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Converting a base cabinet to free standing?

Posted by Texasgal47 (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 0:33

Hi all -- I am assembling an order for RTA cabinets by Conestoga for a small bedroom remodel project. I want to use a file cabinet on either side of a bed as free standing nightstands. The bottom drawer is a file drawer and the top drawer is a 5" high utility drawer. Drawer fronts are simple Shaker style. Dimensions so far are 18"w x 18"d x 20"h just for the cabinet, without feet or a top added yet. I have ordered wood to enclose the back. The cabinet body is to be painted white and the top will be maple wood with a cherry stain. My questions are as follows:

1. How should I design the cabinet top? Would 1/2" thick plywood cut to overhang the front and sides by 1/2", with an edge molding to be applied, do the trick?
How would I go about attaching -- add corner blocks to the cabinet and then attach the top to the corner blocks?

2. I was considering adding castors to make the cabinet mobile as storage drawers are under the bed. However, items going into the drawers near the headboard will be rarely used, such as Christmas decorations. Do you think the cabinet would be light enough to be moved without castors if the drawers are removed? Not having the castors would make for a more attractive cabinet.

3. I'm concerned about the cabinet tipping forward with the file drawer fully extended. Anybody have suggestions regarding some type of anti-tipping device or a temporary attachment to the wall?

I'm looking forward to your assistance so I can get this order out.

Edited for another question: I see from another post that maple does not stain well. What type of wood would you recommend for staining? Please don't suggest using cherry as I like how rapidly it darkens with age.

This post was edited by Texasgal47 on Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 9:10


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Converting a base cabinet to free standing?

I would make the top at least 3/4" thick. You could attach the top to the cabinet with figure eight fasteners. Overhang would be 3/4", unless you want a larger overhang.

In terms of staining I would use a gel stain, it will take care of the staining problems.

Here is a link that might be useful: figure eight fasteners


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RE: Converting a base cabinet to free standing?

Sloyd, big thanks for coming to my rescue in answering the most pressing issue regarding attachment of the tabletop. I watched the instructional videos on how to countersink the figure eight fasteners to the base cabinets using a 3/4-in Forstner Bit. The cost of the bit is around $10 so the project still looks cost effective.

Gel-stains aren't something I want to use unless I really have to. I may experiment with different types of woods
and stains.

Finally, anyone know about keeping the cabinet stable with the file drawer fully extended?


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RE: Converting a base cabinet to free standing?

to keep it from tipping you could screw it to the wall, but then it would not be mobile. I doubt it will tip since it is low to the ground


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RE: Converting a base cabinet to free standing?

Thanks for your feedback sloyd. Guess I can always give it a try.


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RE: Converting a base cabinet to free standing?

have you done this yet?
When I have the money, I buy from The Cabinet Joint.com, which sells Conestoga. I love them.

  • You're going to have to put blocks underneath to support casters.
  • It will tip unless you hook it to the wall. Since there's a tiny bit of space behind the cabinet, between it and the wall, I'd use a cleat.
  • You don't need a panel to cover the back, since it's going to be against the wall.
  • Did you order finished sides?

    These are really nice cabinets, in my opinion. They take me about 10 minutes to assemble. It takes longer for the glue to dry.

    I'd love to see what you did.


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