Mom's kitchen Cabinets #1: Hmmm might be a bad start.

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Blog entry by bluchz posted 08-23-2009 07:59 PM 1507 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Mom's kitchen Cabinets series Part 2: Step #2 base cabinet boxes »

This will start with a question for the cabinet guys. I got 3/4” birch ply and 1/2” maple ply to make the cabinet boxes out of, why you ask? good question. I wasn’t paying attention when i place my special order for 1/2” pre-finished ply.well the plan was to make the sides of the base cabinets from 3/4” ply and the backs and bottoms from 1/2” ply. Anyone see a problem with this? I guess i can’t live with the bottom and the sides having different looks. Am i wrong? is this a standard industry thing? i kinda assumed(yeah i know) that the guy placing the order knew what i needed after i told him what i was doing. Soo the big question is is this a standard thin that i haven’t noticed? I am not looking forward to trying to return 12 sheets of 1/2” ply it’s a 3 hour round trip to the store, but now i am feeling it’s necessary.I am also feeling it’s my fault for not noticing till i got the stuff home! (forehead slap!) SO any way am i crazy to try and return this stuff? I am going to call the store tomorrow and see how receptive they are to the idea.

-- flash=250,100][/flash]

14 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


112815 posts in 2321 days

#1 posted 08-23-2009 08:08 PM

Hi bluchz
I usually build my cabinets all out of 3/4 ply and 1/4” backs. I guess the only thing I wonder about if these cabinets will have face frames or not. If they do they will help hold up the bottom of the cabinets depending on the size of the cabinets the 1/2” may or may not be a problem. I have seen cabinets made out of all 1/2 particle board that some how have held up for years.

-- Custom furniture

View jussdandy's profile


157 posts in 1951 days

#2 posted 08-23-2009 08:54 PM

hi Bluchz
been my experance, most people couldn’t tell ya the diffrence between birch and maple, I see them enterchanged all the time, I work with it everyday and can say if your just talk species, you will be fine. but as jim says 1/4 is the usual for battoms and backs, but as long as its yours, do what make you the happiest.

-- Randy I have the right to remain silent, just not the ability ; )

View a1Jim's profile


112815 posts in 2321 days

#3 posted 08-23-2009 08:57 PM

Well I use 3/4 for bottoms and 1/4 for backs

-- Custom furniture

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8791 posts in 2844 days

#4 posted 08-23-2009 09:21 PM

I usually make the sides and bottom of 3/4 material but I have also used 1/2” for the floor of the cabinet just to burn material up in the shop. Nobody can tell the difference if it is covered with a faceframe and it was more than strong enough for the cabinets that I did.

Birch often is darker than maple but sometimes the color is close enough that nobody can tell if you don’t let them know.

If you are staining the outside of the cabinets and the faceframes, don’t even worry about the interior color difference. Nobody will notice that.

You will notice that mass produced cabinetry is made of 1/2” paper covered particle board. Now that’s quality!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View akdale's profile


49 posts in 1952 days

#5 posted 08-23-2009 09:40 PM

I am making mine with sides and bottoms 3/4, Tongue and groove, glued and screwed. Backs and tops are 1/4. My opinion would be that 1/2 sides and bottoms would be fine. If your worried about the bottom strength then add pieces to them running front to back that are flush with the bottoms. You can cover this on the upper cabinets with 1/4 panels of the same species as the fronts. For any interior shelves, I would consider using 3/4 and then either band the front edge, or do like I did and add a 3/4 strip of the face frame species of wood. I t&g this also. If you use 1/2 for your shelves I would add a support in the center rail of the cabinet (If 2 door) to support the center of the shelf and keep it from saggin over the years.

I am making mine from Walnut with prefinished maple ply for the box. The contrast color is actually appealing, to me anyway.

Keep posting on your blog. I am updating mine as I move fwd on my cabinets, feel free to check them out. I consider myself a novice woodworker and have done cabinets in my closets, laundry and bathroom so take my advice with that in mind. Many of the folks on this site are professional cabinetmakers.

-- Phil 4:13------Our family motto

View bluchz's profile


187 posts in 2118 days

#6 posted 08-23-2009 10:18 PM

Ahhh the largest cabinet will be 24” wide so the 1/2” will only have to span this with a face frame made from 3/4” stock. See i knew i was leaving something out. I am only concerned with the fact that when you open a door the bottom will be a different wood than the sides. the bad thing is i know my mom will notice the difference in woods. Soo i guess i will just ask her if she cares. Hmm how big of a can ‘o worms am i opening?
Thanks for the input. Will post pic’s when available.

-- flash=250,100][/flash]

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8791 posts in 2844 days

#7 posted 08-23-2009 11:01 PM

If they are upper cabinets they will only be 12” deep right? That is not a large span.

If they are bottom cabinets you can add support under the floor. The base would look like a ladder, the box would sit on top of that and you can add a finished toe kick.

No matter what, I think you are good to go. As a pro I wouldn’t worry about it from a warranty perspective.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View jussdandy's profile


157 posts in 1951 days

#8 posted 08-24-2009 12:38 AM

lol yeah 3/4 for the bottoms, I was thinking but not saying 1/4 for the bottom of the drawers. hey Im getting old

-- Randy I have the right to remain silent, just not the ability ; )

View a1Jim's profile


112815 posts in 2321 days

#9 posted 08-24-2009 12:50 AM

We all have those senior moments Randy

-- Custom furniture

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 2302 days

#10 posted 08-24-2009 01:16 AM

I’m like all the rest. You will not notice that much difference between birch and maple. They match pretty close.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View huff's profile


2810 posts in 2029 days

#11 posted 08-24-2009 03:04 AM

Bulchz, I usually build with 3/4” sides, bottoms and shelves with 1/4” backs. I don’t see a real problem with using 1/2” for the bottoms when using a face frame. As far as the difference between using Birch and Maple, even though I use the same species, I don’t think there is enough difference to really worry about it for the interiors of your cabinets. What are you using for the shelves? I would not recommend the 1/2” for that. Any weight will cause them to bow. Good luck and keep us posted.

-- John @

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 1979 days

#12 posted 08-24-2009 04:01 AM

Like Jim said above, if they have face frames, you’ll never see the difference in the thicknesses. I would try to take the 1/2” back if they’ll do an exchange, otherwise if you’re stuck with the material use the 1/2” for the top/bottom and cover it up with the face frame.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View dman's profile


1 post in 2138 days

#13 posted 09-15-2009 01:01 PM

Good day to all of you LJs. I am hearing a lot of comments about the thickness of ply while fabricating cabinets. I have been building cabinets for 3 decades +. There are some things or elements that makes the difference on how sturdy they are and how long will they last. Cabinets that are going to be stand alone need thicker ply than one that will be attached to walls. As someone mentioned, I have seen pretty thin stuff last a long time because it has been attached to walls on more than one side and the legs or rear support has been beefed up.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 2417 days

#14 posted 11-07-2009 05:14 PM

Great start.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

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