My brother and sister-in-law own a photography studio and they print all of their portraits in house. I was asked to make a cabinet to hold the prints that are ready for pick-up. We decided on a traditional-looking map cabinet, but have more shelves than drawers. Here’s how to make a map cabinet.

  1. Assemble the Case
  2. Mark out the Shelves/Drawer Locations
  3. Assemble/Mount the Drawers
  4. Paint the Map Cabinet
  5. Mount the Shelves
  6. Attach the Backing
How to Make a Map Cabinet - I Like to Make Stuff

How to Make a Map Cabinet – I Like to Make Stuff

1. Assemble the Case

I created a Fusion 360 model of the map cabinet so that my brother and sister-in-law could approve the design. The model provided dimensions to cut and assemble the map cabinet case. I built the side supports by cutting down a 1×4 pine board and assembling the rectangular side frames using my pocket hole jig. Then I used my router and a rabbeting bit to create a slot for the thinner plywood side panel. These side frames were attached to the plywood bottom, again, using pocket screws. The plywood top extends out over the front and sides but not the back. This cabinet will sit against the wall, so a decorative overhang on that side of the map cabinet was unnecessary. The top was also attached to the sides and the case to the 1×4 base with,you guessed it, pocket holes.

How to Make a Map Cabinet - Assemble the Case

How to Make a Map Cabinet – Assemble the Case

 2. Mark out the Shelf/Drawer Locations

My sister-in-law wanted more shelves than drawers to hold her large frame portraits, but I designed the map cabinet so that the drawer height and the shelf spacing were the same. The even spacing allows anyone who uses my plans to mix and match shelves and drawers as they see fit. This map cabinet in particular, had two bottom drawers and 6 evenly-spaced shelves. I marked the locations of each element on the side frame and attached the drawer slides for the two lower drawers.

How to Make a Map Cabinet - Mark Drawer/Shelf Locations

How to Make a Map Cabinet – Mark Drawer/Shelf Locations

3. Assemble/Mount the Drawers

The drawers were made out of 3/4 inch plywood and assembled them using but joints and pocket screws. I attached the slides to the new drawer boxes and slid them into the map cabinet. Two drawer faces were made from more 1×4 pine and spaced far enough apart that the drawer fronts would have an 1/8 inch gap between them. The hardware used on this map cabinet had to be slightly tined to match some card-catalogue style label holders which had a bronze finish. Josh used a weathering method combining gold, green, and black spray paint on the nickel handles to match the other bronze accents. Mounting holes for the handles were drilled using Kreg’s Cabinet Hardware Jig, which made the process of making consistent and centered handles really easy.

How to Make a Map Cabinet - Assemble/Mount the Drawers

How to Make a Map Cabinet – Assemble/Mount the Drawers

4. Paint the Map Cabinet

My brother and sister-in-law had a paint color already in mind to match their studio, so painting was pretty simple. Josh and I used some small rollers to apply 2 coats of the dark blue eggshell paint. I chose this type of paint because it isn’t terribly durable. They wanted it to look a bit worn, so naturally over time it will get dinged and the paint will scuff. Once they are happy with the level of distress, they will apply a clear coat to lock in the look.

How to Make a Map Cabinet - Paint the Map Cabinet

How to Make a Map Cabinet – Paint the Map Cabinet

5. Mount the Shelves

The shelves were relatively easy do make. I cut some 3/4 inch plywood making sure to leave enough room for a 3/4 inch band of pine on the front edge. Rather than making the shelves adjustable like on my Simple Bookcase, I secured them in place using pocket screws. If you wanted didn’t want dedicated spacing between the shelves, then you could totally use a shelf pinning jig to make the spacing adjustable. It is important to note that I did paint the shelves before mounting them in the map cabinet. The thinner gaps between the shelves would make it a nightmare to paint afterward.

How to Make a Map Cabinet - Mount the Shelves

How to Make a Map Cabinet – Mount the Shelves

6. Attach the Backing

To cover the back of the map cabinet, I used a sheet of 1/8 inch thick luan plywood. I cut this piece to fit over the back, making sure to overlap the sides, bottom, and top by just a little bit. Small brad nails were used to secure the back in place, but small staples would also work. We also painted the luan sheet before attaching it to the map cabinet.

How to Make a Map Cabinet - Mount the Backing

How to Make a Map Cabinet – Mount the Backing

And that’s How to Make a Map Cabinet!

I really hope you liked this project, I know my brother and sister-in-law are really excited to have a new addition to their photography studio and it looks amazing in the space. It is a simple project that really adds some dimension to an interior design and can give your space a unique look. If you liked this woodworking project, you’ll love some more of my projects!

How to Make a Map Cabinet - I Like to Make Stuff

How to Make a Map Cabinet – I Like to Make Stuff