How to Build a DIY Kitchen Cabinet in 2020

How to Build a DIY Kitchen Cabinet in 2020

Building your DIY kitchen cabinet could appear daunting. But really, all that is needed is just a mix of creativity and some basic woodworking skills. Custom kitchen cabinets could be very expensive, but you can build them yourself. You just need to get creative and apply yourself to some DIY carpentry expertise.

So if you’re looking to build your kitchen cabinets from scratch, you just need to get certain tools for the project and apply yourself to the step-by-step instructions provided in this article. Below are the necessary tools and materials needed in building a custom cabinet for yourself.

Tools & Materials Needed

The cabinet cases would be made from:

Cabinet makers based on years of experience have come up with standardized cabinet dimensions. These dimensions would help you build a cabinet that will serve you without giving any form of discomfort while trying to reach into it and retrieve things.
Build a Kitchen Cabinet in 2020

Fit the Cabinet Case to an Opening

In building the cabinet case, provide a clearance of about ½-inch between another cabinet opening and also between the kitchen wall. These gaps will eventually be filled with the face frame that will overlap on the sides.

Cut all the parts (except for the back and toe-kick) of the base cabinet with your table saw, from a ¾-inch sheet of plywood or MDF having a dimension of 4-inches × 8-inches. The thicknesses of plywood vary, so ensure your material thickness measures ¾-inch. If it doesn’t, make necessary adjustments to attain the final cabinet width.

Now, cut two side pieces to the standard cabinet depth of 24 inches. Then cut off ¾-inch from the two side pieces cut to the standard cabinet depth of 24 inches. Cut those two side pieces to an equal length and label them left and right with pencil marks on the inner faces. Now, cut off the thickness of the back (¾-inch) from your fence setting, and then cut the bottom panel to the width and then to length.

The next step would be to build perfect-fitting dadoes. Use the plywood thickness to set the width of the dadoes. Cut a ⅜-inch deep dado on the inside face of each side piece to give room for the attachment of the bottom frame. Use the same setup to cut ⅜-inch deep rabbets along the inside back edge of the sides to also give room for the attachment of the cabinet back. Then cut a groove on the bottom front corner of the side pieces to create toe kick.

Now cut four stretchers, each with a width of 2½-inches and a base block having a width of 3½-inches. Then drill two pocket holes on both ends of each part. If you wish to add an adjustable shelf within your cabinet case, drill shelf-pin holes on both sides.

Put it all together

The square cabinet requires that the flat assembly surface fits in perfectly to avoid twisting the glue applied.

Place a side panel on your work surface with its dadoed face up, apply glue to the dado and insert the bottom panel. Apply glue to the dado on the other side panel and mount it on the bottom panel. Support the other end of the side panel with top stretchers that will be fitted in with a pocket-hole-screw.

Calculate the intended position of the front drawer stretcher by adding an extra inch to the height of the drawer boxes that will be made. Now cut two stretchers to equal lengths then create an equal distance between the front drawer stretcher and the front top stretcher and then pocket-hole-screw both drawer stretchers.

Measure the back drawer stretcher to an equal dimension with the front drawer stretcher then centre it with the bottom of the front drawer stretcher. Use your tape measure to check if you’ve built a perfect square. This setup also applies to the upper cabinet. Once the glue previously applied is dried, cut the back panel to fit. Then glue and nail it in place.

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Cut the Face Frame parts

The frame parts should be cut from a straight-grain stock having a thickness of about ¾-inch. Cut those parts to a width of 1½-inches or 2-inches, depending on the part of the straight-grain stock.

Start by cutting 2-inch wide stiles which are ⅛-inch longer than the dimension from the toe kick cutout to the top of the cabinet case which is 31-inches in this case. Should you need to make room for uneven walls, cut the stiles to a width of 2¼-inches instead, then trim the overhangs on the sides later so that it will fit the opening. The middle rail beneath the drawers should also be cut to a width of 2-inches.

Cut the top and bottom rails from the initial 1½-inches wide straight-grain stock. The length of all three rails can be calculated by measuring the width of the cabinet case and then adding ¼-inch for the two overhangs which measure ⅛-inch. Now go ahead and cut off 4-inches and that will give you the lengths of all three rails. Rout a ⅛-inch round-over on the top inside edge of the bottom rail.

Now position the middle rail such that its top edge is even with the upper face of the middle stretcher. Cut the upper and lower vertical dividers to a dimension that fits in between the middle rail as well as the top and bottom rails. Make use of pocket-hole-screws at each joint to assemble the frame parts. There will be no sign of the screws once the frame is glued to the cabinet.

Glue the Frame to the Cabinet Case

Apply glue to the edges of the case then centre the frame between the sides of the case. Ensure the lower frame rail inside is ⅛-inch above the inside faces of the bottom panel. Make sure the top stile ends sit even with the top ends of the sides of the case. Now clamp the frame in place. Also, clamp the middle rail to the drawer stretcher. If you wish to paint the cabinet, do not clamp. Simply glue and nail the frame to the case and then fill the holes.

Construct the Cabinet doors

Before cutting any part of the door, ensure that your table saw is well-tuned. Make sure the fence and miter slots are parallel to the blade. Then attach an extension to the miter gauge and square the miter gauge to the blade. Now lock your blade precisely at 90 ° to the tabletop.

  • For an inset door, subtract ¼-inch from both the height and width of your frame opening to get the door size.

