DIY record cabinet flatpack hack

DIY specialist and furniture maker Natasha Dickins from Little Red Industries shows how to customise a flatpack drawer cabinet into accessible storage for record albums. 

Rather than storing my record collection sideways, like books in a shelf, I want to flip through it to see the album covers, which are easier to read than the tiny fonts on the spines. And I love the idea of crate digging my own vinyl!

‘Crate digging’ is the act of flipping through milk crates stacked with vinyl while looking for records in vintage stores and second-hand markets.

To make the cabinet, I chose a flatpack four-drawer Kaboodle cabinet because the melamine pieces are cut accurately and the drawer runners are easy to install in the predrilled holes. 

Using only the second and fourth drawers, meant leftover drawer pieces could be used to make the dividers and a cabinet top strong enough to support a record player.

TIP Rather than include the plywood measurements here, I recommend cutting it as you go by transferring measurements directly from the cabinet.

[VIDEO LINK: https://youtu.be/x_jyIhD_e88 ]

The cabinet is clad in an A-grade red oak plywood that has a lovely grain highlighted by using Monocel Waterbased Clear Wood Varnish, which glides on evenly and smoothly, and dries super fast with a matt finish. 

TIP I did a one-stop shop and bought everything I needed to make this project at my local hardware store.

TOOLS

  • Tape measure and pencil
  • Combination square
  • Drill with driver bit
  • Combination countersinking bit
  • Circular saw with straightedge
  • Quick-grip clamps (at least four each of 300mm and 915mm)
  • Mitre box and handsaw
  • Painter’s tape
  • Caulking gun
  • Hammer

To assemble the flatpack cabinet, I used a drill to attach the base panel to the back using the supplied screws, then added the side panels, leaving off the feet and the support rail at the top. 

To install soft-close drawer runners, I separated them from the guides and secured them along the predrilled holes for the second and fourth drawers.

TIP While most pieces from the flatpack are reused, one drawer base and the top support rail are left over, as well as the feet and some screws.

To create support along the top (and replace the original support rail that would be too low for the drawer to open with records), I cut two spare drawer sides to the same width as the cabinet, predrilling through the tops and into the sides of the cabinet to secure with screws.

TIP Adding these top supports just 18mm higher than the original rail leaves enough space for the records. It also provide a larger surface area to support the plywood cladding.

For the cladding, I measured the sides of the cabinet (hight and width), then cut matching pieces from 7mm plywood with a circular saw.

TIP Measure and cut each plywood piece as you go, using a straightedge clamped to the plywood as a guide for the circular saw.

I applied Liquid Nails construction adhesive around the side of the cabinet and positioned the plywood, clamping and leaving it to dry.

TIP Glue and clamp both sides if you have enough clamps. I did one side at a time, leaving them to dry for about two hours each.

Measure the top and base of the cabinet (width and depth) to cut matching pieces from plywood, checking the measurements take in the attached plywood sides. 

TIP I wanted to keep any offcuts from the red oak plywood to use for another project so I used some standard 7mm-thick plywood for the base, which isn’t visible from the front.

I applied construction adhesive over the top and base of the cabinet, positioned the plywood and held it in place with long clamps.

TIP If you don’t have long clamps like these Irwin 915mm quick-grip heavy-duty bar clamps, secure the top first, leaving to dry before removing the clamps and attaching the base.

To raise the cabinet off the ground I attached two spare drawer sides under the cabinet as the feet, positioning them equally from the front and sides, making sure the white finished edges were facing outwards. 

TIP You could leave the ends raw or paint them white, but I ironed on CustomPine 21mm x 10m melamine edging in white before attaching them.

To dry-fit 18mm-wide flybead moulding around the front of the cabinet to cover the plywood edges, I used a mitre box with a handsaw to cut one end at 45°. I fitted the moulding against the cabinet to mark the opposite corner with a pencil, then cut and taped it before fitting the next piece.

TIP Cut and tape the base piece first, then the sides and the top last. Check they fit neatly, trimming the corners if necessary.

To install the trim, I removed the top piece, ran a bead of construction adhesive along the back and replaced it, adding tape to hold it. Then I attached the sides and base, adding extra tape around the corners and tapping in small 15mm bullet head nails at least 50mm from the ends to avoid splitting.

TIP Wipe away excess adhesive with a damp cloth and avoid getting it on your skin. Leave the trim to dry for about two hours before removing the tape.

To assemble the drawers I positioned the front and back panels against the base, adding the right and left sides, then installed the drawer guides along the predrilled holes. This project only requires two drawers with the remaining drawer parts used as dividers to hold the records upright.

TIP When installing the drawer guides and runners, use all the supplied screws for maximum strength.

On a spare drawer base panel, I used a combination square to mark halfway lengthways, then cut with a circular saw. I slotted the pieces into the back of the drawers to prevent the records from falling out.

TIP You could use a handsaw for the cuts, although I prefer to use a circular saw for cleaner, more accurate cuts. 

To prevent the records from slipping, I added more dividers by slotting the remaining drawer front and back panels into the drawers, spacing them 150mm apart. Then I predrilled into the sides with a countersinking bit and secured with screws.

TIP I picked up an extra packet of white screw caps to cover all the screws in the drawers and any visible holes inside the cabinet.

To make the drawer fronts, I cut the plywood wide and deep enough to just hide the runners while leaving a gap between the trim.

TIP To attach the drawer fronts, apply adhesive around the outside of the drawer face then clamp and leave to dry.

Using 180-grit abrasive paper with a sanding block, I smoothed over the face and along the edges to remove any splinters, being careful not to press too hard on the face of plywood. 

TIP After sanding, wipe all over with a slightly damp cloth to remove the dust. I also vacuumed inside the cabinet and drawers to make sure there was no sawdust to collect in the records.

To apply Monocle Waterbased Clear Wood Varnish in Satin, I stirred then poured it into a tray, loaded a mini microfibre roller and worked from the top down to apply two coats.

TIP Leave the first coat to dry thoroughly for a couple of hours, then lightly wipe over the plywood and trim with a fresh piece of 180-grit paper to remove any grain that rises with the moisture. Wipe away the dust with a clean cloth then apply the second coat and leave to dry for about two hours before moving the cabinet.

Do you have a stack of records like this? If you’re doing woodworking to make vinyl storage, be sure to post on Facebook and Instagram, tagging @bondall.au, @monocel.timbercare and @littleredindustries. We love to see your solutions!