How to Make a Cabinet from Old Windows

In: Home Decor Tutorials, Powder Room Tutorials
window cabinet graphic
This post contains affiliate links, for more information see my disclosure

This tutorial will show you how to make a cabinet from old windows.

No matter how small, every bathroom, or powder room, needs a nice place to stash stuff.  You know what I mean… Towels, TP, and various other bathroom items that should remain incognito.  Well, since my new little powder room is seriously hand made, I wanted my shelves or cabinet to be that way also.  I have a nice stash of windows, so I decided to use one of those as the door of a cabinet.

I’m going to share my plan with you using the dimensions of my window, but it can be easily changed to fit any window.  As my dad says, “Now we’re cookin’!”

My window dimensions are 31″ tall by 28 15/16″ wide.  Yes, I’m super precise and awesome at math… Neither of those are true.

Supplies:

  • 3- 1″ x 6″ x 6′ boards:  I used the cheap pine for around $3.50 each.  Look through all of the boards at the store to find the straight ones.  I had about 10 laying out across the aisle trying to find the good ones.  Yes, I looked a little crazy, but not as crazy as when I pulled a roll of TP from my purse to measure if a 1″ x 6″ would comfortably hold my TP rolls.  It does.
  • 1 piece of 1/4″ ply for the back the size of your window.
  • Brad nailer with 2″ brad nails.
  • Kreg Jig K4 or Mini Kreg Jig
  • 1 1/4″ Kreg Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Small hinges
  • Stainable wood filler
  • 3/4″ brad nails
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain of choice
  • 2 pieces of scrap measuring the width of your window.  Mine was 28 15/16″ and I used  3/4″ x 2″ x  with 2 1/2″ screws to attach to wall
  • Stud Detector

 

Step 1:

Cut all of the boards to the right sizes.  Here is my cut list:

1″ x 6″

  • 2- 31″
  • 4- 27 1/8″
  • 6- 1″- for the shelf brackets

1/4″ ply cut to- 31″ x 28 15/16″ for the back

Step 2:

I placed the side pieces  onto the window to mark where I would place the shelf brackets.  I wanted them to line up perfectly with the wood between the panes of glass so when the door was closed, the shelves would be covered by the wood of the window.

measuring shelf on window frame

I marked where the top of the bracket should line up.

Piece of wood with pencil marks.

 

Step 3:

Attach the brackets for the shelves using wood glue…

Elmers wood glue on piece of wood

 

Make sure they are level and attach with 2″ brad nails.

brad nailer nailing a board

 

Step 4:

Repeat for other side of window.  Measure the other board on the opposite side of the window instead of using the first finished side.  If the window is even a hair off of square, you’ll be able to see the shelves and they will look crooked.

Step 5:

Make sure your sides are the right direction.  If your window isn’t equal, you need to make sure the sides are right.  For example…  Right and wrong.  You would have some really uneven shelves if you aren’t careful.

shelf brackets right and wrong ways.

 

You want them to be even like this:

shelf brackets lining up

 

Step 6:

Attach the top and bottom.

First, I used a piece of scrap wood to level my top/bottom pieces with the sides.  Then I clamped and brad nailed.

window cabinet watermarks1

Then I realized how heavy my window actually is.  I needed to reinforce this baby a bit.  Using my Mini Kreg Jig, I added pocket holes to the top and bottom into the sides.  This made it super strong.  You should do this with your Kreg Jig before putting together, I just figured it out a bit late, but if you only have a mini, this is a great way.

Using clamped Kreg Mini jig

 

Step 7:

Step 8:

Stain the back.  I know this seems a bit out of sequence, but I knew it would be easier to stain the back while it was off than when it was attached and the shelf brackets were in my way.

Wet the wood with a water soaked rag to get the wood ready to accept the stain.  Necessary when using this kind of cheap wood.  IMHO.

wiping piece of wood with water

 

Now stain.  I used 1 coat of Minwax Provincial.  You can fill in all your nail holes with wood filler now, then wipe off the excess with a wet sock or rag.  This prevents you from having to sand it off later.

 

Stained piece of 1/4" ply

 

Step 9:

Attach the back to your shelf.  If you don’t have a buddy, use a clamp to hold it in place and then us 3/4″ brad nails to nail around the perimeter.

clamped piece of wood with ryobi brad nailer

Step 10:

Stain the rest of your piece.  I allowed it to dry a few hours in my nice airy garage.  Then I gave it a bit of a sanding on the edges and corners so that it matched my worn window.

Ahhh, just like a ripped pair of jeans.

window cabinet watermarks2

Step 11:  

Add your wall bracket.  I initially was going to use a french cleat, but decided against is since the space in my powder room is super small and the shelf is quite heavy.  I just felt more comfortable attaching entire piece directly to the studs.

Using self tapping 1 1/4″ screws, I attached the 1 x 2’s to the top and bottom of my shelf unit.  Not to the back 1/4″ ply, but through it into the 1″ x 6″ pieces.back of shelf unit

Step 12:

If your cabinet is as heavy as mine is, you’ll need a buddy for this step.

Using your stud detector (so many dumb jokes are running through my brain right now.), locate the studs in the wall and mark, measure, level, etc.  Then, pre-drill some holes through the wall into the studs and through your cabinet.  Attach to the wall with 2 1/2″ screws.  I attached mine at 4 points on 2 studs and it is like a rock.

Step 13:

Attach the hinges to your shelf and your window.  If you have a large enough space, you can do this after attaching it to the wall… I was not so lucky and had to do it before, therefore Tyler had to set down his Thor hammer and get lifting.  Remember, it’s all in your back 😉

If you need to, use a magnet closure, but I didn’t need one, my window just behaves itself.  At least something does in this house.

empty window cabinet

 

Old window cabinet

 

Only 2 more project tutorials in my $300 Powder Room Remodel until the big reveal!

Barn Door and Updating a Hollywood Light fixture!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required







2 comments

  • http://blog.toolboxdivas.com/ ToolBox Divas

    I love this! I now want to do something with an old window.

  • http://www.housekaboodle.com Sue Pekarek

    Oh how darling! I pinned to my How-To board and heading over to read about the mirror.