All-Purpose Kitchen Cabinet

Comments (0)

This article is from Issue 46 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Build attractive storage for small appliances, bowls, and serving pieces.

Designer: Craig Bentzley 

Overall dimensions: 45"w × 191⁄4"d × 36"h

Stores and catalogs are chock-full of home storage options, but the best-fitting solution is one you build. Sporting sawtooth shelf supports and full-extension drawer slides, this piece will stand up to anything you can stack in or on it. For the cost of some wood, hardware, and a few free weekends, you can make this sturdy cabinet and learn a few tricks along the way. 

While it may look like a serious woodworking project, strip it down to its bones, and you’ll see that it’s just a box–well within the reach of most woodworkers. Plywood and pocket-hole screws simplify construction and speed up assembly. Solid wood trim strips and full-overlay doors conceal the box’s humble beginnings and help hide any minor mistakes.

You can also customize the straightforward design to suit your needs. For example, you can build the wood-edged plywood top shown here, or step up to granite, as shown in the photo on page 2. For stone-buying tips, see “Going with Granite”, page 46. By altering the trim or adjusting the dimensions this project can serve as a bathroom vanity or office workstation.

Use the web frame and assembly squares to hold the case together while you attach the sides to the bottom with clamps and cauls.

Start with the case

1 From 3⁄4"-thick plywood, cut the sides (A), bottom (B), and center divider (C) to the sizes listed in the Cut List. Then, using a tablesaw outfitted with an auxiliary fence and dado set, cut the 1⁄4"-deep dadoes for the bottom and 1⁄2"-deep rabbets for the back on the sides, where shown in Figure 1 on page 42. Next, cut a 1⁄4"-deep dado across the center of the bottom to fit the center divider.

2 From 3⁄4"-thick plywood, cut the rails (D) and stiles (E) for the case web frame. Drill pocket holes in the ends of rails to assemble them to the stiles, and along the edges to attach the frame to the sides (A). Assemble the web frame using 11⁄4"-long washer-head screws.

3 Dry-assemble the sides (A) and bottom (B) to verify that the parts fit together correctly. When inset 1⁄2" from the front edge of the sides, the bottom should align with the inside edge of the rabbets in the side. Now, glue and clamp the parts together, as shown in Photo A. (Note: If you’re short on long clamps, you can drive screws through the sides to attach them to the bottom. The trim strips will hide the fasteners.)

4 Position the web frame assembly (D, E) so that the top edge is flush with the top edge of the sides (A) and the back edge is flush with the inside edge of the rabbet. Attach the frame to the sides with glue and 11⁄4" pocket screws.

5 From 1⁄4"-thick plywood, cut the back (F) to the size listed in the Cut List. Put it aside for now.

Center the pocket-hole jig on the end of your workpiece, clamp it in place, and then drill the screw holes.

Make the face frame

1 Mill 1" (4/4) stock to make the face frame rails and stiles (Note: Except for the bottom rail [I], all of the face frame parts [G, H, J, and K] are 2" wide.)

2 Using a tablesaw and dado set, cut a 1" rabbet, 1⁄2" deep along the edge of the outer stiles (G). (When placed against the side [A], the stile’s edge should protrude a bit more than 1⁄4".) Trim the outer stiles to length.

3 Cut the top and bottom rails (H, I) and center stile (J) to fit. Next, cut the inner rail (K) to fit. Make pencil marks where the parts meet to facilitate later assembly.

4 Using a pocket-hole jig, drill a pair of angled holes on the ends of the three rails (H, I, K) and the center stile (J), as shown in Photo B.

5 Assemble the face frame from the outside in. First, screw the top and bottom rails (H, I) to the outer stiles (G). Next attach the center stile (J) between the rails, and then attach the inner rail (K), as shown in Photo C.

6 Test-fit the assembled face frame (G, H, I, J, K) on the case. Note the locations where you need to use more clamps to ensure a gap-free joint. Apply glue and then clamp in place (Photo D).

Clamp the pieces flat against a work surface as you drive the screws to ensure flush joints where the rails meet the stiles.

Using clamping cauls to distribute pressure across the joint, glue the face frame to the case. The frame helps square and solidify the cabinet. 

Use guide blocks to establish the correct spacing and to ensure that the center strip is parallel with the front.

7 Apply glue to the dado on the bottom (B) and slide in the center divider (C). Clamp the divider to the center stile (J), check for square, and then attach the web frame to the top of the divider with 11⁄2" screws.

Trim the case

1 From 3⁄4"-thick stock, rip 8 strips, approximately 3" wide  and 36" long. (To be safe, rip an extra strip or two.) Using a tablesaw equipped with a thin-kerf blade, resaw the strips in half and then thickness to 1⁄4". Rip two pieces to 21⁄4" for use as the front strips (L), so that when butted against the edge of the outer stile (G), the front strip will appear to be as wide as the other vertical strips.

2 Cutting the trim strips to fit as you go, glue and pin the front strip (L) and the back strip (M) flush with the front and back edges of the sides. Next, cut the top and bottom cross strips (N, O) to fit where shown in Figure 1. Cut and attach the bottom filler strips (P) to to serve as backer for the base molding.

3 Cut a center strip (Q) to fit vertically between the cross strips (N,O). Center this strip on the side, and make a pair of spacer blocks to position it while nailing (Photo E).

