DIY Corbels

June 13th, 2013

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One of my biggest blogging inspirations for our house renovations and kitchen design was Holly from In the Fun Lane. She redid her kitchen just a few months before we did ours. I loved all the styling, and especially loved the corbels on her peninsula. But I was shocked when she said that they cost $500/per corbel! When it comes to DIY I’m a total budget shopper. I absolutely knew Mr. Project could make corbels for less than $500 – or in my case since I wanted 3 of them – less than $1500.

Here are Holly’s Corbels – cost $1500:

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And our completed DIY Corbels – cost $60:

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Pretty impressive! And even better looking in real life!

I brainstormed with Mr. Project on how to get them made. We talked about making a template and cutting them with a Jig Saw. He was nervous that they wouldn’t turn out perfect – especially because of their width they would need to be laminated (2 pieces glued together), and it would take TONS of sanding to make them look uniform.

We found a place called Gingerbread Man about 30 minutes away that creates victorian millwork. We decided to hop in the car and go see them to see if any of their styles fit our needs and our budget – or if they would possibly custom cut some for a reasonable price.

Once we got there, we knew they wouldn’t have what we wanted. But we ended up meeting a woodworker who had a shop across the way from them.  His name is Don Juvet, and he’s awesome. This woodworker showed us all the stuff he was working on – lots of custom cabinetry – and in the corner of his workshop, he had a gigantic CNC router. We asked him if he would be willing to custom cut some corbels if we sent him a CAD file. He was all for it, and we were excited to have a solution to our problem.

I created a profile using Adobe Illustrator (that program does everything!), and we made a trip back out to the carpenter. He plugged my file into his machine and bam! we had the first (and most difficult) step of our corbels complete. Here is a video of the CNC router cutting out the corbel shape:

The carpenter cut them out of a 1.5″ heavy weight MDF board that he had already in his shop.

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It took the machine less than 10 minutes to cut 12 of them out (we only used 6).

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Here’s Mr. Project holding up one so you can see the profile:

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If you just wanted 1.5″ wide corbels, you’d just need to sand these and you’d pretty much be done. I wanted mine 3″ wide though, so we had to do some glueing first. 
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Pretty basic process here, just some wood glue and a foam brush. You want a light but even coat.IMG_0377

Then line the two pieces up perfectly and tape to keep them together (they are kind of squishy with that glue in there).

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Then use basic clamps to tighten and bond the two pieces. Mr. Project recommends keeping them in a clamp for minimum of 30 minutes on a hot day. Longer on colder days.
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Tighten the clamps until you see a little glue squeezing out the sides. Don’t over-tighten or all the glue will squeeze out and you won’t get a very good bond. Wipe the excess glue away with your finger or a slightly damp towel, and let them cure.

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Once they are dry (overnight should do the trick), Mr. Project recommends using a spackle compound to fill in the center seam on the front profile to make it look like one solid piece. Once the spackle is dry, you’ll need to sand your little heart out. This is the most time-consuming part of the process. You want to make the seam look smooth and uniform.

We also added a flat trim piece around the bottom of the corbels. Mr. Project mitered it on the corners and wrapped it around the now-glued corbel to give a 3D effect. He put a little bit of glue on the trim piece and finish-nailed it to the corbel. Then he also spackled and sanded that.  Once everything was smooth and perfect, he screwed the three corbels into the cabinets from the inside of the cabinet and placed plywood over them, and then screwed them in from the top.
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And there you have it, amazing custom corbels for a teeny tiny fraction of the price!

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4 Responses to “DIY Corbels”

  1. libbywilko says:

    These look great! Our boys loved looking at the video of the machine cutting it out.

  2. Bethany says:

    Did you design the corbels on CAD? Anyway for us non- designers to get a file?

  3. Amy K. says:

    I’ve absolutely fallen in love with your style! I’ve admired other rooms/houses before but never found one that epitomizes my personal taste so well. I’ve scoured your blog and can’t seem to find the name/brand of bluish tile you used on your kitchen backsplash. Can you please share this information? Do you have a link to your full kitchen reno post? I found the sketches/plans but not the final post.

  4. Jen Allyson says:

    Here’s a post with pics of the whole kitchen – http://www.theprojectgirl.com/2013/02/13/kitchen-insta-awesome/

    Here’s the kitchen tag, – scroll past the first post or two to see all the kitchen posts.

    http://www.theprojectgirl.com/tag/kitchen/

    The tile that we used is from Status Ceramics and the collection is Elements, the color is Borage Crackle – here is a link to the post about the tile:
    http://www.theprojectgirl.com/2012/01/03/kitchen-backsplash-reveal/

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