Built-in Display Cabinet Plan

Getting more dining space out of an already cramped dining area is a problem common to many homeowners. For homeowners of this dining/kitchen area, ten square feet of precious dining space was occupied by a china cabinet.

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After years of coping with the problem they sought professional advice. A designer helped the homeowners select the best method of expanding without generating four figure construction costs. The solution reached was to eliminate the china cabinet and build a display unit into the adjacent wall. As is common with many homes, the wall was next to the garage.

Getting the right design was another challenge because it had to appeal to both the homeowners and our readers. Six manufacturers evaluated the problem dining/kitchen area and ultimately produced this attractive contemporary display cabinet. It features a Scandinavian-style design, laminate surfaces for easy cleaning, display area with adjustable half-shelf, stained oak accent trim, lighted counter-top, hidden European-style hinges and plenty of storage space. New flooring and a steel paneled door were added to accentuate the entire project.

built-in display cabinet

Wall framing

First determine what modifications to the project's design are necessary in order to suit your specific location requirements.  Begin framing the wall bump-out in the garage. Tear out the outside sheathing and/or drywall, insulation and vapor barrier. Make sure the electricity is turned off to those outlets and cables that run inside and outside of the bump-out area.

Support the upper wall plate (refer to illustration) with a 2X6 beam and 2X4 braces. Then knock out the wall studs with a sledge hammer, leaving the interior drywall in tact. This drywall will keep airborne dust to a minimum. 
Cut out the lower wall and sole plates with a reciprocating saw and remove with a wrecking bar.

Install the doubled 2X6 header along with support studs. Now, remove the temporary braces that were supporting the top plate. Frame the opening to suit the difference in floor height between your kitchen and garage. Add the sub-flooring. Carefully plan how to reroute your electrical wiring.

Run the moisture barrier along two sides of the bump-out, but insulate and drywall all three sides. Then cut out the inside drywall with a utility knife and remove. Add the vapor barrier along the remaining wall and drywall the dining room side of the bump-out. Install the underlay at this time.

When installing the drywall, apply adhesive to the inner studs and nail only the outside edges. This will eliminate nailing and extra finish work. The trick to finish dry-walling is making sure the compound is thoroughly mixed and applied in thin coats. Feather the compound's edges with a damp sponge (to avoid sanding) just before the compound dries.


Cabinet construction

Construct the upper and lower cabinets with plywood. Cut the required dadoes with a router, equipped with a 3/4" straight-face bit. Make a T-square type straight edge to guide the router. Then cut rabbets with a rabbeting bit equipped with pilot guide.

Secure the hardwood stiles and rails with dowels and nails. Pre-drill all nail holes. Fill imperfections and sand the cabinet smooth. Paint the cavities of both cabinets to suit, though the back of the display cabinet should be the same color as your walls.

Next, cut the counter-top, doors, shelves, drawers and drawer faces. Assemble the drawers. Do not cut the oak door and drawer trim to length until you have laminated the particleboard core.

Carefully laminate all the cabinet's required surfaces. You will need a plywood circular blade to cut this brittle material. Laminate all edges first, then the wider showing surfaces. Apply a thin coat of adhesive to both the wood and the laminate. (Follow the manufacturer's application directions.) Lay down wax paper on the surface to be bonded and align the laminate. Pull out the wax paper and smooth the laminate as you pull. This will help to ensure correct alignment. Roll the laminate or tap it with a hammer (buffered with a block of wood) to guarantee proper bonding. Rout the laminate flush with a laminate trimming bit. Use a flat file to square inside rounded corners.

Apply laminate to the upper cabinet's display area (inside the cabinet) by first laminating the top and bottom surfaces, then the sides. Stain all the oak trim at this time. Finally, attach the oak trim to the shelves and the door and drawer stiles to the laminated cores.

Cabinet installation

Install the upper cabinet with wood screws; countersink. Drill holes for shelf pins and install the adjustable shelves. Then apply the back tile with an adhesive. 
Lay matching or new flooring and then install the lower cabinet.  You need to build out the drawer dividers until they are flush with the stiles. Use scrap plywood and laminate.

All doors feature a European-style hinge, available at specialty hardware stores and through mail order catalogs. Drill the recesses for these hinges with a 1-3/8" Forstner bit. Install and align the doors and drawer faces. Determine pull locations, remove drawers and doors and attach pulls. Afterwards, reinstall drawers and doors. Install the door plexiglass, oak accent trim (around opening) and lights with light shield. Conclude the project's installation by caulking around the counter-top, inside the display area and along the cabinet sides.


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