Gun Cabinet with a New Purpose

I have said it before – when I am out thrifting, I come across all sorts of items.  Many of the items we would not necessarily use in our home.  So when I came across this gun cabinet, I moved on.  I only got about three feet away from it when I realized the size of it would be perfect in in small area that needed storage – say for instance near a back door to hold beach towels and sunscreen.  Maybe it could go in a guest bedroom to hold overnight supplies for friends or family that stay over.

Anyway, I grabbed it!  The cost was so minimal it is not even worth mentioning.  It was pretty dirty, had a missing drawer at the bottom and had some broken parts including the glass in the door but I didn’t see that as a problem 🙂

The first thing to come off was the door.  It would be easier to make the changes I wanted to do to the cabinet plus it would be easier to clean without the swinging door.  I also removed the small, thin strips of wood inside the door that would have held the glass in place.  Carefully remove these – they will be used later! Like I said, the cabinet was dirty!  I also removed the gun holder.  One section of the holder was already gone.  I used a wooden mallet to tap it and loosen it.  Then my chisel to pry it completely off.  It was  only attached with a couple of nails so it was pretty easy!

The bottom decorative edge of the cabinet was missing a detail – you can compare the two sides in the photo below (the cabinet is laying on it’s side so I could do the repair 🙂

This little saw came out to work!  I love this little Irwin saw.  It is a pull saw with a flexible blade.  Very easy to handle and maneuver around curves.  It was the perfect tool to remove the little notch on the bottom of the gun cabinet so both sides would match 🙂

A little bit of sanding with 220 grit and the two sides match!  Easy fix!

The next change I wanted to make was to make this little cabinet useful.  That would require shelves.  I decided how many shelves the cabinet needed – keeping in mind to leave enough room in between each shelf to hold items.  Three added shelves plus the bottom of the inside of the cabinet would suffice.

Now to make the shelves! We keep a supply of lumber around – mostly discarded pieces that aren’t perfect.  I was able to use this tongue and groove bead board for the shelves.  It was already primed but very dirty. There wasn’t any sense in cleaning it yet so I just got to measuring it.  I measured the inside of the cabinet from side to side and marked it on my bead board.  The width of the boards was about six inches so I need two boards per shelf to make it deep enough.  I used my measuring tape to mark the spot and a speed square to make a straight line.

I marked and cut a total of six boards the same measurement with my Craftsman circular saw.  This is a great little saw that is not too heavy.  It is rechargeable so I don’t have another cord to contend with.  Someday I will have to write about my little work area – with only one extension cord 😉

The shelves would need brackets to rest on so I cut small 1×3 boards about 2/3 ‘rds the depth of the two bead boards.  I didn’t want the support brackets to show from the front too much so I cut them shorter than the depth of the shelf itself.  Everything got a good sanding and vacuuming.  Doing this step before installation is a lot less frustrating 🙂

To measure for the placement of the shelves, I first found the center of the inside of the cabinet from the top to bottom and marked it.  From there, I divided each of the two ‘sections’ in half and made a mark at each half way point.  It might not be a perfect way to measure but it saves on math 🙂

Next I had to attach the brackets.  This can be tricky with only two hands so I pulled out my Irwin Quick Grip clamps.  These are so easy to use – just squeeze the handle to adjust to hold the brackets.  I actually used a piece of extra board to hold the brackets in place and I lined up the bracket with the measurements I made for the shelf placement.

Here you can see that I attached the brackets with screws.  I predrilled the holes to make sure the wood didn’t split (thanks to my husband for drilling that into my head over and over “pre drill, pre drill!!”)  I also used wood glue for extra security!

You can see here that I extended the line I used to mark the screw placement to the back of the cabinet as well.  I wanted to use screws in the back of the shelves also.  These shelves aren’t going anywhere!

The screw heads would show and even though I am planning on painting this cabinet, I didn’t want the them to be too obvious.  Bondo Glazing & Spot putty will fill the spots perfectly.  I have used this product on many projects in the past and have had great success with it.  The tube is handy to have around!  Use a putty knife and apply it to the screw heads.  It won’t take long to dry and sands beautifully.

