UPDATE: kitchen cabinets (questions)

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Forum topic by dakremer posted 08-18-2015 10:59 PM 1666 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2672 posts in 3120 days

08-18-2015 10:59 PM

Gonna try my hand at making some kitchen cabinets. At Menards they have some prefinished (I believe Birch or Maple) plywood that I was going to use, to save my self the step of finishing the inside of the cabinet when done….

However I plan to make the outside of the cabinets white. Not sure if it’s a good idea to prime/paint over the finish they have on the plywood already. Is this something people do? Or should I just buy the unfinished?

Thoughts/advice? Thanks

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

26 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2346 days

#1 posted 08-18-2015 11:05 PM

I install the pre-finished ply 3/4” from the outside edge of the face frame. That leaves room to install a piece of 3/4” hardwood ply to the outside or a frame an panel if desired.

Another option is to locate pre-finished ply that has one raw face and one finished face.

-- See my work at and

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3120 days

#2 posted 08-18-2015 11:13 PM

I thought about that first option, but wasn’t sure if that would make the cabinet too heavy

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Pezking7p's profile


3217 posts in 1680 days

#3 posted 08-18-2015 11:19 PM

Best to do as jaaune says and add panels at the end for painting. You can also make frame and panel panels to put on the exposed ends.

I don’t know for SURE about Menards but I would recommend against using that ply. It’s better to get it from a lumber supplier that turns over a lot of inventory and may have a better quality (flatter, less damaged) stock.

-- -Dan

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile


1051 posts in 1095 days

#4 posted 08-19-2015 06:03 AM

Most base cabinets now are drawer banks and you can use less expensive material for those as you won’t see inside. Then you can make end panels where needed. Upper cabinets are open and you will use better material there with end panels as needed. You should contact a local cabinet shop and have a sheet count figured up and ask to buy some clear coated UVPlywood in sheet form. 1/2” is the norm and comes in finished 1 side or 2 finished. I have bought from a local shop and the price they charged me was cheaper than your local box store. They buy quantity and can sell to you with no labor involved which makes them money and not having to do anything but load you up and put a few easy dollars in their pocket. You can also buy some unfinished China Birch there for your base cabinets. Doors and panels can be outsourced locally or bought online. The last set I made were out of 3/4” UV birch and I paid about $27 per sheet delivered. The casework I made European style with edgebanded edges and with slab doors and cup hinges.

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle"

View rwe2156's profile (online now)


2968 posts in 1510 days

#5 posted 08-19-2015 01:17 PM

I would consider unfinished plywood and laminating one side it.
This will make a very durable, scrubbable (?) surface on the inside of the cabs.
If you use a light color, the interior of the cabs will be brighter, too.

If you think about it, what is going to be painted? The doors, drawers, and end panels, right?
So you might want to consider going with double sided melamine its pretty much a standard in kitchen cabs.
Thats what I used on mine and it worked out fine. Don’t let “particle board” scare you its high quality stuff.
Edge band it and go frameless like I said. Check it out.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View sras's profile


4812 posts in 3158 days

#6 posted 08-19-2015 01:35 PM

If I wanted to understand paint, I would go to a paint store and ask. I expect that the right primer will allow you to paint over just about anything.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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Fred Hargis

5002 posts in 2522 days

#7 posted 08-19-2015 04:10 PM

I use prefinished ply for all my cabinets now. I usually buy prefinished one-side, that leaves the outside as bare wood. Not sure if the Menard’s prefinished is 1 or both sides; regardless, I would make a panel for any exposed ends. That said, I have painted the prefinished…I scuffed it lightly and put a coat of Zinnser shellac BIN on it, then painted that. Actually painting the prefinished is a little easier, the coating is so smooth you have no other prep to do. (Disclaimer: that was with Columbia Forest Products prefinished, never tried it with the Menard’s stuff.)

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View waho6o9's profile


8209 posts in 2606 days

#8 posted 08-19-2015 04:19 PM

Medium Density Overboard (MDO) paints up well and is better for the


View MT_Stringer's profile


3172 posts in 3260 days

#9 posted 08-19-2015 05:05 PM

Here is some reading material for ya to consider. We used prefinished birch. and face frame construction.

There are lot of pics in the blog link.

Hope this helps.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3120 days

#10 posted 08-19-2015 05:37 PM

Thanks MT – Thats a great blog!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View oldnovice's profile


6904 posts in 3397 days

#11 posted 08-21-2015 10:48 PM

I use a lot of MDO for anything I am going to paint!
I also use it for projects that I am not going to paint and just add a clear finish.

MDO was developed for use as highway and other traffic signs so it takes and holds paint very well.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3026 days

#12 posted 08-22-2015 12:15 AM

Question. If you are going to have the outside white, why would you want birch or maple inside ?

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3120 days

#13 posted 08-25-2015 01:45 AM

okay! So I have completed the cabinet! I used 3/4 MDO like a few suggested! Thank god – really easy to work with and really easy to paint. bought for about $50 a sheet, and will almost get 2 full cabinets out of it (a lot cheaper than $600 a cabinet that I was quoted).

My next question. Whats the next step? I have 3 coats of paint on it (sprayed). My plan is to lightly sand with 400 grit paper, then spray 2-3 coats with Lacquer – (with my HVLP). Thoughts? is this standard for cabinet top coat?

I started making some doors today. My jointer is in need of a serious tune up. I ended up with a little twist in the door. These will be glass panel doors. Is there a way to get the twist out? My plan was to set it on the cabinet (as shown below) and add some weights to the corner – hopefully after a few days it’d flatten out? True/false? Need to start over on the door?

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View waho6o9's profile


8209 posts in 2606 days

#14 posted 08-25-2015 03:37 AM


MDO = Medium Density Overlay. Sorry about that.

Great looking cabinet Doc, good job!

View firefighterontheside's profile


18355 posts in 1885 days

#15 posted 08-25-2015 03:47 AM

I doubt that will flatten out. It’s not that bad. If you use adjustable European hinges you can adjust it so that it closes right. No one will notice that it’s a bit crooked.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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