Introduction: Steps to Take When Planning to Build Cabinetry and Bookshelves

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Building a built-in bookshelf or cabinet can seem like a rather intimidating process at first, especially if you've never done it before. However, if you break it down into several parts it's not very difficult. In this Instructable I'm going to go over things to think about and keep in mind when planning and designing cabinetry, no matter whether it's for your kitchen, bookcases for your living room, or a storage units for your shop or work space.

Step 1: ​Design

When you first start thinking about the cabinetry, first of all think about what would fit the space, and keep it proportional.

That often includes: Keeping depths in mind (if you're doing drawers underneath and shelving above, then it often looks better to have the drawers be deeper than the shelving).

Being mindful of windows and doors. Do you build shelving around such areas, or do you limit the build within the boundries?

Also be mindful of lighting, outlets and TVs. Are you planning on building around these areas, or to incorporate them in the design?

Moulding is another thing to think about. Does your room currently have moulding? Do you want it to match around the ceiling and the baseboard? If so, include that into your plans as well.

Step 2: ​Assess Your Situation

Since cabinetry usually is built within our living spaces, it's important to not take on more than you can handle. You don't want to live in a messy environment with tools and dust for months. Make sure you can complete the project in a few weeks at the most, and don't linger too long.

Step 3: ​Prepare

Make a drawing of the space complete with plans and sizes. Write down everything! All the parts, all the sizes. Also include what colors you're planning and other finishing products. Get your whole project planned out from start to finish, but be prepared to allow for changes, you never know what happens.

Step 4: ​Materials

Make sure to get the most out of your materials. If you're using plywood for the build (and it's likely you are!), plan out the cuts on paper first and then on the plywood. If you're having your lumber store cut certain parts of the plywood (useful if you don't have a truck!), make sure to have them cut the right dimensions to fit into your larger plans of the cuts.

Step 5: ​Planning

When planning the purchase of your materials, assume you will have some bad pieces and that you will make some mistakes, and account for another 15% extra (with the understanding you might need to get even more.)

Order all the hardware ahead of time, you don't want to be running to the store to get drawer slides, just to realize on eight are in stock, and you need nine.

Step 6: ​Tips:

Do each section of the build at the same time. For example, focus on all the drawers at a time, don't do one drawer here and there. Then do all the shelving at the same time etc....

If you're building the parts in a second location (like your shop or garage), be mindful of the sizes. Don't build anything so large you can't move them and fit them into your final location. Especially be aware of this if you're building tall bookcases. They can be very difficult to move around, and finally stand up straight if they're too tall. It's better to build smaller and build parts, and then connect everything in its final place.

Understand that walls, floors and ceilings won't always be straight and be prepared to shim, alter and adjust as you move along. Also, stock up on a lot of caulk! Caulk hides anything and everything, and if you have gaps, holes or imperfections, caulk will be a big help in making the final cabinet look flawless.

Step 7: Conclusion - Watch the Video

I'm just starting a built-in project myself, and in this video I go over planning, shopping and more...