Kitchen Cabinet construction - your preference

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Forum topic by rut posted 04-02-2012 02:25 PM 5676 views 2 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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65 posts in 2588 days

04-02-2012 02:25 PM

I’ve been reading books and watching videos of how to build kitchen cabs. I’ve seen two methods for building the cabinet

1. From a book: Build the base frame (a rectangled ply box), attach floor but leave 3/4” on each side of floor. Next attach cab sides atop the base and butting up against the cab floor on each side. So basically, the cab sides set on top of the cab base and don’t touch the floor.

2. From Sommerfeld Tools dvd, Build faceframe first, attach a floor support to each cab side and attach cab side to faceframe. Now install floor. This method has the cab sides on the floor. Also, the theory is that if you build the face frame square then the rest of the unit will be also (but he also uses a routed glue line everywhere that ensures alignment. I’ll be using pocket screws).

Does anyone see a benefit to either method (or a totally different one)? I’m looking for a good method that will make it as easy as possible to keep everything square (assuming I cut everything square to begin with :).

I want to minimize problems when it comes to installing drawer slides since I’ll have more drawers than doors.


3 replies so far

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2492 days

#1 posted 04-02-2012 02:46 PM

I’m doing my whole kitchen. I’m not a cabinet maker. And a lot of this, I think, depends on your situation. For mine, I’m building the carcasses without the integral base. The base is separate. Level the base, start setting cabinets on it. I’m building the boxes first and the face frames afterward. My cabinet sides (carcass sides) actually sit on top of the cabinet bottom. An end panel will hide the exposed edge of the plywood bottom and/or any pocket screws on the end cabinet. Except for the island I’ll be doing, I only have 1 exposed end cabinet. The island is getting decorative panels at each end so they’ll hide my sins as well. Face frames will be attached with glue and pocket screws.

I’m about as certain as I can be that some of my methods are not what a cabinet shop would be doing, but, again, I’m not a cabinet shop. A lot of what I’m doing takes into consideration that it’s just me doing this. I don’t have extra hands to hold, help, or lift stuff. My saw is this big and my crosscut sled will accommodate this size panel easily with just me as the operator. Safely. I don’t want to stretch or reach over things that can hurt me. Everything has to be supported safely and all that.

You can make some shop squares that will help you keep things square as you assemble or you can buy some corner clamps.

I’m sure someone who knows what they’re doing will chime in :)

View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 2860 days

#2 posted 04-02-2012 07:02 PM

I’ve attached 3 pictures below of how I have been building and installing cabinetry for customers for years. Quick and easy.

The picture above shows the frame on the floor. It is made from 2×4 material. The face that is exposed is covered with a 1/4” piece of plywood that matches the color of the cabinets.

The picture above shows how the cabinets sit on top of the frame. The beauty of this system is you don’t have to try and level a bunch of HEAVY cabinets. Just level the frame, put the cabinets on the frame and screw them down. I normally us 4 screws in the cabinet deck and cover them and then 2 or 3 screws that go through the upper back stretcher on the cabinet to the wall. You will most likely want to have a lot of shims on hand when you attach the cabinet to the wall as walls aren’t very even most of the time.

The picture above shows a little bit of detail on how I used to mill my cabinet joinery prior to getting my CNC machine. Simple rabbit joints and some #8×1.5” screws. On the side panel of the cabinet that will be exposed, you can use pocket joinery to attach that side. Don’t use any rabbit joints. Just butt them together and use the pocket screws.

Since I got my CNC machine, high-end custom cabinetry is all done using mortise and tenon joinery. On my RTA and Semi-custom line, I use Rafix cam connectors to assemble the cabinets. Works great for customers who want to do it themselves. Saves them LOTS of money too.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3854 days

#3 posted 04-02-2012 07:45 PM

Cab “floor” can be called “the deck” so as not to confuse with
the room floor.

There are a bunch of ways to do it. I prefer to build the
cabinets as boxes and make the toekick separate. I use
a wood frame or plastic European-style levelers.

Some methods work better with material under 3/4” or
with solid wood cabinets. Most people building for themselves
these days are going to use 3/4” ply or melamine so the
issues of weight and economy that come into play in
pro work don’t matter as much. You can build cabinets
out of 1/2” ply, even the face frames. They are light
and cheaper to build and easier to hump up stairs and
high-rise elevators… sturdy enough for apartments. In
that case T&G or dados are a good way to go. With
3/4” sides and decks screws or dowels tend to be
a better choice, imo.

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