Practice fitting the baseboard miters before cutting the side pieces to length.

4 Using a handheld router equipped with a flush-trim bit, trim the outer stiles (G) flush with the face of the front trim strip (L).

5 Mill stock for the base molding. Rout your desired profile along the top edge. Leaving all three pieces a few inches long, miter the ends of the side pieces (R) and one end of the front piece (S) section.

6 Clamp the side base molding pieces to their respective sides of the cabinet. Next, fit the mitered end of the front section against the matching end (Photo F), mark the length on the square-cut end (Photo G) and cut to length.

7 Attach the base molding to the case. Attach one side with glue and nails, then center, and then the remaining side.

For tighter miters, fit the pieces together and mark the exact length of the center section.

Clamp the rails and stiles against a pair of right angle fences to ensure a square glue-up. Squeeze-out will not stick to the melamine surface.

Attach the glide supports 1⁄4" above the inner rail. Then, screw the metal hardware flush with the bottom edge.

Pin the hangers inside the case. Trim the same amount from each end so that the teeth line up.

Make the doors and drawer

1 Prepare enough 3⁄4"-thick stock to make the door rails and stiles (T, U, V, W). Cut the parts to the widths listed in the Cut List, but leave them long for now. Arrange the parts for the best grain match, and label them accordingly, noting the inside and outside edges.

2 Outfit your tablesaw with a 1⁄4" dado set. Using a piece of scrap, adjust the cutter to make a centered 1⁄2"-deep cut along the inside edges of your stock, running the “show” face against the rip fence.

3 Cut the long stiles (T), short stiles (U), and the top and bottom rails (V, W) to length. Now using your tablesaw and miter gauge with an auxiliary fence and stop, cut 1⁄2" long tenons on the ends of your rails. Adjust the cut so that the tenon fits snugly in the groove.

4 From 1⁄2"-thick plywood, cut door panels (X, Y) to size. Cut 1⁄2 × 1⁄2" deep rabbets along the back face so that the panel can fit into the rails and stiles.

5 Assemble the long door using a flat assembly table, like the one shown in Photo H. Test-fit the parts and adjust the tenons as necessary with a shoulder plane or sanding block. Now, using Titebond 3 or similar slow-set glue, assemble the door.

6 After the assembly cures, remove it from the frame. Repeat the assembly process with the short door (U, V, W, Y).

7 Using a drill press and 35mm Forstner bit, drill the doors, where shown in Figure 1, for the cup hinges. Set the doors aside for now.

8 Mill the drawer false front (Z) to the size listed in the Cut List. Next, mill stock to 5⁄8” thick, and then cut parts to make the drawer sides (AA), front (BB), and back (CC). Cut a 1⁄2 × 3⁄8" groove on the bottom edges of the side and front. Next, cut a 3⁄8  deep × 1⁄2" wide rabbet on both edges of the front and back as shown in Figure 2. Dry-fit the parts together, and cut a drawer bottom (DD) to fit.

9 Assemble the drawer with glue. To reinforce the rabbet joint, drill 1⁄8" holes through the sides, where shown in Figure 2. Brush glue onto 1⁄8"-dia. dowels, and tap them in place. When dry, trim flush.

10 Cut the glide supports (EE), and test-fit them in the case. Adjust the thickness so that they sit flush with the inside edge of the stiles. Install them 1⁄4" above the inner rail, as shown in Photo I.

11 Cut the sawtooth hangers to fit in the case. Now attach them to the sides (A) with 3⁄4"-long nails (Photo J). Cut the included hanger brackets to fit snugly between the hangers. Cut plywood shelves (FF) to fit. (Edge the shelf with wood or veneer banding to suit.) Notch the corners of the shelves to fit around the hangers.

Finish and final assembly

1 Inspect all parts, finish-sand where needed through 220 grit, and stain and finish with products of your choosing to match your décor.

2 Clamp the back (F) in place and install with #8 × 3⁄4" screws.

3 Mount the drawer slides flush with the bottom edge of the glide supports (EE). Then mount the slides on the drawer sides (AA). Install the cup hinges in both doors, and attach the matching clip to the outer stiles. Attach the doors to the cabinet.

4 Install the drawer pulls on the drawer front and both doors. Then clamp the front on the front of the drawer. Drill pilot and countersunk shank holes though the drawer box and into the drawer front. Secure the front to the drawer with #8 × 1" screws.

5 Referring to the Cut List, cut the parts for the wood top and assemble as shown in Figure 1. Fasten it to the web frame with #8 × 11⁄2" wood screws. If you opted for granite, apply a bead of silicone caulk to the web frame and rest the stone in place.

Going With Granite

You can build a wood top, but there are plenty of reasons to consider granite. It cleans easily and shrugs off hot pots and staining agents that could trash finished wood. Plus, it can make a simple cabinet resemble a high-end kitchen cabinet.

The only downside is price; granite countertops can run as high as $100 per square foot. To save money, ask about “remnants,” pieces left over from other jobs. These scraps can be had for a lot less. To select the right piece of stone, bring a sample finished in the same manner as your cabinet and the desired dimensions. The dealer may suggest edge treatments or protective finishes that can affect the total cost.


Write Comment

Write Comment

You must be logged in to write a comment. Log In

Top of Page