Build Your Own Cabinets KitAdvertisement
Build Your Own Cabinets Kit – Building cabinets for your kitchen, bathroom, or interior may seem like it should be difficult, but it’s not! Most cabinets are simple cabinets. And the connections can be hidden on the outside of the cabinets, which can be hidden after the cabinets are installed.
Last year I took it upon myself to build all the cabinets for our kitchen remodel. I have saved thousands of dollars building high quality cabinets with basic hardware. You can read all about the inexpensive tools I used to make my cabinets here.
Build Your Own Cabinets Kit
So if you want to learn how to build cabinets for your remodel, I’ll break down all the information for you.
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There are many reasons why building your own cabinets is better than buying pre-fab cabinets or paying exorbitant prices for custom cabinets.
There are two main types of cabinets you’ll see when buying or building: face frame cabinets and frameless (or Euro-style cabinets). You can make both of these cabinet styles.
Which one you choose depends on your search style. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Choose one based on these and the style you want in your space.
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Face frame cabinets are cabinets that cover the front frame of the cabinet box. The box is made of plywood and then the face frame is made of solid wood (usually 1x2s) and glued to the front to cover the edge of the plywood. Face frame cabinets in the US are more traditional and the ones we use in kitchen remodeling.
Face frames are made with rails and boards around the perimeter and additional rails for the square around the holes of the drawers. When choosing drawer slides, you need to know that the face frame will be in the usual way and you need to add a block to the sides to bring the drawer slide even with the face frame or use special slides for the face frame.
You can use hinged cabinet doors (they sit on top of the face frame) or inset cabinet doors (they sit inside the face frame and are flush with the front). Upper cabinet doors can frame a large face or open smaller for a more modern look, depending on the hinges you choose.
A frameless cabinet is a cabinet made only of plywood. To finish them, the edges of the plywood are covered with edge banding. They are sometimes called European style cabinets and have been popularized by Ikea. This is a very simple and modern design for cabinets.
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One of the challenges with frameless cabinets is keeping the cabinet box perfectly square. If it’s not square, you can deal with it by installing a series of cabinets and with hinged doors to show it evenly.
You can also use cabinet doors or interior doors for a frameless cabinet. The only option for a frame top layer is a full layer covering all sides of the cabinet (about 1/8″).
Since there are many different types of cabinet boxes, this article will be a general overview of how to build cabinets. I try to cover all aspects of all types of cabinets. If I missed something, leave a comment and I’ll answer it there.
To begin with, let’s look at the different parts of the cabinet box. These parts are slightly different depending on whether you are doing a face frame cabinet or a frameless cabinet.
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Each cabinet frame has two sides made of 3/4″ plywood. If you are building cabinets for the kitchen, all the sides of your main cabinet will be the same size, and all the sides of your wall cabinet will be the same. If desired, you can build deeper cabinets above the refrigerator and kitchen.
The back of the cabinet can either be made of 3/4″ plywood or use supports (3-4″ pieces of 3/4″ plywood) to keep the box square and sturdy, then cover the back with 1/4″ plywood. This is especially useful for cabinets that require plumbing holes to be drilled through. You can also save a lot of money by using 1/4″ plywood for the back of larger cabinet projects.
The lowest shelf is the cabinet. For base cabinets, it is at the same level as the top of the toe. For wall cabinets with a face frame, it sits flush with the top of the face frame rail below so you don’t have a lip on the shelf.
Base cabinets usually have a leg kick to raise the cabinets slightly off the floor. The toe can be cut to the side of the cabinet. Or for larger cabinet sections, you can build a 2×4 box on the floor as a thumb rest and then install the cabinets on top of that. This is useful when working with large cabinets, as you can cut more sides from a single 4’x8′ sheet of plywood when using the standard cabinet height, thus saving money. And you can easily level the 2×4 box before installing the cabinets.
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Top: Wall cabinets have a top piece, but usually base cabinets with a counter top do not have a top. Instead, supports are used to keep the cabinet box square and firm, then the cabinet is closed when the boards are installed. If you made without a base, you can add a top instead.
The supports are smaller pieces of plywood (usually 3-4″ wide and the width of the cabinet frame) that are used to keep the cabinet square and sturdy. You will use 1 or 2 instead of the upper part of the cabinets that have a shelf above them. For frameless cabinets, you use the backer to separate the cabinet parts.
Face Frame: If you are building face frame cabinets, you will add a face frame to the front of the cabinet shell. The face frame consists of slats (the full height of the cabinet face frame) and rails (running horizontally between the slats).
The body of the cabinet is the plywood that forms the box. If you are building frameless cabinets, this will be the entire construction. If you are building face frame cabinets, you will build your face frame next and attach the two.
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If all your pieces are square and cut at perfect 90 degree angles, you’ll have perfect cabinet boxes. Then the only problem you will have during installation is your uneven walls.
When building multiple cabinets, take the time to figure out how you will cut each piece of plywood. You usually want the grain of the plywood to run vertically on the side piece. For horizontal parts, apply the grain side to side, not front to back.
To use a circular saw with a guide rail to cut plywood, lay a 2″ piece of hard foam on the ground or your workbench and place the plywood on top.
Make sure the plywood is square, if not, start by cutting the short side to square it with the long side. Then cut your pieces. Mark them as you go to make it easier to assemble later.
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Drill your pocket hole placement until the holes are in 3/4″ thick material. I love the Kreg Jig K4 system and use it on almost every woodworking project.
Drill pocket holes on both sides of the bottom piece, the top piece, and the support pieces. How many pocket holes you need depends on the length of your piece. You want them to be at least every 4-5 inches. For the support pieces, make sure you have 2 on each end.
For face frame cabinets, also drill pocket holes in the front of the bottom, top, and side pieces to attach the face frame later. It’s much easier to drill the pocket holes before mounting, so don’t forget this step.
If you cut the toe from the cabinet sides, cut them now. You can use a jigsaw to easily cut the toe kick to whatever size you want, usually they are about 4″ tall and 2-3″ deep.
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All joints will need wood glue to make your cabinet box strong. If you are using pre-finished plywood, regular wood glue will not work. Use melamine glue instead (I like this RooClear glue).
Place one of the side pieces on your work surface so that the outside (the side with the pocket holes) is facing down. Apply glue to the side of the bottom piece and attach it to the side piece.
For base cabinets, make sure it is flush with the bottom of the toe or the bottom of the side (if there is no foot strike). For wall cabinets, make sure it is flush with the top of the frame on the bottom surfaceAdvertisement