How to build all of your kitchen cabinets

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How I built almost all of our kitchen cabinets out of 2x4s and 1x4s, mostly scrap left over from our renovation!

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  • I used a brad nailer for the 1x4 trim and 2" long brad nails and for the main cabinet boxes I used 3" deck screws, putting them in with our impact driver. For cutting I used a miter saw. All of them were built with 2x4s and then clad in 1x4s to finish them before paint.

Step by Step Instructions

  • Step 1

    Welcome to the final wind down to our full kitchen reveal! You’ve seen our kitchen island (and how we built the butcher block on top of it) and our kitchen sink base. Today we’ll be moving on to the big post about how to build your own kitchen cabinets. The kitchen cabinets turned into my own little project, it was something I was equally stressed and terrified about and, don’t get me wrong, they are NOT perfect, but I’m very happy with them. When I get stressed about something to work on the worst thing is for me to have anyone around trying to help. (Sorry, Love-of-my-life, but, you know its true, I cannot be helped when I’m worried about screwing up a project.) So, I took several days off over the course of a couple of weeks to build the kitchen cabinets on my own. I figured, if I could build a wall I could certainly a build a cabinet! Right!?

  • Step 2

    The main cabinet boxes themselves I built out of 2x4s and 3 inch long screws, they would not be going anywhere. In the photo above you can see the roughness of it all but they’re very sturdy! We ended up with a enormous amount of 1×4 scrap leftover from our floor and from doing all of our trim so, after a million cuts, I used the scrap to cover the bottom of all of the kitchen cabinets and build all of the shelves. (In the next picture you can see an already finished base cabinet on the right side of our kitchen. This is a save from when we remodeled the house and I really don’t know its history. But it has solid steel drawers and, with a coat of paint and new hardware, I think it turned out nice! I’ll be posting about it soon too!)

  • Step 3

    Now that you’ve got an idea of what the rest of the kitchen had to go through to get to its “finished” state, here is a closer look on exactly how I built each cabinet. With the kitchen basically done the over the refrigerator cabinet (and pantry – I’ll tell you about that in a later post) was just screaming to be built. Just look at how empty that spot is! And it was, of course, totally covered in crap we didn’t have anywhere else to put. So, after work one day, I told Diesel (the dog in the picture – doesn’t he just look so excited?) that it was time to get to work!

  • Step 4

    No, the bottom of the cabinet is NOT sitting on top of the refrigerator, the angle of the picture makes it look like that a little bit but I built the bottom frame a good two inches above the top of the refrigerator. Just like with the rest of the kitchen cabinets I started on the outside and worked my way in. I measured and secured a board across the back and cut two more identical boards for across the front. From there I secured the outside boards (four of them) and then secured the two front boards that were identical to the board across the back. Everything I leveled as I went. This turned into a four foot wide by two foot deep cabinet so I didn’t mess around when it came to getting it WELL SECURED. I used 3 inch long deck screws liberally. The board in the center across the top of the cabinet is screwed directly up into floor joists.

  • Step 5

    Now I connected the top and bottom frames together with boards running vertically across the front in three places on the cabinet. These I cut the same length and forced the top and bottom frames to match. If this had not been a 100 year old house with nothing level there would not have been any “forcing” but nothing here is straight so I improvise and work with how things are. I then had to crawl into the cabinet to cover the bottom of it with 1xs.

  • Step 6

    Oct 19 2015How to build your own kitchen cabinetsfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
    Welcome to the final wind down to our full kitchen reveal! You’ve seen our kitchen island (and how we built the butcher block on top of it) and our kitchen sink base. Today we’ll be moving on to the big post about how to build your own kitchen cabinets. The kitchen cabinets turned into my own little project, it was something I was equally stressed and terrified about and, don’t get me wrong, they are NOT perfect, but I’m very happy with them. When I get stressed about something to work on the worst thing is for me to have anyone around trying to help. (Sorry, Love-of-my-life, but, you know its true, I cannot be helped when I’m worried about screwing up a project.) So, I took several days off over the course of a couple of weeks to build the kitchen cabinets on my own. I figured, if I could build a wall I could certainly a build a cabinet! Right!?

