a custom-built cabinet from a bookshelf and shutters

How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Get a custom look for less by dressing up stock pieces with trim, knobs, and furniture feet

A compact cabinet offers just enough storage to tuck away essentials in a family room, bathroom, or bedroom. But if you have a limited budget for this handy piece, you won't find many design options out there. So we turned to TOH general contractor Tom Silva for some DIY advice. He demonstrated how to attach off-the-shelf fixed-louver shutters to an inexpensive, ready-to-assemble bookcase to make a charming cabinet that's easy on the wallet. With a few finishing touches, like trim and bun feet, this piece will spiff up any room you put it in, and it takes just a few hours to build. Read on to learn how.

Download the cut list to build a cabinet from a bookshelf and shutters.


Steps // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters
1 ×

Overview for Making a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

 
Step One // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Overview for Making a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

custom cabinet overview
Photo by Allison Dinner

The shutters are mounted to the face of the bookcase. Choose a pair that's the same height as the bookcase, or add a header board to make up for the difference. The top and base are cut to the width of the bookcase, and extend past the front to cover the edges of the shutter doors and leave a reveal.

CUT LIST

You can use the cut list below or download the cut list to build a cabinet from a bookshelf and shutters.

Bookcase. Choose a small bookcase with adjustable shelves. (Ours was 29⅝"W by 11⅝"D by 31⅝"H.) The toekick, if it has one, will be covered by the shutter doors.

Shutters for doors. Choose shutters sized to the height and width of the bookcase. (Ours were by 14¾"W by 29"H.) If the shutters are shorter than the bookcase, add a header board at the top of the bookcase to make up the gap in height. Once installed, the shutters should be flush with the sides of the bookcase, with a gap of about ⅛ inch between them.

1x utility shelving. You'll rip the top and bottom of the cabinet from this board. The length of each piece will equal the width of the bookcase; the width of each piece will equal the depth of the bookcase plus the thickness of the shutters, plus ¼ inch for a reveal. To make sure you have enough material, get a piece that's at least twice as long as the bookcase is wide, and wide enough to cover the depth of the bookcase plus the thickness of the shutters and reveal.

1x3 to create a header, if necessary, and a stop block for attaching the magnetic door catches. Get a piece long enough to span the width of the bookcase, plus several inches for the stop block.

¾-inch trim. Get enough to cover the front and side edges of the top and bottom of the cabinet.
 

 
2 ×

Build the Bookcase

 
Step Two // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Build the Bookcase

Tom Silva puts together a ready-to-assemble bookcase
Photo by Allison Dinner

Put together a ready-to-assemble bookcase using the included hardware; you can find one at 
any home store. Attach the backing, using the included nails, to keep the piece square. Set the shelves aside for Step 9.

 
3 ×

Attach the Top and Base

 
Step Three // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Attach the Top and Base

Tom Silva attaches the base to the bookcase
Photo by Allison Dinner

Cut two boards from 1 shelving to the width of the bookcase and to its depth plus the thickness of the shutters, plus ¼ inch for a reveal. Nail the boards to the top and bottom of the bookcase, flush with the back and sides.

 
4 ×

Add the Header

 
Step Four // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Add the Header

Tom Silva adds the header to the bookcase
Photo by Allison Dinner

Cut a length of 1x3 to the width of the cabinet. Lay it on the face of the cabinet and butt it against the top. Nail through the header and into the sides of the cabinet.

 
5 ×

Install the Furniture Feet

 
Step Five // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Install the Furniture Feet

Tom Silva adds the feet to the bottom corners of the bookcase
Photo by Allison Dinner

Screw the corner foot plates to the base of the cabinet about 1½ inches in from each corner. Screw the bun feet into the plates.

 
6 ×

Cut and Secure the Trim

 
Step Six // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Cut and Secure the Trim

Tom Silva adds trim to the bookcase/cabinet
Photo by Allison Dinner

Miter ¾-inch molding to wrap the front and side edges of the cabinet's top and base. Nail on the trim so that it's flush with the cabinet's top, and do the same for the base, reversing the profile.

 
7 ×

Hang the Shutter Doors

 
Step Seven // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Hang the Shutter Doors

Tom Silva attaches the shutter doors to the bookcase/cabinet
Photo by Allison Dinner

Lay the shutters on the face of the cabinet. Screw two H-hinges to the outside edge of each door and to the sides of the cabinet, using the included fasteners.

 
8 ×

Add the Door Catches

 
Step Eight // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Add the Door Catches

Tom Silva attaches door catches to the shutter doors
Photo by Allison Dinner

Attach the metal plates to the inside top corners of the doors. Nail a stop block to the back side of the header so that the two pieces form an "L." Screw the catches to the block so that they make contact with the plates when the doors are closed.

 
9 ×

Install the Knobs

 
Step Nine // How to Build a Cabinet from a Bookshelf and Shutters

Install the Knobs

Tom Silva attaches the knobs to the shutter doors
Photo by Allison Dinner

Mark the knob positions on the inner stiles of the doors. Drill holes and secure the knobs with the included screws. Put in the shelves. Rough up the piece with sandpaper, then coat it with a primer-sealer, such as Kilz, followed by satin or semigloss paint.

 
 
 

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