Building a Large Storage Cabinet

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2014 06:09 PM GMT


I am Building a large storage cabinet with external dimensions of 60"wide by 24" deep, and 78" tall. The inside of this cabinet will have two fixed boards, a vertically base centered board and another that is horizontally fixed and centered board, creating 4 good size compartments in the cabinet. There will be 2 doors for each compartment. The cabinet will be on casters for easy movement. Here are my questions:

Which plywood would be easier to sand and to stain between Birch and Oak (white oak or red oak-between the 2 which is better to use) and normally which is prettier when stained. Also, which framing boards, would closely match the birch or the oak (red or yellow) plywood in stain. Do I need to sand and seal the wood before staining, and if so, which sealant is best to use. Finally which stain and varnish is best used to bring out the grain and looks of the cabinet. On the varnish, how many coats are best for protection and appearance.


Oak is probably easier to get a nice stained finish on, as Birch and Maple can get the 'blotchies' when staining...and the cost difference should be minimal. Red Oak will be cheaper and easier to find, but both species exhibit varying colors and wildly differing grain patterns. Also on a cabinet of this size, you really should be considering traditional frame and panel construction to minimize movement of the rather large dimensions, adding strentgh and stiffness to the carcase....and also for the doors. As a rule Oak is stronger and more dimensionally stable for the most part, and while Birch and maple can be mixed, they don't stain with the same predictability and blend as well as Oaks.These plywoods are often made up of inferior woods internally, and then 'skinned' with the appropriate veneer on the outsides, and therefore they are not very stable without a frame or other structure to keep them flat.Especially the "Home Center" plywoods. If you can, go to a Lumber store to purchase your materials, the quality is almost always superior, albeit slighly more expensive.If you're not familiar with the typical types of construction methods used in cabinets, and the reasons for using them, there are many good resources available to help, both online and at many Library's.. A good oilstain would be fine, (something OTHER than Minwax), or a Gel stain (OK from Minwax, General), and then 3-4 coats of a wipe on Poly like Generals excellent 'Satin Gel Urethane topcoat' or even WaterLox, which is a modified Tung oil/varnish product...both very easy to apply, even on large surface expanses and interior areas, which you will have on this project....


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