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A Guide to Making Your Own Radiator Cover or Cabinet From Wood

How much time have you spent trying to find a radiator cover or cabinet that is the correct size for your needs, only to realise one of  the measurements is not quite right or the finished colour doesn’t match your existing furniture.

If you are a good all-round DIYer why not have a go at building one of your own, I have used the phrase ‘good all-round DIYer’ not to put anyone off, but  because the timber required for a good finished project is not cheap and therefore making a mistake could really spoil your day.

I wanted to cover an unsightly small radiator and gas meter but there were no covers or cabinets available in anything like the right size or colour for the job, so I decided to make my own, using furniture quality timber (which is available in the larger DIY stores) and planed all round (PAR) softwood for the box frame. I started by taking general measurements around the radiator and meter and transferring these to a simple sketch, this enables you to have a look at what sizes of timber are available and gives you a more accurate idea of the quantity and cost of  the timber required for the project.

Radiator and meter cover

The panel to the left in the picture above only needed to be around 550mm wide, but the timber came in a 300mm width size and as the panel would require two pieces of timber joined together I decided to make the panel 600mm wide so I would not have to make any cuts as the timber had a perfect straight edge and would probably give a better finish than the one I may or may not be able to produce.

When I had decided on the panel sizes I built a box frame using planed all round (PAR) softwood around the radiator and meter, build this as accurate and level as you can to accommodate your panels, shelf etc, I used wood screws and rawlplugs to fix the box frame together and in position, I then made two panels using furniture quality timber, which is in my opinion a bit expensive, but does give an excellent finish, the panel to the left of the picture above had a plain solid finish and was fairly straight forward to make, I joined the two pieces of timber together using a little liquid nails with wood blocks and screws, making sure the screws were of the correct length, so as not to protrude through the face of the panel, l as shown in the picture below.

The radiator cover on the left consists of a frame, again made from furniture quality timber held together once more with a little liquid nails with wood blocks and wood screws, for the infill I used a piece of oak veneered panel, which is available in various colours and patterns, cut to the appropriate size and held in place using small wood screws.

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Tip :-   If you decide to purchase a veneered panel, take time in the store to check the veneer is all intact as mishandling by other customers or staff can easily damage the finish, I looked at four sheets before finding one totally intact which I then purchased.

The shelf once again is made from a length of furniture quality timber, I cut the shape using a jigsaw with a fine blade, I sanded the panels and shelf using medium and fine sandpaper and a small sanding block. The two panels are held in place using furniture magnets to make them easily removable in the future, as you can see in the radiator cover I cut two slots at the top and bottom to allow additional air flow through the radiator.

The finished colour was achieved using a quick drying oak satin stain. (See applying wood stain post)

Tools required :-  Tape measure, wood saw, jigsaw, battery drill, masonary and wood drill bits, various screwdrivers, spirit level, sanding block, safety goggles, work bench.

Safety tip :-  Safety goggles should be worn when using a jigsaw/drill when cutting timber or drilling masonary.

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