Best Material for Kitchen Cabinet Cases

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Forum topic by Mike Gilbert posted 08-27-2012 04:54 AM 1280 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mike Gilbert

31 posts in 2662 days

08-27-2012 04:54 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinets kitchen melamine question

I am in the process of drawing up plans for my new kitchen cabinets. This will be my first time building cabinets and I have a few questions. After checking out my local sheet goods supplier I noticed there seems to be an endless number of options for case material. I am leaning towards thermoplastic melamine with a maple veneer on both sides right now because it would save me a lot of finishing time. However I am concerned with what kind of fasteners I should use to assemble the cases. I have never worked with a material like this before and do not know if I need some kind of special screw. If anyone has any experience in this I would appreciate the feedback, also if anyone would recommend any other material for case parts I am open to suggestions and would like to hear about any pros and cons you have experienced.

5 replies so far

View SchottFamily's profile


105 posts in 3053 days

#1 posted 08-27-2012 06:04 AM

Hey Mike – I’m in the process of building 13 bookshelves and cabinets and I used melamine. It’s my first cabinet build as well. I went with the melamine because of the cost and because it looked like it would be really easy to clean up (it’s going to be used in a home school room). I’m sure someone more skilled and experienced has had better results, but this build has been a PAIN for me. The sheets are back breaking heavy and I had to be super careful cutting everything to size – brand new freud melamine blade and I still got chipping here and there – even taped my cut lines. Anyhow, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t use this product. I used confirmat screws for fasteners. I think the dadoes and glue joints were stronger – I found varying density depending where in the sheet the board came from, but no voids; and the stuff is flat and stable, I’ll give it that. I’ve yet to work on the face frames – I’m hoping that biscuits will keep them attached.


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Mike Gilbert

31 posts in 2662 days

#2 posted 08-27-2012 01:48 PM

Thanks for the advice,
somehow I managed to post this same question twice(Rookie mistake) and on the other thread everyone is recommending birch or Baltic birch plywood. the pains you are describing are enough to convince me to stay away from the melamine. I don’t have a very big shop and I can picture the nightmare trying to cut the sheets down to size would be. I appreciate you giving me the chance to learn from your experience.

View SchottFamily's profile


105 posts in 3053 days

#3 posted 08-27-2012 06:17 PM

I wish I had gone with BB, but I can’t get it anywhere near my house except for small “handy panels”. I’m going to run by HD today and pick up a few sheets of this purebond birch that they carry.


View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4208 days

#4 posted 08-27-2012 06:33 PM

You can get higher grade melamine from commercial plywood dealers
with thicker coatings that don’t chip as easily. Also the EZ smart
track saw system has about as good chip control as you can get
without using a costly scoring table saw.

View JK0702's profile


138 posts in 2691 days

#5 posted 08-27-2012 08:40 PM

For my first cabinet build I use MDF. Very easy to work with, easily sanded and no special screws required. Depending on what finish you were looking for, this material could be your answer. Very easy to paint, but no grain so staining wouldn’t be an option I wouldn’t think. For the face frames I used poplar. Also, with MDF the doors were easy to router for a desired edge.

My experience with melamine is that it chips too easy. Both in the build and then afterwards in use. It’s nearly impossible to repair once it chips… or scratches.

Just my 2 cents.

-- John - Huntington Beach, CA --- Growth occurs when we get out of our comfort zone.

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