No matter what type of cabinets you are planning to build or their purpose, the basics of cabinet design stay the same. Cabinets are basically little more than wood boxes that are trimmed with doors and/or wood trim appropriate to the cabinet's purpose. If the cabinets are used in your garage or your workshop, then the finish can be rough, but if they are used in the kitchen or the bedroom or one of the other main rooms of your house you will want a fine finish.
Things You'll Need
- Graph paper
- Tape measure
Determine where the cabinets will go and their purpose.
Measure the space available for the cabinets. Allow for windows and doors in your measurements.
Based on the space available, determine the dimensions of the cabinets.
Design your Cabinets
Using graph paper, draw the dimensions of the room (to scale) showing where the windows, doors, appliances, or other furniture are located or will sit in the room. Note your measurements for the cabinets on the drawing as well.
On graph paper, prepare a three-dimensional drawing of the basic box of the cabinet(s) that shows the height, width, and length of the cabinet(s). Use graph paper for all of your drawings, this will allow you to draw them to scale using the squares on the graph paper.
List the materials needed to build the basic box of the cabinets.
Ordinarily, 3/4" plywood is used to build the basic box of the cabinet. The boxes should be held together with rabbets and dados. This will make for a stronger box then if held together with glue and brads or staples.
Exposed surfaces should be covered with stained wood veneer or melamine that matches the front exterior finish. The interior of the cabinet should be light colored for easy viewing and cleaning. Use a light colored melamine over the plywood to achieve the desired interior color.
If your cabinet design calls for open or glass doors, use a stained wood veneer interior that matches the exterior finish.
Prepare a three-dimensional drawing of the face of the cabinets. The face frame should be constructed with solid wood for extra strength.
List the materials needed for the face frame. Use high quality 1 x 2 boards held together with rabbets and dados.
If the cabinet includes drawers, prepare a three-dimensional drawing of the drawer box.
The drawers should be made of real wood for the best appearance. The drawer box should be held together with dovetail joints on all four corners to make the drawer stronger.
The drawer box should be built with a captive plywood bottom to support a heavy load. This bottom can be covered with melamine on the interior for easy cleaning. Drawer glides should be mounted under the drawers to allow for a wider drawer box. Glides should allow the drawer to roll easily and to come out far enough for easy access to the contents, without falling out.
Allow for a fully enclosed space under the bottom drawer in base cabinets. This will help protect contents from dust, bugs, and rodents as well as adding strength to the overall cabinet.
The face of the drawer should be made from 3/4" plywood. It will be large enough to cover the opening and abut the front frame when the drawer is closed. It should be covered with stained wood veneer or melamine that matches the rest of the front exterior finish.
Drawer handles should be selected to match other hardware being used on the cabinet doors.
Prepare a three-dimensional drawing of the shelves for the cabinet. The shelves need to be measured for the interior of the cabinet and to allow for the closing of cabinet doors.
They should be made from 3/4" plywood for strength and covered with melamine to give a finished look and for easy cleaning.
Prepare a three-dimensional drawing of the doors to the cabinet. The door should be made of 3/4" plywood and covered with stained wood veneer or melamine that matches the other exterior surfaces of the cabinets.
The door should be sized to cover the opening of the front of the cabinet and abut the front frame. Hinges will attach to the door and to the front frame. Two hinges should be sufficient but three can be used on each door. Door knobs should be selected to match the hinges and knobs on the drawers.
Trim can be added to the front of the cabinet to give a decorative finish. The trim can be molding around the edges or it could be added to the doors for a fancier look. The trim will need to be stained to match the rest of the exterior of the cabinet.
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