Make Your Own Kitchen Cabinets

Making your own kitchen cabinets can be a rewarding and money-saving enterprise. With the right tools and a little know-how, there’s no reason why your cabinetry project shouldn’t be a huge success.In this article, we’ll help you decide whether a large-scale cabinetmaking project is right for you, and offer a few time-saving tips for those who decide to take the plunge. When you’re ready to get underway, remember that Rockler offers a broad selection of cabinetmaking tools, supplies and hardware that will help make your project smooth and trouble-free. Is Building Your Own Cabinets Right for You? Cabinetmaking can be a big job, even for experienced woodworkers. At Rockler, we carry a complete line of tools and equipment designed to make the process as accurate and trouble-free as possible. A word of caution for the novice woodworker: Building an entire kitchen’s-worth of new cabinets can be a challenge. It’s not the ideal project for a beginning woodworker. Before you undertake a project that will have a dramatic impact on one of the most important rooms in you home, weigh other options carefully – there might be a simpler solution. If you haven’t already, read Rockler’s article “Options for Updating Your Kitchen” for a look at other, less demanding approaches. In general, what you’ll need to build your own cabinets are intermediate woodworking skills, a basic collection of woodworking tools (with the ability to add a few specialized items as you go along) and a fair amount of free time. You’ll also need a workspace big enough to work with 4X8 foot sheet material and to house your cabinets while you work on them. In theory, cabinetmaking isn’t complicated; it really amounts to nothing more than building a simple box shape (over and over again, in the case of a kitchen remodel). Still, to make solid, attractive cabinets in a reasonable amount of time, you’ll need more than the tips offered in this article. If you’re new to cabinetmaking, we highly recommend picking up any one of the detailed kitchen cabinetmaking books in our collection. If you’re still unsure, before your commit yourself to a sizable undertaking, consider a small, one-off cabinet project to get a feel for the process. Making cabinet doors and matching drawer fronts takes time ane requires special milling. That’s why many professional cabinetmakers “shop out” this demanding part of the job. With Rockler’s Custom Door and Drawer Front Program, you’ll save time and ensure a great-looking finished product. The program offers Hardwood or white RTF coated doors and drawer fronts in a wide variety of styles, custom made to the exact the sizes you need. The expertly-constructed doors & drawer fronts you order will be delivered to your door, ready to install. Time-Saving Cabinetmaking Tips Doors and Drawer Front Options In a typical cabinetmaking project, making the doors and drawer fronts is half the battle. If you’re short on time, or leery of taking on this part of the project yourself, having your cabinet doors and drawer fronts made for you is a great alternative. With Rockler’s Custom Door and Drawer Front Program, you can have all of your new doors and drawer custom built to your specifications and delivered to your door ready to finish and hang. The cost of taking advantage of this great time-saver is less than you may think, and virtually guarantees that your doors and drawer fronts will be exactly the right size, flat, and reliably constructed. Using the program lets you concentrate on getting the cabinets just right, and could cut the time it takes you to complete the project in half. When you add up the cost of materials and the time it takes to do a good job on a kitchen’s- worth of doors, the Custom Door and Drawer Front program starts to look like a real bargain. If you decide to tackle the door and drawer front project yourself, be sure to arm yourself with the a little knowledge and the right tools before you begin. If raised panel doors are in the plan, be sure to read Rockler’s article, “Raised Panel Door Tools and Techniques” for an in-depth look at frame and panel construction, and advice on tools and techniques that make the process straightforward and enjoyable. Cabinet Drawers Making cabinet drawer boxes is another of the more challenging aspects of cabinetmaking. For drawers to operate properly, drawer boxes need to be square and and flat. To help you get started on the right foot, Rockler offers a accurately milled, flat precut drawer sides in a couple of varieties. At Rockler, we stock just about every drawer slide option under the sun. Choose from reliable ball-bearing slides, affordable roller-bearing slides, hidden undermount slides, or even classic wooden slides. Remember that the slide you choose will influence the style and dimensions of the drawer boxes you make. So plan ahead and choose your drawer slides before you build. Rockler Unfinished Drawer Sides are made of baltic baltic birch plywood (a reliable and stable “standard” for drawer box construction) and pre-grooved for a 1/4″ drawer bottom. They’re available in a variety of common widths and shipped in convenient four foot lengths. If you’re interested in saving even more