DIY Kitchen Cabinets

Written by Little Vintage Lane


Posted on November 27 2023

I'm such a terrible blogger! I have been so wrapped up in just creating, I have been neglecting my duties to share! I just finished up working on my kitchen, and although I forgot to photograph my progress, I did go ahead and make a small cabinet for anyone who may be interested in making their own. These are non-functional cabinets and really pretty easy to make. I will make a future post on how I made the fridge and stove (not the one pictured, I haven't made the one I want yet, but I promise to take pics!)

Basic Supplies:

  • 1/8" Basswood sheets (I used 3" wide by 24")
  • 1/2" x 1/16" Strips of Basswood
  • 1/4" x 1/16" Strips of Basswood
  • 1/8" x 1/16" Strips of Basswood
  • Tools for cutting your basswood, I have a mini scroll saw I used mainly, but an exacto knife and straight edge work too
  • Ruler, pencil, paint, know, the basics
  • A good glue, I used wood glue and and tacky glue for most of the building.
  • Pokey Clay Tool (Yep, I have no idea what it's actually called)

So these cabinets are pretty simple, they are basically just a box with some pretty frills. I started by figuring out the configuration I wanted. I have an extremely small nook to work with so I was trying to make the best use of space without it looking cluttered. To get an exact floor layout, I just laid pieces of copy paper on the floor and taped them together to get the exact dimensions (because who measures?). I then drew out the layout on the paper. I planned on doing my cabinets in 3 sets, the fridge, the corner and the shelf unit that is in the dining area. So taking basic cabinet measurements, I cut out my pieces following my layout. I used 1/8" basswood to build the basic shell, and I knew I would be adding 1/16" pieces to the front, so I accounted for all of that in my cutting.


The side pieces were all cut at 1 13/16" W x 2 7/8" H. I cut out a 3/16" deep by 1/4" tall notch for the kick plates along the bottom. The front pieces were cut the width of my cabinet face and only 2 5/8" H to account for the kick plate. The back piece was the total cabinet face length minus 1/4". The measurements on my island were a little different, I made it deeper than a normal cabinet and I was finishing the back, so I took that into consideration in my side piece measurements.

I attached the back piece to one of the side pieces, I wanted it in between the side pieces just for appearance purposes. After that was dry, I attached the other side and then the front.

To attach the front I flipped it upside down just to get the top flush with the sides.

On this example cabinet I did a "fancy" side and a side that wouldn't ever be seen. Since the left of this cabinet won't be seen, I added the first trim piece. This is what makes up the look of the cabinet frame. I used 1/8" x 1/16" basswood strips. If you aren't planning on having either side showing, you can skip the next few steps. If you are planning on both of your cabinet sides showing, don't add any trim pieces to the front yet. Also, do not add the kick plate yet as you see in my photo. (I may have forgotten my own steps lol.)

You will want to trim the fancy sides of your cabinet if it's going to be seen. I went with a simple trim here, you can go fancier or you could technically not add any trim either if that suits your fancy. On my kitchen island I added shiplap before doing any trim pieces, I'll add a blurb about that at the end.

Once your sides are all complete, you can then add the kick plate on the bottom and trim around the outside of the cupboard front. In the photo above I am getting ready to trim out for the drawer. I kept things simple and went with 1/2" tall drawer fronts. Do not attach the drawer front yet! It's just there to serve as a spacer. Or if you like, you could measure like normal people probably do :)

With the spacer drawer front in place, glue down the trim below it and then remove the drawer front. To make larger cabinets that had multiple doors, I added trim only between different door sets. If a door set had two doors that "opened" to the same space I did not use a spacer.

Once all the trim facings are on, it's time to paint. I use normal latex paint in a satin or eggshell finish. Usually two coats of coverage is fine. I also painted the front and edges of my drawer front and a long strip of 1/4" x 1/16" basswood to use as my door trims.

I painted these separately to keep paint from filling in the edges that I wanted to appear as though it were a real door.

Once all the painting is done, I glued in my drawer front and also the pieces for my door. I cut the door pieces with a 45 degree mitre because I prefer that look, but you can straight cut the edges as well. Again, I didn't measure those, I usually just cut one of the ends at an angle and hold it in place and mark the outer edge of my next angle cut.

I also tried not to make the drawer and door pieces too tight of a fit, it looks kind of like poo right now, but the next step really helps clean up the edges.

I used my pointy clay thingamatool (I'm positive thats the correct term) and using a little pressure scored around the edges. I did this a few times going a little deeper each time. On pieces that were a little tight, like the right side of the door in the photo above, I used either a straight edge as a guide or very lightly started the line.

After that is done, I added a small amount of paintable caulk to the door corners, being careful not to get it in the edges of the door. If a little gets in there, I just used my pointy thingamabob again to carefully get it out. I also use q-tips and a damp cloth to get off any excess.

Final step is to touch up any paint, especially anywhere you caulked. Add your hardware and counter of choice and you have a custom little cabinet!

* Shiplap* If you want to add shiplap to the sides of your cabinets like I did on my island, paint the cabinet shell first and paint the shiplap boards separately. This will give a cleaner appearance without getting paint in the cracks. I found just one quick coat of paint on the cabinet base and sides of the shiplap boards is plenty and I did two coats on the fronts of the boards. I used 1/2" basswood strips for all my shiplap in my house. If you choose to shiplap, I would suggest ship lapping the sides of the cabinet before you start assembling the cabinet base to allow for the extra 1/16" that is being added.


Original Post: January 29, 2020



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