Refrigerator Cabinet, Cold Wall Cabinetry, Phase 1

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Project by JBrow posted 09-17-2016 01:50 AM 1381 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Our kitchen remodel has entered the kitchen cabinetry phase, now that the coffee cabinet and china hutch are complete. Kitchen walnut cabinets that will be built are for the cold wall, the hot wall, and the wet wall. The cold wall is now being built.

The cold wall cabinetry is broken down into three phases; mainly because I work in a 2 car garage workshop, so space is limited. Phase 1 is the refrigerator cabinet. Phase 2 is the design and construction of the upper wall cabinets flanking the refrigerator cabinet, and phase 3 is the design and build of the base cabinets, also flanking the refrigerator cabinet.

The refrigerator cabinet was installed today. It consists of ¾” walnut plywood, some solid walnut for the face frames, and ¾” red oak plywood for the open back and rear section of the top. There is no bottom in this cabinet. The refrigerator cabinet is 90” tall, 33” deep, and 39 5/8” wide (outside dimensions). The refrigerator cabinet has 2 compartments; the lower compartment houses the refrigerator while the upper compartment is an open cabinet (14” deep, 35 5/8” wide and 13” tall (inside dimensions)). The upper compartment will function as an open display shelf or more likely, a place for cookbooks and books regarding production and preservation of food (we garden and can).

The upper cabinet locks to the plywood sides by rabbets and dados. The lower cabinet housing the refrigerator has flanking stiles glued to the plywood sides with rabbet and groove joinery. The lower compartment stiles project inward toward the refrigerator by ¾”. The lower rail of the upper compartment is 1” high with a 1-1/2” filler strip screwed to the underside of this 1” face frame stile, giving the appearance of a 2-1/2” wide rail directly above the refrigerator. The refrigerator cavity was designed to leave ½” clearance on the sides and at the top for our existing refrigerator.

The cabinet is held together at the back by four ¾” red oak plywood slats ranging in width from 2-1/2” to 16”. The slats are distributed vertically along the back and held in place with screws through the side panels into the ends of the slats.

The cabinet is finished with 3 coat of Helmsman Clear Gloss Spar Urethane.

Since the assembled cabinet is large, awkward, and heavy, it was designed to be carried into the kitchen in three pieces; the two side panels and the upper bookcase. The bookcase groves locked into the side panel tongues and secured with screws. The red oak rear top and upper interlocking slat were slipped into dados in the side panels and secured with screws. With a spacer clamped to the front bottom of the cabinet to hold the front bottom of cabinet in proper position, the back slats were screwed in place.

Once the cabinet was assembled, it was tilted up from its face, which was against the floor during assembly, and positioned in the corner at a 45 degree angle. Metal corner brackets anchor the cabinet to the floor while ¾” hanger straps secure the upper panels to the wall. With it solidly anchored in place, the refrigerator slid right in. The refrigerator doors open wide providing full access to the contents of the refrigerator. After it was installed I did notice that cabinet racked slightly when the hanger straps were screwed in place. This will have to be corrected when the upper cabinets are installed; but for now it is good enough.

3 comments so far

View N2wood's profile


22 posts in 1782 days

#1 posted 09-18-2016 10:23 PM

Love the wood selection. Where did you obtain the plywood? One last comment, nobody can say your scared. Kitchens are hard work.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 2004 days

#2 posted 09-19-2016 12:43 AM


Some may say I am brave, but then others may question my sanity. You are correct that kitchens are hard work. We have been doing the work ourselves where we took things back to the studs; so it has been a slow go. Since this was a relocation to another room in the house, some exterior modifications to the home were required and helps explain why this has been an ongoing project since about 2013.

We both like walnut a lot and since I have a stack of walnut and we are doing the work ourselves, it is affordable. I picked up the walnut plywood at a hardwood dealer within driving distance; The Hardwood Store, Enon, Ohio. It is Purebond manufactured by Columbia Forest Products Corp.. I was satisfied with this product. Cutting and grooving the plywood went well; with very little chip-out suggesting deceit veneer and glue was used in its manufacturer. I found no voids in the 5 ply poplar core grade B-1 plywood. The plywood is a plain sliced veneer. The only complaint (if it can be called a complaint) is the grade 1 side on one sheet was sap wood, but that side went where it would be unseen. I could not see much difference between the grade B and grade 1 sides of the plywood on the other two sheets. Thankfully there is not much need for the walnut plywood for the remaining cabinets – it is quite expensive.

View MilFlyer's profile


948 posts in 2756 days

#3 posted 09-19-2016 04:57 PM

Looks like a good project. Definitely got your work cut out for ya. But that’s half the fun of this stuff! :)

-- VR, Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams

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