How to Build Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets are the most prominent feature in most kitchens. Their appearance sets the tone for the décor of the entire room. Kitchen cabinets also receive constant use, and it is important that they be well-built to stand the test of time. To ensure you end up high quality kitchen cabinets, expert care is required at every stage of construction.

Approve a Set of Plans

When problems occur with the final result of a custom kitchen cabinet construction project, it can usually be traced back to a lack of communication between the homeowner and the cabinetmakers at the outset of the project. To avoid this situation, always make sure that the builder submits a set of drawings to the owner for approval before work begins. The builder and owner may decide to make changes at a later date, and that is normal. However, any such changes should be indicated on the drawings and initialed by the owner.

Finding the Right Material

Choosing the wood for kitchen cabinets involves two considerations – the aesthetic preferences of the owner, and the owner’s budget. Birch is a good choice for those looking for an economical wood. It has a medium hardness and a light natural color. Once finish is applied, birch can look very similar to more expense woods. Oak is another economical choice. It is an extremely hard wood with rich coloring and pronounced grain patterns. For those with a larger budget, cherry is a beautiful choice.

Constructing the Doors

Building kitchen cabinet doors involves milling rough wood stock, using a planer to achieve the correct thickness, ripping the pieces with a table saw, and running it all through a drum sander to make sure it is flat and smooth. Glue and clamps are used to assemble the doors. During construction, it is important to match grain appearance and wood hues so the doors have a uniform appearance. Staining and hardware are applied later in the process, once the other cabinet components have been built.

Assembly and Sealing

In addition to building the doors, custom kitchen cabinet construction involves building face frames, drawers, and the cabinet boxes that will hold it all together. Ultimately, the quality of the finished product will depend on small details along the way. For example, building cabinet drawers by dovetailing the front and back of each will add strength and a professional look. Prior to installation, it is critical to seal the cabinets with polyurethane. Failing to do so will result in warped doors, especially in a warm environment.

Installation in the Home

After the old cabinets are removed, walls should be painted before installation begins. Use an 8-foot level and studfinder to mark where the cabinets will be screwed to the walls. Upper units should be installed first, then base cabinets. And here is a tip that makes installing base cabinets easier. First build and install “ladder frames” to sit on the floor beneath the cabinet boxes. These frames can be leveled with shims, before the boxes are laid on top of them, eliminating the need to level the cabinets themselves.