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Making Your Own Kitchen Cabinets
Making your own kitchen cabinets can be a rewarding and money-saving enterprise. With the right tools and a little know-how, there's no reason why your cabinetry project shouldn't be a huge success.
In this article, we'll help you decide whether a large-scale cabinetmaking project is right for you, and offer a few time-saving tips for those who decide to take the plunge. When you're ready to get underway, remember that Rockler offers a broad selection of cabinetmaking tools, supplies and hardware that will help make your project smooth and trouble-free.
Is Building Your Own Cabinets Right for You?
A word of caution for the novice woodworker: Building an entire kitchen's-worth of new cabinets can be a challenge. It's not the ideal project for a beginning woodworker. Before you undertake a project that will have a dramatic impact on one of the most important rooms in you home, weigh other options carefully - there might be a simpler solution. If you haven't already, read Rockler's article "Options for Updating Your Kitchen" for a look at other, less demanding approaches.
In general, what you'll need to build your own cabinets are intermediate woodworking skills, a basic collection of woodworking tools (with the ability to add a few specialized items as you go along) and a fair amount of free time. You'll also need a workspace big enough to work with 4X8 foot sheet material and to house your cabinets while you work on them.
In theory, cabinetmaking isn't complicated; it really amounts to nothing more than building a simple box shape (over and over again, in the case of a kitchen remodel). Still, to make solid, attractive cabinets in a reasonable amount of time, you'll need more than the tips offered in this article. If you're new to cabinetmaking, we highly recommend picking up any one of the detailed kitchen cabinetmaking books in our collection. If you're still unsure, before your commit yourself to a sizable undertaking, consider a small, one-off cabinet project to get a feel for the process.
Time-Saving Cabinetmaking Tips
Doors and Drawer Front Options
In a typical cabinetmaking project, making the doors and drawer fronts is half the battle. If you're short on time, or leery of taking on this part of the project yourself, having your cabinet doors and drawer fronts made for you is a great alternative. With Rockler's Custom Door and Drawer Front Program, you can have all of your new doors and drawer custom built to your specifications and delivered to your door ready to finish and hang.
The cost of taking advantage of this great time-saver is less than you may think, and virtually guarantees that your doors and drawer fronts will be exactly the right size, flat, and reliably constructed. Using the program lets you concentrate on getting the cabinets just right, and could cut the time it takes you to complete the project in half. When you add up the cost of materials and the time it takes to do a good job on a kitchen's- worth of doors, the Custom Door and Drawer Front program starts to look like a real bargain.
If you decide to tackle the door and drawer front project yourself, be sure to arm yourself with the a little knowledge and the right tools before you begin. If raised panel doors are in the plan, be sure to read Rockler's article, "Raised Panel Door Tools and Techniques" for an in-depth look at frame and panel construction, and advice on tools and techniques that make the process straightforward and enjoyable.
Making cabinet drawer boxes is another of the more challenging aspects of cabinetmaking. For drawers to operate properly, drawer boxes need to be square and and flat. To help you get started on the right foot, Rockler offers a accurately milled, flat precut drawer sides in a couple of varieties.
Rockler Unfinished Drawer Sides are made of baltic baltic birch plywood (a reliable and stable "standard" for drawer box construction) and pre-grooved for a 1/4" drawer bottom. They're available in a variety of common widths and shipped in convenient four foot lengths. If you're interested in saving even more time, choose Rockler Pre-Finished Drawer Sides. They feature a UV-cured clear coat finish on all sides along with a veneered top edge for a more dressy look. When the time comes to join your drawer boxes, you'll find information on reliable methods in "Drawer Box Joinery Tips".
Before you order or build your new cabinet drawers, remember to give some thought to drawer slides. There are many types of drawer slides available, and the type and dimensions of the drawer you buy or make will influence the type of slide that you will be able to use. For top performance and long service, it's tough to beat a ball bearing drawer slide. For help choosing the ball bearing drawer slide that best suits your new drawers, read Rockler's "Ball Bearing Drawer Slide FAQ".
Hardware and Hinges
One of the key advantages of designing and building your own cabinets is that you have complete control of the selection of hinges and other hardware. Along with that, it is extremely important to understand that not all cabinet hardware is designed to be used on all types of cabinetry.
In particular, the type of cabinets you build will greatly impact the type and variety of hinges available for your project. By the same token, selecting your cabinet hinges based on adjustability and ease of installation in advance can greatly simplify the installation phase of your cabinetmaking project. We strongly encourage you to read Rockler's article, "Understanding Hinges" before you design and build your cabinets.
The Final Touches
When your cabinetmaking project progress toward its final stages, it will be time to start thinking about the final touches. Choosing an appropriate wood finishing method will go along way in protecting your cabinets through the years of everyday use they are likely to receive. Rockler's "Finishing Comparison Guide" will help you select a finish that will accentuate the beauty of your new cabinets, and stand up to less than wood-friendly kitchen environment.
Last but not least is your chance to put your final "style statement" on the project. Rockler offers a selection of knobs and pull to fit every taste and budget. And in "Selecting Cabinet Knobs and Pulls" you'll find time-saving tips on installing hardware along with the basics of knob and pull materials and finishes, projection, and styles.