Built-in cabinets

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Project by John posted 10-06-2010 11:28 PM 2280 views 4 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Built-in cabinets I made for a 1920’s craftsman style two bedroom house with no closets. Cases are prefinished maple plywood, poplar face frames, drawers, drawer fronts and doors, 3/8” mdf flat back-cut panels in the doors. Blum tandem self closing drawer slides and full wrap hinges on the inset doors. Indirect lighting above controlled by a wall switch. The floor pitched 2” across the room and the wall on the right had a big bow in it. I was able to trim the bottom of the cases to fit the floor while keeping the cases perfectly plumb and coped the right side to the wall. Surprisingly the installation went very smooth. The final fit was perfect and the customer very happy.

-- John, Long Island, NY

13 comments so far

View DavidFisher's profile


77 posts in 3690 days

#1 posted 10-06-2010 11:34 PM

It looks great!

We have a practically worthless closet in the master dedroom of our 1950’s house that I would like to take out and do something very much like that.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3666 days

#2 posted 10-06-2010 11:48 PM

Nice looking built-ins.

View dub560's profile


615 posts in 2906 days

#3 posted 10-07-2010 12:11 AM

wow..that’s sweet

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2927 days

#4 posted 10-07-2010 12:52 AM

Looks neat.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View rando1's profile


163 posts in 2917 days

#5 posted 10-07-2010 01:35 AM

I really like this. Great concept and use of space. Turned out real nice, always fun working in the old houses and making everything fit. Great job.

-- Randon Riegsecker,

View Dan Hux's profile

Dan Hux

577 posts in 3367 days

#6 posted 10-07-2010 02:53 AM

very nice,,where do you start on something that nice?

-- Dan Hux,,,,Raleigh, NC

View dpow's profile


503 posts in 2837 days

#7 posted 10-07-2010 04:11 AM

Nice job! Built- ins are fun to design and build. Part of the challenge is making them appear as if they belong in a certain space and not just taking up space. Yours look like they fit their surroundings quite nicely. Thanks for sharing.

-- Doug

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 3679 days

#8 posted 10-07-2010 03:59 PM

Beautiful work.

I am an amateur trying to take a shot a built in furniture. I am curious about how you did the coping along the right side. I am assuming you used a filler strip or made the face frame larger than the casework? How much space did you give your self to get the right fit – did you measure the out of square first and then decide the size filler?


-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View John's profile


190 posts in 3577 days

#9 posted 10-07-2010 04:31 PM

Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful comments.
Shawn, To answer your question about coping to the wall, I made the face frames slightly wider than the cases on the four side sections. Normally when I build a cabinet like this, I would make the face frame 1/4” wider than the face frame but I might have made the outside edges 3/8” wider in this case. I suggest you use a long level and check the wall for plumb and flatness to see how much you need to make it fit before you build the cases and face frames. Before you mark the side of the face frame prior to coping to the wall, it is easier if you back bevel the face frame so when you do the final fitting you are not trying to shave off a full 3/4” thick surface but rather a much thinner surface.
When I installed these, I installed the two sections on the left first, then the two sections on the right and finally the center section slipped between the two sides. It had to be done in that sequence because there was a radiator on the left wall and an existing door jamb on the right wall, so it was not possible to install either of the side sections last. It actually went smoother than you might expect. Of course they were all built and painted in my shop (garage) and then moved to the site for installation. I gave the whole unit a final coat of paint after installation.
Good luck with your project and keep us posted on your progress.

-- John, Long Island, NY

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 2824 days

#10 posted 10-07-2010 05:29 PM

I built nearly an identical design, (even the handles and hinges), for a client in her kitchen and also a library wall in an 1870’s house she is restoring. Very nice work, fitting it in to a crooked space neat and tidy without scripe strips really makes a project. The dovetailed drawers are an added bonus, most of my clients don’t want to spring the extra $ for this.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View John's profile


190 posts in 3577 days

#11 posted 10-07-2010 06:12 PM

Regarding clients paying the extra for drawers – you are correct but I’m more of woodworker than a business man. I knew this client was very particular and this was my first nproject of this kind and it turned out to be a very good advertisement for me. It’s been several years since this job was completed and I’m still getting kudos from her and everyone who sees it. Not much new business from it although I have done several other jobs for the same client. The dovetail drawers do take a lot of extra time and I don’t think they are any better than any other well constructed drawer other than the visual value. It all depends upon the client. While everyone would agree that dovetails are the nicest, most people would not notice if the drawers were not dovetailed. I do some renovation/additions to existing kitchen cabinets and I don’t use dovetails in them. In that situation it makes no sense to make a drawer in an existing kitchen that very much better that what exists.

-- John, Long Island, NY

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 2824 days

#12 posted 10-07-2010 06:26 PM

Usually I’ll use an interlocking rabbit on my drawer corners. Much stronger and will last longer than the nailed together butt joints on a lot of old built-ins that clients want me to repair/retrofit new drawers and hardware into. Sounds like your in a similiar business situation I’m in. Replace it if that is what they want, repair it if that is all they can afford, or replicate it if that is what they need/want.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 3679 days

#13 posted 10-11-2010 03:49 PM

Thank you for the details.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

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