Building Logs

Walk in wardrobe cabinets

Posted by Paul

I have already made a tentative start to the starboard hull ensuite and last week made the first steps in the port walk in wardrobe. I am trying something I saw in another build blog of a Farrier 41, a shaped bin, hinged at the bottom to make better use of the chamfer panel space, as it tapers to nearly nothing and makes the space above it almost useless any other way. If it works well I will employ it in both hulls all the way back in each room.

I started by reclaiming some offcuts of 25mm duflex to make the cabinet top, there will be scant room to use it as a top as above it all around will be the hanging clothes but it will be a flat surface nonetheless if we ever decided to iron something ever again or whatever other purpose a bench top might come in handy for in there. Once I had all the offcuts glued together and the piece was large enough to cut the top out of, I marked it out (I had a template of cardboard made) and cut it and dry fit it to see how it worked out. A little tweaking to get the front edges square (or parallel) to the bulkheads and I had my top fitted. From here I will be able to work out the dimensions of the drawer and bin.

robe shelfrobe shelf dry fit

I am yet to glue it in of course but having the top in gives a much better idea of the space left to maneuver in the wardrobe and of the space I have to fill with cupboards but it all links back to the size of the top and the height at which it is set.

I set the height at the same height as I have the ensuite vanity top, 820mm. At this height, and with an 80mm kickboard (there is a rule of thumb that kickboards are usually 10% of the height of the cabinet, although most kitchens are 900mm high and have a 150mm kickboard), leaving 740mm internal space and the height at which the chamfer panel turns is 220mm below the height of the top so with a 20mm rail along the top and another 20mm rail below the top drawer I could fit a 200mm drawer and a 500mm hinged bin below it.

I have made the drawer and bin out of 10mm polycore sides and a 3mm epoxy coated ply base. I am going to investigate whether production plastic drawers would save me a lot of time but because of the angle of the chamfer panel I think I would lose too much usable space if I stuck to the traditional shape drawers, but perhaps with oversize drawers I could cut them down with an angled back to suit, but polycore is way over constructed I think, but as I am only likely to have about 6 of them it is not too much trouble to make them.

The chamfer panel is what is known as a tortured panel, that is, it is a flat panel pulled onto the bulkheads under pressure which creates a twist in the panel that creates the hull shape the designer drew but what this does on the other side is create a twist in the panel that cannot be easily (not for me anyway) measured when creating multi-faceted structures against it such as vanity cabinets. By the main bulkhead (BH5) it dissipates to a flat panel so this wont be a problem. Not that is was a massive problem, I find making cardboard stencils the easiest way to be sure to get the correct or close to correct shapes.

I did the best I could to measure and make cardboard stencils and cut the parts for the bin and dry fit it together to see how well it fit. I still found it was out just a little (it was high in one corner and low in the other so that it wobbled when pushed against the bulkhead. This is not really a problem as the only place any drawer needs to be an exact fit is across the front, the only way a drawer touching the hull side is an issue is if it stops the front from fitting flush, square and plumb. I will have false fronts attached to the drawers and with these attached the top will protrude past the front of the drawers by about 5mm.

I trimmed one of the bin ends to try to take the incorrect twist out, there is a twist in it but I had the wrong amount, so the trimming got it closer to correct. I sat it roughly in its place and started on the drawer. I found that when I made the drawer to the cardboard templates I had, the twist in the back pulled the front out of square and if you want it to all look good when finished the fronts of drawers must be as close to square and plumb as you can get them (you can make up a little with packers between the drawer fronts and the drawer but not much. The solution was to glue and tape the front to the sides and base and leave the back off, then once it had set (next day) I could fit the back, torture it down with its twist and it could not pull the front out of alignment. I glued and taped it to set.

Once I had the drawer and bin made I could make the cabinet that they would be fitted to. Cabinet is a bit of an overstatement, it is more just a frame that the drawers and bin could be anchored to. A true cabinet has solid ends, a top and bottom and rails along the back to which a thin back is attached if the cabinet is mounted to a solid wall and rails along the front through which drawers and doors are fitted. I do have one solid end and the bulkhead at one end acts as another solid end so it will only have a vertical rail and then I only need a solid end along the forward end and a couple of horizontal rails that square it all up for the drawer to fit to with drawer runners fitted to a spacer attached to the bulkhead on the aft end and the cabinet end on the other. Along the back I wont even bother having rails, I will just glass it all to the hull side (the back) and the bulkhead.

This is in order to keep the weight to a minimum, there is a top and bottom (kickboard) the same as any other cabinets but I will use the hull and bulkheads in place of solid cabinet ends and employ rails where possible. The tops add the structural strength and the cabinets are just to house the storage, whether that is just a door in front of a shelf or draws or bins. Jo does not like open cabinets that some builders have, although much easier to build they dont look as nice as shiny doors and closed cupboards.

I had all of the parts cut out of duflex along with another spacer that goes between the cabinet side and the bulkhead but protrudes to the front edge that the doors will take, it forms the straight edge to which the fronts are fitted (go have a look in your kitchen) and all of these parts needed to be decored and back filled as they will be exposed edges. These were filled just before knock off the on Sunday night and on Monday night I glued and glassed the cabinet together making special care that the cabinet was square and the front had no twist to it so that the fronts will fit well.

robe cabinet

I had intended checking on the cabinet and perhaps fitting the kickboard to the boat so that it could set today and tomorrow I could glass the cabinet in, but today it was 38 Celsius, way too hot to work even though it was a public holiday (for a horse race! yep to our overseas friends we take a day off once a year for a horse race). The heat is only forecast for a day, tomorrow is forecast to be just 21 so a lot better working temperature.

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