I am going to build all my kitchen cabinets and I have some questions
1. What's the best material to use for kitchen cabinets drawer sides, back
and bottom? Maple, Burch, something else?
2. I assume the most practical way to build cabinets cases sides , bottom
and back from plywood. What type and thickness of plywood is the best for
3. Is it best to build kitchen cabinet shelves from solid wood or plywood?
The cabinets drawer faces, doors and face frame will be built from cherry.
Something to consider is the use of 5/8 inch melamine-faced
particleboard. You would use a 3mm skin on any exposed ends to match
your wood type. You'd use solid hardwood for your drawer fronts.
You'd also use solid wood for either edging your sides or you'd go with
solid face frames. This would probably be the least expensive
material, and it looks great/ easy to clean. If you go this route,
make sure you invest in a dedicated laminate/melamine blade for your
The problems with using solid wood for everything are 1) much higher
cost, and 2) lots of edge-jointing to be done.
It depends on your criteria. Sides/back I would go for maple because it is
strong and tight grained (easier to get a cleanable finish) and reasonably
affordable and available. There are cheaper but softer alternatives like
poplar. For the bottom... definitely *not* solid wood. Plywood or a consider
a thin prefinished sheet material if you like the white formica.malamine
kind of look.
3/4" for the sides and bottom, Less for the back.
Both. Ply alone is going to be a bit too sag-prone unless the shelves are
pretty short. Personally I went with 1/2"ply with a 3/4 deep by 1" high
strip of maple on the front and back. It creates an I-Beam sort of
structure. Solid Wood works too, but it adds a bit more weight.
Formica or melanine with a hardwood for strength is also an option. It does
provide a durable and cleanable shelf surface.
My experience indicates that the when pieces of wood that will come into
contact with each other and rub against each other there is friction. The
harder the wood, maple or oak, the less friction, The softer the material,
pine or poplar the more friction or drag. If you are going to use metal
slides, the material really does not matter. I prefer to use 1/2" Baltic
Birch plywood. Baltic Birch plywood is reasonably priced and you normally
can cut what ever size you neeed with out having to buy wide boards or glue
up boards if the drawers are going to be deep. I have very good results for
pots and pan drawers as large as 24" x 36" using 1/4" plywood for the
bottoms. I prefer a close grain wood plywood for this aplication.
I prefer plywood or lumber core that is 3/4" thick For the Backs I use 1/4"
No. Both plywood and solid wood shelves will bow if there is too much
weight. I always use plywood with a solid wood front edge band to hide the
front edge of the plywood. If there will be long spans or if I anticipare
more than normal weight will be supported by the shelves I typically add a
1.5" x 3/4" solid piece of wood to the front and or back of the shelf to
help prevent sagging.
I highly discourage using any of the particle boards or melamine type boards
for the carcasses. This job is not a quick simple one and plywood is going
to hold up better 20 years from now.
You will find a lot of information on building kitchen cabinets if you
do a search of this newsgroup for such. Also, several books on the
subject that can be purchased or sought out at a library. Often
recommended are books by Danny Proulx, Jere Cary, Jim Tolpin, and Udo
Schmidt. Each has his own method and recommendations for materials. I'm
going to build some European style, face-frameless cabinets for our
kitchen IF we can ever get a contractor over here to do the remodel. I
found that Proulx's book has the best section on building these types
of cabinets. I'm planning on doing a Shaker style flat panel door with
maple frames and maple ply panels. The drawers will have full extension
slides and the boxes will be poplar sides and back, ply bottom and
maple fronts. Still kicking around whether to use ply- either 5/8" or
3/4" for the carcase or going for the ease of melamine- 3/4". All
exposed sides will be covered with a maple panel. Carcase parts I'm
planning on using pocket screws and glue to assemble them. Good luck
and have fun with your project.
Alexander Galkin wrote:
Hey me too! Had a flood (upstairs washing machine hose) that destroyed the
Cabinets ceiling and hardwood floors. The MDF Cabinets turned to mush! So I
get to start from scratch. I've decided on using a collection of European,
Mission and Stainless Steel cabinet doors. I've been collecting Cabinet Data
for a month now and have found that some of the major Manufacturers explain
in some detail their manufacturing methods and from books! I think I'll
stick with Oak, but will also play with Maple for the doors and fronts! 3/8
ply sides and back with 5/8 ply bottoms. For the Island 5/8th sides and back
with a 3/4 bottom. Has to hold the Granite tops.
The Draws are designed around use. Below the Counter top all draws will be
Maple with stainless steel liners. The rest will be just Maple sides and
back with a maple faced ply for the bottoms. (they'll all be lined with
other types of methods and materials. I'm also sticking LED's to light the
interior of the draws, when opened. and the garbage draw will open and close
automatically and I'll stick them all with the bearing self closing slides
( I would also recommend downloading www.kitchendraw.com) 30 day free trial!
Not associated with it in anyway shape or form. But it is an easy to use
with beautiful results!)
The best two material tips I can contributive to the Kitchen Cabinet from
scratch project :
1. I had never worked with pre-finished plywood before, but at the
suggestion of a professional, I used 3/4 inch maple plywood finished on the
one side only for the sides, and bottoms of the cabinets and finished on two
sides for the shelves. This saved me so much time and aggravation with the
finishing process I would never build a cabinet like this again with
2. I used a custom dovetail drawer shop for my 17 drawers and had the
pleasure of determining the specs- 5/8 maple hardwood for the sides and 1/2
inch maple plywood for the bottoms. That really insured a no-flex bottom no
matter how much I load the drawers. I had them put the finish on them as
well. Total with shipping including 6 very large and deep drawers was under
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