Overview: Cost, tools and materials
If you need to carve out more
storage space in your bathroom,
we've got the project
for you. Bathrooms are notoriously
cramped, so we designed this cabinet
to fit inside a wall, where it won't
take up valuable space. We kept the
width slightly narrower than the
14-1/2-in. stud space, so the cabinet
will fit even if the studs are a little off
center or bowed. We installed our
cabinet in a bathroom, but it will
work in any unobstructed wall cavity
(more on that later).
In this article, we'll show you how to
build and install the cabinet. You can
complete the project in just one
weekend: Build and stain (or paint) it
on Saturday, then stick it in the wall
Everything you need for this project is
available at home centers. We used
oak, which kept the cost to about $48.
You'd pay $135 to more than $500 to
buy a cabinet like this in a store.
To complete the project, you'll need
a miter saw, a circular saw or table
saw, and a drywall saw. A brad
nailer will make nailing fast and easy,
but it's not absolutely necessary (you
can hand-nail instead). You'll also
need a router with a 1/4-in. round-over
bit and a 1/4-in. Roman ogee bit to rout the shelves and sill nose.
Figure A: Wall Niche Details
Figure A: Wall Niche Details
Overall Dimensions: 21“ x 35“
Note: Figure A and a Materials List are available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
Step 1: Plan where to put the cabinet
We installed our cabinet next to the
shower. This cabinet often fits nicely
behind the bathroom door if there's no
other available space. But in most
cases, it won't work over the toilet
because there's a vent pipe in the wall.
Also avoid exterior walls because
they're filled with insulation.
When choosing a location, check both
sides of the wall for obstructions. A light
switch or showerhead on the other side
of the wall means the wall contains electrical
cable or plumbing pipes. Some
electronic stud finders can identify
metal pipes and electrical cable in walls
(but they're not 100 percent reliable).
You could also choose a different room.
The cabinet can store—or display—anything
you like in the hallway, bedrooms
or family room.
Step 2: Cut, rout and drill the parts
Get started by cutting all the pieces to size
(refer to Figure A). Then run a router with a
Roman ogee bit along the bottom front and
both bottom sides of the sill nose. Use a
round-over bit to rout the top and bottom
front of the shelves.
Apply wood glue along the front edge
of the sill, center the sill nose over it, then
clamp the pieces together until the glue
dries. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any
glue that oozes out. If the sill and sill nose
surfaces aren't flush, sand the pieces flat
with 80-grit sandpaper.
Lay out the sides for the shelf bracket
holes, following Figure A. Drill the holes 3/4
in. from the edges and spaced 1 in. apart.
Use a 1/4-in. drill bit (or whatever bit size
is required for your brackets). You only
need to drill the holes 3/8 in. deep (wrap
tape 3/8 in. from the end of the drill bit to
mark the depth), although it's OK to drill
all the way through the sides since the
other side will be hidden inside the wall.
After drilling the holes, sand off the
pencil lines remaining on the sides with
Step 3: Assemble the cabinet
Use wood glue and 1-1/4-in. brad nails to
assemble the cabinet frame (Photo 1), following
Figure A. Then drill two 1/8-in.
pilot holes in each corner and drive 1-1/2-
in. screws to hold the corners together.
Run a thin bead of glue along the back
of the entire frame, then set the back
panel over it. Use the back panel to
square the frame, then tack the panel into
place with 5/8-in. brad nails.
Lay the cabinet on its back and fasten
the casing (Photo 2). Three 5/8-in. nails
will hold the casing until the glue dries.
Precision cuts are required for the
molding corners to fit tightly. Measure
along the bottom edge of the molding
when you make the cuts (the top measurements
will vary depending on the type
To get accurate cuts, build a simple jig
to hold the molding in place during cuts.
Screw or nail wood scraps together at a
90-degree angle. Set the crown molding
upside down in the jig so the flat part on
the back (the part that sits against the cabinet
after installation) is flush against the
vertical part of the jig. Fasten a stop block
to the horizontal part of the jig along the
top of the molding. Screw or hot-glue the
jig to the fence on your miter saw so it
Set the crown molding upside down in
the jig and cut it (Photo 3). If the molding
moves in the jig even a tiny bit during the
cut, recut the molding or the corners won't
fit tightly together. To cut the molding
returns (sides), use the jig to make the
angle cuts, then cut the 90-degree angles.
Nailing the mitered corners together
won't work—the molding will crack or
move as you nail it. Instead, simply glue
the corners (Photo 4). Cut the cove molding
for the bottom of the cabinet in the
miter saw (without using the jig). Glue the
cove molding pieces together.
Glue and tack the assembled crown and
cove moldings to the cabinet with 5/8-in.
Back to Top
Step 4: Finish and mount the cabinet
Sand the entire cabinet with 120-grit
sandpaper and wipe away the dust with a
clean cloth. Then brush on a finish. We
used Minwax Golden Oak stain followed
by two coats of Minwax Fast-Drying
Then get the wall ready. Using a drywall
saw, cut a small inspection hole in the wall
where the cabinet will go. Shine a light in
the opening and use a small mirror to look
for obstructions in the wall. If you find
electrical cable or plumbing pipe, patch
the hole and move over a stud space.
Make an outline on the wall (between
two studs) 1/4 in. larger than the cabinet
back (so it'll fit easily) and cut out the
drywall with a drywall saw. Be careful
not to cut into the drywall on the other
side of the wall.
Finally, put the cabinet into the wall,
level it, then nail through the stiles into
the studs with 2-1/2-in. finish nails.