How to Build Kitchen Cabinets

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Save money by building your own kitchen cabinets! If you like home improvement projects, building your dream kitchen is easy. With the right tools and plans, you'll showcase carpentry talents you didn't know you had!

Measure your kitchen. Create a scale drawing that includes the cabinets you want to build. Use cabinet building plans you can find online, in books or at home improvement stores.

Visit your local lumber supplier that sells cabinetry. Examine how various types of finished wood look and note the price. What kind looks best to you? If you're planning on painting or glazing cabinets to fit your kitchen, you can choose less expensive wood. Pick one that will enhance the color and finish you want. See the tips for this section to find wood grain descriptions.

Once you've selected your wood, give your measurements to a lumber store employee. He or she will help estimate your total cost.

Create a final draft of kitchen dimensions and cabinet measurements. Make sure you arrange your cabinets perfectly. Rearrange to use all available space.

Make a list of necessary supplies, including the exact dimensions of the wood pieces you need. Purchase your supplies from a home improvement or lumber supply store.

Build your cabinets according to step-by-step plans of your choice.

Stain or paint your finished cabinets according to product label instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Hickory's wood grain has dramatic contrast. This type of wood often suits a rustic, country look. It's highly durable, heavy and exceptionally strong.
  • Cherry is lavish, versatile. Its distinctive, rich color has deep, red highlights; striking pin knots; small, dark streaks and attractive pitch pockets. Cherry suggests luxury and extravagance. It's perfect for contemporary as well as traditional styles.
  • American Red Oak is versatile and durable. Its bold grain adds a beautiful accent to country and traditional kitchens. Its spectacular patterns include small, crimson pin knots and dark streaks. Choose Red Oak if you want delicate to deep color that endures and remains handsome.
  • White Oak is also very versatile. Its medium-to-dark finish has an open grain. It can vary in color from beige to medium brown.
  • Maple is a good choice if you plan on painting or glazing. It looks lovely when stained since the grain can be curly with interesting patterns. It has a buttery white to light rosy brown color.
  • Knotty Pine has an outdoorsy look. This rustic wood has a generally-straight grain with a creamy color. Its knots are prominent.
  • Ash has an open grain with porous rings. Its color can vary from white to brown. It doesn't absorb any stain very well. Often, it's varnished with the natural color left unstained.
  • Mahogany is very sturdy, with a straight grain. It's one of the best woods to use. Its color can range from light crimson to brownish yellow to deep red.
  • Make certain that drawers and doors don't block anything when open.
  • There are free cabinet building plans online for many different designs. Use them for inspiration and guidance.
  • When selecting wood, choose boards that are clean, straight and flat. Examine corners for damage.
  • For a small fee, many lumber supply stores and home improvement centers cut wood to order. Consider this cost when calculating your budget. With a little extra money, your wood will be professionally cut. The pieces will be guaranteed or replaced at no extra charge.
  • If you opt to cut your own wood, take measurements twice to be certain they're correct. Draw lines with the assistance of a framing square or combination. Double-check every cut. Make sure all edges are square. Correct cuts that aren't with a plane before lightly sanding all edges.
  • Make cabinet assembly a breeze by labeling all parts with a pencil. Use arrows to indicate how they will fit. Save time and frustration!
  • To glue a cabinet together, rest the parts on end on a clean, flat surface. Bond the bottom, sides, top and shelves. The back should be glued on last. Pipe clamps should be attached with wood shims or scraps in place so the wood isn't damaged.
  • You can easily check to see if partially assembled cabinets are square. Measure diagonally across each corner. If the lengths match, the piece is square. If it isn't square, tap the edges with a rubber mallet before fully pounding in finishing nails.
  • Don't forget to offset floor cabinets with two-by-fours. Doing so will allow them to stand flush against the wall. Otherwise, you may have to remove the lower wall molding.

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