When I decided to build a 60″ DIY bathroom vanity, I wasn’t thinking further than, “Hmm, how hard can it be?”
But as I start building it…or should I say, as I started piecemealing it together…I realized that the real challenge would be explaining how I did it.
I wasn’t working from any building plans.
And I kept running into challenges that I kept thinking, “Crap. How am I going to explain this??”
I’m infamous for 2,000-word posts with 50 pictures, but I wanted to make this explanation as easy as possible.
Plus, I wanted to explain everything, from beginning to end. There’s no way to do that in just one post. That’s why this will be a series of posts.
Starting with the legs.
Why I Chose to Upcycle Legs for a 60″ DIY Bathroom Vanity
When I first decided to build the vanity, I hadn’t done any research yet.
There are tons of building plans out there that walk you through step-by-step, including measurements and all.
It’s sort of like using a sewing pattern: you simply cut, pin, and sew. And voila! If you followed the instructions correctly, you’ll get some semblance of a cute dress. Same thing with a DIY vanity.
But over Thanksgiving, I had decided to look for vanity legs, without knowing what I was really doing (read all about it here).
Upcycling is what I do best, and it’s always exciting turning this into that. Plus, the upcycling I do is what makes my projects special.
That’s when I stumbled upon these legs from a salvage shop.
I knew they’d be perfect for a vanity!
I decided to cut them down to about 11.5″ in order to make clearance for the bathroom plumbing. The tall height would have been way too tall.
After cutting them down with my miter saw and stripping them (read about that step here), they were ready for sanding.
It took a lot of work to get the residual stain and gunk off of the legs!
Here you can see how dramatic the difference was BEFORE and AFTER sanding.
To get them this clean, I used a detail sander, like this tool from RYOBI, along with angled sanding sponge blocks, about 150-grit sandpaper.
TIP: The Dollar Tree sells angled sanding sponge blocks, too! Pick up a lot of them to keep on-hand for these types of projects!
Looking back, I would highly recommend that if you decide to make your own DIY bathroom vanity, buy pre-fabricated legs before you try to start getting super creative like I did. LOL
The whole project would have been faster and a lot easier to follow someone’s building plans using these legs.
For example, although I wasn’t following Ana White’s DIY bathroom vanity tutorial exactly, I glanced at it often for reference.
These are the legs she used, from Osborne Wood.
Much easier to attach vanity sides to these legs!
But keep in mind that when using pre-fabricated legs, the cost will be higher.
For me to have bought these pre-fabricated legs, it would have cost nearly $200 for four of them!
Instead, I paid about $25 for these. 🙂
But it also meant that I was going to have to get creative about how to build a sound bathroom vanity on top of upcycled legs.
Choosing Red Oak Wood for the Bathroom Vanity
I’m not a wood expert, but those legs sure looked like oak because of the prominent grain.
They were perfect because I love the look of oak and how you can add white wax or liming wax to highlight oak’s deep grain. I believe they call this technique cerused oak.
I went to Home Depot and just bought a hodge-podge of red oak, in varying lengths and widths.
It’s crazy because you should know how much materials you need before you start a project, but since I had never done this before, and wasn’t working from a plan, I was just winging it.
Home Depot is my second home, so I figured if there is something I missed, I would just head back there to exchange or replace with the correct materials.
Attaching the Vanity Legs
The way that I planned to build this vanity was to use pocket holes on most of the wood.
You have probably seen a lot of DIY builders using a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig in order to strongly join pieces of wood together easily and without a lot of fuss. It’s become a DIY builder’s dream tool!
And you’d be surprised how strong the joint is when joined together with pocket screws!
TIP: Watch this video to learn more about how to use the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig.
First, I laid out my legs and some 1 x 4 red oak boards to connect to the legs. I believe these pieces of panels are called aprons. But I’m not sure if that term is only used when building tables, desks, or other furniture, or if it applies to vanities, too.
This looked about right!
I figured that I would want to set it in about 1/4″ since that’s how I have seen other tables and vanities and stools and everything constructed this way.
Then I drilled the pocket holes on the end of the boards and repositioned them again to make sure I would be securing them properly.
