Building Kitchen Cabinets

Learn how you can build kitchen cabinets from scratch and find out whether building your own cabinets is right for you.

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Building kitchen cabinets yourself can help you save money.

Making your own kitchen cabinets can be rewarding and can save you a lot of money in your kitchen renovation. Many homeowners have begun building kitchen cabinets as a way of achieving a custom look without a huge price tag.


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While building kitchen cabinets is not overly difficult, it can be a big job–even for an experienced carpenter. Before you take on this DIY project in your own home, you should understand that it does require some basic woodworking knowledge, precise measurements, and certain tools of the trade.

In theory, cabinetmaking is not complicated as it's basically building simple box shapes over and over. The project gets a little tricky when making the cabinet doors and matching drawer fronts that finish the job and complete the look. If you are building kitchen cabinets for the first time, you may want to consider calling in a professional to assist in this demanding part of the job. Also consider using pre-existing cabinet drawers and doors—or even reworking old kitchen cabinets into new ones if time and basic carpentry skills are something you lack.

If you are planning on building kitchen cabinets from scratch, here are some basic steps for doing so. First, you'll want to measure out the wall space for your cabinets. You'll then want to sketch out a plan for your cabinets based on these measurements. This is perhaps the most critical step in the entire process as it requires a precision that will save you time and money in the end. If you don't know how to start this planning and measuring step, there are design templates available at many home improvement and design centers that can help you get started.

Next you'll want to research, choose and purchase the lumber needed to build your cabinets. This step can take time as there are many different woods available for building custom kitchen cabinets at many different price points. This is the point where you may want to consider purchasing ready-made cabinet doors and/or drawers if you are a novice and feeling overwhelmed by the carpentry skills required for this project.

Once you have chosen your wood and other materials, you'll want to take stock of your various parts and wood pieces. You'll want to label them according to where they will go in order to avoid confusion once the cabinet construction begins. You will then begin to assemble the cabinet base (all sides but the front) with heavy wood glue and/or screws. You can add shelving inside your cabinet base using wood glue and finishing nails. Vertical shelving dividers would also be nailed in next if used in your cabinet design.

When the base is put together, resembling the aforementioned simple box, you will then lay the base on its back, place your cabinet door on top and measure and mark where the hinges will be attached. The hinges can then be screwed into place and the cabinet door can be attached. You'll want to check to make sure that the cabinet door opens effortlessly and that it rests evenly on the base before moving to the next step.

At this point you can install the decorative cabinet components, including handles and drawer pulls. You may need a drill and screwdriver for this step. Finally, you can bring the cabinet upright and install it onto your wall using a drill and screws. You will need a second person at this step to help lift and secure the cabinet in place and to ensure that he cabinets are installed evenly.

While building kitchen cabinets is not a job for the weak at heart, it is a home improvement job that can give you great satisfaction, save you enormous labor costs, and provide a custom kitchen design unique to your style and home.


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