Hide that Clutter


Hide that Clutter
There’ll be no more shoes to trip over with James Hatter’s hall tidy unit

There’ll be no more shoes to trip over with James Hatter’s hall tidy unit

Keeping the hallway free of clutter not only makes it look more attractive and welcoming, but also reduces the associated hazards. Many homes have narrow halls that restrict the size of any storage facility, but this project describes a hall tidy only 668mm wide, 718mm high and 238mm deep. These small dimensions do lead to some compromises, so larger shoe size users would benefit from increasing the size of the unit if possible. It has three small drawers, and shoes can be stored on shelves that slope down by 45˚.
Water-resistant MDF is used for the carcass, shelves and drawer fronts. The sides and drawer fronts have a tongue-and-grooved (T&G) effect for interest. The visible MDF is finished with a water-based white satin topcoat, and oak trim is added to give contrast. The shelves and back panel have an added coat of satin floor varnish to give a more resilient surface that can be wiped clean. All inside surfaces have the finish applied prior to assembly and the components are joined together using a mixture of biscuits, screws and adhesive.

Cutting List
From 18mm MDF:
Side panels, 2 off – 652 x 225mm
Top panel, 1 off – 650 x 230mm
Intermediate & bottom panel, 2 off – 614 x 199mm
Drawer partition, 2 off – 126 x 199mm
Shelf strips, 4 off – 614 x 110mm
Shelf spacers, 8 off – 90 x 40mm
Drawer front parts, 3 off – 191 x 80mm
Drawer front parts, 6 off – 191 x 22mm
From 9mm MDF:
Drawer sides, 6 off – 172 x 122mm
Drawer backs, 3 off – 173 x 100mm
From 6mm MDF:
Back panel, 1 off – 662 x 632mm
From 3mm MDF or hardboard:
Drawer bottoms, 3 off – 185 x 180mm
From 18mm oak:
Bottom retaining rail, 1 off – 575 x 18mm
Feet, 6 off – 60 x 30mm
From 15mm oak:
Top decorative rail, 1 off – 615 x 18mm
From 12mm oak:
Rail spacers, 2 off – 80 x 18mm
From 8mm oak:
Front edge strips, 2 off – 668 x 18mm 

The side panels are each 225 x 652mm, the top panel is 230 x 650mm, and the intermediate and bottom panels are 199 x 614mm, all from 18mm MDF. To accommodate the back panel and allow for the skirting cutout, a 10 x 26mm rebate is required along the back inside edge of the side and top panels. This can be achieved using a 12mm straight cutter in a table-mounted router, with the height of the cutter adjusted to 26mm and the fence adjusted to progressively cut the 10mm depth. Some standard grades of MDF can be counterbore to fill later. The back panel is 662 x 632mm using 6mm MDF. Test fit the joints. The side panels are given a T&G effect by using a V-bit in a router, and running the router along a straight guide at regular intervals.

A T&G effect is achieved by use of a ‘V’ bit in the router

Drawer-front construction

Two shelves are included, each being made by joining two strips together via spacers. For each shelf cut two 110 x 614mm strips of 18mm MDF, and four 90 x 40mm spacers. The spacers use size 20 biscuits to join to the two long strips and thus create the shelves. Cut the components to size and mark the positions for the spacers and for the biscuits, then cut matching size 20 biscuit slots, and dry fit to check alignment. Put a slight chamfer on the joining edges and assemble each shelf using the biscuits and adhesive. Check that the assembly is square, then cramp until set. The front edge of each shelf will require two 45˚ bevels forming a point; these can be cut by tilting the saw blade on a table saw to 45˚, then running the shelf edge along. The back edges are chamfered.
The shelves are joined to the side panels using size 20 biscuits. Mark the shelf positions on the inside of the side panels and, using the shelf edge as a guide, cut matching biscuit slots.

The shelves are biscuited together

Carcass sides are set out with care…

… and slotted for biscuit jointing

Join the two drawer partitions to the intermediate panel using 4 x 35mm screws and adhesive, and cover the screwheads with filler. Before further assembly, smooth over any sharp edges then seal and paint all the inside surfaces. I used all water-based products and, because MDF is best sealed first, I applied Rustins quick-drying MDF sealer. Mask the joint areas with tape, and then apply two coats of white primer and undercoat, followed by two top coats of brilliant white satin paint. A small roller will assist application. The shelves, back panel and top surface of the bottom panel have an added coat of clear acrylic floor varnish. Remove the masking tape from the joint areas, then join one end of the intermediate and bottom panels to a side panel using size 20 biscuits and adhesive. Close the joint with a 4 x 35mm screw at each joint. Join one end of each shelf to the same side panel with size 20 biscuits and adhesive.

