Kitchen cabinetry #4: Installing upper cabinetry

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Blog entry by Jake posted 01-27-2014 05:55 AM 1654 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Thank you MacB! Part 4 of Kitchen cabinetry series Part 5: Closing in on the last steps »

Nothing much to say, finally managed to get the upper cabinetry up, from scratch to end product took me 1 week.

Details cut:

Painting and lacquering the parts:

Drilling the pin holes for shelves:

Cabinetry glued and screwed together (upside down):

Since I did not know what was behind the sheetrock I was a bit worried because I did not know if I can put them up on the walls or not. So I had to check..

Good news was, I had a 1/2” piece of particle board put behind there by the last owner, bad news was that after the sheetrock and particle board came about 6” of space until the wall, which is unreasonable by any standards, no idea who came up with that particular idea. But not knowing where exactly my gas line runs behind the wall.. (I have a fairly good idea, just not great. :D) I did not dare to go through teh cabinetry with 8” screws into the back wall.

So in the end I went with heavy duty expanding 8mm plastic dowels, and 70mm x 6mm screws. So I put 7 screws per cabinet, altogether 21 screws per that cabinetry that is 900×1850x350mm made of 3/4 baltic birch.
I don’t know how much it weighed, maybe like 40lbs, but this thing will carry atleast 600 lbs, so if ever my fiancee kicks me out of the bed i can comfortably climb ontop of the cabinet and sleep it off. :)

The doors and all the hardware will go on once the bottom cabinets are done.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

6 comments so far

View John_G's profile


165 posts in 3809 days

#1 posted 01-27-2014 09:19 PM

looks great, how did you treat the edges of the plywood?

-- John Gray

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 2749 days

#2 posted 01-28-2014 05:14 AM

No treatment to be honest. Just the same paint as on the other details. I was originally going to go with face frames, now I am not sure, the plywood edges just painted look great as well, so I might just go with a more european style cabinetry, but with shaker style doors.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3794 days

#3 posted 02-12-2014 01:38 PM

It’s too late to use iron on wood edge tape, should’ve done that before you stained it.

Having bare plywood edges ain’t exactly standard or attractive. It would be nice if you could add a face frame.

How are you going to add a soffit? Do you have a scaled plan?

8” screws and plastic dowels with 21 screws?.... way overkill. Just use centered, not staggered 3” drywall screws, one on top and one on bottom into the studs every 16”. I like black square drive screws, they hide better than silver. Your cleats are massive. I make mine 2 1/2 – 3”. The lower 1 1/2 cleat is under the cabinet, not inside.

Are those temporary shelves? You gotta make these 3/4” or they’re going to warp, they look way too thin. Why are they a different color? Does the top go all the way into the corner? too bad all that space got wasted.

You should have put a 1/4” back on it. It’s like the back bone and holds everything square, plus it hides that ugly drywall that gets dirty and banged up – pain to repaint.

sorry to harsh on you dude. but you have a lot invested here and I see a lot of major issues. like you are just winging it.

You can build them anyway you want but nothing worse than hindsight and a daily visual of regret.

we’re here to help if needed.

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 2749 days

#4 posted 02-13-2014 05:25 AM

Hey Mark, you were not being harsh at all, the reason I am posting stuff here, is that I am an amateur who wants and needs to improve, so constructive criticism is always more than welcome. If I wanted to be pampered with false praise, I would have taken this to be assesed by people who owe me money or anyone else that needs me to like them. :D

To answer the points:
1. the 21 screws are 2 3/4 lenght, the other option would have been 8” screws, but i did not go with that. I also used plastic dowels which expand when you drive a screw in, here they all called alligator dowels, no idea what they are in the US. Any square drive screws – we don’t have them where I am situated in Europe, I use torx.

2. Cleats are massive and so is the amount of screws. I have no experience in hanging cabinetry, but I will overbuild by a factor of 10 rather than have a cabinet full of china and other heavy stuff fall down on my wife. Heck, I would have driven in a 100 screws if I was not confident in the amount I put in.

3. Shelves are temporary, cut form a scrap piece of 1/4 plywood, cause my better half told me to..:) I Don’t understand the question about the top going into the corner. What should the shelves be made for then for a 24” wide cabinet, 1/2 ply?

5. The 1/4 back – I was expecting the massive cleats to keep it square to be honest, but I can always make a back there to hide the wall, I probably will have to.

And yeah, I am by no means winging it, I am just not that good YET, but I will be with comments form you guys.

As far as face frames go, that is a separate issue, I never even saw any face frames before I spent time in the US, never seen them used here. But I do understand what you are saying, and I think i’ll go with them, if I can find hinges to fit there. So far I have had no luck which is the reason why there has been no face frames made yet.

Soffit – again one of those things that really is not used in this neck of the woods. So I have no plan, because I don’t know how it is supposed to go in.

All in all, thanks a lot for the comments, really helps a lot, because i don’t want a daily dose of visual regret to be a part of this furniture. :) The good thing is that I can make changes and it really helps to have a fresh perspective, because in time, I get stuck with my ideas and my perception of what is acceptable and what is not.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3794 days

#5 posted 02-13-2014 01:56 PM

Jake, glad my comment wasn’t taken wrong.

3. I had a feeling these were temporary shelves. good. use the same 3/4” plywood as the cabinet and add a 3/4×1” solid piece on the front. I looked at the drawing from the other blog and noticed the c top doesn’t extend in to the corner. is there a HW heater there or something?

