Tips and Tricks for Building Your Own Cabinets

So now that you know how I customized and built all my cabinets, but what did I learn along the way? What went wrong, what went right? Well, let’s start from the beginning, buying and prepping the lumber.

[important]Get your plywood cut at the hardware store[/important]. Seriously. Even if they’re not completely accurate at 22.5″, they will ALL match and that’s what you’re looking for. Unless you are mightily skilled with a table saw, save some time and let the patient folks do it with the panel saw. It will save you SO much time. You will be very, very glad.

Next tip? Cut all the pieces for one (1) cabinet at a time. Don’t get ahead of yourself and do them all at once. There will be tweaks and errors and you don’t want to mess it all up at once. Above is one of my 30″ cabinets with one shelf. Here’s a quick synopsis of assembly:

Jig all your holes at once so you don’t have to keep switching tools.

Assemble all shelves and braces for one side.

Then flip it over and do the other.

Now you’re ready for your face frames. Third tip? WAIT until this step to build your face frames. I built the frames for my uppers too early and when my cabinets were accidentally 1″ too big, I had to make an emergency lumber run to fix it. It sucked. I could have prevented that if I had been patient.

Tip #4: Do NOT put your doors on before you install your boxes. Just don’t do it. They get all out of line and you’ll have to move them. Paint the boxes and doors separately then install after its all mounted. Save yourself the trouble I went through.

Now for the island.

For starters, I cut up a sheet of beadboard and stapled it to the outer edges of my end cabinets. I pre-painted everything prior to installation, including the three turned legs.

Then with a little glue and a pneumatic stapler I attached it to the cabinets.

After that came 1×4 trim

Then we placed our four cabinets into position, and used 1/2″ ply strips as spacers in between the gaps. We screwed straight through the sides so they had a strong bond.

Once they were put together, I added the backing beadboard with the lower trim and trim at the center where they joined. Once that was done, it was time to add the plywood template.

We cut down a sheet of plywood to 92″ L by 43″ W. That was the maximum size for the sheet of stainless steel with a folded edge. We reinforced the bottom with a 2×4 frame.

We took the template to the welder, who made a stainless steel sleeve. We set our template directly onto the cabinets and screwed straight into the supports. Then we placed our legs into position and screwed them in.

Once that was done we spread a liberal amount of liquid nails, set down the sleeve, covered it in a blanket then set some heavy rocks down on it to set. The next day we took it all off and admired our shiny new island!

If you have any other questions about how we put our cabinets together, please leave me a comment or shoot me an email. I’d be glad to help! And should you build some for your own place, I’d love to see some photos!

Pure Bond Pledge


10 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks for Building Your Own Cabinets

  1. I am very much a visual learner. Do you have pictures as to how the cabinets are connected together. Did you use special screws? I plan to add some cabinets to my kitchen and other parts of the house soon and any info you can give me would be much appreciated! 🙂

  2. Brooke, has Ana posted cabinet door directions yet? I can’t wait for that part of the Momplex. What kind of hinges did you use and are you happy with them? I think subconsciously (sp?) I’m afraid of this step. Rolling shelves don’t freak me out, but cabinet doors and hinges do! Thanks for the advice to wait on hanging the doors until the cabinets are installed. How did you install the upper cabinets to the wall?

    Can’t thank you enough for dropping some DYI knowledge on me!

  3. We redid our kitchen not that long ago with cheap cabinets from Lowe’s, I wish I had known about Ana White back then. Kudos to you for building your own kitchen. So your original post title is the $5,000 purebond kitchen or something along those lines, is that how much the project cost in total? Did you build your own drawers and doors?

    I’m especially curious as to how you finished the insides of the cabinets. Did you paint them? Did you use a special type of paint?

      1. Did you coat the insides and outsides with polyurethane? That must have been a ton of work! Start to finish how long did this kitchen take?

        1. I’d say it was a solid week’s worth of work. Of course I had to fit it in during nap times and after bedtime, so it took about a month to finish it all.

          1. Seriously? It only took one month to build the whole kitchen start to finish? That’s amazing! I’ve had all the pieces cut for a new desk sitting down in the basement for a year. I really dislike the sanding, priming and painting part.

          2. Thank you! I honestly hate that part too. I love the end product, but finishing is such a pain

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