Medicine Cabinet

Cabinetry and casework are fundamental to making built-ins and bookcases. This small wall-hung cabinet is a useful item for bathroom or kitchen, and it is a great project for a beginning carpenter to develop some basic cabinetry skills. It is also extremely inexpensive to make.

The entire case, including the top, can be built from an 8-ft.- long piece of 1 × 10 wood (you’ll need a little extra material for the shelving and the towel  rod). The mitered frames applied to the fronts of the door give the look and feel of a raised panel door, without any of the fuss. We built the version of the cabinet you see here out of No. 2 and better pine and then gave it an orangey maple finish. You can choose any lumber you like for this, even sheet stock such as mdF, and apply a clear or a painted finish. For a traditional look, choose a white enamel paint. Be sure and apply several thin coats of polyurethane varnish, especially if the cabinet will be installed in a wet area like a bathroom.

Step 1: Cut the Top Board to 19 1/2″

Shape a decorative profile into the top using a router and piloted ogee bit. Do not remove more than 3/4″ of material along the bottom edges.

Step 2: Cut the stock for both doors to length

Sand them smooth. The final width of the material should be 9″. Once the stock is prepared, cut the doors to length.

Step 3: Photocopy the Pattern + Make a Hardboard Template Guide

Click to Enlargen

Cut the stock for the cabinet sides to width (7½”) or select a piece of 1 × 8 stock and simply sand the edges. Photocopy the pattern and use it to make a hardboard template guide to trace the profile onto the bottom of one cabinet side.

Step 4: Cut Out the Profile Using a Jigsaw

Clamp the two sides together so the ends and edges all are flush. Then, cut out the profile in both pieces at once using a jigsaw.

Step 5: Locate the Center point for Drilling the Dowel Hole

Locate the center point for drilling the ¾”-dia. dowel hole for the towel rod. Drill the hole with a ¾” spade bit, making sure to slip a backer board underneath the bottom board to prevent tearout when the bit exits the work piece

Step 6: Apply Wood Glues to the Ends of All Three Parts

Lay the side boards on a flat surface, lying parallel and on their back edges. Cut the 1 × 2 cleat and the 7″-wide shelves to length (16½”). Then, apply wood glue to the ends of all three parts and clamp them between the cabinet sides.

Step 7: Reinforce the Glued Joints

Before the glue sets (about 15 minutes) drive three 6d finish nails through the cabinet sides and into each shelf end. Drive a pair of nails into the wall cleat.

Step 8: Insert the Towel Rod Into the Holes in the Cabinet Sides

Glue the ends of the towel rod into the holes in the cabinet sides and then pin it in place with a finish nail driven through the back edge of each side.

Step 9: Miter the Corners of Molding

Miter the corners of screen retainer molding and nail and glue decorative frames to the door fronts.

Step 10: Apply finish or Paint to the cabinet doors

Apply your finish or paint the cabinet before you hang the doors and install the cabinet top.

Step 11: Hang the cabinet doors

Use care to position the doors so the outside edges are flush with the outer faces of the cabinets sides. The tops should be about 1/8″ below the top edges of the cabinet sides. Hang the cabinet doors with 1½” brushed chrome or nickel butt hinges

Step 12: Attach the finished cabinet top

Attach the top by driving a few finish nails through it and into the top edges of the cabinet sides, as well as into the top edges of the wall cleat.

Step 13: Hang the cabinet

Locate wall studs in the installation area. Where possible, position the cabinet so it hits two studs. Attach the cabinet with wood screws driven through the wall cleat and into the studs.


The original plan can be found at