Canadian Woodworking

How many trips to the hardware store is normal?

Blog by Rob Brown
A Few More Tweaks

As some of you remember, I’ve been slowly but surely renovating our basement.

It all started just over a year ago when we gutted about half of it and updated the floors, walls and ceilings. I’ve been picking away at the details by painting, trim, doors and a few other things as my free time allows.

About two weeks ago I started to focus on some storage solutions for the two rooms. A wall-to-wall unit was the plan, but with today’s material prices I was worried about the cost. I decided to take a slightly different approach to this wall unit. Instead of separate cabinets that would be attached together to make a larger unit, I decided to go with panels that would be assembled onsite and forego backs altogether. The wall it was going on needed a few coats of white paint to even out the visual we’d see when we opened the wall unit doors, but that was easy.

In any case, it was going to be a challenge to bring large wall cabinets into the space, which has a narrow hallway and stairwell. Using panels would ensure I could get the parts into the space without any problems.

New territory for me

I’ve built many wall units before, but this bare-bones approach was new to me. It was sort of a proof of concept, as I have a paying customer who wants a few of their closets organized and I’m thinking this sort of approach might work well. Work out the details on my place and live with any slight imperfections, then give the customer an even better finished product.

Machining the panels, adding edge tape to the visible edges, drilling adjustable shelf holes and easing sharp edges didn’t take long. Nor did making some trim pieces for where the unit met the walls, ceiling and floor. I installed the panels that make up the majority of the wall unit, then I measured for doors and drawer fronts. They were cut and finished before being brought home and installed. This is when the “fun” started.

Hinge miscalculation

Before I go on, I should mention that this project mostly went swimmingly. I kept material costs down as much as possible, I didn’t spend what felt like forever making and installing the wall unit and it looks good, or at least it will once I finally finish off the details (hopefully in the very near future).

Having said that, there were some challenges, mainly revolving around the doors and drawer fronts. I bought the European hinges from the local big box store. In hindsight, I should have driven the extra five minutes to my regular hardware supplier, but I didn’t know that at the time. I bought eight pairs of hinges for the eight large upper doors and went home to get to work. About 10 minutes into installing the hinges I realized I forgot the four small doors at the bottom of the unit. I went back to the store right away, as it was also lunchtime and a natural time to break. I quickly grabbed four more pairs of full overlay hinges, went home, ate lunch and got back to work. About 10 minutes later I realized one of the pairs of hinges I bought wasn’t full overlay, but half overlay. I guess it got placed in the wrong bin by someone. Sheesh. Quickly back to the store. That’s three trips to the store if you’re counting.

I returned home and began work again. No more than 10 minutes in I realized I made a really stupid mistake. Half of these doors were on their own gables, but the other half would share a gable, which meant I needed a bunch of half overlay hinges. On top of that, I noticed one of the packages I bought had previously been opened, and it didn’t have the two base plates, rendering the hinges useless. Back to the hardware store. That’s four trips. The problem was they had only four pairs of half overlay hinges. I looked to the sky in disbelief, and then thought I’d check if they had any more in the back. Nope. In fact, although I had four in my hand, when the associate checked inventory I was told there were only two in the store. Obviously, their inventory was off, but they still didn’t have the few more sets I needed.

Finally, the right choice

I then did what I should have done a few hours ago: head to my local hardware supplier. Across town I went. I was greeted by multiple boxes with likely 1,000 pairs of all the different hinge types. The boxes even had the correct types of hinges in them. I grabbed the hinges I needed, added a few extra just in case, and brought them to the checkout desk. When he told me the total I was even pleased at the low price, as they were a fair bit cheaper than the big box store.

Next time I’ll head to my hardware guy first.

Almost there

Unrelated to the hinge situation, I realized I made a mistake when cutting the four drawer fronts to size. I forgot to account for the width of the gable each drawer front section will need to overlap, so there’s a 1-1/2″ gap between the two banks of drawer fronts. Frustrating, but thankfully it wasn’t for a paying client. I can make a filler strip that will fit in place nicely. That didn’t satisfy my partner though, as she isn’t a big fan of the filler strip. I looked at her and told her she gets what she pays for. Maybe an end table or floor plant can cover up the filler strip. Personally, I’d prefer to get the mistakes out of my system in my house, rather than my client’s. Just don’t tell my partner that.

A Few More Tweaks

A couple more doors to hang and few more adjustments to the hinges and I’m done. Well, that’s not quite the case, as there’s still handles, the make-shift filler strip, and caulking the gaps between the wall unit and the floor and ceiling.

A Few More Tweaks

Finally, the Correct Hinges

The hinges I bought from my regular supplier were all the correct type. Hinge purchasing can get confusing, so always check you’re buying what you think you are.

Finally, the Correct Hinges

Almost There

The doors and drawer fronts are all hung and adjusted. Now it’s time to wrap up the final details.

Last modified: September 21, 2023

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches


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  2. Your article made me chuckle. Haven’t we all done that? I like our local hardware store too. They have store clerks who are really helpful. I often have to search for a clerk in the big box stores.

  3. Looks very nice. That 1 1/2 ” space does stand out so maybe you should just bite the bullet, buy some more material and re cut the pieces. JMO For hardware, check Amazon. Not only are they a lot of the time cheaper but all that driving time could have been working time instead. Big box store I find are more and more going down hill. Went to my local HD looking for a sheet of 1/4 ” oak plywood and guess what – they do not carry it any more! smaller pieces at nose bleed prices – yes, full sheet – no! Needless to say, I went elsewhere.

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