But here’s the thing: you have to make sure you use the right screw.
Since I was working with red oak, which is a hardwood, I had to use the Fine-Thread screws for Hardwoods. It’s labeled right on the package.
And since my wood is 3/4″ thick, the size screw needed to be 1 – 1/4″ long.
TIP: If you’re using soft woods, like pine or plywood, use the Softwoods screws and make sure to check out this chart for knowing which size screw to use, depending on the thickness of your material.
I added a bit of wood glue to help secure the aprons to the upcycle legs, then screwed in several of the screws.
Adding a Shelf Panel
My phone was broken and had to be replaced halfway through this project, so some important pictures got lost. Forgive me if there’s anything missing.
Anyhow, once the bottom was built with legs and panels, I needed to attach 1/2″ plywood.
The first piece I cut was all wonky and didn’t fit, unfortunately! I tried to take accurate measurements and somehow I must have done a crappy job. LOL
Then I got smart and decided for the next attempt, I’d just lay the frame on top of the plywood and trace out the shape, which worked perfectly!
Next, pocket screws were drilled in the same way I did the other pocket screws.
I used a circular saw and jig saw to cut out the plywood.
I test-fitted it first to make sure it fit, which it did, thankfully!
The problem I ran into was that the 1/2″ plywood was a different thickness than the 3/4″ aprons.
Because I was trying to join two pieces of wood with different thicknesss, I wasn’t sure which screws to use.
Some of the screws kept wanting to break through to the other side of the apron, too.
After a bit of trial and error, I decided to go with the 1″ screws for softwoods and to drill them in very slowly, so as not to crack the oak.
I made sure to add a layer of wood glue, which is even stronger than wood, to help reinforce everything.
I used the long 6″ square driver that comes in the Kreg Pocket Hole kit to drill in the Kreg pocket hole screws.
I ended up leaving about 1/8″ inch edge around the base of the vanity where the oak meets the plywood.
The reason why is because if I tried to make the two edges flush and even, the screws would blow out the other side! It was so frustrating!
The reason why this happened is because the plywood was a different thickness than the oak. Trying to join two boards that aren’t the same can pose challenges.
But I discovered that if I kept the plywood a little lower than the edge of the oak, I could connect the two boards more easily without the screws poking through. I guess there was more surface area for the screw to latch in to.
If you look closely, you’ll see the plywood is a few hairs shy of the top edge of the oak.
Sort of hard to explain, but–hey–I figured out a solution, so I’m happy. 🙂
Whatcha Got Underneath??
My biggest concern with building this 60″ DIY bathroom vanity is that it would either warp, crack or split!
It bothered me that I didn’t have any support underneath of the vanity.
I decided to cut some braces to add to the bottom.
I’ve seen some DIY dining room tables and other furniture with them, so I knew they’d be helpful in this project, too.
Hardwoods are expensive, so I could have used cheaper wood, but I wanted to the best.
So I cut pieces of braces by cutting each side on my miter saw at 45 degrees, then adding pocket holes on the longer side.
Wood glue was added to make sure it was strong.
Then I used my RYOBI One + JobPlus multi-tool with the screwdriver head to screw in the screws.
I couldn’t get my regular screwdriver angled enough to screw in the screws. So I was glad to have this tool nearby, which fit perfectly in the tight space under the vanity.
Later, I also added a few of these 1 x 2 oak boards to the bottom of the base for extra reinforcement. I just measured, cut with a miter saw, added pocket holes, glued, then added 1 – 1/4″ pocket hole screws.
So that’s exactly how I built the base of this DIY bathroom vanity!
What I realized is that with these instructions, you could easily build a table….and even a cute upholstered bench! So many pieces of furniture start off this same way.
It was fun to build this and see all the possibilities!
In the next post, I’ll share with you how I added the sides to this 60″ DIY bathroom vanity and how I made sure they were extra secure!
Read the Rest of this Bathroom Makeover Series!
Catch up on this entire master bathroom makeover series!
Day 52: How to Remove a Toilet Yourself
DAY 57: How to Install a Toilet Yourself