On to painting!  I usually mix my own chalk paint using latex paint in satin finish, calcium carbonate and water.  I searched Pinterest for some recipes and found one I like and use often.  That sounds like a future post but for now I have to get this cabinet painted!  Two coats covered it nicely.  Don’t forget to paint the thin strips of wood that held the glass in place. I can’t tell you how many times I have laid them aside in my workshop only to realize late in the project that they weren’t painted!

When I apply the second coat, I often use a random brush stroke method that adds interest and a vintage, handmade feel to the piece. You can see the brush stokes in the image below.  If you don’t prefer this method, I suggest you use brush stokes in the same direction. Be careful also near the edges of the piece – brush off the edge to prevent runs that you might miss!

I distressed the piece using the knife method I talked about here.  Then I waxed the whole piece using Minwax Finishing Paste Wax in Special Dark.  The slight darkness of this was settles in the crevices and in the brush strokes I mentioned.  Just adds to a wonderful vintage feel 🙂

Looks like it’s been around for years!

I painted the door as well.  Remember that the glass was missing when I bought the cabinet?  Not a problem!  I love replacing glass in doors with this hardware cloth.  It comes in several sizes – this time I used the 1/2 inch.  It is galvanized so it adds a nice farmhouse touch to furniture.  Working with it can be tricky.  Use gloves and sharp wire snips.  I first measured the inside recessed part of the cabinet – the space that would have held the glass.  Then I transfer the measurements on the hardware cloth.  When cutting the hardware cloth, it is best to work towards you rather than away from you.  This helps to control the cloth a bit more without it curling up and scratching you.  Believe me, you can look like you have been in a cat fight if you are not careful!  Just work slowly – no need to be in a hurry!

Using an object to hold down the curling cloth is helpful – like this wooden box.  It has just enough weight to help to control the cloth while I staple.  I used my stapler with the air compressor for ease with installing the cloth.  Be sure to check the size of the staple with the depth of the area you will be attached the cloth to.  The staple is not attractive if if comes through the other side.

I stapled at a bit of an angle which gave me more clearance for the staple.  Just a few staples around the perimeter of the cloth will hold it down.  

Did you notice the thin strips of painted wood trim a couple of images back?  Time to staple them back in!  I used the same staple gun and staples and carefully attached each strip.  Adding this back will give a neat appearance when the door is opened.  We like neat and tidy 🙂

I really like the look of the galvanized hardware cloth, but I got this crazy notion to spray paint it.  Ideally this would be done before attaching it to the door but the idea struck me and I went with it.  Rust-Oleum Hammered Finishes are my favorite.  I used the dark bronze color this time – I taped off the area but when I removed the tape I realized I didn’t consider the over spray!  Agh!!

No biggie!  Klean Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits to the rescue!  Just a little on a paper towel removed the spray paint and didn’t harm the paint!  I did add another coat of wax because the mineral spirits removed it.

The same spray paint went on the hinges.  Often I scrub them back to the original finish, but I had the spray can out and ready 😉 When they were completely dry, I attached them to the door first and then attached the door to the cabinet.

This was a gun cabinet so it had at one time a lock on the door.  It was missing when I picked it up and the missing lock left this hole.  I have a collection of vintage door knobs and plates so I just attached a combination of them to cover the hole.  The door won’t lock but there is a knob to open the door with now.

Here is the finished cabinet!  The additional shelving will make this a very useful piece.  I added a wire basket at the bottom where there would have been a drawer.  Love the look with the vintage door knob and plate!

This gun cabinet-turned-adorable-storage-cabinet is proof that you can’t just pass by all the unwanted and ugly pieces you see when out thrifting!  This is a great example of the old becoming new 🙂  Thanks for stopping by for this tutorial!  Leave a comment and let me know what you think of this project or if you have a request to repurpose something you have found in your thrift shopping!

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  1. Ema-Leigh Rust says:

    This is SOOOOO good! I have been racking my brain trying to think of a place I could put this in my house (like I do with everything of yours!) I love that quality of this piece. They just don’t make ’em like they used to!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks so much my sweet Ema-Leigh!!

  2. This turned out great! I’ve been looking for a narrow cabinet similar to this. I keep searching for sheet music cabinets, but now I see that I need to expand my criteria. You have such great imagination. Pinned.

    1. Thanks, Marie! You can find these gun cabinets for such a reasonable price. They make great storage for so many things. Have a great week Marie 🥰