time, choose Rockler Pre-Finished Drawer Sides. They feature a UV cured clear coat finish on all sides along with a veneered top edge for a more dressy look. When the time comes to join your drawer boxes, you’ll find information on reliable methods in “Drawer Box Joinery Tips”. Drawer Slides Before you order or build your new cabinet drawers, remember to give some thought to drawer slides. There are many types of drawer slides available, and the type and dimensions of the drawer you buy or make will influence the type of slide that you will be able to use. For top performance and long service, it’s tough to beat a ball bearing drawer slide. For help choosing the ball bearing drawer slide that best suits your new drawers, read Rockler’s “Ball Bearing Drawer Slide FAQ”. Hardware and Hinges One of the key advantages of designing and building your own cabinets is that you have complete control of the selection of hinges and other hardware. Along with that, it is extremely important to understand that not all cabinet hardware is designed to be used on all types of cabinetry. European hinges, like the Blum overlay hinge pictured above, are easy to install and adjustable in either two or three directions, making them an extremely popular choice. The Rockler Jig-It European Hinge Jig makes the installation process even easier.The jig’s unique drill guide and template system make drilling accurate hinge cup holes fast and practically foolproof. In particular, the type of cabinets you build will greatly impact the type and variety of hinges available for your project. By the same token, selecting your cabinet hinges based on adjustability and ease of installation in advance can greatly simplify the installation phase of your cabinetmaking project. We strongly encourage you to read Rockler’s article, “Understanding Hinges” before you design and build your cabinets. The Final Touches When your cabinetmaking project progress toward its final stages, it will be time to start thinking about the final touches. Choosing an appropriate wood finishing method will go along way in protecting your cabinets through the years of everyday use they are likely to receive. Rockler’s “Finishing Comparison Guide” will help you select a finish that will accentuate the beauty of your new cabinets, and stand up to less than wood-friendly kitchen environment. Last but not least is your chance to put your final “style statement” on the project. Rockler offers a selection of knobs and pull to fit every taste and budget. And in “Selecting Cabinet Knobs and Pulls” you’ll find time-saving tips on installing hardware along with the basics of knob and pull materials and finishes, projection, and styles.
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Make Your Own Kitchen Cabinets

Label your face frame parts first Match color and grain Dry-fit face frame parts so the best side of all the boards will be seen, avoiding stark grain color variations at joints. Label all the pieces with a pencil so the frame goes back together the same way you laid it out. The pencil marks also come in handy when you’re ready to sand the assembled frame. You’ll know you have flat joints when the pencil marks disappear. Build the Cabinets, Buy the Doors Building cabinet doors is doable but can be tricky. It sometimes requires powerful and expensive wood-shaping equipment. And if you have a bunch to build, you’ll need a lot of clamps and even more space. Unless you have unlimited free time, consider building your cabinets but buying your doors. You’ll find many door makers online (search for “buy cabinet doors”). Cabinet doors can be ordered in a variety of styles and in increments as small as 1/16 in. It’s always nice to be able to see and touch, so check out your local cabinet shop as well. Back to Top Video: How to Cut a Rabbet Joint with a Table Saw Back to Top Assemble the face frame with pocket screws Strong, fast joinery Pocket hole screws are a fast and easy way to join a face frame. You don’t need a lot of clamps or wood glue. A mortise-and-tenon joint may make you feel like a true craftsman, but only you will know you spent all that extra time. You can buy an entry-level pocket screw jig for less than $50, but if you plan to build several face frame projects, spend about three times that to get a top-of-the-line jig. For more on pocket screw joinery, see How to Use Pocket Screws. Back to Top Leave off the back until you apply finish Make finishing easy If you plan to finish your project before you install it, leave the back off until after you’ve applied the finish. It makes getting into all those nooks and crannies a lot easier, especially in deeper cabinets. Wood glue won’t stick to finishes, so if you want to glue on the back, use polyurethane glue. Back to Top Trim some face frames flush Make perfect edges Face frames on furniture look best when they’re flush with the cabinet sides. But it’s still better to build the face frame a little bigger (about 1/16 in.), and trim it off with a flush trim router bit. Adjust the bit depth so the cutting edges are only slightly deeper than the face frame. Flush trim bit A self-piloting flush trim bit with a bottom bearing makes the joint between face frame