    How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

    The main cabinet boxes themselves I built out of 2x4s and 3 inch long screws, they would not be going anywhere. In the photo above you can see the roughness of it all but they’re very sturdy! We ended up with a enormous amount of 1×4 scrap leftover from our floor and from doing all of our trim so, after a million cuts, I used the scrap to cover the bottom of all of the kitchen cabinets and build all of the shelves. (In the next picture you can see an already finished base cabinet on the right side of our kitchen. This is a save from when we remodeled the house and I really don’t know its history. But it has solid steel drawers and, with a coat of paint and new hardware, I think it turned out nice! I’ll be posting about it soon too!)

    How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

    You can see how excited we were to finally have some cabinets to put stuff in! What you see in the above picture took me two whole days. All of the 2x4s are covered in 1x4s and/or bead board and they are ready for paint! Just about everyone in my life questioned my choice to build our kitchen cabinets when I could certainly find decent cabinets used that I could modify to work. I would normally have leaned that way (we all know I’m a refinisher and not a builder!) but I wholly expected that trying to get premade kitchen cabinets to work on our very crooked walls and in our specific kitchen would have been far more trouble and we simply could not afford to have someone else build kitchen cabinets for us. On top of all of that, I had my heart set on using three old windows for cabinet doors. In my mind there wasn’t any choice and it was what I had my stubbornness set on and Lord help anyone who would try and stop me when that happens.

    How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

    Now that you’ve got an idea of what the rest of the kitchen had to go through to get to its “finished” state, here is a closer look on exactly how I built each cabinet. With the kitchen basically done the over the refrigerator cabinet (and pantry – I’ll tell you about that in a later post) was just screaming to be built. Just look at how empty that spot is! And it was, of course, totally covered in crap we didn’t have anywhere else to put. So, after work one day, I told Diesel (the dog in the picture – doesn’t he just look so excited?) that it was time to get to work!

    How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

    No, the bottom of the cabinet is NOT sitting on top of the refrigerator, the angle of the picture makes it look like that a little bit but I built the bottom frame a good two inches above the top of the refrigerator. Just like with the rest of the kitchen cabinets I started on the outside and worked my way in. I measured and secured a board across the back and cut two more identical boards for across the front. From there I secured the outside boards (four of them) and then secured the two front boards that were identical to the board across the back. Everything I leveled as I went. This turned into a four foot wide by two foot deep cabinet so I didn’t mess around when it came to getting it WELL SECURED. I used 3 inch long deck screws liberally. The board in the center across the top of the cabinet is screwed directly up into floor joists.

    How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

    Now I connected the top and bottom frames together with boards running vertically across the front in three places on the cabinet. These I cut the same length and forced the top and bottom frames to match. If this had not been a 100 year old house with nothing level there would not have been any “forcing” but nothing here is straight so I improvise and work with how things are. I then had to crawl into the cabinet to cover the bottom of it with 1xs.

    How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

    I covered the entire cabinet with 1x4s (the same boards we used on all of our trim etc) and you can see the end where I used leftover bead board that we put on all of our ceilings. I painted it with two coats of our flat white trim and ceiling paint and then put two coats of a semi gloss poly acrylic. From there I took some measurements and, after work the next day, stopped at our local lumber yard and had them cut my doors from a piece of smooth 3/4″ plywood. All of my painting had to be done inside because our temperatures are now dropping below freezing at night now so I just said “forget it” covered the floor in a bunch of towels and got to work in our entryway. I don’t know if your dog immediately has to sit or lie down on anything you put on the floor but Diesel is entirely that way so, I laid down extra towels for him so he could “help”. The doors got the same white paint and poly treatment as all the rest of the cabinets. Then, my shiny knobs and hinges!

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