A Sneak Peek Of The Vanity Drawer Fronts (And Even This Big Mistake Won’t Dampen My Excitement)

Yesterday was one of those days where I spent hours working on the bathroom vanity and cabinet project, ended the day covered head to toe with sawdust, and yet had very little actually finished by the end of the day.

I spent most of my time yesterday cutting all of the wood that will frame all of the drawer fronts. I’ll admit that it was harder than I had expected. It took me a few tries to get my measurements just right, which means that I ruined a couple of pieces and had to scrap those and start over with new pieces.

And also, cutting walnut, which is a hardwood, is very different from cutting pine, a softwood, and MDF, a glorified particle board. Those are pretty much all I ever use my table saw to cut. So moving from those to a hardwood was a bit challenging. And then the sheer quantity of wood I needed to cut for the frames made for a very long day.

After all of that cutting and sawing, I ended up with enough 3/4-inch-square pieces of walnut with these rabbets cut out of them.

For each drawer front, I needed four pieces, all mitered on the corners.

I’ll go over these DIY steps in more detail in a later post. For now, I just wanted to give y’all a sneak peek, and show you the mistake I made.

Anyway, before cutting any of these pieces with my miter saw, I went to such great lengths to measure exactly what I needed. So here’s what I measured and wrote down.

I knew (and verified) that the boards I cut for the front were 39.5 inches wide. So that’s the space I had for the drawer fronts. I wanted a 1/16-inch space on each end, two small drawer fronts that are 7.75 inches wide, and two spaces that are 1/8-inch between those drawer fronts and the center false drawer front.

I figured that if I took those measurements and subtracted them from 39.5, that would give me the width I needed for the center drawer front. Right? RIGHT?

So that’s what I did. I calculated it once.

39.5 – 0.0625 – 7.75 – 0.125 – 0.125 – 7.75 – 0.0625 = ??

That simple math problem should have given me the width of the middle drawer front.

I calculated it again and wrote down the number. Then I gathered everything I’d need to make those three drawer fronts. And I calculated it again to confirm my numbers. I probably did this four times before I actually started cutting and assembling the frames.

I took so much care in making these frames. I don’t think I’ve ever made such perfect mitered cuts in my life, and I was so pleased with how the frames turned out.

And then I wood filled the corners and sanded them to absolute perfection. You can see a sanded one compared to an unsanded one below.

By the time I got the frames done, it was too late to cut the plywood for the centers. But I was anxious to get a visual of how the finished drawer fronts would look, so I just cut the pieces of veneer and taped them into the frames. And then I went to tape the drawer fronts into place, and…

*WOMP WOMP* The center drawer front was about an inch too wide. Oh my gosh, I was so disappointed.

So I calculated again to see where I went wrong, but I got the same number I had gotten before. I stared at the number on my calculator. I measured the drawer front and it was that same measurement.

I thought that I was going crazy. I thought that I had stepped into some kind of wormhole where our math no longer made sense.

I calculated it again. I got the same number. That number matched the measurement of the drawer front.

I can’t even describe how disorienting this whole thing was. How were the numbers not making sense? According to the numbers that I had calculated at least six or seven times now, these drawer fronts should fit. But they didn’t.

I couldn’t make any sense of it, so I decided to just leave it and return to it after a good night’s sleep. But I knew there was no way that I would be able to sleep until I figured this out.

So I decided to try one more time. And this time, I got a different number. A smaller number. A number that was approximately… one… inch… smaller… than the number I had been getting every time prior.

What was the problem? I had measured correctly. I had written down the measurements correctly. But for some mysterious reason, every single time I went to input the width of the small drawers into my phone calculator, I input 7.25 instead of 7.75.

I didn’t do it just once, or twice, or three times. I did it about six or seven times in a row. HOW????? Never in my life have I ever done such a thing. Yes, I’ve made wrong calculations many times before. Yes, I’ve cut things too long or too short. But I’ve always been able to easily catch my mistake when I go back and recalculate the numbers.

This was completely unprecedented, and I still can’t imagine how I input the numbers wrong so many times in a row, especially considering that I had written the numbers down correctly, and I was looking at the numbers I had written down correctly every single time I input the numbers into my calculator.


At least I figured it out…finally.

I’m just glad I made it too wide instead of too narrow. That means I can salvage the pieces and nothing (except a couple of inches) will be wasted. And it will be gorgeous when it’s finished, if I do say so myself. 😀

And of course, when it’s finished, the color of the wood will be darker and richer, and the pulls will be the icing on the cake.

So I’ll be back at it today, and I guess my new rule is to measure twice, calculate ten times, and cut once.



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  1. Calculate ten times with a break in the middle to reset your headspace! 😉
    Glad you figured it out in the end – they’re looking beautiful so far!

  2. Please forgive me if you have already told us this, but are you going to have a false drawer in the middle, or make a drawer that fits around the sink?

  3. Oooh, I feel your pain! Sometimes you just have to take a few steps back to see the clearer picture.

    But it’s going to be a showpiece. Your talent is astounding.

  4. Kristi, your talent knows no end! Those vanities are going to be absolutely beautiful. The whole bathroom is just a dream! So glad you figured out why the front wasn’t fitting! When you said you were going to get a good night’s sleep, I knew you wouldn’t be able to sleep until you figured it out! xo

  5. As I was reading this I thought – you are going to sleep without the reason this happened?
    Then I saw you didn’t! Don’t blame you for that…you would have never slept! We have a joke here, but it is kind of real. When my husband has something he is trying to figure out how to do, he wakes up in the morning with the solution! And it happens often when he has a project that needs a solution. BUT, if he had something like you did…NO ! He would NOT go to sleep until it made sense to him. Glad you found the solution and it all is going to be GORGEOUS! Now it will get done and the second one too, in no time!

