Building a new cabinet and installing a new bathroom sink.
We are kicking off the new year by remodeling our guest bathroom. The first project is building a new bathroom vanity. The old sink stood only 28″ (71 cm), making it somewhat uncomfortable to use. At least for someone my height. The standard height of a bathroom vanity today is 32″ (81 cm), but “comfort height vanities” are not uncommon and can be as tall as 36″ (91 cm). I chose to make this one sit at 34″ (86 cm), which is very comfortable. The height also just looks more substantial in the room.
Cabinetmaking is really quite simple. It’s just a matter of making a big box. Typically, cabinets are built using 3/4″ (18mm) plywood for the structure, 1/4″ (6 mm) ply for the back, and solid lumber for the face frames, door frames, and drawer fronts. If you install drawers, they are often constructed out of 1/2″ (12mm) plywood.
I like to cut down a full sheet of plywood into rough sizes and then get an exact cut on my tablesaw. If you have a good circular saw and a method for making accurate straight cuts, you can skip the tablesaw.
I joined the bottom to the two sides using glue and pocket screws.
I attached a narrow strip to the front and back of the cabinet.
I nailed on a sheet of 1/4″ (6mm) plywood for the back. This thin back is the key to making sturdy cabinets. It prevents the structure from racking side to side or twisting.
Floor cabinets need to sit on a small, inset platform. This creates a toe kick area. If you have ever tried using a sink with no toe kick, it’s surprisingly unpleasant! I cut a rectangular hole in one piece so I could drop in this furnace vent register.
I glued and screwed this box together.
I also attacked these triangular blocks to help keep it square and provide additional strength.
I assembled the face frame using solid lumber: cheap pine boards from the home center. They didn’t need to be flawless, since I would paint this project.
Then I glued and tacked the face frame into place.
Using my jigsaw, I cut a large hole in the back for the plumbing pipes to fit through.
To make the doors, I assembled a frame and then tacked on a piece of thin plywood to the backs.
Positioning the doors and screwing in the hinges is a lot easier now, when I can work horizontally. Once in place, I removed them and the hinges for painting.
The false drawer front is a single solid board. I used a scrap board to position it above the doors, then screwed it in place from the back. I removed it for painting too.
After painting everything, I screwed the back into the floor, then dropped the cabinet in place and screwed it to the base. I put a couple screws through the back into the wall, too.
And screwed the false drawer front back in place.
The nice part about installing a new sink is that it is super easy to install the faucet. Installing a faucet into a sink already in position is a back breaking experience!
Silicone caulking all around the edges. My walls are nowhere close to being square so this fills in the uneven gaps.
Hooking up the plumbing.
Testing the new faucet. Yay! It works. No leaks either. (That’s rare for me!)
Finally, I could re-attach the doors.
- WWMM DIY Bathroom Vanity (pdf)
- WWMM DIY Bathroom Vanity METRIC (pdf)
- Sketchup file
- Sketchup file METRIC