How To Make and Install a Medicine Cabinet

How To Make and Install a Medicine CabinetI am always looking for ways to create more storage or to better organize my house. Lately, I noticed that I could really use a medicine cabinet, but I didn’t want just any old cabinet. I wanted one that would match my other bathroom cabinets, and I wanted it recessed into the wall. I also wanted it to have an outlet. After several hours of easy, although messy work, I finally got what I wanted. This post will show you how to make and install a medicine cabinet into your wall space.

How To Make and Install a Medicine Cabinet…

Well, this is my before. As you can see, I have dark cabinets. Luckily for me, I saved old doors from my laundry room makeover, which match my bathroom cabinets. So, I will be using one of those, but if you don’t have an extra door just laying around, you can make one with my instructions for how to make a shaker door.

You will notice that there is an outlet right in the way of where I want to put my medicine cabinet. I will have to move that one, plus I will need to add an extra one for the inside of the new cabinet. After all, what good is a medicine cabinet if you can’t plug up your devices in it?

How To Make and Install a Medicine Cabinet – Prepping…

The trick to getting a recessed cabinet to go in easily is to keep your work area between the studs. This means that you will probably need to have a cabinet between 15″-16″ wide. I won’t be following that rule, because the cabinet door that I am using calls for a 17″ cabinet box.

So to get started,  I located the studs in this wall and then cut out an assessment hole. You will want to do this so that you can see if there are any surprises and where  all the electrical lines are located. Try to make a clean cut, so that you can reuse the sheetrock just incase you find that the spot is unworkable.

After I assessed everything, I went ahead and removed the old electrical outlet and cut out the hole to the size that I needed. To get a nice square opening, I used a level and a carpenters square to mark the outline on the wall. Then, I used a sheetrock saw to cut out the opening.

As you can see, I have a stud in my way. In order to remove a stud, you have to make sure that it is not load bearing. In my case, it was not.

I also cut a small peek hole to the right of the stud, just to make sure that there wasn’t anything to be concerned about on the other side.

How To Make and Install a Medicine Cabinet

Now, I am going to explain how I removed the stud without tearing up my wall.  To begin, I made a mark 2″ above the opening where the stud was located. Then, I used my sheetrock saw and punched straight through the wall – all the way through to the other side. (Make sure to keep the saw straight on the line).

After I had punched through with the sheetrock saw, I used that as a guide for my reciprocating saw. Then, I just followed along the line with the reciprocating saw, until I had cut all the way through the stud. Repeat the process for the bottom of the opening. (As long as you follow your guide line, you will have a straight cut. The only issue will be that this method leaves a cut mark on the opposite side of the wall. But, that is much easy to repair than having to deconstruct the whole wall).

To finish up the framing from the stud removal, I just inserted a new section running from the left stud over to the next stud at the right side. You can see how it is attached on the bottom. This can take a bit of maneuvering with a nail gun to get the angle right.

I also have moved the old outlet (bottom left), and have my electrical line for the medicine cabinet in place. If you want to see how I moved the outlet and added this new line, check out my article on adding electrical outlets.

How To Make and Install a Medicine Cabinet…

How To Make and Install a Medicine CabinetNow that the hole is cut in the wall, it is time to build the cabinet box. If you have never built a cabinet box before, you can see my instructions for how I build my cabinets here. 

However; for a recessed medicine cabinet, you will need to make your box from 1x4s. (which actually measure 3/4″ x 3 1/2″). Most walls are 4″ deep, so this will leave enough room to add the backing without going over the allotted space.

To assemble the cabinet box, I used my Kreg pocket hole jig and with 3/4″ screws. If you don’t have a Kreg pocket hole jig, well… first of all, I highly recommend that you get one. However; you can use standard wood screws placed through the outside of the box. Just remember to pre-drill your holes. (Tip – always check for square and clamp in place before adding screws)

After assembling the box, I drilled out all of my shelving pin holes. I used my Kreg Shelf Pin Jig. If you don’t have a shelf pin jig, you can make one, or for a quick guide, use a piece of pegboard. (I always keep an extra piece around. You never know when you are going to need one for a drill guide – like I did with my dish drawer insert.)

After the shelf pin holes were drilled out, I went ahead and added a poly finish to the box. I like to pre-finish my cabinets before assembling, because it is much easier that way.

If adding an outlet to your medicine cabinet, this is when you will want to cut out the hole for the electrical box. To do that, just lay the box face down in the location where you want your plug to be. Then, trace around the box to create an outline.

After the outline is made, use a drill to put holes at the 4 corners of the outline. Then, using a jig saw, cut the hole by playing connect the dots. 😉

Once the outlet hole is cut out, test the fit of the electrical box. If all is well, then we can move on to finishing the assembly of the cabinet.

If you are unfamiliar with electrical boxes and need to know more about sizing and load capacity, be sure to check out my article on adding additional outlets.

How To Make and Install a Medicine CabinetOnce the pin holes are drilled out and the electrical box is added, you can attach the cabinet back. I use 1/4″ plywood for this. (Anything thicker could result in a cabinet that won’t fit). To attach the back, I glued and nailed it in place with my brad nail gun.

Note – I also added a poly finish to the back before nailing it in place.

As you can see, my face frame is already stained. I attached this frame with glue and my pin nailer. (If you need instructions for building face frames, you can find my DIY here).

Actually, it looks like I added the face frame before the back, but I guess either way is fine.

At this point, you should be ready to test the fit for your medicine cabinet. (You will need to remove the electrical box temporarily to feed the wire through).

If everything fits correctly, you can now place a few cabinet screws through the cabinets and into the studs.

How To Make and Install a Medicine CabinetHow To Make and Install a Medicine Cabinet

Once everything is in place, strip the electrical wires and attach the new outlet and cover.

How To Make and Install a Medicine CabinetFor the shelves, I am using a couple of pieces of some left over 1″x4s”. I cut the to size and applied a coat of poly to them. Once they were dry, I just slipped a few shelf pins in place and was good to go.

If you are adding a door to your medicine cabinet, now is the time to do that. As I mentioned before, I have instructions for making shaker doors, for those who want to build their own.

Final THoughts…

Before beginning this project, I searched through Pinterest and the web to see what all was out there for providing instructions on how to make and install a medicine cabinet. While I didn’t find a lot that were recessed or that addressed the issue of moving a stud, I did find a few cute wall mounted versions – like this adorable cabinet from Shanty 2 Chic.

I am particularly fond of the mini barn door. Although a set-up like this does not provide complete door coverage, it is an idea that I wanted to share with you.

But since Pinterest didn’t really offer what I wanted, here is a great pin on how to make and install a medicine cabinet that you can Pin. 🙂

-Pin It-

How To Make and Install a Medicine Cabinet

-Pin It-

How To Make and Install a Medicine Cabinet


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.