What fun it was to discuss this sideboard with Ana White and then build it from her plans! I needed an extra long (like 7′ long) sideboard to fit in a specific spot in my friend Emily’s house. It had to be a big piece to fill a big space and it had to have some character, because you can see it when you walk in the front door of her house.
We looked at some different pieces for inspiration and then Ana drew up these plans. Initially, we thought it would be stained dark brown but after looking at the abundance of wood in her house, we decided to go with something a little punchier. Why not red?
|Don’t you love the contrast between the electric guitars and the rustic sideboard?!|
I made a few small changes from the original plans. First, I decided not to attach the top of the piece until I was nearly finished with everything else. Leaving the top unattached allowed me to install and adjust the drawer slides with full view of them, and it let us paint the inside of the sideboard without having the top in the way. I am so glad I waited to attach the top. As it turns out, the drawer glides did not go in as easily as expected (apparently the piece wasn’t as perfectly square as it should have been…oops!) and it was frustrating enough without having to work around the top.
Second, before I finished the piece (and before attaching the top) I used my Kreg jig to attach a small scrap of 1×2 to the inside of the face frame where the two cabinet doors meet in the middle. I knew from experience that I would need a spot to screw in a magnetic catch for the cabinet doors and I knew it would be tough to do once the rest of the piece was put together.
|The top of the sideboard.|
Third, I attached the back differently from how the plans recommend. Because the side of this piece will be seen from the front door of the house, I didn’t want to see plywood tacked onto the back. I’m not opposed to attaching the back that way for most pieces, but I wanted the back on this piece to be hidden. So, after staring at it for a long time, I inset three panels with my Kreg jig and trimmed them out from the inside of the piece with small pine strips. All of the seams are covered from the inside and now the back is invisible from the side of the piece.
|The view of the sideboard as you descend the stairs from the front door.|
The finish on this piece ended up being a long, multi-step process. First, I applied sanding sealer to the whole piece. This helped to raise the grain of the wood so that I could sand it back down and minimize the grain coming up again in the steps that followed. Then I applied an espresso colored water based stain followed by two thin coats of Red Pepper milk paint. I gave the milk paint a light sanding to make it super smooth and let some of the dark stain show through and then glazed the whole piece with yellow ochre. I used some additional glaze (dark gray, almost black) in the crevices between the 2×4 and 2×6 boards on top of the piece to give more depth and age. The final step was applying clear bowling alley wax and buffing it out.
Wax doesn’t give a finish that is as long-lasting and bullet-proof as PolyWhey (my favorite earth- and people-friendly finish), but you really can’t beat the feel of it. I like to know that the texture of the furniture I build will be smooth and super touchable, and wax gives that finish. The wax finish is also easy to rejuvenate over time — just apply a thin coat, let it dry overnight, and buff it out to a soft shine the next day.
Also, I finally took a photo of something I’ve been doing for a while now that might help people who are new to building. I’ve started using a stop block every time I need to make more than one cut the same length. All you need are a few quick clamps and a wood scrap or two to make it work. This trick has really improved the reliability of my cuts!
|Clamping a stop block to my miter saw helps me make lots of cuts exactly the same size.|
The total cost of this project, including all of the lumber, hardware, and finishing supplies, came in right around $400. I bought my hardware (knobs, pulls, drawer slides, and hinges — similar to these for the outside doors and these for the middle doors) from cabinetparts.com and was really happy with the quality and price.
|Until I built this piece, I had no idea my little level had a magnetic strip on it. Genius!|
|Shims. This carpenter’s best friends.|
|Instead of tacking plywood onto the back, I made the back inset.|
|Drawer bottoms were lined with wrapping paper and clear contact paper before assembly.|
|Waiting for the paint to dry on the inside of the sideboard.|
|The top — sanded, sealed, sanded, stained, painted, sanded, glazed, and waxed.|
|Cup pull hardware — not always easy to attach perfectly, so I relied on a special jig.|
|Using a jig to get the hardware holes right.|
|I centered the jig first and then used a nail set to punch holes where I needed to drill.|
|Perfect holes for starting the drill.|
|I installed the drawer slides before finishing the piece, then made notes of where I needed adjustments.|
|Ready to move!