Hallway Built-in Begins


After risking decapitation on the drive home from the lumberyard, I had to put my wee built-in project on hold for about two weeks. That gave me plenty of time to remove the splinters from my neck.

But this week, I made good progress. What took longest was cutting things to size…because almost every piece is too large for all table saws available to be at short notice (mine and Christopher Schwarz’s). It’s not often a furniture maker needs a sliding table saw with 96″+ capacity sled, but once in a while, it sure would be handy! So I bought a piece of 2″-thick pink insulation, slapped that atop sawbenches in the biergarten, and got to work. (And when possible, I cut things 1/2″ oversized, and made the final cuts on the table saw for accuracy and repeatability. Yes, the Festool track saw makes clean and accurate cuts…but I don’t trust the user’s track-saw layout ability.)


Set the depth of cut to just deeper than the workpiece is thick. That way, the insulation gets barely scored, and supports the work all the way through the cut(s).

Both the base and top cabinet are now together. It helps that I decided to use screws rather than Dominos – that made things go together a lot faster. It will also be screwed through the sides to studs, thus plenty strong enough for its purpose (storing sheets, towels and toiletries) and beyond.

The bottom section gets four drawers, graduated in size from bottom to top, with two drawers on the top (thanks, Chris, for that design improvement). The web frames are pocket screwed together, then screwed to the sides.


The bottom of the top section is raised up about 3/4″ from the bottom of the assembly; that will allow me to incorporate a pull-out shelf between the top and bottom section, on which to fold towels before putting them away. (My hope is that with a proper storage piece instead of bins under my bed, I will actually fold the towels and put them away, instead of leaving them in the laundry basket.) There’s also a fixed middle(ish) shelf and top. The top piece is dropped down about 4″ from the top edges, and tomorrow, I’ll put a 4″-wide rail above it, to which I’ll (eventually) be able to attach the face frame and crown moulding. Plus, there will be a couple of adjustable shelves. (The fixed middle shelf and adjustable shelves will get a hardwood lip to cover the ugly raw plywood edge; the other raw edges will be hidden behind the face frame.)


Yes, of course I wanted to put the top atop the bottom for a look – but I can’t lift it without help.

Tomorrow, I’ll drill the shelf pin holes, fit the back and hit the interior of the top with a coat or two of shellac. With luck, it will not be raining…and Chris will be willing to help me get these home, up the stairs and into position.

Then, it’s on to the face frame and doors (Domino joinery), and drawers (dovetails…unless I succumb both to peer pressure and a desire to finish quickly, in which case, Dominos).

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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10 Responses to Hallway Built-in Begins

  1. Michael Trangaris says:

    How about cherry; will you write for Cherry? Inquiring minds want to know!😜

  2. johncashman73 says:

    Years ago, I was loading up my station wagon with plywood cut into 2×8 sections. Rather than risk decapitation, I stood them between the front seats. They seemed to be about an inch too long, keeping me from fully shutting the tailgate. One or two good hip checks got the job done — tailgate latched.

    When I got behind the wheel, I discovered the plywood mashed into the rearview mirror, which in turn had broken the windshield.

    I now own a pickup truck, with no sliding cab window.

    • Ricky Pattillo says:

      I drive a Rav 4 with a sun roof. I’ve hauled boards up to 12 ft by loading them in the back and angling them up towards the front through the open sun roof. The wind resistance makes it handle a slightly differently and taxes gas mileage, but it works. The stares I get are the best part.

    • Brent says:

      I also cracked the windshield on my Jeep once in a similar fashion with some walnut boards.

  3. Brent says:

    The tech college that I take evening furniture woodworking classes at has a few altendorf saws. When you have access to one you’d be surprised how often you use it. All crosscutting wider than about 10 inches is done on it, so basically all panels.

  4. neitsdelf says:

    Couldn’t you solve the decapitation risk with, say, a French Foreign Legion hat?

  5. Kerry Doyle says:

    Do not succumb to arbitrarily imposed deadlines! Do the dovetails, even if it takes longer. Once an object is ‘complete’, there’s rarely time to take it apart and do over. Don’t ask…

  6. Pingback: In Which I Hope to Not Hurt My Friends | Rude Mechanicals Press Blog

  7. Pingback: Half-baked House Projects | Rude Mechanicals Press Blog

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