Thursday, May 12, 2016

Office build-along pt. 2

I started my office build-along project a couple of weeks ago, and I'm afraid I've fallen silent since. That doesn't mean I haven't been working on it, but I've got a bunch of irons in the fire and documenting and writing everything up takes a bit of time. I'll try to do better in the future. Promise.

I mentioned before how I made countless errors when building my bookshelves in the office at our old house, and there's one area where I'm learning from those mistakes. The cabinets I'm using to form the base of the bookshelves--like those I used last time--were never designed to go on the floor. They're actually hanging cabinetry, which means the top is the same depth as the bottom. There's no upside-down or rightside-up, as they're identical in either orientation. This wasn't a big deal in my old office, as it was carpeted. I just cut the footprint into the carpet and installed the cabinets/bookcase over the vapor barrier. Trouble came when I replaced that old carpet with laminate flooring. Take a look:

This is the problem: The low clearance of the cabinet doors. Yes, they still open and close fine, but there is zero clearance beyond that. Unlike carpeting, however, laminate and hardwood flooring needs about a quarter inch gap space because it flexes depending on temperature and humidity. If you don't leave that gap, it can buckle--not nice. Normally, the unsightly gap is hidden by molding, but there's no room for a quarter-round or even a shoe base.

Note that I deliberately chose to not get kitchen cabinetry, with its elevated footing, because selection is limited and the sizes available wouldn't fit my available space without a lot of hassle. So, what could I do to solve this problem? Simple--elevate my cabinets' bases.

I bought a 1"x4" board of aromatic cedar from McCoys. Why cedar? Well, I'm partial to the wood because it's easy to work with. Also, I hate insects that try to make a meal of books, and figure the cedar will offer at least a minimal level of deterrence. Not that we have an infestation at our house, mind you, but I've seen a silverfish or two over the past year, and that's one creepy-crawly that's not terribly easy to control outside of turning one's home into a toxic waste dump.

After cutting the board into 1" strips on my table saw inherited from Grandpa Fritz, I used my mitre saw to chop those strips into 30" segments for the horizontal cabinets and 9" segments for the vertical end cabinets. So far, so good.

Next, I decide which is going to be the top and which is the bottom. Doesn't make any difference, really. Then I laid down a thick layer of Titebond II wood glue (Titebond III is better, but costs significantly more).

Next, I align the 1" strip along the glue line, making sure it is flush with the front of the cabinet. I drill a pilot hole through the cedar into the cabinet (I guarantee either the cedar or cabinet would split without the pilot hole--no thanks!) then nail the two together with a 1.5" finishing nail, following up with a nail set to ensure the metal doesn't puncture the vapor barrier on the floor or somesuch. The finishing nails aren't terribly strong, but their main role is just to hold the wood tight as the glue dries. Once the glue sets, there should be little stress on the join, and gravity will also work to keep them compressed.

I repeat this for the front and back of each cabinet, three nails per side, with the 9" cabinets getting two nails per. Finally, I go through with a moist rag and wipe away all the excess glue oozing from the joins. This isn't necessary for the back and inner sides, but on the front any excess glue would block the stain from taking, and would make the cabinets look blotchy and ugly. Can't have that. The end result of all this is a modestly elevated cabinet with more than enough room for a shoe base or quarter round if needed:

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Chicken Ranch Central

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