Making My Own Kitchen Cabinets

Making 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 sized to fit your space!

Kitchen remodeling with custom cabinets is expensive! But you can save a lot of money by doing them yourself.

Making My Own Kitchen Cabinets

Building your own wall cabinets 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 make 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 do a quick sketch before you start building your wall cabinets. Here are some standard dimensions you should take into account:

In my kitchen, I built three base cabinets to fit along one wall and I designed 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 top of the cabinets and the ceiling for trim.

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

If you are not painting the inside of your cabinets, you will want to keep the direction of the wood grain in mind when making the cuts. The grain should run vertically in the cross and back pieces and horizontally in 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 cabinet sides and was cut into 36″ x 48″ pieces. The other sheet is for the tops, bottoms, and shelves and is 30″ x 48″. ” is cut into sections.

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Then I trimmed 1″ off the cut edges with my track saw to clean them up and get the final length for all the pieces.

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Now I can set the fence on my table saw in one go and cut all the sides, tops, bottoms and shelves to the same width. You can also 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 get mixed up! I use painter’s tape so I don’t have to sand the marks later. Save any leftover pieces that are at least 3″ wide for the nail strips.

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

You can cut this groove on a table saw, with a router, or with a circular saw or track saw (using an edge guide). I like to use a single blade instead of a dado stock, because this groove only requires two passes through the saw for a proper fit.

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First, adjust the height of the blade so it cuts at least a third of the way through the wood. I set mine to 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 adjust the gap from the blade to the fence with the same scrap of plywood you plan to use for the nail strips.

Use a piece of scrap plywood to cut the first groove, then set it aside. Cut all sides, top and bottom in one setting.

Now shift the fence slightly to the right to widen the groove. Run a test piece through the saw and check that the ¼” plywood fits. Keep adjusting the gap until it slides forcefully but stays snugly in place.

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Before you move the fence, there’s one more cut to make. The shelves were previously cut to the same size at the top and bottom, but now the back panel is in the way.

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You can use this same table saw setting to trim the back of the shelf so it’s 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.

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

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

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These are frameless wall cabinets, so you’ll need to cover the plywood edge so you don’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 cabinet, you should choose edge banding that matches the plywood. Since I’m building these wall cabinets out of prefinished birch plywood, I used prefinished birch edge banding.

Apply edge banding to the opposite edge of the groove you cut. Iron it, then trim the excess with an edge banding trimmer.

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

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Drilling the shelf pin holes is now much easier after the cabinet is assembled. There are several different shelf pin jigs out there that make it easy to get the proper spacing with just a drill.

But I found that the drill bit could create a ragged hole, so I chose to set the router. I build a lot of cabinets, so it’s worth the investment! I will go into more detail about this process in a separate tutorial soon.

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

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If you have a pocket hole jig, you can use it to drill pocket holes on both ends of the top and bottom pieces. Make sure these holes face up against the groove!

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I prefer to avoid pocket holes on the bottom of cabinets, because you can see them when you sit at the nearby dining table. I was planning to cover the sides with the end panel anyway, so I decided to drill countersink holes.

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

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

After all the prep work, assembling the wall cabinet is the easy part! Apply wood glue to both ends of the bottom piece. Clamp the two sides down and check for squareness. Then screw them 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 are hidden between cabinets or against the wall or covered with end panels.

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

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


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