Making a Dorm Microwave/Fridge Cabinet
Some dorm rooms now have a combination appliance called a "microfridge." It takes up a lot of space.
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Going to college can be one of the most exciting experiences anyone can have. The last thing on your mind should be your living environment. But it will be your new home for at least a year. And if you are going to live in a dorm you will have to deal with a few issues, not to mention a roommate.
So you will want to make the best of it, and decorate it as comfortably and homey as possible. My fellow Kent State University grad and co-host Shari Hiller and I decorated a dorm room for an episode of Room By Room.
Dorm rooms have changed quite a bit since we went to school, but one thing hasn't — the lack of storage.
Today, most rooms have a fridge and microwave. The room we worked on had a combination called a "microfridge" — go figure. It took up a lot of space, so I got the idea of making a storage cabinet for it, one big enough to provide enough extra storage for snacks and a few dishes. This is what I came up with.
I wanted to make it simple, a project that could be done in a matter of hours, and with very few tools. I think I have accomplished both. The cabinet should take about four hours to complete, and that includes shopping for materials and painting.
Materials and Tools:
2 - 72 x 28 inch plywood panels, cabinet grade. Can be cut to length and width at a home center store, usually for free or a nominal fee.
2 - 1 x 8 x 72 inch poplar boards
1 - 4 x 4 foot sheet of plywood, cabinet grade for the shelves
1 box of 1-1/4 inch drywall screws
1 bottle of wood glue
flush spackling compound
sandpaper 150 grit, and a couple of quarts of paint in the color of your choice
cordless drill, a few drill bits and a countersink bit
If you have never worked with a circular saw, ask for help from someone who has been trained with a circular saw to help you with this project. One last important safety tool — eye protection. Always wear a pair of safety glasses when working with power tools.
1. Start by attaching the two 72 x 28-inch panels together. These two panels make up the back of the cabinet. Just drill pilot holes along one edge, then join the two together by running a bead of glue along the edge and secure with drywall screws. Don't worry about how these will look, they will be hidden in the back and pushed up against the wall.
2. Now attach the 1 x 8 inch poplar boards to the outside edge of the plywood panels. These will become the two side panels to the cabinet. Again drill pilot holes, but this time use a counterhole bit to create a hole that the head of the screw will be hidden in. After you have drilled the holes, run a bead of glue along the panels’ edge, then secure the 1 x 8 boards to the panels using screws. The screw holes will be hidden later by flush spackling compound.
3. Cut 3 shelves out of the 4 x 4 plywood. Using a tape measure, measure the inside of the cabinet, and transfer those measurements to the plywood. The front measurement will be an angle cut, running the distance between the two side poplar boards.
4. Use the circular saw to make the cuts, cutting along the lines that you have drawn on the plywood. Don't forget to cut three panels, one for the top, and two for the inside shelves.
5. Place the top shelf in position at the top of the constructed cabinet and secure using wood glue and screws. Did you remember to drill pilot holes and countersink holes? Great! I knew you would.
6. Now you can attach the two inside shelves. Make sure that you place the shelves so that you can allow room for a small fridge and microwave. For my cabinet, I separated the shelves about 14 inches apart and had plenty of room for the fridge.
7. To dress up the front of the shelves, I added strips of 1 x 2 inch poplar. Measure the distance of the front edge of the shelf, and cut the 1 x 2 to length using the circular saw. Because of the angle of the shelf, the end cuts are 45-degree cuts; just set the saw for that angle and cut both ends. I then attached to the front of the shelf with a little wood glue and finish nails.
8. I sanded the entire piece smooth with 150 grit sandpaper, and filled all the screw and nail holes with a flush spackling compound. I primed the cabinet with a latex primer and painted it with latex satin paint. I don't know about you but I think your school colors would be a great choice. Enjoy this project, and good luck at school.
Matt Fox writes this column with Shari Hiller. They also co-host the Home & Garden Television show Room By Room.