Build a terrible cabinet to hide an in-wall air conditioner! (Part 3: Legs and brackets)

Let’s talk about tapered legs! First off, you can totally buy cute tapered legs and attach them with angled leg plates and everything will look fine. The main issue with these is you’re kind of stuck with whatever lengths Waddell feels like making, since they’re really the only game in town for affordable mid century legs. (You can, of course, head over to Etsy if you have a billion dollars to blow on beautiful custom legs , but that’s not really an option over here at Best Friends Pizza Club.) Also, even though the Waddell legs aren’t bonkers expensive, everything can kind of add up and I prefer to spend my meager income on more important things, like brass cat figurines and decorative pencils.

Secondly, for this project legs are totally optional, especially if your box isn’t particularly deep. I think they look nice though, and I am a professional over-complicator, so let’s do some legs!

Here is an overly-complicated diagram.

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My standard formula is to angle the legs at 20º and taper them so the bottom is half the width of the top (labeled X in the diagram.)  S is the width of the board you start with, and you use trigonometry to figure out how to get the height you want. I feel like there must be an easier way to do this, but I haven’t stumbled on it yet.

For these particular legs I used a 1×2 board, which is actually 3/4″ x 1-1/2″. Since I wanted the legs to be 10″ tall, I headed over to this right triangle calculator and put in 8.5 (10-1.5) in the “edge A” box and 70º in the “angle A” box, which gave me a C length of 9. Once you know what your C measurement is, it’s just a matter of drawing some lines on your board and cutting on the lines.

First, draw the bottom 20º angle:

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(I use this multipurpose angle tool) Then measure up 9 inches on the right side of the board and draw another line at 20º. Hold up another board at a right angle to that line and mark the height of the board (in case your 1×2 isn’t exactly 1.5″ high) then draw another 20º line on top of that for the top edge of your leg. I’m aware that this probably isn’t making any sense so here’s another diagram the might help:

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Once you have the top angles  drawn, make a mark in the middle of your bottom line and connect it to the upper left edge to get your taper. I swear it’s not that hard once you’re actually doing it.

Once you have all the lines drawn, you’re ready to cut the leg out. It’s easiest to do the top and bottom cuts on a miter saw, but you can do it with a circular saw too. Since the legs are so narrow, it’s hard to clamp your saw guide to them, so I screwed two boards together to make clamping easier.

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If you can think of a better way to do this, please leave a comment because this setup is pretty awkward. But effective! Once you have both the legs cut out, make sure they’re basically the same shape before you move on.

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Then decide how long you want your cross piece to be, and cut that. This is where you use your super handy pocket hole jig to attach the legs to the cross piece. Drill the holes through the cross piece–clamp the jig down SUPER tight, otherwise the jig will slip your board will split like mine.

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To join the boards, clamp them down in place onto the table (super tight again!) and use the driver that came with the jig.

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Holy crap look at that, you made some amazing angled legs! If you have a router, this is where you can round the edges, or just use some sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood. I used a router because it is the most satisfying tool ever.

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So pretty! (Note the ear plugs–if you have a router you probably already know this, but they are LOUD and your hearing is precious, so wear earplugs please.) (Also note the third leg. I do not remember making this. I have no idea how I managed to cut out three legs without noticing.)

To attach the leg assembly, just clamp it in place and go down from the inside of the cabinet with some screws. It doesn’t have to be super secure since the legs are mostly decorative.

Once the legs are taken care of, attach your corner brackets to the top corners. If you’re using 1/2″ plywood, be sure that you’re using the right length screws, or use scraps of 1/4″ plywood to stop the screws from going all the way through your carcass.

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Then all you have to do is drill some holes in the wall, hammer in some anchors, and screw in the brackets! If your air conditioner is super deep like mine, you may have to rig up a goofy screwdriver situation to reach the screws.

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Congratulations, you built an air conditioner cover!! Is it a little crooked and kind of crappy? That’s awesome! If you wanted a perfect cabinet you would have gone out and bought one, but YOU MADE THIS and YOU ARE FABULOUS.

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(Please excuse the absurd hinge situation. I am still waiting for my replacement hinges to arrive. I am so mad at the hinge industry right now.)

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3 comments

  1. Enjoying your blog! I read your kitchen post on reddit and am excited to see that you are posting more DIYs. This is a great idea. I have a similar issue – a wall unit heater that only sticks out a couple inches, but is higher on the wall. Thinking of just hanging some pictures gallery-wall style around it to distract.

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