Howdy, friends and family! I cannot believe we are entering March already! February was a busy month for us. We are both meeting deadlines at work, while trying to ski once a week before the winter ends. On top of everything, we managed to make steady progresses on Slav’s office. After the structure work was done (including reversing the closet, moving the doorway (1, 2), and patching the floor), we entered a new stage of work: the finishes. As many of you DIYers know, this stage can feel really slow and never ending. There are sooo many small details to consider! Drywall, paint, trims, baseboards, doors and windows treatment. The room may look 80% of its new version, but 50% of the work is still ahead of us.
Drywall work is nothing glorious, so I am not going to bore you with the details. Long story short, it’s messy. What kept us going is the believe that we will eventually come out of it with beautiful walls. But I need more pick-me-up than that. So…
I built drawers, again!
The drawers I am building this time are baseboard drawers. I first saw this idea from Ana White‘s tiny house kitchen build, and have been wanting to incorporate it into our house since. When we tried to choose baseboards for our library bookcases, a light bulb went off – why not build some baseboard drawers? Our IKEA Billy bookcases are sitting on a 2″x4″ wooden base, putting the bottom shelves almost 7″ above the floor, which is a decent height for drawers. These little caves are prefect hidden storage for Slav’s bazillions of cables and small computer parts.
I built drawers only once before, and it was such a positive learning experience for me. Since then, I have read about many alternative ways of building drawers and really would like to improve my skills. I knew the principles, I learned from my mistakes, and I am more confidence this time going into the build.
The only decision I had a hard time to make was the material. Normally, drawers are build with either real wood, plywood, or MDF boards. MDF is the cheapest option, but in our case the MDF drawers need to be covered with wood veneer to match the bookcase. Real wood and plywood can be stained to match, but getting the color and wood grain right might be a struggle. One night, we talked, talked, and talked our options, until Slav came up with the perfect solution – why not buy another bookcase, and use the material to build the drawers?
We grabbed another Billy in brown veneer and I tried to cut one piece on the table saw. The material cuts really well without chipping. Now I could get to work!
I made an interesting discovery about IKEA Billy this time – the five bookcases we got last time on IKEA’s big sale has almost all the boards veneered on both sides. But the new IKEA Billy does not. The sides that are not showing after assembly are all plain. I guess it saves a few cents for IKEA.
We did not really consider building baseboard drawers when we built the wood base. Fortunately, the 2″x4″ are all parallel and precise enough to support the drawers. We did chip off a bit wood here and there for the drawer front to fit, but it was not too bad.
The 2″x4″ wood base is around 9″ deep and ~29″ wide, so the drawers would be all 8 1/2″ in depth and ~28″ in width (the drawer slides take up to 1″). I laid out the plan on a piece of paper.
To get my hands warm, I decided to build a prototype first. This time around, I set a work station in the garage for efficiency and it helped a lot. I used a sheet of plywood to create a large work surface, and surrounded myself with circular saw, miter saw, table saw, brad nailer + compressor, and all the material and hardware needed. This set up made the work much more streamlined and pleasant. A vanilla scented candle added feminine touch and softness to the ice cold garage.
This is how the drawers were assembled: I used the toe kick pieces to create the two sides, then sliced the shelves to make the drawer faces. The left over stripes from the shelves were used as the front side of the drawers, I do not have enough material to create the back, so I cut some plywood off the my temporary table to make the back pieces.
The drawer was made 1″ narrower than the opening to accommodate the drawer slides. I decided to try these 8″ full extension drawer slides and they worked great.
The bottom of the drawers were made from 5mm plywood (leftover from covering our garage walls). Brad nails held it in place.
Now is time for the test! I mounted the other side of the slides onto the 2″x4″s, and it worked pretty smoothly. You can see how it works in this video.
With the prototype working well, I spent the next a couple hours making all five drawers. I test fit all of them before installing the drawer slides.
Roxie was interested.
Instead of measuring, I used a block and a piece of 5mm plywood to prop the drawer slides up when mounting them onto the drawers. When I needed to mount the other side of the drawer slides to the wood base, I used the same block and two layers of 5mm plywood, creating 5mm clearance at the bottom of the drawers.
All mounted and slide smoothly!
Attaching the Drawer Face
Next, I moved onto attaching the drawer faces. These are made from the shelves from the extra bookcase and cut just a hair higher than the bottom shelves.
I attached the drawer faces to the front side of the drawers with double-sided tape. This woodworking tape got lots of good reviews so I decided to give it a try. It is strong enough to hold the faces in place when I fired the nailer, but I was able to take the faces off fairly easily to adjust their positions.
This is what the drawers looks like when they are fully installed. The gap in between the bookcase will soon be covered from the floor to ceiling.
I adore these baseboard drawers. They hold lots of small electronics and still slide smoothly. I hope they will help Slav to get more organized!
Update Our To-Dos
After completing the baseboard drawers, we are moving onto the last step for the library built-ins – trimming between and around the bookcases. Hopefully by this time next week, I can show you a finished built-in wall. Here is our current office to-do list:
Frame the new opening between office and living room
Patch the hardwood floor
Drywall and trim around the new opening
4. Hang doors
Install new lighting and window treatment in the office
Build baseboard drawers for the bookcases
7. Trim out the bookcases (in progress)
8. Build Slav’s desk