Introduction: Construct a Sideboard From Kitchen Wall Cabinets

About: Technical Editor for two magazines. Software tester for the computer controlled electronic brakes of Locomotives.

To purchase a ready built Sideboard, you not only have to pay for the cabinet but pay again for the factory to cut down the cabinet to the depth of a sideboard.

So to just purchase a sideboard you are paying twice for 1 box.

Interestingly, the depth of conventional wall cabinets is exactly what you need in a Sideboard. No cutting down boxes and paying to get less.


  • At least two wall cabinets, preferably with opposing doors
  • Scrap Lauan plywood
  • 2, 2x4x8
  • 2, 1x2x8
  • sheet of edge glued pine large enough for top
  • Maple "Hobby Wood" strips to band the base
  • Wood Glue
  • Drywall screws
  • #2 Phillips bit on either a drill or impact driver
  • 16ga nailer, electric, air, or impulse
  • Some type of saw, hand or skill saw
  • square or miter saw
  • 12", 18", 24" squeeze clamps (You can never have too many clamps!)
  • pipe clamp long enough to span the width of the cabinets
  • If you are refinishing:
  • Citristrip as needed
  • "Old Masters" Natural Stain
  • "Old Masters" Satin Poly
  • "Old Masters" Gloss Poly
  • "Old Masters" Dark Walnut Stain

Step 1: Clamping the Cabinets Together

We started with two vintage Scheirich wall cabinets.
We aligned the fronts of the two cabinets and clamped them together. Note that it may be necessary to insert a thin filler piece between the cabinets to keep the face frames aligned when screwing the two cabinets together with drywall screws.

Step 2: The "Top" Is Now the "Bottom"

Since we are turning the cabinets upside down so the door handles are now on the top, the old top of the cabinet is now the bottom. This "top" is generally quite thin, because it was never meant to carry any weight. So, it needs to be reinforced structurally. We did this by gluing a piece of Lauan plywood to the underside as shown and clamped in place using some scrap 2x4's until the glue dries.
This added thickness will provide enough support to carry the weight as the lower shelf.

Step 3: Stripping the Old Finish Off

The old finish was removed with Citristrip. Under that genuine imitation Mahogany finish was Hard Maple. A cheap garbage wood back in the day, now premium wood.

Step 4: Adding a Base "Toe Kick"

A proper Sideboard has to have a base to keep it off the floor. Since these wall cabinets never were designed to have one, one needs to be constructed.
2x4's cut to size, are fitted to the old "top" of the cabinet (now "bottom"), cutting out for the joints of the 2 cabinets where they are joined together. Screwed together with drywall screws and glue, the assembly is then glued and nailed to the cabinets thru the lips of the boxes with 16ga impulse nails. Allow the glue to dry.

Step 5: Banding the Base "Toe Kick"

Because these cabinets are Hard Maple and we are leaving the wood natural, we used strips of Maple "Hobby Wood" glued and 16ga impulse nailed onto the 2x4 base. Note the back of the base needed a filler piece to support the "Hobby Wood" on the back corners as shown in the 2nd photo.

Step 6: Installing the "Top"

We chose edge glued pine for the top. You can use anything you want. We cut the edge glued pine to exactly the dimensions of the "Top". Then we banded the edge glued pine with 1x2's attached with 16ga impulse nails and more glue making the top look more substantial. Another feature of this banding is it drops down over the sides of the cabinet boxes, locking the top in place with no fasteners needed. This allows easier moving of the sideboard and easier finishing of the cabinet boxes and the top.
Note the hearing protection, necessary because the Pasload's are loud when they fire.

Step 7: Final Finishing

We applied Old Masters Natural stain because we wanted a natural look. And we chose Old Masters because it doesn't have artificial ingredients like Minwax. We are shooting for an old fashioned finish here.
After the stain has dried we applied two coats of Old Masters Satin Poly and one coat of Gloss Poly.
Why? It's easier to get a good finish with two coats of very forgiving satin poly and one fussy coat of gloss poly, rather than 3 fussy coats of gloss poly. The satin poly is used as build up coats for protection.
The top was finished the exact same way, except we started with Old Masters "Dark Walnut" stain.

Step 8: Done!

Take it down off the work table, place it, install the top and fill it!
And congratulate yourself on saving $1000 over a factory built unit! (Ya, they do cost that much!)