Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Building A Multipurpose Key Cabinet: Mudroom Project Final Touch

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief


Tags: DIY, mudroom, farms,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.Last Saturday I finished building a multipurpose key cabinet as an almost final touch in my ongoing mudroom project. I designed the multipurpose key cabinet to cover a pair of ancient washing machine water spigots protruding through the wall (yes, I know I should have removed them and capped the feed lines but...), provide a place to hang equipment and vehicle keys and provide small shelves for items like matches, utility knives, multi-tools and human headlamps that all get used outside and so often misplaced. As with the pantry cabinet, I built the multipurpose key cabinet using readily available dimensional lumber -- but this time the lumber was all in the form of scraps from the pantry cabinet project.

Multipurpose mudroom key cabinet 

After a bit of measuring and figuring, I decided that the cabinet needed to be about 4.25-inches deep on the inside to fully enclose the spigots and my Partner In Culinary Crime (PICC) thought that the cabinet ought to be 16 inches wide and 32 inches tall. I went out to look over the scrap pile and those dimensions were easy to find material for and would leave sufficient additional scraps to build some other fun things. For the top, bottom and two sides, I ripped 4.25-inch wide boards from the cut-off end portions of the pantry's shelves, which were made with 2 by 10 number 3 grade pine. As luck would have it, I was able to rip all the 4.25-inch wide stuff I needed from knot-free portions of the scraps. As before, I simply screwed the pieces together to form a rectangle and squared it up by measuring corner to corner, clamping it to my portable workbench and installing 1 by 3 nailers to the inside top and bottom -- drywall screws to the rescue again.

Since we didn't want the plaster exposed inside the key cabinet, except around the spigots, I cut two lengths of 1 by 10 material from a clear number 1 pine scrap and installed them as before. Next, I cut two shelves from 1 by three scraps and installed them, leaving plenty of room for the keys to dangle. After this, I mounted the cabinet to the wall, screwing it fast to the studs and plaster lath using 2.5-inch deck screws. My PICC held the cabinet in place while I screwed the top-left corner of the upper nailer to the wall. We then used a level to level the cabinet and set the other three screws. Multipurpose key cabinet front view.  

The next task for me was to build a single door -- the process went like this.

1. Build a frame to fit inside the cabinet with about 0.25 inch of clearance all the way around. I used 1 by 3 material ripped in half and drywall screws to assemble the frame.

2. Once squared up, I attached tongue and groove pine bead board to the frame using very short finishing nails. The top, bottom and outside frame members were overlapped with the bead board by about 0.25 inch.

3. Build the outer door frame using 1 by 3 pine -- cut rebates with the table saw to accommodate the overlap with the bead board. The outer frame members were attached to the inner frame from the back and to each other with glue.

4. Cut reliefs for the hinges and install them.

5. Install door on the cabinet.

My PICC thought we had enough darkness in the mudroom already -- floors, rustic walnut bench, pantry cabinet -- so she decided to paint the multipurpose key cabinet a sage green that matches one element of the adjacent kitchen floor and that she plans to use on the kitchen island I build one day.

As I stood back admiring the cabinet, my PICC lamented that the rows of muddy boots and other boots and shoes in the trays by the door looked kind of cluttered. I had to agree. So even though this was the last planned mudroom project, I think we will try to come up with a boot cabinet of sorts that can house the clean dry boots and at least camouflage the muddy and wet ones. Stay tuned.


Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

nebraska dave
1/31/2011 12:46:38 PM

@Hank, good job. You are really putting these winter months to good use and made from recycled scraps. I'm impressed. I envy those that have a big workshop to store such things. My 8'X8' garden shed just don't have room to store too much other than garden tools and lawn equipment. Have a great project day.