Make a Display Cabinet

Project Guide:
Difficulty: Intermediate/advanced
Estimated time: two weekends
Cost: Dependent on size

What you will need:

This case was designed for displaying part of a knife collection so because the average knife is little more than 20-25mm at its widest part – the handle, we were able to use:

  • 22x44mm meranti for the case
  • 22x22mm meranti for the door frame.
  • We have purposely omitted giving dimensions except where necessary where pieces fit together, so you can size your cabinet according to what you will keep in it. For instance, if you’re going to display somewhat bulkier items, then using 69mm or even 96mm timber for the main case could be necessary.

Method:

  1. To start, when you select your timber, check each piece very carefully. Timber is sold in nominal sizes, and as you can see here, it can vary from piece to piece by a millimetre or two – so select and ensure you get pieces that match in cross section – and also, of course, that it is not warped or otherwise distorted.
  2. DIY Display Cabinet Image 1

  3. We recessed the door, so we marked off the width of the rebate.
  4. DIY Display Cabinet Image 2

  5. Depending on which way you will be routing the timber, you can set the router to the depth of the door timber and set your fence, or to 12mm, in my case, and rout to a width of 22mm. We allowed for a rebate of 22mm deep by 12mm wide.
  6. DIY Display Cabinet Image 3

  7. Then rout the rebate, taking off about 3mm with each pass.
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  9. The completed rebate.
  10. DIY Display Cabinet Image 5

  11. At this stage, you can begin with the door. We used glass (3x900x900mm) that had already been purchased.
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  13. We used a biscuit cutter set to a depth of 12mm to cut the grooves for the glass, using the timber itself as a fence guide to ensure the grooves were accurate.
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  15. Mitre one end of the door timber.
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  17. Carefully measure off the doorframe pieces and mitre each end.
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  19. This is how the glass sits in the groove.
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  21. The 12mm groove leaves 10mm of timber to hold the glass.
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  23. Then we assembled the frame using 30mm panel pins as shown to reinforce each mitred corner.
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  25. Use a punch to countersink each panel pin.
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  27. Apply filler and once it is dry, sand it down flat with the surface. Finally, I added a doorknob to the centre of the side opposite the side on which I was going to hinge the door.
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  29. Now back to the main frame; set the router to a depth of 3mm and rout the rebate for the pegboard backing.
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  31. The completed rebate – with the 3mm sample fitting into the rebate neatly.
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  33. Mitre one end of the frame timber.
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  35. Set it against the door and measure off the length.
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  37. Since the door fits within the frame – allow for some clearance – we used two rules to give 2mm clearance.
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  39. You may have to trim the end a little if the timber has been colour coded as here; sometimes the ends of the times are also a little rough, so you need to mitre 20mm or so from the end.
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  41. Here’s a handy strap clamp… get hold of some webbing, pass it around the frame and clamp the ends as shown. Then insert two blocks as shown.
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  43. Now clamp the blocks together; the strap is pulled tight, and clamps the frame together while the glue cures.
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  45. Reinforce the frame’s corners as per the door and sand now – you will find it easier.
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  47. The completed frame.
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  49. Tape off the edges of the pegboard slightly narrower than the rebate into which they will fit into the frame.
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  51. The tape is completely hidden, so you can now paint the pegboard -we chose green, to approximate green baize.
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  53. Peel the tape off, and the virgin wood is exposed.
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  55. Apply glue and clamp the board into the frame.
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  57. The pegboard backing in place.
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  59. As we were using hooks, we needed to set the cabinet a little way off the wall, and so each of the four mirror screws used to attach the cabinet to the wall has a 12mm spacer block.
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  61. The lock and hasp system – we had to use it as this is a very shallow cabinet.
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  63. Bend the hasp through 90° as shown.
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  65. We selected a 6mm bolt and filed two sides flat.
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  67. Then we drilled a 3mm hole through the centre – and it fitted on to the lock.
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  69. Drill a 6mm hole through the doorframe (taking care to avoid going through the glass), then insert the bolt.
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  71. The completed lock.
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  73. The hooks we would be using to the support the knives.
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  75. Now for the wall… use a laser level if you have one – it makes it easier to line up the cabinet.
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  77. As the pegboard holes are at precise intervals, getting the screw positions accurate is simple.
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  79. The spacer blocks ready for the cabinet’s fitting.
  80. DIY Display Cabinet Image 40

  81. Drill the holes for the plugs; using a paper dust catcher as shown here keeps mess to a minimum. Tape the plugs into the wall, and mount the cabinet on the wall.
  82. DIY Display Cabinet Image 41

  83. For hinges, we used just two screws… use a spacer to centre the door as you want it, and then drill a hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw through the doorframe and into the main frame.
  84. DIY Display Cabinet Image 42

  85. Then enlarge the frame hole to slightly larger than the screw, so that the latter is not loosened as the door is opened and closed. You will also notice that we rounded off the door so that it could open and shut without any corners jamming up against the main frame.
  86. DIY Display Cabinet Image 43

  87. The completed cabinet.

These materials are available at Selected Mica Stores. To find out which is your closest Mica and whether or not they stock the items required, please go to www.mica.co.za, find your store and call them. If your local Mica does not stock exactly what you need they will be able to order it for you or suggest an alternative product or a reputable source.