How to Build Kitchen Cabinets

One of the most common reasons why people learn woodworking is to build cabinets. As you've probably noticed, outfitting your kitchen with all new cabinets found at the local home center can be a costly proposition. But upon close inspection, kitchen cabinets are little more than sturdy wooden boxes mounted in strategic locations, so why should you pay such a premium for them? With a little know-how and a few tools, you can build and install custom kitchen cabinets for a fraction of the cost of store-bought units. Once you get the hang of it, you can also create similar cabinets for bathrooms, a utility room, a garage, a workshop and more.

  • 01 of 09

    Cabinetry Basics

    two girls learning cabinetry from a man
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    No discussion of cabinetry is complete without first covering the basics. Before you dive into building individual cabinets, take some time to gain a solid foundation on the makeup of kitchen cabinets as well as the tools and accessories that can make the job much easier.

  • 02 of 09

    Building Kitchen Base Cabinets

    Base cabinets are the primary building blocks of your kitchen layout. Not only do they provide ample storage, particularly for larger items like pots and pans, they also form the foundation for your kitchen countertops. Building your own base cabinets means you can easily modify the widths and depths of each cabinet box to fit your kitchen layout and usage.

  • 03 of 09

    Blind Corner Base Cabinets

    Nearly all kitchens require at least one blind corner base cabinet, where two straight runs of cabinets butt together in a corner. There are a few variations of this blind corner cabinet, such as an angled drawer or lazy Susan, in addition to a wide-open blind corner base, each of which allows for different storage uses of unusual cabinet space.

  • 04 of 09

    Making Wall Cabinets

    Wall cabinets are commonly used for dishes and glassware, food and spice storage, cookbooks, and more. Wall cabinets can be covered by doors (with or without glass), or they can be left open to display items. No matter how you choose to cover your wall cabinets, the basics of the box design are the same.

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  • 05 of 09

    Building Kitchen Pantry Cabinets

    Pantry cabinets are typically tall, narrow units that extend from the floor to the top of the wall cabinets. They can be built with multiple shelves for food storage, or they can have large open compartments that accommodate brooms and other tall items. In any case, pantry cabinets, like wall and base cabinets, start as a basic cabinet box, or carcase.

  • 06 of 09

    Creating a Bookcase Cabinet

    If you have a lot of cookbooks that you'd like to display or store for easy access, a kitchen bookcase cabinet is just what you need. This type of cabinet can also be used to outfit a study or living room wall where family heirlooms, trophies, and knick-knacks can be displayed.

  • 07 of 09

    Hanging Cabinets With French Cleats

    Hanging wall cabinets securely can be a challenge, but a French cleat (sometimes referred to as a wedge bracket) can simplify this process. A French cleat works great for hanging all sorts of large items on the wall, such as a pot rack for storing and displaying attractive cookware.

  • 08 of 09

    Building Cove-Style Raised-Panel Cabinet Doors

    One of the easiest ways to remake the look of a kitchen is to replace the kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Cove-style raised-panel cabinet doors are a popular choice, but building them usually requires a very expensive set of raised-panel router bits and a heavy-duty router. A simpler method is to use an angled fence installed on a table saw, which also allows for a wider variety of cove shapes than you can make with a single-arc raised-panel router bit set.

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  • 09 of 09

    Easy European Slab-Style Cabinet Doors

    A more basic design for cabinet doors, the slab-style door is popular in Europe. While the door is seemingly plain, it can be finished using a variety of techniques, from painting to staining, to give a custom look to the kitchen. They can even be hand-painted for truly one-of-a-kind kitchen features.