Storage Cubes

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The storage cube is a beautifully simple form, yet it is perhaps the most versatile of all modular home storage systems. Essentially a wooden box, the cube can hold anything you want it to, and you can build it almost any size you like. You can mount it on a wall, hang it from the ceiling, set it on a desk, or stack it on the floor with a group of other cubes. You can also add to its function with a coat hook or a shelf if it is wall hung.

 

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Continue to Step 1

Overview

The storage cube is a beautifully simple form, yet it is perhaps the most versatile of all modular home storage systems. Essentially a wooden box, the cube can hold anything you want it to, and you can build it almost any size you like. You can mount it on a wall, hang it from the ceiling, set it on a desk, or stack it on the floor with a group of other cubes. You can also add to its function with a coat hook or a shelf if it is wall hung.

Storage cubes are not a new idea, and you can certainly find a range of prefabricated versions made of a few different sizes and materials. But what’s nice about building your own is that you get exactly what you want—in terms of size, shape, color, and add-ons. Maybe you’ll build a series of square cubes for a cool twist on a standard bookcase or display shelving. Or maybe a long, shallow cube to hold spice jars in the kitchen. The following photos suggest a few more ways to customize your cubes.

The instructions here show you the basic construction steps for building a square cube, both with and without a back panel. The material used here is finish-grade plywood. The same building techniques will work for rectangular cubes and for different materials, such as solid 1x lumber or MDF (medium-density fiberboard). Also, if you don’t own a router but you have access to a table saw, the saw will work just as well for cutting rabbets.

What You'll Need

Tools:

Wood gloves
Eye protection
Circular saw
Straightedge guide
Router and straight bits
Clamps
Nail set
Drill
Hammer
Chisel
Sander
Level
Wood glue

Materials:

Finish-grade plywood (1/4", 3/4")
1" finish nails
Keyhole hanger plates
Hollow-wall anchors
Panhead screws
Finishing materials

 

Step 1

Cut cube pieces

Cut the cube pieces to width using a circular saw and edge guide or a table saw. The width equals the depth of the finished cube. Cut two of these pieces to length, equal to the outside dimensions of the cube; these are the side pieces. Cut two more pieces for the top and bottom 1/2" shorter than the outside cube dimensions.


Step 2

Create rabbets (groove cuts) into the side pieces

Mill a 1/2 x 3/4" rabbet into both ends of the side pieces using a router with an edge guide or a router table. Make the cuts in several passes of increasing depth using a straight bit. You can save time by ganging the pieces together and routing each end with one setup.


Step 3

Option: create a back panel

Option: If you want the cube to have a back panel, mill 5⁄16"-wide x 1/4"-deep dado grooves into all four side pieces at least 1/4" from the back edges. Cut the back panel to fit from 1/4" plywood. Slide the panel in place during the side assembly.


Step 4

Assemble cube with wood glue and 1" finish nails

Dry-fit the cube parts to make sure the joints are tight and the cube is square. Assemble the cube with wood glue and 1" finish nails, driving the nails through the side pieces and into the ends of the top and bottom. Drive the nail heads just below the surface with a fine-pointed nail set.


Step 5

Clamp sides of cube, finish as desired

Clamp the sides of the cube as soon as it is assembled, making sure the cube is perfectly square. You can use standard clamps perpendicular to the sides or strap clamps around the perimeter. After the glue has cured, sand and finish the cube as desired.


Step 6

Option: Install keyhole hardware to hang on wall

To wall-mount your cube, use keyhole hanger plates mortised into the rear side edges so the cube hangs flush to the wall. Hold each plate in position and trace along the edges of the keyhole. Mark the top and bottoms of the plate onto the back of the panel for use as cutting lines.


Step 7

Tip for hanging cubes

A paper drilling template makes it easy to get the holes right with keyhole hangers. Align a piece of paper with the top of the cube, then mark the center of each keyhole slot. Hold the paper so it’s level on the wall and tap a nail at each marked point.


Step 8

Additional cube design ideas: mix & match sizes

Mix and match cubes of different shapes and sizes to create unique storage and display units.


Step 9

Additional cube design ideas: Fixed shelf

A fixed shelf adds storage capacity and versatility to larger cubes. Install a shelf during assembly, setting the ends into dadoes cut into the cube’s sides.


Step 10

Additional cube design ideas: large mounted cubes

Large wall-mounted cubes can be a sleek and space-saving alternative to traditional bedside tables and other furniture pieces.


 
 

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