Tuesday, 25 September 2018

How would a tradesmen 

with a bad back and little cash.

Make and install a DIY Alcove Unit 

in ten easy steps?

I was always told "if you want to know the easiest way to do something, just ask the laziest person you know to plan it for you!"

Well I think there is something in that statement.

  1. Yes you guessed it PLANNING. But where to start. So looking at this as a carpenter and joiner I will write this as though I was talking to another tradesmen. So forgive me if I use some terms you are unfamiliar with. But please just msg me and I'll clarify anything you want.
  • First I have to decide if I'm going to be living in the property.
  • Next is my plan to increase the sale price of the property.
  • Do I need to make the alcove unit in keeping with its surroundings.
  • Is it going to be a painted finish or a wooden finish.
  • Do I want it to look DIY or professional. (what's the difference?)
  • Do I want to feel good about this, something to show off.
  • Is there any practical needs for this unit? (hide wires, sockets, vents, pipes skirting).
  • Will I need to make matching units?
  • What materials do I have available near me? (drift wood, B&Q, saw mill, glazers).
  • What facilities do I have, I'll probably plan to use the front room for this project like most of us. Which means I need to consider noise, dust, paint fumes, mess and inconvenience.
     2. The drawing and measurements: The drawing of the area needs all the measurements. Here is the drawing of the area in question, and my sketch of how the unit and shelves will look:

      3. How are you going to put all this together? Good question. This is probably why we visit these sites. We want to know how. Almost like an assembly instruction book! Well in broad strokes we are:
  • going to make the front piece and put a return on it.
  • we are going to make the doors out of the front piece.
  • we are going to make the carcass that holds and internal shelf. 
  • we are then making the floating shelves and unit top.
  • we are cutting the holes for the hinges.
  • we are fitting the supports for the doors/hinges.
  • we are fitting the facade/front piece with its doors and return already fitted to the front of the carcass.

     4. Next is the cutting list: So all this considered I've decided to use MDF and paint it. I have also decided to get B&Q to deliver all the pieces of MDF cut to my specifications. e.g. If you have an alcove 997mm across with a fire breast 300mm deep with the unit to come out into the room 125mm past the face of the fire breast and I've chosen a height of 800mm to the top of the unit. Then my first piece of MDF is 18mm thick and 1002mm across and 750mm high. This is my front. When this arrives I will cut out the doors, being careful to keep the pieces I cut out, because in fact these are going to be my doors.

Like so:


Now of course no one would just order one piece of MDF at a time. So here is the rest of the cutting list as a joiner who is being lazy would do it..I will explain how these all fit together later. All 18mm thick MDF unless specified otherwise.
  • front panel return. (based on the left alcove being fitted out). 750mm *150mm
  • floor and top to the base unit. 902mm*325mm so two of these.
  • both sides of the base unit. 700mm*325mm so two of these.
  • the back to the base unit. 736mm*902mm *6mm
  • the shelf inside. 842mm*250mm (this can be a piece of real wood avoids sagging)
  • the internal supports for the doors. 700mm*50mm*18mm two of these.
And now the discussion will focus on the shelving on top of the unit and the floating shelves above the unit. You'll notice above that I decided to have a 50mm thick top to the unit. I think I'll have that same thickness for the floating shelves above too. Here's the cutting list for 3 floating shelves :
  • the floating shelf top and bottom 1020mm*275mm*12mm six of these.
  • the unit top 1040mm*475mm*12mm two of these.
  • the strips that hold the tops and bottoms together 50mm*18mm*8m these strips also give the shelves and unit top its smooth paintable finish.
     5. The beginning of putting everything together: So cut the doors out of the facade/front piece using a circular saw. This has to be the battery saw, because the battery circular saw does not have a riving knife at the back of the blade. This enables you to plunge the blade straight into the wood from above, but this needs to be right the first time. ( to save you from having to buy more MDF).

I think I will put a short video of this in the link below for everyone to see how this done. There are other methods one can use. I will get to these soon especially if there is interest in me showing how to complete this project from anyone.

Kind regards Mark



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