Friday, July 1, 2016

DIY Homeschool Storage Cabinets / Reading Nook

I've been a home school at home dad for going on a couple years now.  Take it from me and learn from my mistakes.


I didn't get it at first.  Then the first annual evaluation came along and I struggled to find all the materials I needed for the evaluation.

It was ugly but I got through it.  The second year was better but their was definitely room for improvement.  One of those improvements comes in the form of a:

DIY Home School Storage Cabinets / Reading Nook

NOTE: All Boards listed are 8' unless otherwise noted.


3 - 1x3s

1 - 3/4" Thick 4x8 Sheet of Plywood

1 - 3/4" Thick 4x4 Sheet of Plywood

1 -  1/4" Thick 4x8 Sheet of Plywood

25' of Iron on Edge Banding

2 Sets of Frameless Cabinet Door Hinges

1 Gallon Cabinet Enamel

Choice of Stain


Cut List

2 - Sides @ 15-3/4" x 84"

1 - Cabinet Top @ 15-3/4" x 24"

1 - Cabinet Middle @ 15-3/4" x 24"

1 - Cabinet Bottom @ 15-3/4" x 24"

3 - Shelves @ 15-5/8" x 23-1/2"

1 - 1/4" Thick Back Panel @ 25" x 84"

4 - Door Rails @ 2.5" x 20"

2 - Door Stiles @ 2.5" x 35-1/2"

2 - Bottom Door Stiles @ 2.5" x 45-1/4"

1 - Door panel @ 20-1/2" x 40-3/4"

1 - Bottom Door Panel @ 20-1/2" x 31"

1 - Bottom Fill Piece @ 2-3/4" x 25"

Cutting Diagrams


3/4" Plywood - 4x8

 3/4" Plywood - 4x4

1/4" Plywood - 4x8

Step 1

After ripping the sides to width and trimming to length we can route the rabbets and dadoes.  Below shows the placements I used.  The bottom mearurement may be a little difficult to read.  It says 2-1/2".

Step 2

While you had the circular saw out, the top, middle and bottom pieces should have been cut along with all the sides and the rest of the shelves that will be installed with shelf pins later.

So now we can lay out our pieces, apply some glue to the joints and fold everything together.

The dadoes should hold everything together while the clamps are positioned.  If they don't then they weren't cut right.  Don't feel bad.  I've been there.

Step 3

Time to glue and tack the 1/4" back panel in place.

Because I was planning on applying a cabinet enamal to the carcass of my cabinets I knew I could shortcut this step by simply overlaying the back panel on the carcass and flush trimming the piece.

If your plan is to stain the carcass as opposed to doing what I did then you're going to want to cover it with a quarter round piece of molding when you install the cabinets in your home.

Unless your going dark with your choice of stain the exposed plywood edges will still be visible. 

The quarter round molding will tie the cabinets in nicely with the wall as well as hide the ugly.

Step 4

Time to assemble the doors.  I used a rail and stile type of door.  The two vertical pieces are called stiles.  The two horizontal pieces are called rails.

NOTE:  I used a rail and stile router bit set to assemble my doors which makes the process clear cut and straight forward.  However, the explanation below assumes you do not have one of these sets.  The process becomes a little more complicated but can still be done easily as long as you have some other joinery method to attach the rails and stiles to each other.

Here is a link to the specific rail and stile router bit set that I have if you would like to duplicate exactly what I have done in the video.

The rails are the easier of the two to prep.  Simply route a quarter inch groove down the center from one end all the way to the other.

The stiles are a little more complicated because you can not go all the way through from one end to the other with the dado.  It has to be started about 2" in from one end and stopped about 2" from the other end.

A slot cutter bit can get the job done for you without much fuss.  Simply mark the start and stop points on your router fence with blue tape.

I've demonstrated the technique in my DIY Outdoor Storage Chest project video already.

Obviously another joinery method will have to be used to join the rails to the stiles.  Simple butt joinery will not do in this instance.  My recommendation is to use my DIY Dowel Jig and use dowels.  They are just as quick and just as strong.

Step 5

Follow the steps in the video if your using the router bit set.

If not then attach one stile to the two rails to make a U shaped assembly.  Slide the panel in place and attach the other stile once the panel has been seated properly.

Step 6

I waited to attach a bottom fill piece to the cabinet carcasses until after I had set them in place in the house.  I didn't want to rip them off accidentally while moving the pieces around on carpet.

Plus the opening gave a convenient spot to place my foot under the bottom to lift it just enough to inch the cabinet one way or the other to position it next to the base board.

You can see me do it at one point in the video.  It's the small things you learn along the way that saves you headache down the road.

23 Guage headless pins were used to tack the piece to the front of the home school storage cabinets.

Step 7

The style of hinges used needs to be able to allow for a flush mounted door to the side of the cabinets.

Here are the hinges I used.

 Step 8

We used three additional shelves based on our needs.  Their is nothing saying you can't use more or less depending on yours.

I designed them to set an 1/8" back from the front edge just to distinguish between the moveable shelves and the non moveable one.

Final Thoughts

Obviously more than just home school supplies and curriculum can be stored in these handy dandy storage helpers.

They could be used as extra pantry space or even a supply closet.

However, we are using them for home school organization and so I thought that a few words should be spoken about organizational systems.

Here is a good video detailing 5 ways to organize your curriculum.  She is well spoken and pleasant to listen too.

Finally here is a video from a YouTube channel called "The Fundamental Home" and she walks you through her organizational system she uses in her home.