A dry assembly enables the drawer-fronts to be fitted

Next, join the other side panel, then attach the top panel to the sides and drawer partitions using size 20 biscuits and adhesive, making sure that the shelf front edges are flush with the front of the side panels.
Apply cramps to close the joints. Fix the back panel using 3 x 16mm screws, or panel pins if preferred, ensuring that the unit is square. Fill the screw counterbores and apply the same finish to the outside surfaces.

Three equal-sized drawers are included, and the fronts are made more decorative by selectively applying a T&G effect. Check the dimensions of your drawer openings, and if necessary adjust the sizes of the drawers to fit.
Each drawer front is 124mm high and 191mm wide. First, cut a piece of 18mm MDF 191mm wide and 260mm for the drawer front centre parts. The T&G effect is applied to this piece using a V-bit in a router, with the grooves running along the length of the blank. Cut three 80mm pieces from the blank, then cut 22mm wide x 191mm strips of 18mm MDF; two are required for each drawer. Glue a strip to the top and bottom of each drawer centre. For emphasis and to achieve the T&G effect, slightly chamfer the edges where the strips and the drawer piece join. The drawer sides are each 172 x 122mm, and the backs are 173 x 100mm using 9mm MDF. The drawer bottoms are 185 x 180mm using 3mm MDF or hardboard. Cut the components to size and cut a 3 x 4mm groove in the sides and the rear of the drawer fronts to take the edges of the drawer bottom. Have the bottom edge of the groove 10mm from the bottom of the drawer side and 1mm less in the drawer front to give a 1mm gap at the drawer bottom when the drawer is closed. The drawer front is joined to the front of the sides using size 10 biscuits; cut matching slots.
To assemble each drawer, slot the drawer bottom into the sides, and join the sides to the back using 20mm pins and adhesive. Stand the drawer on its back, and join the front using size 10 biscuits and adhesive. Check that the drawer is square, and then pin the drawer bottom to the back. The drawer fronts are finished in the same way as the carcass. Each drawer is held flush with the front by two 25 x 18 x 6mm drawer stops screwed 18mm from the front. Use a scrap of 18mm MDF to act as a temporary spacer.

The drawers are a simple box construction with the fronts biscuited on

The drawer bottom slides into grooves and is pinned in place to add further rigidity to the drawer box

The vertical drawer partitions are simply glued and screwed in place

With the top of the unit not present, the drawers can be positioned carefully

The drawer stops are fixed at this point while good access is available

The unit is mounted on four oak feet made from 18 x 30 x 60mm blanks tapered down to 50mm. The front ones are made from two of these with a 45˚ mitre, whereas the rear ones use one. For safety it is best to cut the required angles for the components individually, from a length of 18 x 30mm oak. The feet are attached to the bottom of the unit using size 0 biscuits and adhesive. Cut matching biscuit slots to the front and the rear. The front and side slots slightly interfere with each other so you will need to cut the biscuits to fit.

All components are painted before the final assembly, and masking tape used to ensure the mating surfaces will take the glue efficiently

The oak feet of the unit are mitred and biscuited into place

Positioning the oak retaining rail

Oak trim surrounds the top and bottom panels. Prepare 9 x 18mm oak strips, and cut to size with mitres at the corner joins. Attach to the panel edges using 20mm brass pins and adhesive.
An oak rail is attached to the rear of the top panel with screws from below, and a retaining rail is attached towards the front of the bottom panel. The retaining rail has two oak spacers and is attached via screws through the bottom panel.
Varnish both rails before attaching, and varnish the oak edges and feet with acrylic matt varnish. Attach a knob to each drawer front, and a larger one on the side if you want somewhere to hang a bag or umbrella. With new storage your hall will once again be a place of calm.

Nearly there now, and the oak trim is affixed top…

… and bottom

Decisions, decisions … knobs…or handles? An additional knob will provide hanging space for bags and brollies

Decisions, decisions … knobs…or handles? An additional knob will provide hanging space for bags and brollies

Decisions, decisions … knobs…or handles? An additional knob will provide hanging space for bags and brollies

Decisions, decisions … knobs…or handles? An additional knob will provide hanging space for bags and brollies

The finished unit, bringing order to the hall



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