Craftsman Bungalow Restoration #23: Making Kitchen Cabinets: Overview Design Phase

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by gizmodyne posted 12-28-2009 12:59 AM 13869 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 22: Custom Refrigerator Panels 2 Part 23 of Craftsman Bungalow Restoration series Part 24: Corner Cabinets Part 2: It all starts with rough lumber. Sigh.... »

In the upcoming part of this series I will blog how to make base kitchen cabinets. I learned to make cabinets in a class and think that they are well within the range of any intermediate woodworker. This project will be a mix of traditional and modern materials/ techniques. In this project I will be making faceframe cabinets with traditional surface mounted hinges, plywood boxes, and modern drawer slides.

If you are interested in building your own cabinets I think it will be a useful project for you to follow along.
If you have been following this blog or the one on the other cabinets , you know that we have an empty corner waiting for cabinets.

Project Description

Here is a picture of the corner:

You can see a faint outline or “scar” on the floor where cabinets had been removed by the prior owner.

Design Specifications
Here is the design for the new cabinet.
Bungalow Style Corner Cabinet
This assembly is made of two cabinets butted into a corner. Standard cabinets are a net 24” deep, but these are custom sized at 16 3/4” to match the original scars on the floor.
The corner is going to become dead space. I weighed the options, but it is not worth the hassle of trying to reclaim the space.

Cases Vertical Grain Doug Fir Plywood with solid end panels
Recycled Douglas Fir Face Frames stained Mahogany with Shelac and Poly Finish
Douglas Fir Counter Top with Poly Finish.
Recycled Fir Drawers with ply bottoms Natural / Poly Finish
Brass Hardware: Bin Pulls and Butterfly Hinges

Cut Lists
I try to plan out most of the project before heading out to the shop.
I drew up the face frames and cabinets in SketchUp with the dimensions indicated.
Then I imported them into EXCEL where I calculated the part sizes.

Plan of Procedure
Here is a rough list of the steps that I will take to make the cabinets. The face frames are made first so that I can custom fit them to the space even though my measurements should be dead on. Then I build the cabinets to match the frames.

1. Make Face Frames: Mill Stock, Cut Parts, Cut Pocket Holes, Finish Glue and Screw, Finish
2. Make Cases to match Face Frames: Cut Parts, Domino or Biscuit, Cut Grooves For Backs, Size Backs, Cut Pocket Holes for securing TopsPre- Finish and Assemble
3. Make Doors: Mill Bead Board, Mill Bread Boards, Mill Z’ Braces: Domino, Assemble, Fit, Finish
4. Make Drawer Faces: 1/4 Smaller than openings.
5. Make Drawer Boxes, (14” Deep x 1” Smaller than Drawer Faces): Mill Parts, Dovetail Fronts, Groove Bottoms and Sides, Fit Backs and Bottoms. Finish and Assemble.
6. Make Cutting Board: 1/2” Maple with Fir Handle:
7.Attach Face Frames
8: Install Drawers, Doors, Cutting Boards
9. Install Cabinets.
10: Make and Install Countertop
11: Make and Install Shoe Moulding

Next Time
I start knocking down the tasks. Maybe a run out for more plywood. Wish me luck. Comments, questions, and critique welcome.

My one decision that I need some feedback on is: What finish to use for the wood countertops? I will not be cutting on them.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

6 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4063 days

#1 posted 12-28-2009 01:21 AM

This is going to be an interesting series, Giz. The only comment I would have is that when I do cabinetry I find it easier to fit the face frame to the cabinet rather than fitting the cabinet to the face frame.

I wanted to do this last year when we remodeled our kitchen but I was “decommissioned” despite having a 50% stake in the partnership (or at least I thought so) because my wife felt she would be “dead and in her grave by the time the cabinets would be finished”. :)

As far as the counter top goes, if it is not a butcher block top, I would put polyurethane on it. Poly can be a challenge to repair but it is inert to both water and chemicals. If you are going to put in a butcher block counter top then I would treat it as a cutting board.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View a1Jim's profile


117420 posts in 3818 days

#2 posted 12-28-2009 01:29 AM

Should be interesting blog I see something right away I find unique “starting with the face frame” .
Looks like a good organized list of the process.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3914 days

#3 posted 12-28-2009 05:47 AM

This is going to be a interesting blog.

View dlmckirdy's profile


199 posts in 3374 days

#4 posted 12-30-2009 06:13 AM

I think that I would increase the depth of the cabinets to include a 3” or 4” toe kick. That will increase both the storage and counter area by nearly 25%, while keeping the footprint of the base on the same lines as original. If you leave the toe kick off, working at the counter will forever be a pain in the back.

-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4331 days

#5 posted 12-30-2009 06:21 AM


Thanks for the comments.

We did not include the toe kick to stay traditional to the original design/ style of our house and the era. I built the other cabinets the same and it is not that bad to work at. I may put a bit more overhang on the countertop to partially compensate.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Fireball's profile


71 posts in 4308 days

#6 posted 01-03-2010 05:54 AM

Looking forward to following along as this progresses!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics