Beautiful kitchen cabinets instantly transform a kitchen. Not only do the cabinets provide storage opportunities for the room but it often becomes a focal point for anyone who walks in. Over time, the kitchen cabinets will no longer remain with the current times. The style will change and it will date the kitchen. Sometimes this can be corrected by updating the fixtures. You may even be able to apply a new paint or stain to the wood in order to update the kitchen cabinets. However, there are other times where you want to change the layout of the kitchen or want to add more storage to the room.

Whatever your desire is, it is possible to install new kitchen cabinets into the room to do exactly this. Now, it is possible to bring in a contractor for this work. If you are completely renovating the kitchen from the ground up, you may want to consider this option. It will help ensure the job is done right. It also helps increase the speed of the job. However, it will also cost more money.

So, if you're interested in new kitchen cabinets but don't want to spend the money on a contractor and are feeling handy, now is the time to build your own kitchen cabinets. It's best to start off small and increase your skill, but as you do, you'll quickly discover that it is possible to create beautiful, handcrafted kitchen cabinets. 

What Is a Kitchen Cabinet?

Kitchen Cabinet
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 A kitchen cabinet is the main unit of storage you use in the kitchen. There are several kinds of cabinets you are likely to use in the kitchen. One is above the sink and counter. This is where you likely put the dishes and other kitchen utensils you want to easily gain access to. The other cabinets are found under the counter level. You might store objects you use less frequently here. It might be where you place the bread maker or the blender. Objects you don't use regularly but might want to pull out from time to time.

The kitchen cabinets typically are built around where you place the appliances. So if you have a dishwasher, a refrigerator, stove top, or even a washing machine (if you have a European style kitchen). The cabinets are built to give you as much storage as the kitchen can hold. However, if you're interested in more storage, have spare wall space or want to replace the cabinets you currently have, it is possible to build your own kitchen cabinets.

Why Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets?

kitchen design
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There is a number of reasons why you might want to build your own kitchen cabinets. First, you might want to upgrade the current look of the kitchen. Perhaps you're renovating the entire kitchen or you just want to update the look of just the cabinets. You can do this by building your own cabinets. You might want to save money over the cost of a contractor which will charge you more not only to build and install the cabinets, but they might charge more for the building materials.

On top of this, you might want to create a stylized look of cabinets you can't find at the home improvement store. There are plenty of cabinet options available at DIY stores that require you to assemble the cabinets, but these come pre-made and cut. By building your own kitchen cabinets you'll have more control over what everything looks like and, when necessary, you can alter the cut size and shape to better fit both your needs and the needs of the kitchen.

How to Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets

cozy kitchen cabinets
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In order to build your own kitchen cabinets, you need to collect all the material ahead of time. Also, as you move along and need to measure cuts, it's always recommended to measure twice and cut once. It becomes expensive when you make the wrong cuts and need to go back to the home improvement store in order to make additional material purchases because you cut in the wrong location.

The material you will need includes:

  • Power drill
  • Dado cutter
  • Table saw
  • Circular saw
  • Layout square
  • Clawhammer
  • Wood nails
  • Deck screws (3" and 1.5")
  • Wood glue
  • 2 4' x 8' of 3/4 inch BC plywood
  • 1 4' x 8' sheet of 1/4 inch plywood
  • 1 2x4 (8 feet long)
  • 3 1x2 (8 feet long)

Cutting the Shelves

Take your 3/4 inch plywood. Measure the plywood in half, so each side is 18 inches by 24 inches. This will be the size of the cabinet. If you want a different size measure accordingly. Draw out the line with a pencil on the plywood, then use your table saw, cut along the lone.

Plywood is good to work with for these projects (especially if you will paint the shelves), but there is a sanded side and a non-sanded side. You must decide which side you want on the outside or inside (for kitchen cabinets you typically want the sanded side on the outside). If you want a different look or grain appearance, you can select a different 3/4 inch wood that fits your needs (plywood is the most cost friendly).

Use the table saw and measure out the width of the plywood (23/32 inch), then set the cutting depth to 1/4 inch. You'll want to cut out two 18" dadoes and a rabbit on each side of the new panels. Measure them to be perpendicular to the 24-inch edge.

Now, you'll want to set the fence of your table saw to 1/5 inches from the opposite end of the dado set. So, if the fence is on the right side of your blade you'll want to set the fence to 1.5 inches from the left side of the dado blade. Now, cut the dado grooves along the side of the panel you want to face outside. Repeat this process with both of the shelves.

From here, set the fence to 24 inches and make another cut along each side panel. This bottom grove becomes the rabbet groove. With the cut groove, this is where the bottom shelf is going to fit in.

Black Panel Rabbet Cutting

It is important to decide how you will hang the cabinets on the kitchen wall. Typically, there is a 3/4-inch piece of plywood that is used on the back to secure the cabinets to the wall. The cabinets are then drilled into place while using the room's wall studs to secure the plywood. This is the easiest method should you decide to take advantage of it.

If you're going to use the plywood, you can skip this step. If not, use the stacked dado cutter to a 3/8 inch depth and a width of a quarter inch. Now, move the fence on the table saw to 18 inches from the other end of the dado.  Identify which end of the 24-inch plywood you want to use as the back, then cut out the rabbet using the same side as you used to cut the dadoes. From here, cut another rabbit into the 18-inch sleeves.

Construct the Kitchen Cabinets

Position the wood into the cut grooves (do not assemble anything yet). Check for proper fit and sand accordingly to ensure everything is flush. The 12 3/4 shelf will be the middle shelf within the cabinet. Once you now everything fits correctly apply a small amount of wood glue along each surface of the rabbet and dado groves. Now, assemble the cabinets back together one at a time.

You can add mechanical fasteners inside of the cabinets to hold the shelves up. You can also take driving nails or deck screws from the outside of the cabinets and place the shelves on top of the point that pushes through onto the interior.

Installation of the Back

Cut down the 1/4 inch plywood to 47 1/4 inches by 18 inches. Now, place the cabinets flat and lay the plywood over the rear of the cabinets, using finishing nails to secure the rear to the back of the cabinets.

Secure to the Wall

Identify the wall studs. You can use a stud finder to help with this. You don't want to drill or nail into the open space between the studs as there is a number of utility lines running in between while working in the kitchen. Position the cabinets over the studs, then drill through the installed back into the wall and the stud. Use three screws per open cabinet. Then repeat the process with the second cabinet and all other cabinets you decide to install along with it. Make sure the cabinet is level as you continue on with attaching it to the wall. 


You don't need to spend big bucks in order to have new kitchen cabinets. In fact, you can make your own. All you need to do is take advantage of these steps, measure twice, cut once and you'll be on your way to brand new cabinets in your home.


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