

From the beginning, we knew we needed function. Previously we used a hodgepodge of old shelving units left here by last owners, but these shelves never provided us the true function and accessibility we desired. So I turned to the idea of installing cabinetry.  I explored the option of buying pre-made cabinets from our hardware store, but I couldn’t find any with the dimensions of drawers I wanted, and couldn’t rationalize the cost for something that I didn’t love. And that is how I decided to build my own. I have never built any cabinets before, and I was honestly a little nervous about taking on such a large and overwhelming task, but thankfully, YouTuber Brad Rodriguez with Fix This Build That has amazing video tutorials that helped us conquer this large-scale project.

Along with our cabinets, we gave everything a new coat of paint, built a countertop, installed peg board, peg board hooks/accessories, shelving, lighting, and new flooring. (Ceiling: SW Iron Ore; Cabinets: SW Vogue Green; Peg Board: SW Pediment). You can learn more about that in my post: From Beast to Beauty-Our Transformed Barn Workshop.

If you are willing to spend the time, building your own cabinets can be cost-effective and more beneficial to your space/needs given the ability to customize them. I am not claiming to be a professional, quite the opposite as building drawers proved to be extremely difficult for us, and I would prefer to not ever do it again. But here are the materials, tools, and basic steps that can help you determine if building your own cabinets will be right for you.

Materials

  • For ONE Cabinet with 3 Drawers
    • (2) 4’x8’ ¾” MDF board
    • (1) 4’x8’ ¼” plywood board
    • Kreg Jig
    • 1 ¼  Kreg JIg Screws
    • Wood Glue
    • (3) 22” Drawer Slide Kits 
    • (3) drawer handles of choice
  • For ONE Cabinet with shelves
    • (3) 4’x8’ ¾” MDF Board
    • (1) 4’x8’ ¼ Plywood board
    • wood glue
    • (6) door hinges
    • Kreg Jig
    • 1 ¼” Kreg Jig Screws
    • (2) Door Pulls of choice

Tools

Method

I followed a YouTube video tutorial by Brad Rodriguez with Fix This Build That to learn how to build my cabinet bases with drawers. He also has building plans (complete with measurements and cut lists) available for purchase, but I decided to “wing-it” after watching his video about 20 times over. Here’s the basics:

Cabinets with Drawers:

  1. Build base carcasses (frame)
    • Cut down all your sheets to measurements prior to assembly. This makes the process much simpler. You can have your material cut down at the hardware store you purchase from, or cut at home yourself using a table/hand saw.
    • Use the kreg jig (set to ¾” setting) to drill your holes. I used my PORTER CABLE impact drill with the kreg jig tip (set to ¾” setting).
    • Apply wood glue to the egged prior to securing with screws, this will give your carcass a more secure hold. 
    • Ensure your carcass is square to avoid difficulties in later assembly
    • Attach your ¼ ” plywood to the back with screws (or a brad nailer)
  2. Build your drawers
    • Follow the steps in the video, and use a  PORTER CABLE impact drill, kreg jig, and wood glue, to assemble the drawers, beginning with the frame.
    • Check to make sure your frame is square by measuring the diagonal distance between corners
    • Once you have made sure your frame is square, insert and secure the bottom of the drawer
    • Following the directions that come with your drawer slides, attach to the drawers and inside the cabinet carcass. (We purchased a drawer jig to help level the drawer slide mechanisms and I found that very useful.)
  3. Finishing touches:
    • Level your cabinets and secure to the wall
    • Insert drawers
    • Attach drawer fronts
      1. Using ½” MDF, use wood glue and clamps to attach drawer fronts
      2. Secure with ½” screws, attaching from the inside (avoid poking the screws through the front for a seamless finish
    • Attach drawer handles

Cabinets with Shelves:

  1. Build base carcasses (frame)
    • Cut down all your sheets to measurements prior to assembly. This makes the process much simpler. You can have your material cut down at the hardware store you purchase from, or cut at home yourself using a table/hand saw.
    • Use the kreg jig (set to ¾” setting) to drill your holes. I used my PORTER CABLE impact drill with the kreg jig tip (set to ¾” setting).
    • Apply wood glue to the egged prior to securing with screws, this will give your carcass a more secure hold. 
    • Ensure your carcass is square to avoid difficulties in later assembly
    • Attach your ¼ ” plywood to the back with screws (or a brad nailer)
  2. Attach shelves
    • Mark and level the height you want your shelves to sit, the attach with kreg jig holes and wood glue
    • Secure shelving unit to the wall by drilling screws into studs
    • Build Cabinet doors
    • Using ½” MDF and cut to door width
    • Attach hinges and hang cabinet doors
    • If screws poke through, you can use ½” MDF and a brad nailer to create a “frame” for your doors and hide any screw holes.
  3. Prime, paint, and enjoy all your new storage!

Lessons Learned

  • Building cabinets can be tough, and drawers are finicky if you haven’t built any before; be patient with yourself and give yourself room to learn.
  • Use ¾” MDF board. We accidentally picked up ½” MDF for parts of this project and it really made kreg-jigging difficult because the screws would blow through the MDF.
  • SQUARE YOUR DRAWERS. SQUARE THEM. Click HERE to learn how.
  • Get at least a “mid-grade” kreg jig like this one if you are planning on making cabinets. The basic model is frustrating to use when making so many holes.
  • Have fun with it, and know that you are capable of doing difficult things!

Check out my post: From Beast to Beauty- Our Transformed Barn Workshop for more details on how I transformed this space!

Talk soon.

xx, Lanna

2 thoughts on “How I Built Our Beautiful Barn Workshop Cabinets

  1. Pingback: From Beast to Beauty: Our Transformed Barn Workshop | The Roosting Place

  2. Pingback: Must Have Items for Organizing Tools | The Roosting Place

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s