About a month ago, one of our maintenance men approached me with a need for one of our buildings. He told me that it would be nice to have a cabinet to put the Wi-Fi router and all the cords and cables in a cabinet. This way, everything is contained in one area, and the mess would be hidden to the public eye. So I took some measurements and started on the cabinet.
Finding the Dimensions
The only measurement I was working off was the router’s size, with the width and length being the most important. The router’s height was irrelevant because I was going to make the height of the cabinet relative to the width and depth of the cabinet. Our router is about 10” wide and 9” deep. So I wanted to make the inside of the cabinet at least 11” wide and 10” deep. With these two measurements, I went to the internet to figure out what a proportional height would be and found about 22” would work great. With these measurements in hand, I headed to the shop to work on the cabinet.
One quick note: this project is a utilitarian piece. This means ease of use and assembly was more important than appearance. So, most decisions were made around the mindset of creating an appealing cabinet that is quick and simple to make.
I decided to use black ash for this project. I chose black ash because it’s gorgeous wood and is very affordable. Black ash isn’t a super common wood used in projects, so this project is excellent for showing its beauty. Our forestry cabin has an array of different woods on display. One of the woods that is not in the cabin is black ash, so I thought using black ash for this project would be perfect.
To avoid gluing a bunch of panels, I wanted to find a board that would finish to a width of 10”. Once I found the best board for the project, I took it over to a rip saw and SLR1E (straight line ripped one edge) and ripped it to a width of 10”. I also sent this board through our wide belt sander and sanded to 13/16”. Then I took the board up to the shop and rough chopped pieces to length. I cut two pieces to 10 ½” long and the rest of the board to 24 ½” long. The final height of the cabinet is 23 5/8” (22” tall + 13/16” for the thickness of the bottom + 13/16” for the thickness of the top.)
Once the pieces were rough chopped, I cut the top, bottom, and two side pieces to final length with the crosscut sled on the table saw. Then I ripped pieces to 4” wide (6 total pieces) for the door front and the cabinet’s back. From here, I color and grain match pieces for the door and the back. Once everything was the way I wanted, I glued the pieces together.
While the glue on the door and the back were curing in clamps, I moved along with the project. I took the top, bottom, and two side panels and sanded them to 220 grit. Then, I drilled some pocket holes in the top and bottom to assemble the cabinet. I put the pocket holes on the outside of the cabinet to screw the pieces together. Upon reflection, it would have probably been best to put the pocket holes on the side pieces and the inside of the cabinet.
With the box assembled, I sanded the edges to make sure everything was flush and smooth. I also rounded the sharp corners of the box. I touched up the areas near the pocket screws to ensure all the splinters from drilling were sanded smooth.
After the front and the back panels cured, I sanded them flat with our wide belt sander. Then, I took the panels to the table saw to cut to finish size. I worked between cutting and fitting the back or door to the cabinet. I started by slowly fitting the width, and then moved to cut them to length. I made sure to remove a small amount at a time to avoid cutting the pieces too small. After the panels were cut to size, I prepared them for finish by sanding them to 220 grit.
Finishing and Final Assembly
The next step was to finish the piece. For this project, I used a homemade version of a wipe-on polyurethane. This finish contained approximately 50% mineral spirits and 50% oil-based polyurethane. I like to thin polyurethane with mineral spirits because I find it a little easier to apply, and it helps avoid runs in the finish. The only downside is you need to apply more coats of finish. I suggest that you apply at least three finish coats, although this project has two coats of finish.
After the finish cured, I drilled two holes in the back, one on the top and one on the bottom. Then, I attached the back to the cabinet with screws. I attached the door to the cabinet with some simple hinges. I drilled some pilot holes and then screwed the hinges in place. I could have in-layed the hinges but chose not to due to preserving time.
The finished project was exactly what we needed it to be. We had an appealing cabinet that could hide the mess of all the Wi-Fi equipment. Looking back, I could have changed a few things to make a more elegant cabinet, but at the end of the day, the cabinet will serve its purpose perfectly!