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Pantry Panels

October 2, 2011

Over the last month I’ve been working on a time-consuming project finishing off the shower in the bathroom. It also involves a wavy piece of glass that we salvaged from Demo House #1 (same place we got our kitchen cabinets) and installing custom trim pieces of solid surface (think Corian) around the stone tiles. The project has been taking a long time because it involves a lot of precise cutting, sequencing and overlaps, and glue drying. That may not make a lot of sense – but it will when I finally finish it and post it – hopefully in a couple weeks. So while basically waiting for glue to dry today, I thought I could fit in another quick project.

Our “pantry” cabinets are actually salvaged wall cabinets, intended to be placed over a kitchen counter, now stacked on top of each and bolted to the wall. When they were first installed, you could really see the individual cabinets. (see this pic).  After they were painted, it was less obvious, but there were still holes and seams visible from the sides, especially standing right in front of them. (Keep clicking the next photo to see what I’m talking about.)

Pantry cabinets with painted sides

We decided even back before they were painted how we were going to finish the sides; we would attach flat steel panels with a clear spray coating. I even meant to tell the painter that he didn’t need to paint the sides, but I forgot.

It was sometime back in February or so that I went to Shapiro’s – an awesome place to go if you need just about any kind of metal – they are part salvage yard and part metal supplier and part fabricator.  I bought a full sheet of 12 gauge steel, and gave them dimensions of the panels I wanted. They used a gigantic shear machine to chop them up – made it look so easy.

The panels have been stacked up in the dock since then – they’ve grown a few little rusty spots and have miscellaneous scratches, but no big deal, we want them to look kindof raw and handled.

First step was to pull them out and clean them up – they had a light coating of oily stuff from the factory.

Steel panels getting cleaned

Next step was to check their measurements and their fit. The longest piece was perfect – 89-5/8″ long, and the short one was right on, but for some reason the middle size was about 1/4″ too long. Not sure why – but it’s been so many months since I got them I can’t recall what I told the guy at the shear machine.

So I had to shorten it – and unfortunately I no longer have the metal chop saw I borrowed for construction. I only had the one cut to make so I figured I could just do it freehand style with a metal cutoff disc in an angle grinder.

Red line shows what I need to cut off


Almost through...

The next step was drilling holes for the screws. I located at least half of the screws so that they would occur at interstitial space between cabinets and not be visible on the inside. I marked out their locations on tape strips, and used a center punch at the mark to make a small circular dent to keep the drill bit on target.

Holes are just a hair bigger than screw threads

Even though I had wood blocks on the backside of the steel when I drilled, there were still burrs around the holes – and I didn’t want them to keep the panel from laying flat so I flipped each panel over and used the angle grinder again but fitted with a grinding wheel instead of a cutoff disc. Just a quick touch over each hole removed all the burrs.

Next – go over the panels on their outside faces with steel wool. I tested some Grade 00 – and it seemed a little too fine; I wanted SOME texture and lines so I switched to Grade 1. I kept the direction of my strokes even with the long sides of the panel.

Slightly textured panels after steel wool

I cleaned up the work surfaces, got out some large cardboard sheet and set up some blocks to hold the panels off the cardboard – all ready for clear spray now.

Steel now clear coated

I’d need some help from Sue to install these, and she was out, so the drying time and waiting-for-Sue time combined made it perfect for break time, to rest my feet and grab a snack.

The installation was fairly easy – the biggest hiccup was one of my drill batteries dying and I had to rig up a corded drill. Luckily I didn’t puncture any boxes or drill into any cans on the inside of the pantry.

The new side panels are somewhat reflective

The seldom-shown north side of the pantry

Close-up of top of long panel

Close-up of bottom part of panel

It’s a bit hard to see the difference of before & after in the photos. I think the most impact the side panels have is that the pantry now looks like a single storage unit as opposed to three cabinets stacked.

Next: Stay tuned for the upcoming post on the solid surface, wavy glass, shower completion.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. rick permalink
    October 3, 2011 4:28 pm

    Nice job Tom !!! They look awesome.
    If i ever need a sheet metal guy, I’m going to call you.
    you can’t even tell they are separate cabinets.

    • Tom permalink
      October 3, 2011 4:32 pm

      Thanks Rick!
      Though I’ll probably sub-contract out work if I can… 🙂

  2. Tim permalink
    October 3, 2011 3:48 pm

    Great job. Nice finished look.
    What kind of clear coat did you use?

    • Tom permalink*
      October 3, 2011 3:55 pm

      Thanks Tim – it was just your everyday run-of-the-mill Krylon clear enamel that you can get at Lowes & Home Depot…

  3. Darcy permalink
    October 3, 2011 8:47 am

    Wow – that looks great, Tom! I really like the contrast between the cabinet color and the clear coated steel.

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