With the bench and lower cubbies built, it was time to work on the “lockers” and the upper cubbies. I decided to implement a similar design and build as I did the built in shelves in the pocket office; it worked the first time around and in my opinion, was considerably easy so why not. Continuing with the same materials, I used 6 pieces of the 3/4″ red oak plywood that I had Home Depot rip down to 12″ wide and about 83″ tall (these measurements will vary according to your space) and some 1×3 scrap wood cut to the width of each unit (I would be building 2 units to create 2 lockers).
First I attached 1 board to the side walls (the left and right). These walls had studs, so I was able to secure them using liquid nails and cabinet screws, making sure to countersink so they did not bulge out. I secured one at the top, one in the middle and one at the bottom. Then I built the lockers out, each one would take 2 pieces of the plywood and 2 1×3 boards as support. Basically, I drilled pocket holes into the back of the 1×3 boards and screwed them into the sides of the plyood. I used liquid nails along the sides of the plywood before shimmying them into the space as seen below, and I secured the 1x3s to the back wall using special nails made for concrete (as a reminder, the back wall is an exterior wall, which in Florida, means cinder blocks vs. lumber). I also reinforced the sides with some brad nails. Check everything to ensure it is level, and add shims to the bottom as needed.
The reason I added extra plywood to the sides, was to match how thick the divider would be in the middle where 2 pieces of my 3/4″ plywood met, creating a 1 1/2″ thick divider. When I add the trim later in the project, it would make it all cohesive. I’d like to note that I have since learned some other tricks to create illusion of that thickness, that does not require the use of so much lumber (cost saving$ for sure).
Once the lockers were built, I started on the shelving and cubbies at the top. At this point, I pivoted in my plans and shifted from building one row of upper cubbies, to two rows of upper cubbies. The reason for the change was because in my initial design, I had one idea of where I wanted the first shelf to be built, and measured everything out to fall in line with this . . . but when I went to install the shelf at that height in real life, it was just way too high for my liking, so I shifted it down, which allowed space for that second row of cubbies.
Now there are a lot of different ways to build and install shelves, but based on my available tools and level of self taught carpentry I am at, I pushed forward with my tried and true pocket hole style. I cut a piece of my 3/4″ plywood down to the depth and width of the cabinets x4 (for 4 shelves), and then I drilled 2 sets of pocket holes in all 4 corners of each of those shelves. Measure and mark on your lockers/cabinets where you want the placement, and install using wood glue and the appropriate size pocket hole screws based on your lumber thickness. For 3/4″ plywood, you want to use 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. Now I chose to face the pocket holes UP, as they would not be visible and I wouldn’t have to stress about filling them as perfectly. Check that your shelves are level front to back as well as side to side. A little tip when installing, I like to use a scrap piece of wood to prop up the opposite side I am working on, this works almost like a second pair of hands while you work on the other side. You could also youse some corner clamps on the front pieces as an option. This is another one of those, I filmed for instagram so didn’t take any photos situations . . . so I just have the one image below to share. Repeat 2 more shelves above this at your desired height / spacing, and then mirror this in the cabinet on the other side.
The assembly of the cubbies is the exact same thing, but the plywood gets installed vertically. I wanted a total of 8 cubbies, so I cut down plywood squares to match the depth of the cabinet and the height between each shelf. I drilled pocket holes into these as well, found the center of each of my shelves, and installed them with wood glue and pocket hole screws. Now these pocket holes would be visible on the sides, so I would need to fill them with wood filler so they blend in.
You’ll notice in the photos above that I have a piece of 2×4 attached to the very top shelf. This is because I will be installing some faux sconces, and I wanted something more substantial to drill the screws into once my face was installed to the top. If you aren’t attaching any sconces, you can totally skip installing those pieces of 2×4. The face I am referring to will just be an 8″ piece of plywood cut to the width of the unit, which I attached using wood glue and brad nails. It basically serves the purpose of covering up the very top, and giving me something to attach a piece of crown molding to, as well as the scones.
At this stage, I also started installing the front trim (as seen in the 2nd image above) . . . I worked with a mix of materials I had on hand, so there was a mix of pre primed 1×2 MDF, 1×2 pine and 1×2 poplar. In the end, I would be painting all of it, so it would not be noticeable once the project is complete. I just really hate wasting supplies, so I like to run through what I have on hand before buying anything new. What you also see starting in the 2nd image above, is the interior trim detail along the wall, commonly referred to as battens. These are all 1×3 pine boards cut to size and attached to the wall with liquid nails as well as brad nails. I added some extra support to my middle horizontal beam however, attaching it to the wall with some concrete screws, as I would be placing hooks for bags and jackets here, so I needed some substantial support. You can see how bowed my walls were based on the number of shims I had to use to bring everything flush. After installing everything, you will want to fill all your nail holes as well as seams where wood meets wood, with wood filler. Then remember to caulk everywhere where the wood meeds the wall. This helps close all the little gaps and really gives your project a clean, professional look.
After the wood filler dries, sand it down with a sanding block or some sanding paper. I like to work with 120 grit for this. You can use an orbital sander as well, but I prefer working manually with a block sander for smaller detail projects like this. At this point you can prime and paint.
One thing that I actually did recently, was to add some trim to the inside of my battens. It was always part of the plan but I never really got around to it. I found some simple pvc trim at Home Depot, cut it down using mitre shears (you can also use your mitre saw), and I installed it along the interior of the battens with brad nails. Spackle, caulk and paint! I think it really elevates the look. Now if I can just figure out what to do about the stain . . . I can’t seem to land on something that works for me. Don’t be suprised if you see an update after I sand the bench down and attempt to restain it.
Let me know what you think in the comments, and check out my instagram highlights for videos of the process.
Remember you’ve got this, so just go for it!