Room Divider - Part 1 of 3

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A room divider, like a partition wall, separates one large room into two usable spaces, each with its own specific function. But unlike a partition wall, a room divider adds storage space to your home, while letting you retain the open feeling of a larger room.

 

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Time to Complete:
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Continue to Step 1

Overview

A room divider, like a partition wall, separates one large room into two usable spaces, each with its own specific function. But unlike a partition wall, a room divider adds storage space to your home, while letting you retain the open feeling of a larger room.
Room dividers commonly are used to separate a large kitchen/dining area into two different “rooms.” Adding a pass-through and overhanging countertop, as in the project shown here, creates a casual dining area.
In the design featured here, the room divider is built in two main sections: the base cabinet with countertop, and the upper shelf unit. The two sections are joined by a floor-to-ceiling plywood framework to create one attractive built-in.
A room divider lends itself to personal touches, like mounting a wine rack and stemware racks on the underside of the shelf unit to make a convenient dry bar.
The overhanging countertop gives this room divider an added dimension as a convenient dining surface located near the food preparation area of the kitchen. The cabinets on the kitchen side of the room divider also provide accessible storage space for pots, pans, and kitchenware. The open shelves in the upper half of the room divider are ideal for displaying glassware or collectibles.
We designed this room divider with a built-up plywood countertop that has a polyurethane varnish finish. This is an economical and perfectly appropriate solution. But if you’re looking to spice up the design a bit, consider replacing the countertop with a higher-end countertop material, such as granite or solid-surfacing. You’ll be amazed at how much difference a few well-chosen design highlights can make in the overall appearance of the project.
From: Complete Guide to Custom Shelves & Built-Ins, 978-1-58923-303-4

What You'll Need

Tools:

Stepladder
Pencil
Level
Tape measure
Plumb bob
Framing square
Router with 3/4" straight bit
Circular saw or table saw
Handscrew clamps
Bar clamps
Drill/driver and bits
Screwdriver
Hammer
Nail set
Putty knife

Materials:

Wood glue
Finish nails (1", 1/4", 2")
Screws (1", 1 1/4", 2", 2 1/2", 3")
Shims
3/4" hardwood strips
Countertop trim
Shelf-edge trim
Pin-style shelf supports
Finishing materials
Door hardware
5) 2 x 4" x 8 ft. pine
5) 1 x 4" x 8 ft. oak
4) 1 x 2" x 8 ft. oak
1) 1/4 x 4 ft. x 8 ft. oak plywood
4) 3/4 x 4 ft. x 8 ft. oak plywood

Cutting List
Part
No.
Desc.
Size
Material

A
4
Top and sole plates
71 1⁄4"
2 x 4

B
4
Sole plate cross braces
15"
2 x 4

C
1
Outer end panel
95 1⁄2" x 15"
3⁄4" oak plywood

D
1
Inner end panel
91" x 15"
3⁄4" oak plywood

E
3
Base panels
22" x 14 3⁄4"
3⁄4" oak plywood

F
3
Cabinet shelves
21 3⁄4" x 14 3⁄4"
3⁄4" oak plywood

G
6
Cabinet risers
30" x 14 3⁄4"
3⁄4" oak plywood

H
1
Cabinet back panel
32" x 70"
1⁄4" oak plywood

I
2
Countertop panels
70 1⁄2" x 24"
3⁄4" oak plywood

J
2
Shelf unit supports
33" x 15"
3⁄4" oak plywood

K
2
Top, bottom shelf panels
70 1⁄2" x 15"
3⁄4" oak plywood

L
1
Center shelf panel
69 3⁄4" x 15"
3⁄4" oak plywood

M
2
Shelf unit sides
25 1⁄2" x 15"
3⁄4" oak plywood

N
5
Shelf unit risers
12 1⁄2" x 15"
3⁄4" oak plywood

O

Face frame rails
33 linear ft.
1 x 4 oak

P

Face frame stiles
26 linear ft.
1 x 2 oak

Q

Face frame stiles
12 linear ft.
1 x 3 oak

 

Step 1

Room Divider Project Details - Tip 1

Cabinet risers, cut from 3/4" plywood, have holes for pin-style shelf supports drilled at 4" intervals, 2" in from edges of each riser face. Holes start 9" from top and bottom.


Step 2

Room Divider Project Details - Tip 2

Shelf-unit panels, cut from 3/4" plywood, have 3/4"-wide by 3/8"-deep dadoes to hold the shelf risers. The center shelf panel is dadoed on both the top and the bottom faces, and the top and bottom shelf panels are dadoed on one face only.


Step 3

How to Build a Room Divider - Step 1

Mark the location for the top plates on the ceiling, using a framing square to ensure that lines are perpendicular to the wall. Locate wall studs and ceiling joists in the project area, and install blocking if necessary.


Step 4

How to Build a Room Divider - Step 2

Cut two 2 x 4 top plates and position them against the ceiling, with the outside edges flush against the reference lines. Check to see if plates are level, and install shims if needed. Anchor plates to ceiling joists or blocking, using 3" screws.


Step 5

How to Build a Room Divider - Step 3

Cut two 2x× 4 sole plates, and align them directly under the top plates, using a plumb bob as a guide. Check to see if plates are level, shim if needed, then anchor the sole plates to the floor, using 3" screws.


Step 6

How to Build a Room Divider - Step 4

Cut and attach 2 x 4 cross braces across the sole plates, using 2 1/2" screws. Position the cross braces at the ends of the sole plates, and below the planned cabinet riser locations.


Step 7

How to Build a Room Divider - Step 5

Measure and cut the outer end panel 1/2" shorter than the floor-to-ceiling height to allow for adjustments. Align end panel with the edges of the 2 x 4 plates, then attach it to the top and sole plates, using 2 1/2" screws driven into counterbored pilot holes.


Step 8

How to Build a Room Divider - Step 6

Measure and cut the inner end panel 1/2" shorter than the distance between the top plate and sole plate cross braces, and slide it in place. Align the panel with the edges of the top plate and sole plate cross braces, then attach it to the wall with 2 1/2" screws driven into wall studs or blocking.


Step 9

How to Build a Room Divider - Step 7

Measure and cut plywood cabinet risers with holes for shelf supports (see Room Divider Project Details). Risers should be 1/4" narrower than end panels, and 1 1/2" shorter than the distance from sole plate cross braces to planned countertop height. Attach a riser to each end panel, flush with the front edge, by driving 1 1/4" screws through counterbored pilot holes.


Step 10

How to Build a Room Divider - Step 8

Measure and cut plywood base panels the same width as the risers. Lay one base panel across the sole plate cross braces, butted against the riser at the inner end panel, with the 1/4" recess at the back side (inset). Attach the base panel, using 2" finish nails.


 
 

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