Height of door = Height of opening – ¼ 

Width of door = Width of opening – ¼ 

  • Cut two stiles to the door height from ¾×2-inch planks.
  • Subtract 4-inch from the overall width of your door to make the 2-inch wide stiles, then add ¾-inch for the tenons and cut the rails to that length.
  • Set the height of your table saw to ⅜-inch and position the fence to centre a test piece on edge over the blade. Now cut the groove to the same length as the scrap. Ensure the groove is centred by turning the scrap end for end and then making a second cut. Now gradually move the fence away from the blade until you have cut a centred groove to match the thickness of the plywood panel. Then make a groove in the stiles and rails.
  • Make use of a dado blade to cut tenons on the rails. Set the height of the blade to ¼-inch, then double-face-tape an extension to your mitre gauge and a spacer block to the fence about 4-inches away from the blade. Adjust the fence until you have cut a ⅜-inch tenon on test scrap that bottoms out in the stile grooves.
  • To get the size of your panel, make use of a 2½-inches wide frame and ensure your panels are 4⅝-inches narrower and 4⅝-inches shorter than the door frame parts.
  • Make use of a 2½-inch wide frame and cut a ¼-inch deep dado

Height of panel = Height of door – 4⅝ inches

Width of panel = Width – 4⅝ inches 

  • Now cut the panel to a size which is a little bit smaller than the opening between the stile and rail groove footings. If you want the doors stained, stain the panels before assembling the frame.
  • Now cut the panel to a size which is a little bit smaller than the opening between the stile and rail groove footings. If you want the doors stained, stain the panels before assembling the frame.
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Mount the doors on your Cabinet

The adjustability of European-style hinges makes the mounting of doors as easy as assembling them.

To mount the doors, drill 1⅜-inch holes of ½-inch depth with a Forstner bit. Make sure the holes are 4¼-inches away from the top and bottom of the door for enough clearance and keep the centre of the hole -inches away from the stile edge.

Place a hinge cup in a hole and ensure the straight hinge edge is parallel to the stile edge, then mark the mounting screw slots. Now drill screw pilot holes and install the hinge. Repeat the same process for the other hinge.

Hold the door in a vertically centred position and then mark the location where the hinge screw should be mounted along the frame edge. Drill pilot holes and screw the door to the frame. Should you need to adjust the door positions, check out the hinge instructions.

Construct the Drawers

  • Cut the sides of a ½×4-inch plank to the drawer-box which should be 18-inches long. Subtract ½-inch from the width of the drawer opening in the frame and cut the front and the back of the drawer to a size of about 12-inches.
  • On the bottom inside edge of each piece, cut a groove ¼-inch from the edge to give clearance for the attachment of the bottom drawer. The bottom drawer sheet should be ¼-inch thick.
  • Set your table saw fence ¼-inch from the edge of a ¼-inch dado blade which is ¼-inch high. Test the saw settings in scrap and cut dadoes at both ends of the two sides.
  • Attach a ¼-inch spacer to the rip fence. The spacer should slightly touch the teeth of the blade. Now rabbet both ends of the drawer front and back to create a tenon that fits the side dadoes. The tenons should be closely fitted with the dadoes and the outside faces of the front and back should be even with the ends of the sides.
  • Assemble a frame-and-panel drawer front. Now mount the glides on the case and the lower edge of the drawer box side according to the instructions on the product you obtained. The plastic mounting bracket enables you to adjust the slides up and down as well as side-to-side; this eventually produces a drawer that opens smoothly. Ensure the front of the drawer box is even with the frame.

Install the doors and ensure they are even to each other. Now place a spacer on top of the door and ensure the width of that spacer is equal to the distance between the doors and drawer fronts. Then apply a double-faced tape to the inside face of the drawer front, align it with the door and press it against the drawer box. Now drill pilot holes from the inside front of the drawer box to the frame of the drawer front and screw on the front.

Make a template that fits into the exposed panel on the drawer front and centre two mounting holes to suit your cabinet hardware. Place the template on the drawer front panel and drill the mounting holes intended for the attachment of the cabinet hardware. Now install the drawer pulls. You can make use of longer screws for your hardware as you deem fit.

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Perfect your finished Cabinet

Apply a finish to your doors, drawers and hardware. Move the cabinet cases to where they will be installed. Align the bottom edges to level the cabinets and make the face frame edges parallel with each other.

Clamp the face frames of the cabinet together then screw them to the wall and each other while ensuring the faces are even. Compensate for the frame overlap by adding a ¼-inch spacer between the cases toward their backs and between the clamps. Now drill pilot holes and screw the frames together with the cabinets where you inserted the ¼-inch spacers.

Now you’ll need to make a countertop that will overlap the front or both the front and the sides about 1½-inches. The countertop can be made from two sheets of MDF edged with maple. The countertop can also be made from butcher block, granite or tile.

Next, hold the upper cabinet in place while you screw it to the wall. Place two 18-inches tall temporary support made from scrap on ½-inch spacers and rest the upper cabinet on the supports. Once you’ve screwed the cabinet to the wall, slide out the ½-inch spacers. This will allow the supports to tilt out from under the cabinet.

You can now remount the doors and drawers and you can start stocking up your cabinet. I’m sure by now you’ll begin to appreciate the rewarding efforts you’ve put into making a DIY kitchen cabinet.

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