I live in a trailer in the great state of Maine. When I bought this trailer it was old and beatup, so I have been slowly renovating the trailer. One part which was in bad shape were the kitchen cabinets. After looking at low end cabinets, I came up with a price to replace my cabinets for around $3000. I no longer have that kind of money, so had been looking at the option of building my own cabinets.
I have decided that if I was to build my own cabinets, it would need to be out of natural wood.. I have no way of hauling 4' x 8' sheets of plywood from the lumber yard to my place, so decided that it must be made of natural lumber. After looking at the choices I had, I came down with that I could afford either matched pine boards or shiplap, which is also made of white pine. Shiplap was a bit wider boards, less seams to deal with, so that has become my choice of stock.
Shiplap is normally used on the outside of a house for siding and has a rough side and a smooth side. Both sides are decorative, the rough side is made deliberatively rough, but not splintery like rough sawn wood would be and is relatively free from knots. So, it seemed to be a good choice for materials. As an added benefit, I could get it in either 6' or 8' lengths. The 6 foot lengths would be ideal for making wall and base cabinets. I needed 34.5 inches for base cabinets and 30 inch pieces for the wall cabinets.
Step 1: Know Your Equipment
First thing is to determine what you need for equipment. I found that having a table saw and miter saw were necessary. They all need to be set up so that you can be sure to get square cuts. Also, you need to be very accurate in your cuts.
Other tools needed would be a circular saw, power drill, tape measure, etc.
When I cut boards to the same length I like to setup a stop block, so all the boards cut will be the same length.
Be sure to observe safety precautions when using power tools.
Step 2: List of Materials
I purchased my materials from Lowes and Home Depot. One store offered things which the other store didn't. If you don't have both stores in your area, then you may have to improvise a bit
6 - 6' shiplap, 7" wide x 3/4 inch thick. Cost $4.28 each x 6 = $25.68
2 - 6' x 1" x 2" whitewood. Cost $2.35 each x 2 = $4.70
3 - 6' x 1" x 3" whitewood. Cost $3.62 each x 2 = $10.86
Box of screws 8 x 1 1/4". Cost $3.57 Used for multiple cabinets.
Box of screws 8 x 1 1/2". Cost $3.57 Used for multiple cabinets.
Box of screws 4 x 3/4". Cost $3.57 Used for multiple cabinets.
2 - 72" brass pilaster strip. Cost $3.48 each x 2 = $6.96
1 - 12 pack of shelf clips and pilaster screws. Cost $2.65 each x 1 = $2.65
Cost of Cabinet = $61.56
2 - 6' shiplap, 7" wide x 3/4 inch thick. Cost $4.28 each x = $8.56
1 - 6' x 1" x 2" whitewood. Cost $2.35 each x = $2.35
2 sets of hinges. Cost $2.57 each x 2 = $5.14
2 door handles. Cost $2.57 each x 2 = $5.14
Cost of Cabinet Doors = $21.19
Total cost cabinet with doors = $82.75
Comparable to a stock finished cabinet available at either Lowes or Home Depot.
36" wide x 30" tall wall cabinet = $171.
My cabinet is less than 50% less than the available stock cabinet.
Step 3: Cut the Walls
We start by cutting 4 pieces of shiplap into 30 inch pieces. You will use 2 - 6' lengths of the shiplap. Also cut 2 pieces of 1" x 2" x 10 1/4" long for the top cleats and cut 2 pieces of 1" x 2" x 10 1/2" long for the bottom cleats.
Take two of the shiplap pieces, putting them together. We need a width of 11 1/4. Be sure to reserve the cut out portion for the back panel. The total depth of th cabinet will be 12". So, the side walls need to be 11 1/4" wide. Rip one piece for each side of the cabinet. Observe the knots on your boards, so they will not become a problem, either on a rip cut or where you will be screwing pieces together.
Screw each side wall together using the 1" x 2" pieces, which will become the cleats holding everything together. Use 4 - 1 1/4 screws on each cleat. the bottom cleat will be even with the bottom of the side and the other cleat 3/4" down from the top edge of the board. The cleats are 3/4" too short, this is to accommodate the wall cleats at the back of the cabinet.
Next cut the pilaster strip, the metal strips used to hold the shelves up, see the picture, into 24" sections and attach to side walls. I placed them up against the the top cleat so that they would be level with each other.
Next cut the bottom and top cabinet pieces. The wall cabinet is 1/4" shorter than the actual dimensions, so for a 33" wide cabinet, 33" - 1/4" offset - the thickness of the 2 walls 3/4" x 2 = 1 1/2". So the total length of the shelf will be 31 1/4", the offset will be made up for when we put the facing on the cabinet. Cut the top and bottom pieces and screw into the cleats using 8 x 1 1/2" screws. The extra long screws give extra strength to the cabinet. Be sure to pre drill for all screw locations.
Next cut and add ledger boards to the top and bottom of the back. The top Ledger board needs to offset to allow 1/4" space for the backing and the bottom one should go flush with the wall.
Most screws are in locations, where they will not be seen in the finished product.
Next cut the movable shelves, they should be approximately 29 3/4" long, check that they will fit in the cabinet easily. Cut cleats for the shelves and screw them together using 1 1/4 inch screws.
Step 4: Adding the Facing
In order to give the cabinet a finish look, we need to add the facing, which will also be used to mount the doors on. In order to hide the cleats and give a normal appearance, I needed to use 2 1/4" wide wood strips. So in order to achieve this dimension, I used 1"x3" whitewood. The 1x3s are a denser and stronger wood then the shiplap and will give your project a more finished appearance.
I cut 2 pieces of 1x3 30 inches long and 2 pieces 1x3 28 1/2 inches long. The two 30 inch pieces will be the sides and the shorter pieces will be the top and bottom. Cut the center post 25 1/2 inches long. I used the Kreg pocket hole system to join the pieces together. Using the Kreg Jig, I drilled 2 holes on each end of the top and bottom pieces, 8 holes in all. When you screw the pieces together, I found it was necessary to use corner clamps, so that the wood would not get pulled out of alignment when they were screwed together. I have the Kreg Jr kit, cost about $40. If you were to go to buy the kit, I would suggest you buy the $100 kit with the larger jig. I have successfully used the smaller jig, but I think the larger jig would save time. I also have the Kreg clamp, another Kreg necessity. When I put these together, I used some glue to make a more permanent joint.
Once the face frame is made, place it ontop of of the cabinet, it should be a 1/4 unch to wide. Split that extra width on both sides of the cabinet. We had made the cabinet 1/4 inch smaller than the actual measurements.
Next, using the Kreg Jig dril holes on the front edge of the cabinet, so that you can attach the facing to the cabinet. I think I drilled 4 holes on each side. The Kreg system does have wooden plugs so that the holes can be finished off if you desire. Some holes were on the outside and inside of the cabinet. The other option, which you could use is to attach the facing using 8 penny finishing nails. I liked using the Kreg system as most of the holes would not be in a noticeable location.
The next thing to do is to put the back on your cabinet. I used luan panel, the only plywood in the whole cabinet. I used small screws to hold the panel on the back, 4 x 5/8" screws. I predrilled the holes through the luan panel. Be sure to put the movable shelves into the cabinet before you put the back on the cabinet. With the divider facing, it becomes difficult to remove or insert the shelves in the cabinet once the back is closed off.
At this point the cabinet is 90% completed. I will return and complete the doors for the cabinet in the near future.