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How to Build a Bathroom Organizer

Build a free-standing bathroom organizer complete with tilt-out hamper with This Old House DIY Expert & House One editor, Jenn Largesse.

A freestanding DIY Bathroom Rack is a great way to keep essentials handy, while the hamper is a perfect for keeping laundry hidden away. Because this organizer is made of wood and will be placed in room that sees a lot of humidity, I’m teaming up with our friends at Varathane to give it a durable finish. They make a fast-drying stain saves me time, and a triple-thick polyurethane that helps me protect my finish with just one coat. For this project I also picked up some stock boards and plywood, screws, hinges, and a chain.

Steps for building a bathroom organizer:

Step 1: Prep the frame pieces

Jenn Largesse

Download our cut list above. Cut all the pieces to size. Using a pocket hole jig and drill/driver fitted with a pocket hole drill bit (both set to a ¾-inch depth), create two pocket holes in each end of the Frame’s 1 x 2 Front, Back and Side pieces.

Step 2: Prep the plywood shelves

Jenn Largesse

Using a pocket hole jig and drill/driver fitted with a pocket hole drill bit (both set to a ½-inch depth), create three pocket holes along the side edges of each plywood shelf.

Step 3: Mark the height of the shelves

Jenn Largesse

Stack the Frame Legs side-by-side. Mark the height of the top edge of the Sides Pieces at 3-inches, 26-inches, and 39-inches. (Note: The fourth Side piece sets flush with the top edge of the Legs.)

Step 4: Build the frame sides

Jenn Largesse

Lay two 1 x 2 Legs parallel on the work surface with four 1 x 2 Side pieces between them. Position the Side pieces below each marked line. Apply a small amount of wood glue to the ends of the Side pieces. (Tip: Use a face clamp to keep the faces flush during assembly.) Using a drill/driver and 1¼-inch pocket hole screws, assemble the parts. Repeat to attach the remaining Legs and Side pieces.

Step 5: Attach the front and back pieces

Jenn Largesse

Stand the 1 x 2 Front and Back pieces level with the top and bottom Side pieces. Position the pieces so that their pocket holes face the same direction (toward the back) of the assembly. Using the method used to attach the Side pieces, attach the 1 x 2 Front and Back pieces.

Step 6: Assemble the frame

Jenn Largesse

Sandwich the Front and Back pieces between the assembled sides of the Frame. Using wood glue and 1¼” pocket hole screws, attach the Front and Back boards to the remaining Legs.

Step 7: Attach the shelves

Jenn Largesse

Place the Frame upside down on the work surface. Position the Shelves flush with the surface of the Side pieces. Using a drill/driver, drive 1-inch pocket hole screws through the Shelves and into the Sides pieces.

Step 8: Prep the frame for stain

Jenn Largesse

Sand the parts, and then wipe away any dust with a lint-free cloth.

Step 9: Stain the frame

Jenn Largesse

Using a lint-free cloth, wipe on a coat of stain in the direction on the grain. I’m using a Varathane color called Dark Walnut. Let the stain set for two to three minutes. Wipe away the excess stain with a lint-free cloth, and let dry for at least an hour.

Step 10: Apply the polyurethane

Jenn Largesse

Using a synthetic bristle brush, apply a liberal coat of Varathane Triple-Thick Polyurethane. Once coated, pull the brush across the edges at a 45-degree angle to tip-off the finish and prevent drips.

Step 11: Cut the hamper hole

Jenn Largesse

It’s now time to assemble the hamper. Locate the 1 x 2 Hamper Door Top. Mark a 4-inch-wide-by-¾-inch-tall outline centered on bottom edge of the pieces. If desired, angle the edges of the cutout at 45 degrees. Using a jigsaw, cut out the handle.

Step 12: Assemble the hamper door frame

Jenn Largesse

Using a pocket hole jig and drill/driver fitted with a pocket hole drill bit (both set to a ¾-inch depth), create two pocket holes in each end of the Door’s 1 x 2 Side pieces. Apply glue to the ends of the Side pieces. Sandwich the Sides between the Top and Bottom. (Tip: Use a face clamp to keep the faces flush during assembly.) Using a drill/driver and 1¼-inch pocket hole screws, assemble the door’s frame.

Step 13: Attach the slats

Jenn Largesse

Create two pocket holes in each end of the Door’s 1 x 2 Slats. Position the Slats between the Sides, using two paint sticks to create even spacing. Using a drill/driver and 1¼-inch pocket hole screws, assemble the parts.

Step 14: Attach the hamper sides

Jenn Largesse

Using a pocket hole jig and drill/driver fitted with a pocket hole drill bit (both set to a ½-inch depth), create three pocket holes along one side edge of the hamper’s plywood Sides. Apply a bead of glue along the edge with the pocket holes. Stand the side on edge on the backside of the Door, flush with the bottom edge and ¾-inch from the side edge of the door, with the pocket holes facing inward. Using a drill/driver, drive 1-inch pocket hole screws through the Side and into the Door. Repeat to attach the remaining Side to the Door.

Step 15: Attach the hamper base and back

Jenn Largesse

Drill two pocket holes along each side of the Hamper Base, three pocket holes along the side edges of the Hamper Back. Using wood glue and 1-inch pocket hole screws, attach the Base, and then the Back of the Hamper between the Sides.

Step 16: Paint the hamper

Jenn Largesse

Sand the hamper, and fill pocket holes with wood filler, if desired. Apply two coats of paint to the hamper. (Tip: Run a sponge brush between the slats to coat the gaps and prevent drips.)

Step 17: Install the hamper

Jenn Largesse

Using a drill/driver, install a piano hinge flush with the front edge of the Frame’s lower Front Piece. Prop the base of the hamper up on a scrap block. Position the hinge on the underside of the hamper, flush with its front edge. Secure the hinge with screws. Tilt the hamper closed. Prevent the hamper from tilting too far open with a chain (attached to the side of the hamper and the frame), if desired.


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