5. it would be tough to add a back at this point without it showing on the outside edges. just go with this design but if you haven’t built the lowers yet, you could add backs. Another reason to have a back is the added air movement causes dust webs to collect and spiders love a back entrance. What if you painted the drywall the same color as stain?

Have you researched cabinet making online? Lots of books out there too. To be honest, this cabinet building stuff is easy. You just have to do it once with a pro and learn all the little secrets and own a garage full of tools!

That winging it comment was a little rough – sorry. I know you’re doing your best but I can tell by your text and the pictures you could use some ideas.

Like, what’s up with the hood? Why is that 4” (too small, not to code, grease catching) flex vent going all the way across the top? is that where the exhaust pipe is located? You need to use solid pipe for this and it should be 6” if possible. and I don’t know how the heck you’re going to hide this…unless I’m mistaken, this is a problem that needs to be worked out.

This is also the reason I was asking about the soffit. How are you going to hide that exhaust pipe? Otherwise, you wouldn’t need one. Also, the soffit is really a wood valance with crown to the ceiling. It could be part of the face frame.

Face frames are easy. It helps to have a scaled plan. You can buy 1×2 solid maple (what are the cabinet doors made of – maple?) for the verticals and rip the lower rail to 1” – bottom of side panel determines this, and use 1×4 or 6 for the top valance with 2 3/4 crown.

Pocket screw and glue, then attach with biscuits. You can glue and face nail it with 1 1/2” 18 ga. nails but you’ll see the holes even if you fill them. not a big deal with a dark stain but nail hole free face frames are worth the effort. don’t attach it with pocket screws either. you were thinking about it, weren’t you!

You could step the valance out with another 1×4 on top of the face frame, behind the crown too. This will bring the crown forward and put everything on the same plane as the doors.

You may have to remove that existing 1x crown if it’s interfering with the hood.

Hinges are simple 3/4” overlay euro style cup hinges, face frame mounted…. If your doors are 3/4” overlay. check before making face frame.

Sometimes, I’ll draw a full size scale drawing on the back of a sheet of plywood or drywall. You can measure everything right off the drawing, verify the size of doors with 1/8” gap, 1/4” reveal on cabinet edge, placement of center panels, size of shelves with 1/16” ea. side, location of 3/4” DADOS.

It looks like your shelf holes are 1/4”. I’m surprised you didn’t go with 5 mm considering metric is standard there. I like this size much better. less noticeable, just as strong. and I always drill holes with a guide before I put on the finish. that way I can sand it and the stain and varnish seal the edges of the hole.

Do you have any drawers in the lowers? Have you considered ordering the doors? so easy and not that much more than the cost of the materials. The doors make all the difference to the project. A lot of cabinet shops order doors just because they’re so time consuming and require certain machinery – little room for error. Not to mention the warranty if they warp or you don’t like the finish.

Today, I’m putting on the final coat on my cherry cabinets for my house. I am so stoked! can’t wait to have it done so I can post pics here! I’ve been working on them for 3 years…. kept getting interrupted with other client’s projects.

Good on you for the effort so far. I’d feel better knowing you have a plan for every detail from here on. Like you said, Kitchens are a lot of work. I don’t even do complete custom kitchens. My shop is just too small and I can’t compete with the line I sell (Plato). But if you wanted a Bubinga stereo cabinet or a wet bar with a shark tank, I’m your guy. Ha!

Always nice to meet someone from your side of the pond and see different methods of building.

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 2749 days

#6 posted 02-17-2014 06:27 AM

Been offline, to answer the questions: yeah, there is a big heater in the corner which heats my water heated floor – it’s a cold country. :) In the end the corner will be framed off completely.

To answer the hood/pipe question: this is by the previous owenr, I am not sure if I can agree on the code about this, since flex pipes are standard in my neck of the woods. Of course the pipe actually goes across the heater to the outside, it is currently turned back on itself as it is not in use and I haven’t cut through the wall yet, this is going to be done soon. the pipe will go across the heater through the wall there As far as hiding it goes, a soffit is in order I guess.

After taking into account all of your comments then face frames are in order I as well, but you are overestimating the wood availability here. :) We have pine 1×2, and that is it :) Only woods are Pine, Spruce, Aspen and Alder… Maple and everything else is what we call “special”, so I will have to see if I’ll go and buy some 6×1 or something similar and rip them down to size.

Attaching the face frames – of course I was thinking pockets screws, God Darn’ caught me there. Alrighty, I’ll go with what you reccomended, or screws and accent plugs, gotta figure that baby out.

Doors – yeah, I was planning on ordering them, again, one of those things where we have a very limited amount of suppliers, I have only found one company, but they are nto producing the style I was looking for.

Shelf holes are 5mm as per standard here, the fact that they were drilled after staining makes them appear bigger. I guess. I did use a guide, but I don’t know why I didn’t figure out to drill them before staining.. It’s just oen of those things where with my limited experience I can’t figure out all the steps before getting to them, I have done a lot of research but nothing beats experience, so if I were to do it again, I would do it differently.

No drawers – we only have appliances in the bottom cabinets, except the sink cabinet, which might recieve a false drawer front.

I have been planning for every step but not as well as I should have, I will take special care with everything from face frames – luckily face frames and doors will hide most of my mistakes so far.

I will look forward to seeing your finished project so I can see all of what you have been saying. Nice to talk with the US as well, but what you are seeing is not as much different methods of building, but an amateur way of building… But we’ll leave it at that, and maybe in 10 years I can show actual methods of proffessional bulding. :)

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

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