  6. I check my work by adding the numbers back up again instead of subtracting them all over and again. Working backward usually does the trick.

    1. Or, use a different input device?!>?!! Just kidding. Thanks for sharing your struggles and your beautiful work.

  7. There’s a great free app for your phone, Fraction Calculator, it lets you put your numbers in as fractions (don’t have to convert to decimals). I love it! Since my tape measure is in fractions this is just one less thing to think about.

  8. I have done the same thing using a calculator. I think my calculator messes up sometimes and I will use a different one to check the math.

  9. Kristi, the work you’ve done is looking lovely and worth all the hassle.

    But …. have you ever thought of converting to metric measurements?? It’s soooooo much easier that those 1/8ths, 1/16ths, 7.75s.

    I have difficulties with numbers but metric measurements are so much easier but then you are in the US and I’m in the UK. I remember the old days of pounds, shillings and pence in the UK and then we converted to decimal currency. What a relief!

  10. I highly recommend doing measurements for woodworking in metric units. It’s so much easier to add, subtract, and divide in millimeters than in fractions of an inch. There’s very little learning curve, just use the millimeters on your tape measure instead of inches and you can sense check things by remembering there’s about 25mm per inch. My woodworking has gotten so much easier and more accurate since I made the switch.

  11. I work with wood sometimes (outdoor stuff, like bridges ect.) it takes me so long to finish a project. I am in awe of you, My stars then you have the time to blog!
    I wish I was as good as you girl.
    I will admit I am about 30 years older..

  12. I try to check in w you every day but may not always leave a comment. You were brilliant today to show us what happened. Yesterday- maybe not do brilliant! That’s one of the things we home decorator wannabes love about you: Always keeping it real! Thanks again for sharing your trials as well as your tribulations! You always are willing to share your “nuts and bolts” skills with us, but sometimes the best lesson is to accept your best efforts and not to give up finding an alternative! What a labor of home, this home you are creating for you and Matt AND your willingness to share it all with us on your blog which is a whole ‘nother skill. Bless your ❤️!

  13. Oh my goodness! This reminds me of my college chemistry. I was completing the last problem. It was not the right answer no matter how many times I did it. I wrote the formula repeatedly and my answer was not right! It was 3 am and my now husband came in from work and looked at it and said “Isn’t your formula backwards?” Lol. I simply cried….. Sometimes our brain just gets stuck on one thing. The drawer are lovely. You are so close to a finished bathroom!
    Sheila F.

    1. I was never smart enough to take college chemistry … or high school chemistry for that matter. But the analogy seems good!

  14. Oh Kristi, were you cussing a blue streak? But I gotta say, I been there done that …. Tomorrow’s another day!

  15. I’m spoiled with CAD, but sometimes making practice parts with scrap or cutting the shape on paper reduces anxiety on complicated “cut once” things.

    I love the way you’ve framed the drawer fronts.

    A favorite thing I prefer on sink false fronts are tilt outs to hold a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush. Also open the tilt to get that little extra light under when under the cabinet. For me, pullouts around a sink on a false front seem wasted materials for so little storage. I remember your sink is very compact and probably using that space.

  16. A former boss once told me of a technique accountants used – before calculators or adding machines were plentiful and cheap. If you couldn’t make two columns add up evenly, when they should, or you just couldn’t make sense of a problem, try adding (or subtracting) from the bottom up. Like you found, your eyes and your muscle memory sometimes play hooky with your brain. Glad you finally found your error, and double glad it can be easily fixed!

    1. I do that! I’m not an account and I’ve never heard of anyone else doing it but I’m glad to see it works for other people too!

  17. When I worked at the design store, I kept a tiny flip tablet in my apron with all the fractions converted to decimals so I wouldn’t screw up a customers order. For some reason, I always confused .25 & .75!!! So I can totally understand what you went through. Sometimes it’s best to walk away for a bit and try to not think about it, so your mind can reset! The drawer fronts are looking beautiful, and soon you will be soaking in that tub and admiring what you’ve done!

  18. I have done that with sewing…..measured and measured and measured….making the same mistake just like you did. Hey we are human, right?

  19. Lol, that’s too funny, but I’m glad you figured it out in the end, and that it ended up too big rather than too small. I graduated with a math degree a hundred years ago, but making stupid calculation errors has forever been my downfall. The vanities are going to be gorgeous!

  20. I’ve had glimpses of that wormhole when it comes to math!

    You’re too funny! And I can more than imagine how frustrating that must have been.

    You do awesome work, they’re going to look great.

  21. …and then say…” Matt, darling, will you run these numbers for me, please?” 😵‍💫😬
    One thing’s for sure, it’s stunning

    1. Ooh, ooh, just thought of something to try—. Cut some scraps those same measurements and dry fit to the piece you’re working on!

  22. I just found your blog while I was looking for landscaping plan ideas for a one-acre residential lot. That was the beginning of going down a wonderful rabbit hole with your crafting tables, bubble light fixture and now your vanity. You are a wonder! Love your planning process and your careful attention to explain the nuances. Most of all, your can-do spirit is fabulous. I live in middle Tennessee.