A Basic Guide to Curio Cabinet Making

Cabinet making projects are a source of pride for wood-working enthusiasts because their finished cabinets are unique and functional pieces that can not be found in any furniture store. Curio cabinets with glass shelves and glass panels are perfect for displaying collectibles or trophies.

What You Will Need:

  • Cabinet blueprints
  • Wood stain
  • Screws
  • Hinges
  • Power drill
  • Brackets
  • Wood pieces
  • Eye goggles
  • Cabinet lighting
  • Saw
  • Work gloves
  • Power sander

Step 1 -- Select Cabinet Plans

Plans for different sizes and designs of curio cabinets are available from wood-working supply dealers. These cabinets are typically taller and narrower than other types of cabinets to allow them to be placed in smaller spaces. It is a good idea to measure the width and height of the space where you plan to put your new cabinet; this will help in selecting the blueprints with the correct dimensions.

Step 2 -- Select Glass

You will need to order cut glass panels from a hardware retailer according to the measurements specified in the cabinet plans. For the glass panels in the cabinet sides and doors, you have many options in terms of decoratively cut designs and even stained glass. Pick your favorite that coordinates with the rest of your room decor.

Step 3 -- Cut Wood Pieces and Glass Grooves

According to the cabinet specifications, cut out the correctly-sized wood panels and corner pieces for the cabinet. Create 2 grooves on the sides of the back two wood panels; these will be where the glass is fitted. On the front panels, cut one groove for each glass pane.

Step 4 -- Stain Wood and Add Outer Glass

Use the sander to prep and smooth all your wood pieces; this will ensure an even coating of wood stain. Apply wood stain to your cabinet pieces before installing any glass, and allow it 24 hours to completely dry. Afterwards, attach the glass panels into the grooves of the back and side pieces of wood.

Step 5 -- Add Brackets and Attach Wood Together

Screw in the brackets to the inside of the wood panels where the glass shelves will go, and then screw the top and bottom panels of wood to the corner pieces. Assemble the wood pieces and glass panels for the cabinet doors according to the blueprint instructions. Use 2 hinges on each door to attach them to the front of the cabinet.

Step 6 -- Add Shelves, Lighting, and Final Details

If your curio cabinet comes with legs, attach these to the bottom at this point. Also attach any decorative wood molding if you want to include this. Most of these cabinet specs allow you to add inside display lighting fixtures that do not need to be wired; they simply need to be attached to the inside corners of the cabinet with clamps or brackets and then plugged into a wall outlet. You will need to drill a small hole in the back of the cabinet near the bottom to run the electrical cord out.

Alternately, you can use touch lights or battery operated lights in your cabinet if it is more difficult or impractical to reach an electrical outlet from its location. Carefully place the glass shelves in your cabinets and fit them securely with the brackets. It is a good idea to wear sturdy gloves when handling any types of cut glass panels.