Last Updated on December 24, 2015 by Kristi Linauer
First things first…THANK YOU so much for all of your invaluable feedback yesterday! It seems like videos are the way to go, and possibly with some accompanying printable written instructions filled with detailed pictures that you can print out and take with you into your garage or shop where you may not have internet access. So my mind has been working in overdrive trying to sort through ideas and really get a handle on how I want to provide all of this DIY information that I have constantly swirling around in my head. 🙂
But speaking of videos, yesterday as I was working on my bathroom built-ins, I was thinking to myself the entire time, “Thank goodness I’m not trying to make a video of this project!”
Let’s just say that if my work yesterday had been recorded for you to see, y’all would have lost all confidence in me. Seriously. You’d be thinking to yourself, “Why am I taking DIY advice from this fool?! She clearly has no idea what she’s doing!” *Sigh* It was just one of those days. 😀
Things got off to a very rocky start when I added the filler strips to the base cabinet. The cabinet is 24 inches wide, but the space is about 28.5 inches wide, so I needed to fill in the sides. I measured how wide the filler strips needed to be and cut them using my table saw from some leftover pre-primed 1″ x 6″ finger joint lumber I had on hand. That part went okay. I’m really loving having a table saw!
But when I tried to attach them, things started going a bit sideways. I attached them just like I attached the cabinets together for the vanity. I pre-drilled some holes through the stiles on the cabinet and into the edge of the filler strips. Then I attached the strips using wood glue and 3-inch screws through the pre-drilled holes.
Or at least that’s how easy it was supposed to be!
It took me about three tries on each side because as the screws went in, it would pull the strips to the front or back, leaving them really uneven with the frame around the cabinet. I finally got it, but not without quite a bit of frustration.
And the reason that happened is because I was using a drill bit that was too small for my pre-drilled holes. So when I tried to screw in the screws, it was as if I hadn’t even pre-drilled once the screw hit the filler strip. I thought I could power through, but it was impossible to do so while also keeping the filler strip perfectly straight.
So why didn’t I change the drill bit after it didn’t work the first time? Because I can be stubborn as a mule sometimes. 😀 I thought, “Dang it, this WILL work! I’ll MAKE it work with sheer determination and brute force!”
It didn’t work. So on the third try, I decided to do it the correct way using a larger, longer drill bit. That worked.
After adding the wood filler to the filler strips, I started working on the countertop. I had a length of countertop left over from the vanity, and set aside specifically for this built-in area. The problem was that it was only 19.5 inches deep.
That was exactly what I needed for the vanity after cutting down those cabinets, but this cabinet was 24 inches deep, and I needed a countertop that was at least 25.25 inches deep. So I had to add three additional strips of wood (using the same method as before — wood glue and Kreg Jig), and then I cut it to size and did all of the wood filling and sanding outside.
With all of that done, I brought it in to set in place and get started on the staining. But it was such a tight fit (on purpose), and I had to push so hard to get it wedged in there, that I ended up breaking off the front board. It didn’t come off completely, but I could feel the wood glue bond break, and the screws give way just a bit.
So frustrating! But it was wedged in there so tightly that I wasn’t even about to try to remove it. So I just got it put back together as best I could by filling the gap with wood glue, and pushing the front board onto the rest of the countertop as tightly as possible. I stood there for a while holding it (since a clamp wouldn’t fit in that space) until the glue held it in place, and then left it alone to dry for a couple of hours. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked out fine. And once it’s all finished, I doubt anyone will notice.
In my frustration, I just had to take a minute, stand back, look at the big picture, and remind myself that once this area is done, and the imperfections aren’t front-and-center, I think it will be really pretty. And this is the main reason I switched from a single door that swings into the bathroom, to double doors that swing out. I just couldn’t stand the idea of this built-in storage being hidden most of the time behind a door.
So while the glue was drying on the countertop, I decided to start working on the upper shelving area. I had Home Depot cut my MDF into smaller pieces so that it would fit into the car, but I still had to cut them to the exact sizes I needed. That was a bit challenging on my small table saw, but I managed to get it done. Then I brought the pieces into the bathroom to start assembling.
The basic structure was going to be two sides of 5/8-inch MDF, and a back and top of 1/2-inch MDF. I was going to assemble them on the floor, and then have my brother or neighbor come over today and help me lift it into place.
Well, I got these two pieces — back and one side — put together using wood glue and 1-inch nails.
And then it dawned on me that if I pre-assemble this and then try to lift it into place, it probably wouldn’t fit around the door trim.
So I decided to just try to lift and place the two pieces I had assembled. Just to put this into perspective, those pieces are 58 inches tall. The side piece is 5/8-inch MDF, and is 19.5 inches deep. The back piece is over 28 inches wide. I’m only 60 inches tall. 😀
Somehow, quite miraculously, I did manage to lift the pieces high enough to get the bottom corner onto the countertop. But I was right. Even with just the two pieces, it was impossible to maneuver them around the door trim. And then I realized that I never even did a dry fit of the back piece before I started assembling it to be sure that I had cut it accurately and that it would even fit the back wall. Ugh!
So before the glue dried completely, I disassembled the two pieces, removed the nails, and lifted the back piece into place to be sure it was the right size.
But for some reason, that didn’t stop me from pushing with all of my might to get it to go flat against the wall! Why? I have no idea. More stubbornness, I guess. More of my bullheaded thinking that I could get this MDF to comply to my wishes with sheer determination and brute force.
The MDF won, and it was wedged in there so tightly that I couldn’t get it out.
I tried everything I could think of — flat head screwdrivers, pry bars — and nothing would budge that MDF.
I finally decided that if I removed the countertop that would give me something to grab onto. So after much pulling, tugging, hitting with a hammer, etc., I finally got the countertop out. Thankfully the glue and screws held this time, and I didn’t have any more breaks.
That allowed me to grab onto the bottom of the MDF and pull it out from the wall. I pulled and tugged, and even kind of grabbed it and hung onto, trying to pull it down using my body weight. Each time, it would just barely move, but at least it was moving!
So after a few more times of me grabbing on and pulling down with all of my might (and body weight), the piece finally gave way and unwedged itself.
At that point, all I could do was laugh. My whole day had been a joke, and all of it by my own doing, and my own stubbornness. Had any of you been watching, you would have thought I was brand new to this whole DIY thing, and this was my very first project ever.
I decided to stop torturing myself for the day, and call it quits. Something tells me I might need to change my strategy a bit if I hope to actually get this bathroom finished any time in the near future. It might be time to put aside the “sheer determination and brute force” methods I attempted to employ time after time yesterday, and actually rely on some tried and true DIY methods that have proven successful on my past projects. 😀
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
I hope you’ll join me on my DIY and decorating journey! If you want to follow my projects and progress, you can subscribe below and have each new post delivered to your email inbox. That way you’ll never miss a thing!