Cherry Kitchen Cabinets

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Project by Mike Gilbert posted 10-01-2013 03:00 AM 2747 views 19 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made these cabinets this year for my condo. I spent almost 8 months working on them a little bit at a time on weekends. To get ready before I began building them I made a Google sketch up model of my kitchen and all of the cabinets so I would know the dimensions I would need to cut everything to. All cases are made using pocket screws and 3/4” pre-finished birch plywood. The face frames and doors as well as the panels for the island are all made from cherry. The drawers are made of hard maple with a cherry face. Upper cabinets are hung using French cleats. This was my first time building cabinets and also my first time using pocket holes. I got the porter cable pocket whole jig and have been very happy with it. All of the doors are stile and rail construction with a floating raised panel doors all have soft close blum hinges. I used the same frame and panel construction technique for the solid wood panels of the island. To conserve space I custom sized all parts to fit my small kitchen and that resulted in a few very small lower cabinets to either side of the stove. For the drawers I used dovetailed joints and full extension slides from lee valley. I made 3 sides of the drawers out of maple and the front side out of cherry to highlight the dovetail joints. For the upper cabinet shelves I used a technique for adjustable shelves that I read about in fine woodworking. The shelves can be adjusted using the cherry cleats that fit into the half circle slots in the side of the cabinets. I used this technique because I liked the way it looked compared to the more industrial look of typical adjustable shelves. I think it helps highlight that these are custom made cabinets. Also pictured is the spice rack cabinet I built for the upper left side of the microwave. This cabinet is designed to pull out like a drawer with full extension slides on the top and bottom and dividers for the spices. I wrapped all of the upper cabinets with cherry crown molding to help me close the gap created by hanging them.
I finished all of the solid wood parts for this project using the earlex spray finishing gun and general finishes water based enduro var varnish. This was my first time spray finishing and I wanted to use a water based finish because I did not have good ventilation in my small shop. I was very impressed with the quality of the finish I got from the endurovar product and had been nervous about choosing a water based finish due to the sometimes milky appearance they leave. This product finishes looking very similar to oil based finishes I have used in the past and dries between coats in an hour or less. This is by far the most complicated and largest project I have ever completed and after finishing all of these cabinets I now have a much better appreciation for how difficult building cabinets is. I still had fun but at the same time I would definitely say I am looking forward to starting my next non cabinet woodworking project.

17 comments so far

View Tooch's profile


1794 posts in 2051 days

#1 posted 10-01-2013 03:15 AM

very impressive. I love the different woods in the drawers to highlight the dovetails… that’s one of my favorite things to see.

What brand router bits did you use for the doors?

What type of wood is your flooring? it goes well with the colors of the cabinets and counter.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View majuvla's profile


13234 posts in 3042 days

#2 posted 10-01-2013 03:55 AM

Beautiful and outstanding kitchen! Cherry wood looks great and dovetails details too.I especialy like this pull out element.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3261 posts in 3887 days

#3 posted 10-01-2013 04:17 AM


Those are really beautiful kitchen cabinets. It must feel great to be able to sit back and admire them!


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View WayneC's profile


13776 posts in 4272 days

#4 posted 10-01-2013 04:18 AM

Very very nice Mike. Well done.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3848 days

#5 posted 10-01-2013 10:50 AM

Beautiful set of kitchen cabinets.

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3341 days

#6 posted 10-01-2013 11:47 AM

Nice finish!
Well written explanation.
Thanks for sharing the details.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View John Welch's profile

John Welch

6 posts in 1876 days

#7 posted 10-01-2013 01:54 PM

Amazing job, very inspirational!
I really like the adjustable cleats you made, very nice touch.

-- -- John Welch - Lowell, Massachusetts

View troyercar00's profile


21 posts in 3063 days

#8 posted 10-01-2013 02:17 PM

You did a great job, I also like the contrasting woods in the drawers, and the spice rack. Nice use of all your spaces. Must be a great feeling looking at those cabinets knowing you made them yourself. Also think that the shelving is very unique, never seen anything like that.

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3042 days

#9 posted 10-01-2013 04:20 PM

This is a super kitchen. You did a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View sarahss's profile


258 posts in 2824 days

#10 posted 10-01-2013 08:41 PM

we are contemplating building kitchen cabinets. can you offer any advice? how did you work up the nerve to finally start? that’s where I am now. I feel a bit overwhelmed by the size of such a project.
I’d appreciate any advice you could offer up. The cabinets look great!

View Ken90712's profile


17592 posts in 3364 days

#11 posted 10-01-2013 08:48 PM

Some great details, love the shelf supports… Might have to use that. Great work.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1870 posts in 2144 days

#12 posted 10-01-2013 11:19 PM

Beautiful execution. And amazing job! Really a showstopper

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View PaulLL's profile


160 posts in 2151 days

#13 posted 10-02-2013 03:11 AM

Great work Mike, my wife always giving me a hard time about never spending any time in the kitchen myself. I wonder if that includes replacing all the cabinets?!

View Mike Gilbert's profile

Mike Gilbert

31 posts in 2277 days

#14 posted 10-02-2013 08:19 PM

Thanks for the great feedback guys

@ Tooch – the flooring is a prefinished Australian cypress that I got at lumber liquidators. And I use eagle brand router bits. I have found them to be the best quality of all the bit companies I have tried so far and their website has a huge selection.

@sarahss – it is definitely a big project to redo the kitchen. Some tips I would give you based on my experience are
1.) Make sure you have the project well planned out before you get started. It was well worth the time to draw out the sizes and plans for each cabinet before I got started so that I could make the most of my sheet goods and lumber
2.) If you are felling intimidated by the scope of the work I recommend doing just your uppers 1st. that way you can get started and learn how to make them without cluttering up too much space. Definitely wait to demo your old cabinets until you have built as many of the new ones as you have space to store. I demoed 1st and regretted it later when I had no cabinets during construction of the new ones.
3.) I would definitely recommend picking up a few books at the store before you get started to read up on the basics of casework and design options. it helps to have a couple so you can get an idea of the different ways you can build them and make sure you are comfortable with the skills and techniques you will need.
4.) I really thought the pocket hole jig was worth the money for this project, the porter cable one is great and well worth the investment. It’s ideal for the face frame and case construction.

5.) If you are not in a hurry to get started build a few shop cabinets for your garage to practice the skills you will need and get a feel for how much work it takes. This is the best way to understand if you think it will be worth it for you to build them yourself or if it’s going to be too much work for you to handle.

View dnick's profile


986 posts in 2557 days

#15 posted 10-03-2013 03:33 AM

Great job. Really good work. Good tips too. Thanks.

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

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