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September 11, 11:44 AM [GMT -5]
I was able to complete this project within a week, working part time on it. The largest impact on the amount of time needed to complete the project was pre-finishing the pieces before assembly. I applied the 2 coats of poly and let them cure overnight and then sanded them down the following day and applied a third coat (the sanding is a must on birch ply, as the grain becomes "hairy" while using water based stains / poly - one light sanding cleans up the hairs nicely and the 3rd coat really "pops"). I have limited space in my workshop, so I couldn't finish everything at the same time. Plus, be sure to double the amount of time required for some items (like shelves) where both sides of the item need to be finished (2 coats on side A, 15 minutes between coats, time to cure (at least 2 hours), sand, 3rd coat on side A, time to cure, flip, 2 coats on side B, time to cure, sand, 3rd coat on side B, time to cure and done)... so these could take 10 hours or more to complete. I typically let them cure overnight.
I also added a light fixture in the closet, so this ate up one day adding the switch outside of the closet, running the wires up to the attic, down to the fixture and to find a power source.
Here are some notes on this project that may be helpful for others interested in building this in the future:
1) My closet is 88" wide - using the 20" wide side boxes and 24" center boxes left 12" middle shelves and hanging rods. There are a bit small, but will hold folded clothing snug in the cubby. I would suggest that anyone with the same size closet (88" W) make the side boxes 17" wide. 17" wide would leave 15" shelves for the side boxes and the middle shelves (although, I am not sure if 15" is a good width for a clothing shelf, but I am sure it is better than 12").
2) Be sure to align the shelf standard properly or else your adjustable shelves will be crooked. I didn't have this issue, as I took the time to make sure all of the standards aligned perfectly to the top of each box and that each starting hole on each standard was 3/4" from the top of the sides - this way all shelves across the unit could be inline with one another.
3) When attaching the standards to the center boxes (which I did in the closet after the 2 center boxes were mounted and attached to one another), don't make the mistake I made: I placed my standards 1 1/2" from the edge on every box... so when I put on the front standard (the one closest to the front of the center boxes) I put it 1 1/2" from the front... totally forgetting that the middle boxes are almost 2" greater in depth then the side cabinets! So I had to pull the standards off and move them back 2 more inches to correct the issue.
4) Add cleats to the lower center box. I added two cleats to the top and bottom inside of the bottom box. I know 1/4" ply could do the job well, but I know the drawers can get full and heavy and didn't feel a few screws into the bottom of the top box and a few thru the 1/4" ply would support this monster box very long... so I added a little extra strength with 2 additional cleats.
5) Use wall ancors when you only have one stud for a box. Sadly my wall just didn't align with my boxes at all. I ended up with one stud for every box. The side boxes had a stud about 6" in from the edge of the box, so I mounted the box using the studs, drilled a second hole through the cleat and sheetrock, removed the box from the wall, inserted a wall anchor and remounted the box using the stud and wall anchor. I know it was more work, but it add much more stability to the boxes. For the center top box, the single stud was in the middle of the box, so I added two additional anchors 10" from center on each side (using the same hole alignment method as the side boxes) for a total of 3 anchor points for each cleat.
6) Use pocket holes when possible. If you have a pocket hole jig, use this to secure the top and bottom shelves to the sides vs. nailing through the sides of the boxes. I also used them to secure the cleats to the sides (putting the poket holes on the back the cleats). Not only did this keep the sides very clean, it added strength to the overall box.
Some other notes:
I would suggest leaving the drawer building to the end. As the instructions state: mount the slides to the lower center cabinet (I placed them 13/16" back from the front) and assemble the box (and triple check that the box is square or else the drawers will not slide properly - lesson learned on another project). All slides are different and have different thicknesses, so after my box was build (with the slides installed) I was able to measure the inside distance between the slides, subtracted 1/16 from that measurement and build my drawers from there.
My box was 24" wide (with 22 1/2" inside opening), 41 1/2" hight (with a 40" opening) and 20 1/2" deep (leaving 19 3/4" inside - 19" with the extra cleats in place). I decided to skip the wire basket and add a 5th drawer instead (leaving the entire box square). I designed the drawers to be 6" high w/ 7 3/4" high drawer faces. My actual drawer box size was 21 7/16" W x 18 1/2" D x 6" H - so for my 5 drawers I had to cut 10 - 21 7/16" x 6" front / back pieces, 10 - 17" x 6" side pieces and 5 - 21 7/16" x 18 1/2" 1/4" ply bottoms. I used 3/4" ply for the sides, as I couldn't easily find 1/2" ply (BTW - most big box stored do not carry 1/2" birch ply, so you may have to go to a lumber yard to find it). After all of the boxes are build, perfectly square of course... I mounted the slides flush to the front of the drawer box and the bottom of the slide inline with the seam between the 1/4" bottom and the bottom of side piece. I knew this was a consistant place on every box and made mounting the slides very easy.
I hope this long mess above helps! Cheers :)
March 25, 1:14 PM [GMT -5]
Hmm...well now I'm thinking that there are actually only 3 units - two ends and the center (drawer unit) and the "units" on each side of the drawer unit is actually just shelves. Is that right? I am thinking now that maybe the four boxes that the instructions refer to are the two end units and the two piece middle unit? Is that right?
March 25, 1:09 PM [GMT -5]
I am a little confused here. In the description, it says that this plan calls for building 4 boxes, but isn't it really 5? Aren't there two units on each side of the drawer unit? The pictures seem a little misleading and perhaps it's more apparent once you actually start construction but my closet is not quite 8 feet wide and I'm trying to figure out how to adjust for that. I just wish there were more pictures. If anyone who's build this can offer some answers, I sure would appreciate it.
January 30, 8:11 PM [GMT -5]
Make the drawer fronts and backs 20 1/2 " long vs the 20" shown in the plans. I had to had quarter inch shims to each side to mount hardware in order to fit.
January 29, 9:21 AM [GMT -5]
The "cutting List" shows the drawer bottoms as 20" x 19", this is incorrect, it should "read" 21" x 19".
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