How to Build Kitchen Cabinets

If you’re a serious DIYer, you’ve almost invariably considered building your own kitchen cabinets at some point or another. It’s not the easiest task in the world, but if you’ve got a bit of know-how it can certainly be done.

Read on, and we’ll show you how to build a simple frameless box cabinet which will make for the perfect addition to your kitchen’s aesthetic.

Victoria, Homethods Author
Victoria

Build Kitchen Cabinets

1.) Get Your Tools and Materials Together

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The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you have the appropriate tools for the project. You’ll need some things which aren’t found in every garage, but if you’re already serious about doing-it-yourself then you undoubtedly have most of them.

If you have all of these, then you’re in good shape to complete the project once you have the materials you’ll need. Decide on the type of wood you want for the face frame first. Sourcing the wood that you really want to use can be something of a pain, so make sure you do it well in advance of beginning your project.

We’ll be building the case out of plywood, pick up some pre-finished boards and save yourself some effort. It’s worth taking a look at wood in a store and only selecting exceptionally straight pieces. Your face lumber should be straight if bought from a reputable source, but plywood is often mass produced.

Measure things out before you start so you’ll know how much wood to get.

2.) Assembling the Face

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Assembling the face is rather easy. You’ll basically be making cross cuts at 45° to fit them together and you’ll just need to outline the door and drawer set-up you’ve decided on. Go slow here, good lumber is expensive and a wrong cut can mean a lot of wasted lumber, especially as you near the end of assembly.

As you cut the pieces, fit them together on a workbench or the floor, making sure that you’ve got exactly what you need going.

For drawers, there’s an easy way to make things look really good on the face: cut both 45° angles outwards, leaving an indentation. Then you’ll cut the part of the face for under the drawer with the opposite angles, leaving both sides pointy, and slot them together. It’ll make for easy fastening when the jig comes out.

After you have all of the pieces cut, it’s time to join them. For this project we’re going to use pocket screws by utilizing a jig. The jig will push the drill in at a shallow, repeatable angle and allow you to screw everything together.

While you’re ripping and cutting the pieces for the face, leave 1/16th of an inch or so bigger than the case will be, you’ll see why when we get to finishing the box.

How to Build Kitchen Cabinets

3.) Assemble the Case

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Assembling the case is likewise a piece of cake if you’ve ever worked with wood before. All you’ll need to do, in this instance, is cut the pieces of plywood to fit. As always measure, measure, measure to make sure that you’ve got what you need.

Since you’re likely to be installing the cabinets yourself, it might be better to break the task down and make separate boxes that can be put together with wood glue and finishing nails during the install. Just make sure they’ll fit behind the face without showing.

Cut the plywood using a table saw into the sizes you’ll need. For base cabinets, it can be useful to cut the holes for your plumbing and electrical appliances before you fasten it to the rest of the base.

Basically you’re building a box with some dividers. It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it, but it’ll take some time to get it all cut. Slot it together without fastening it at first, just to make sure that everything is sitting nice and flush.

Get your wood router cut straight lines with a guide for your shelves. If you don’t have a router, however, you can use metal brackets to hold the shelves in place.

You’ll also want to affix any rollers for drawers at this point. Make sure these are one hundred percent level, or you’re not going to like the results.

Once you have the internals all in order, it’s time to join it. Use pocket screws again, they’re super handy for this type of thing if you don’t know the typical carpentry joinery and they’re just as effective as anything you’ll be able to do in that area while consuming less time.

Putting the sides of the cabinet to the base is also relatively simple. Run pocket screws down every 4-5” and just screw it into the base of the box.

Each of these boxes should have a specific purpose in mind, the drawers and doors will be resting on the face however and that will need to be affixed next.

4.) Creating the Doors and Drawers

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There’s two ways to go about making the doors for your cabinets. The first, and easier, way is to have bought the doors pre-made and have built the cabinet around the doors you purchased. This might be the route you want to take, because trust us, making doors from scratch is hard work.

The second way to do it is to make the doors from scratch. In this case, you’ll need some experience with a wood router, since there’s a lot of different cuts you’ll need to make in order to get a perfect fit.

If you go this route, prepare for some seriously precise work. You’ll first need to cut out the center portion from the lumber you’ll be using and style it as you like with the router. The important bit here is to set up the edges for slotting.

The outside portion of the doors are going to slot over the edges and go together.

Simpler doors can be made with a single panel as well, in which case you’ll only need a couple of bits and minimal experience. They’ll look plain unless dressed with some trim, however. In this case, measure carefully and round the edges on the face.

Apply the trim around the edges, using cross cuts to make sure it all slots perfectly. Wood glue or a few brads will hold it in place pretty easily.

These last ones can actually look pretty fancy if you apply some thought to the trim and hardware combination. Go with a textured trim and stain it in a contrasting color to the face for the best result.

Drawers are fairly simple to make, in all actuality. They’re a box with one widened face.

Make sure the back end of the box fits through the face, then affix the front and the hardware you want to use for the pulls. Attach the runners as well at this point, making sure they fit snugly into the other half that you’ve already put in when assembling the case.

Once you have these made, it’s time to assemble everything.

How to Build Kitchen Cabinet

5.) Affixing the Face

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Affixing the face to the boxes is another fairly simple task.

If you took our advice and built a series of boxes, you can fix them together with wood glue before the installation. Don’t push them up against the wall just yet though, instead attach the face with glue and brads.

Use the brads primarily to hold things in place, and apply glue liberally but not so much it sticks around the inside edges. Let everything dry, then tilt the whole assembly on its back.

Using a flush bit, trim the excess from the outside of the frames with your router. If you have any experience with a router at all, you’ll be able to handle this task readily.

Afterwards, you can paint the cabinets to make sure that they look how you want and then you’re almost done with their construction.

6.) Finishing Touches

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Now you’ll attach all of the hardware for your doors, slide the drawers in, and make sure everything is functioning properly.

Doors can be a bit of a pain to get set just right, just be patient and you’ll be alright. If you made your own, you should have measured them against the face before you got to this stage, but you can always trim a bit with the router if they only don’t fit by 1/8” or so.

The drawers should be no bother, as long as you constructed them properly. Set them on the rails, slide them in and out, and apply lubrication if necessary.

Now just install them in your kitchen and you’ve made your very own set of cabinets.

Conclusion

Making cabinets is an art, so don’t expect to rival the masters with your first set. A simple set of case cabinets should be easily doable for most people with some woodworking experience however, and if you think you can do it you’ll most likely be able to as long as you’re careful.

Give it a shot, you might be surprised at what you can come up with.

References

  1. http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to-plans/how-to/a7439/how-to-build-a-simple-2-door-wooden-cabinet/
  2. http://extremehowto.com/cabinet-building-basics-for-diyers/
  3. http://www.familyhandyman.com/kitchen/diy-kitchen-cabinets/face-frame-cabinet-building-tips/view-all
  4. http://www.yourhandymansouthampton.co.uk

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