Build My Own Kitchen Cabinets

Build My Own Kitchen Cabinets – Learn how to build a wall cabinet for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room with easy frameless construction! Save money with DIY wall cabinets that fit your space!

Remodeling a kitchen with custom cabinets is expensive! But you can save a lot of money by making them yourself.

Build My Own Kitchen Cabinets

Building your own wall cabinet is easier than you think! The construction method is similar to building a drawer, only larger.

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I’ll show you how to build a DIY wall cabinet using plywood to create the perfect storage solution for your home! Then learn how to install wall cabinets yourself in this tutorial!

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Every space is different, so it’s important to take good measurements and make a quick sketch before you start building your wall cabinets. Here are some standard dimensions you should take into consideration:

In my kitchen, I made three base cabinets to fit along one wall, and I designed the wall cabinets with the same width. There is a 30″ cabinet on either side, with a custom-sized width in the middle to fit the space. The wall cabinets are 34″ tall, which leaves two inches of space between the cabinet top and the ceiling for trim.

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A wall cabinet consists of two sides, one top and bottom, shelves and one back. If the back is made of thin ¼” material, there are also two strips of wood behind it to securely attach the cabinet to the wall. See my Parts of a Cabinet post for more details and pictures.

If you’re not painting the inside of your cabinets, you’ll want to keep the grain of the wood in mind when making the cuts. The grain should run vertically on the sides and back, and horizontally for the top, bottom, and shelves.

I’m using ¾” prefinished birch plywood for my kitchen cabinets, so I cut two sheets at the lumber yard into more manageable sections. One sheet will be the sides of the cabinets, and was cut to 36″ x 48″. The other sheet is for the top, bottom, and shelves. 30″ x 48″ sections were cut.

Then I trimmed 1″ from the cut edges with my traced and cleaned them up to get the final length for all the pieces.

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Now I can set the fence once on my table and cut all the sides, top, bottom and shelves to the same width. You can use a track saw with parallel guides or a circular saw with an edge guide to make these repeatable cuts.

Make sure to label your portions as you go, so they don’t mix up! I use painter’s tape so I don’t have to sand the marks later. Save any leftover pieces at least 3″ wide for the nailer strips

There are several ways to install the back panel in a cabinet. You can just staple to the back, but the nailer strips will be visible inside the cabinet. I like to cut a notch in all the pieces to slide back, then hide the nailer strips behind it.

You can cut this groove on a table saw with a router, or with a circular or tracked (using an edge guide) saw. I prefer to use a single blade instead of a dado stack, since this notch requires two passes through the saw for a proper fit.

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First, set the height of the blade so that it cuts at least a third of the way through the wood. I set mine for ¼” to make the math easier, but I probably should have made it closer to ⅜” so the back didn’t pop out so easily.

Then set the distance from the blade to the fence with a scrap of the same plywood you plan to use for the nailer strips.

Use a piece of scrap plywood to cut the first notch, then set it aside. Cut all side, top and bottom pieces at the same setting.

Now move the fence slightly to the right to widen the groove. Run the test piece through the saw, and check that the ¼” plywood fits. Keep adjusting the gap until it slides without force but stays smoothly in place.

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Before removing the fence, there is one more cut. The shelves were cut to the same size as the top and bottom before, but now the back panel will be in the way.

You can use this same table saw setting to trim the back of the shelf so it sits perfectly flush with the front of the cabinet! Just raise the blade so it cuts all the way through the plywood and run all the shelves through the saw.

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If you notice that your cuts aren’t coming out as clean as you’d like, you may need to clean the saw blade! After cutting a lot of plywood, the glue between the layers can build up on the teeth and burn and tear. It’s faster and cheaper than buying a new blade!

Now that you know how deep your groove is, you can re-cut the plywood to fit. This should be the size of the opening, plus the depth of the grooves on all four sides. I usually make mine a little shorter on both sides so it slides smoothly during assembly.

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These are frameless wall cabinets, so the plywood edge needs to be covered so you can’t see the layers. I have a full tutorial on how to apply edge banding, so I’ll go over the basics here.

If you are not painting your cabinets, you should choose edge banding that matches the plywood. Since I am making these wall cabinets from prefinished birch plywood, I used prefinished birch edge banding.

You simply apply edge banding to the opposite edge of the cut groove. Just iron, then trim off the excess with an edge banding trimmer.

I also applied edge banding to the bottom of the side pieces because you will see the bottom of these upper cabinets when you sit at the dining table.

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Drilling the shelf pin holes is now much easier than assembling the cabinet. There are a ton of different shelf pin jigs out there that make it easy to get the right spacing with just a drill.

But I’ve found that the drill bit can make a jagged hole, so I opted to set up a router instead. I build a lot of cabinets, so it was worth the investment! I will go into more detail about this process in a separate tutorial soon.

Note that you don’t have to drill holes the entire length of the side pieces. You are not going to put a shelf an inch above the bottom! Drill the first hole in the middle, then 5-7 holes in each direction from the point.

If you have a pocket hole jig, you can use it to drill pocket holes along both edges of the top and bottom pieces. Make sure these holes are on the opposite side of the groove!

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I wanted to avoid the pocket holes on the bottom of the cabinet, since you can see them if you sit at the nearby dining table. I plan to cover the sides with an end panel anyway, so I decided to just drill the countersink holes.

Place the bottom between the two sides and the edge banding facing upwards. Use clamps to hold the pieces together. Measure and mark ⅜” on both the top and bottom sides.

Use a countersink bit to predrill the holes and create an isolated area for the screw head on each of your marks. I really like it because it makes clean holes at a consistent depth. If you’re not familiar with this technique, I have a full tutorial on how to screw a countersink.

After all the prep work, assembling the wall cabinet is the easy part! Apply wood glue to both ends of the lower part. Clamp the two sides to the bottom and check for squareness. Then screw them together through the predrilled holes with pocket hole screws or 2″ wood screws.

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Don’t worry about filling those screw holes. They will be hidden within cabinets or against walls or covered with end panels.

Apply wood glue to both ends of the top and fit the back into the groove. Align the top flush with the top of the side and screw it into place.

Check that your wall cabinet is square by measuring diagonally across both sides. This little gadget helps keep the tape measure in the corner. If the measurements are the same, it’s square! If it doesn’t, pinch the opposite corners of the long measure with a clamp to straighten it.


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