Canadian Woodworking

Corner cabinet

Author: Jim Shaver
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: December January 2005

Customize this cabinet to house your smart TV, stereo system or your favourite collectibles.



My design for this cabinet was supported by the requirements that it serve several needs: create a comfortable viewing height for a conventional 27″ TV; have an attractive open upper cabinet; and contain space for a variety of electronic components. The lower case was designed to support 4 electronic components along with storage space for VCR tapes and CD/DVDs.

The basic concept of any corner cabinet is to fit into a space that offers convenience of footprint but optimizes available functionality. In my design, I was also looking for the combination of wonderful wood tones and elements to enrich the look of the finished cabinet. The woods I selected were cherry and maple.

My construction materials were a combination of sheet stock, hard woods, and mouldings. The basic casework was made of birch and cherry plywood: the face frame, the doors, the base, and mouldings were made of solid cherry; the base also incorporated poplar as a secondary structural wood; while the cabinet boxes were made of hard maple.

I used 3/4″ cherry veneer plywood to make the side flank panels for the upper and lower cabinet. I used solid cherry for the rails and stiles of the face frame.

Once I had the cases assembled I attached the mouldings. Around the waist at the top of the lower case I attached a 2 7/8″ wide cherry chair rail moulding. To mate with it, I made a base moulding for the upper case using an ogee router bit.

For attaching the crown moulding I used a groove and spline technique. I cut a 1/4″ groove in the face frame of the upper cabinet and also a corresponding one in the crown moulding. I then used a spline and mated the crown to the case with glue and attached support blocks behind the crown to the case, with glue only. For a bit of a column look I took some cherry and maple bead moulings and applied them to the sides of the upper and lower cabinets. I made maple crowns using cove moulding and hand cut the return angles.

Shelves were added to the base cabinet; cleats were attached to the inside walls of the lower case, and birch plywood shelves were cut to fit. The edges were banded with a veneer of 1/4″ cherry.

Sides and crown moulding

Chair rail moulding

Cabinet base


Some key design elements in the cabinet design had to be addressed and contained within a height and width that looked visually appealing. I measured some commercial examples I saw in a variety of furniture stores, and came to my dimensions using them as a baseline, but not using those as iron clad rules for sizing. Overall the cabinet stands 80″ tall and is 26″ deep along its wall side, while the full wall length to the corner is 33 3/4″.

My casework sides, backs, top, and bottom components were made from birch ply. These panels will mostly be facing the wall, so I saved on cherry for the face and exposed outside flank panels.

The triangular top and bottom were critical in defining the over all cabinet design; these parts defined the other case dimensions. To ensure that the 4 pieces were identical, I cut rectangular panels and established a centre datum point on each board as a reference. From that point I then laid out the drawing lines on each panel for the final triangular shape. I then rough cut them on the band saw, and using the datum point as an index, I paired the panels for a top cabinet pair and a bottom cabinet pair. I then made an angle-sliding jig to cut the 45º angles. I used this sled and double-sided tape on the pieces to ensure exact copies of all dimensions.

The casework was constructed with an angled 45º dado near the rear of the side panels for the back panel to slide in. The tops and bottoms of the back and side panels were also dado-cut to accept the top and bottom triangular panels, glued and fixed with 1 1/2″ nails all around.

The upper case and lower case were assembled using the same process, the only difference being the obvious case height difference and the top panel configuration. The top panel on the lower case is flush to the top of the side panels, while on the upper case the top panel is dadoed in at 3 1/2″ below the top of the full height of the side panels, this was done to accept the crown moulding and also to give an interior space that did not look cavernous.

I established a TV viewing height at just over 40″. To complete this design feature I built two boxes for the upper cabinet, one to support the TV and allow a space underneath it for electronic components, and one hung above the TV to allow for a similar function. Both media boxes were made from solid hard maple and through dovetailed together. The lower box is free standing while the upper box is attached to the cabinet using 1/4-20 Quick-Connect Hardware.


The cabinet design required double paneled doors only for the base cabinet. This look added nice shadow details to the base but also would allow for expansion to upper bifold doors should a change of heart in future years require that doors be added to the top portion of the cabinet. I made the doors using solid cherry: 7/8″ rails and stiles with 5/8″ panels. I like the feel of the heavier door and the look is great in this case, adding some visual depth between the doors and the face frame. The hinges are full insert mortise-less hinges; the door pulls were matching, from the same source.


The base is a combination of 1 1/2″ solid cherry and poplar, with 3/4″ plywood gussets at the corners offering support to the cabinets and a zone to use assembly hardware to pull it all together. The 22 1/2º front corners were assembled using double #20 biscuits and glue. The poplar sides were also attached to the cherry face pieces using #20 biscuits and glue, and the back poplar support was dadoed and glued. The opening in the cherry base was based on a 2″ diameter corner (traced from a paint can). The lower case was attached to the base using 1/4-20 Quick-Connect hardware. Once that was done, I applied the 3/4″ cove moulding to the base to complete the lower assembly.


The case comes apart in three pieces; the base, the lower cabinet, and the upper cabinet. These are all assembled to each other using 1/4-20 Quick-Connect hardware. I drilled 5 holes in the back of the cabinet with a 2″ hole cutter to fit in wire grommets to allow for all wiring to run up and down the back of the cabinet but out of sight, cleaning up the look. I attached a power bar to the outside of the back panel near the base so that all components could be powered from a single point to a wall outlet. As well, I cut in two ventilation grills for the lower cabinet to help with heat relief from the electronics.

To add some feature lighting to the cabinet I installed a rope light on top of the cabinet. With the space between the top of the case and the ceiling being dark, this soft secondary indirect lighting is very pleasing on the look of the finished piece.


The TV case interior walls were finished with two coats of an antique white milk paint. I selected a light colour in this application, as I believe it lightens up the dark spaces in the cabinet and softens the look of the electronics in the cabinet.

My chosen finish was 3 coats of a hand wiped danish oil, followed by 3 coats of wipe-on poly. Each wipe-on poly coat was rubbed out with 0000 steel wool after it was dry and a final furniture wax was applied to complete the look. The final look and feel of this corner cabinet is very satisfying to see. I know that it is treasured by it’s new owner, who is a woodturner and, as a cabinetmaker, that is a wonderful reward.

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