and box almost disappear. They’re available anywhere router bits are sold. Back to Top Gang up on your components Cut, plane and sand everything at once Even with a good table saw, it’s difficult to exactly replicate previous cuts, so plan ahead and cut all your face frame parts at the same time. Gang-planing your stiles and rails will save time and ensure all the parts are exactly the same width and thickness. Gang-sand board edges by clamping them together. That not only speeds up sanding but also keeps you from rounding over edges. And always make more parts than you need. Having extra allows you to choose the best boards. Back to Top Leave the end stile off to scribe Get a perfect fit Assemble the whole face frame on your workbench with pocket screws, then remove the last stile. That way you’ll be guaranteed a perfect fit when you reattach it after planing. Or attach it with a bit of glue and a few brads. Leave one end stile off when you install cabinets that butt against walls at both ends. With a complete face frame, you won’t be able to push the cabinet into place or scribe and adjust the stile to fit. Cut that last stile a bit oversize to leave room for scribing, and rip a 45-degree back bevel for easier planing to your scribed line. The bevel also makes it easier to twist the stile into place. Back to Top Nail the face frame to the boxes Simple attachment method One of the easiest ways to attach face frames to carcasses is with a thin bead of wood glue and an 18-gauge brad nailer with 2-in. brads. Be sparing with brads; their main duty is to hold the frame in place while the glue dries. A couple per side and wherever there’s a void should do the trick. A little putty will make the brad holes almost invisible. Back to Top Build face frames larger Leave overlaps A main function of a face frame is to hide the exposed plywood laminations. A face frame does a better job of this if it overlaps the box edges a bit. Making the face frame run past all the plywood edges provides a little wiggle room and hides not-so-perfect saw cuts on the plywood. Face frames on sides of kitchen cabinets should overlap 1/4 in. on the outside edge. This makes room for adjustments when installing them next to one another. Build the face frame so that the bottom rail (“rails” are horizontal boards and “stiles” are vertical boards) projects 1/16 in. above the bottom shelf of the cabinet. Back to Top Don’t cut rabbets if they’re not needed Time saver It’s common practice to cut a rabbet (a notch to receive the 1/4-in. back panel) on the back edge of cabinet carcasses so the back panel will be recessed. But that’s not necessary if the cabinet sides won’t be visible—the back panel edges won’t be either. Save yourself some time and just tack on the back panel with a brad nailer. Make sure to take into account the overall depth of your cabinets—they’ll be 1/4 in. deeper if you go this route. Don’t Settle For What’s in the Home Center Home centers and lumberyards typically have only a few cabinet- grade plywood options in stock, but almost all of them can order what you need. You can order sheets with more plies for stability; pick the orientation of the wood grain; buy sheets with hardwood on one side and melamine on the other; choose marine-grade plywood for outdoor projects … the options go on and on. It takes a little planning ahead, and ask about minimum orders, but don’t limit yourself to oak if you really want cherry. Back to Top Build a separate base Level the base It’s important to use dead-straight wood for bases so it’ll be flat for setting the cabinets. Once your cabinets are installed, finish off the base front with a strip of 1/4-in. plywood that matches the cabinets. Most factory-built cabinets have a recessed “toe-kick” that’s typically about 4 in. high and deep. But you can also make a separate base that’s the total length of the cabinet assembly and build shorter cabinets to make up the difference. With this method, you won’t have to mess around with figuring out and cutting toe-kick profiles on your cabinets. This is also a handy technique when you have an uneven floor because you need to level and shim only one base instead of several individual cabinets. Back to Top Build individual boxes Easier installation Moving and installing long one-piece cabinets can be a tough job, and it may not even be possible to get the assembly into the room. Instead of creating such a monster, build individual cabinet carcasses. Add the face frame after they’re all in place. Back to Top Cap end cabinets Hide fasteners If you cap the end cabinet with 1/4-in. plywood, you don’t have to hide the fasteners you used to build your boxes. That means you can use large, sturdy screws without worrying about ugly putty-filled holes. You’ll also need an end cap if you choose to build a separate base. Use construction adhesive and a few small brads to fasten the panel in place, and make sure you extend the outside face frame stile an additional 1/4 in. to account for the thickness of the plywood. Back to Top

Make Your Own Kitchen Cabinets

Make Your Own Kitchen Cabinets
Make Your Own Kitchen Cabinets
Make Your Own Kitchen Cabinets
Make Your Own Kitchen Cabinets
Make Your Own Kitchen Cabinets