The wardrobe

In this post I’ll details the process of building a wardrobe starting of with some rough lumber.


Building a wardrobe might be a bit more complex job, especially if it is your first time so my advice is to start with something smaller first, like a cabinet or shelf.

The process has many steps and stages so I’ve divided this article in the following main sections:

  1. Wardrobe plan & design
  2. Side panels
  3. Measuring, cutting and assembling the frame structure
  4. Building the legs
  5. Building the front doors
  6. Building the drawers
  7. Finishing and painting

1. Wardrobe design & plan

All great project needs a plan, so you have o start with one too. It’s essential to draw in detail what you want to build otherwise there are low chances to end up with something useful.

In my case the room where I will place the wardrobe indicated the length, height an width. This is the beauty when you are making custom furniture, you can build exactly what you need.

Here is my design, it just sketch on a piece of paper, nothing fancy,  but you do not need more.

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The idea behind this design is to build something useful and efficient. I want to have a section where I can hang my shirts, some sort of shelf and a couple drawers for the underwear.

2. Side panels

Following the design I’ve determined that I need 6 piece of 2000×450 mm panel in order to cover the top, bottom, shelf’s, doors and the sides.

I’ve created the panel following the below steps:

Step 1: Preparation – select the lumber and try to avoid cracks, knots which might fall off and other imperfections. All the lumbers must have exactly the same thickness and to achieve that you can use your thickness planer.

Step2: Making the jointprocess the lumber to have a tongue and groove joint.

tongue and groove joint

Step 3: Glue and press all pieces together. To achieve a good result I’ve created the below jig rather than buying an expensive one from the store. It takes some time to fix the work piece but it does the job.

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Step4: Sanding – once the glue dried you have to sand down all the excessive materials to get a smooth and uniform surface. You can use a drum sander or a hand sander. If you did a good job you should not notice the joint.

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3. Measuring, cutting and assembling the frame structure

After you’ve finished all panels, you are ready to cut them to the right length and to assemble the frame. This part is pretty basic so I’ll skip it, but I’d like to underline to do not forget to always check for square. Everything needs to be perfectly lined up and must be square.

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4. Building the legs

I’ve decided to go with round legs for this wardrobe, I’ve considered more appropriate than the rectangular ones.

I’ve started off with a piece of 10×10 cm wood, mounted to the lathe, rounded the edges and tried to do some sort of curves.

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wardrobe legs

5. Building the front doors

To build the doors I evaluated a couple of options. The fist one was to build the door out of a single panel (basically from one piece), while the second option, a bit more complex,was to building the door from a raised panel.  The first options was too simple and I’ve already did similar stuff so I’ve decided to try the second one.

Making the raised panel is fun if you have the proper router bits. I had nothing like this in my workshop so I bought the my first kitchen cabinet set. It was quite expensive but as you will see you can do amazing project.

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The kitchen cabinet router set has two bits, the ogee bit for the side frames and raised panel bit for middle part.

As you can see in the pictures the process is relatively easy. Routing the end grain frames can be a bit tricky, that’s why I’ve build a small jig to ensure the work piece is always secured and it’s perpendicular to the router bit.

The door knobs

Another interesting part is making the knobs.  The challenge is to ensure that all are the same. To achieve this you can use the lathe duplicator or you just simply can measure the length and the radius as I did. A quick sketch is big help, it’s always easier to start of with plan, then you just have to follow the same steps and ensure the measures are precise.

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6. Building the drawers

Building the drawers is fun, I really like this part. I have a dovetail jig which makes my life easier maybe that’s why ….

There is no trick here, you just have to cut all the pieces,  route the dovetail joint, cut the grove for the bottom part on the circular saw table and you are done.  To follow the door design I’ve build the a raised panel for the front piece. After dovetail join is glued and the bottom part is assembled I’ve used some dowels to secure the front panel.

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wardrobe drawer

7. Finishing and painting

I’ve decided not to use any stain to give any color. My intention was to capture the natural color of the wood, so I applied just 2 coats of transparent paint.

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Here we are, this is the final product. There are a few low level details which are not 100% accurate but being my first furniture project I think it looks good.
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