Last Updated on October 25, 2019 by Kristi Linauer
Well, I finally took a day off yesterday. After posting my final One Room Challenge update last Thursday, I wanted to continue working for a couple of days and see just how far I could get before the official end of the challenge. I ended up getting all of my open shelves built, wood filled, sanded, and primed. I still need to do the second sanding, caulk, and then paint, but even with just the primer, I think they’re looking so good!
Once the shelves and walls are done, and the ceiling touchups are done, I’ll come back and do the final coat on the cabinets. Once that’s dry, I’ll finally be able to install my drawers and doors. So I’m definitely nearing the finish line!
But today, I wanted to back up a bit and show y’all how I built the lower base cabinets for the pantry. So let’s jump right in.
For the main cabinet boxes, I used 3/4-inch sanded plywood. I determined the sizes of cabinets I would need based on the space available in my pantry and the layout I wanted, and with those cabinet widths in hand, I was ready to get started.
I started by cutting the sides for the boxes, which I did using my new handy Kreg circular saw guide, which you can find here. (Seriously, this thing is worth its weight in gold. It made this project so easy!) For each cabinet, I cut two sides (obviously) to 24 inches wide and 34.5 inches high. Then using a speed square, I marked a rectangle on the lower corner for the toe kick. I made the toe kicks 3.5 inches wide and 4.5 inches high.
I mirrored the toekick on the other side piece…
Then I cut those out using my jigsaw.
Next I used my table saw to cut some plywood pieces to 4.5 inches wide (i.e., the height of the toekick). To determine the length that these pieces needed to be, I took the width of the cabinet side piece (24 inches), subtracted the depth of the toekick (3.5 inches) and subtracted 3/4-inch to create a space along the back edge. Then I attached those pieces using wood glue and 1.25-inch 18-gauge nails, making sure it was flush with the front edge of the toekick area of the cabinet side piece, with a 3/4-inch space at the back.
Then I repeated that on the other side.
Next, I cut another piece of plywood to 4.5 inches, and then cut it to the finished width of my cabinet (in my case, 32 inches) minus 1.5 inches. So for my cabinet, this piece was 30.5 inches wide. Standing the two side pieces on their front edges, I used the piece I just cut to connect the two side pieces. This new connector piece just sat right inside those 3/4-inch spaces I allowed at the backs of the side pieces.
I secured that piece into place using wood glue and 1.5-inch 16-gauge nails. I used nails going in two directions to really lock it into place. I enhanced the nail holes in the picture below so you could see exactly where I nailed this piece into place.
Then I flipped the whole thing over so that it was resting on the back edges, and I cut another piece of plywood to 4.5 inches by the finished width of the cabinet, which was 32 inches in my case. This piece was glued and nailed right to the front edges of the side pieces in the toekick area.
With the bottom of the cabinet now secure all the way around, I sat it up and added a support piece at the top on both the front and the back. These pieces were cut to the same length as the support piece on the lower back of the cabinet (i.e., the finished width of the cabinet minus 1.5 inches).
I glued and nailed the front support piece into place…
And then repeated that on the back with the second support piece…
So now with the basic structure in place, I just needed to add the bottom and back, and the basic box would be done.
The piece that creates the bottom inside of the cabinet would just sit right on the support pieces all the way around…
So I cut a piece of plywood to the depth of the cabinet (24 inches) and the inside width (the finished width minus 1.5 inches), and then glued and nailed that piece into place.
And for some reason, I didn’t get a picture of the back, but the easiest way to do that is simply to cut a piece of plywood (generally 1/4-inch is sufficient, but you can also use 1/2-inch) to fit on the back, cut to the finished height by the finished width, and attach it directly to the back by nailing it around the edges.
And finally, before installing the cabinets, I attached corner metal brackets not only to keep the backs of the cabinets square, but also to use to hold the countertop securely to the base cabinets.
And with all of the base cabinets built, I was ready to install. Installing base cabinets can sometimes require some shimming to get them level, but once they’re level, I use 1.25-inch #10 screws to secure them to each other.
Once the cabinets were all level, shimmed, and secured to each other, I cut and attached the face frames. I used 1″ x 2″ pieces for the horizontal pieces (i.e., the rails) and 1″ x 3″ pieces for the vertical pieces (i.e., the stiles). I just nailed these directly to the front edges of the cabinets. Before attaching each piece, I used my level and speed square to be sure they were all going on level/plumb and square with the other pieces.
To create the dividers between the drawers in the middle cabinet, I used my Kreg pocket hole jig (this is the one I have) to make pocket holes in the ends of each piece.
And I screwed those into place after using my speed square to be sure that each piece was perfectly square and level.
With the face frames on, I then installed the drawer slides on the middle section. I did this using the Kreg drawer slide jig (which you can find here). As a side note, Kreg doesn’t sponsor my blog in any way. 🙂 I’m just a DIYer who likes to find the best tools to make these jobs easier, and Kreg makes some fantastic tools for DIYers.
Anyway, on cabinets with face frames, a spacer is always needed to shim out the drawer slide so that it will clear the face frame. I used 1/2-inch plywood, cut to 1.75 inches by 22 inches (i.e., the exact dimensions of my drawer sides), and attached it to the inside of the cabinet.
And then I installed the drawer slide to that spacer. Before attaching it, I held it in place and made sure that it would clear the face frame when extended.
And then I screwed it into place. When using overlay drawers, the drawer slide needs to be flush with the front of the face frame…
And with that, the actual base cabinet boxes were finished and ready for drawers and cabinet doors.
I searched all over for the best price on 22-inch ball bearing drawer slides, and I found the best price here on Amazon. They’re not the soft close type, but at that price, I can live without soft close drawers.
For the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, I made them in the exact same way that I made the doors and drawer fronts for the hallway cabinet, except that I left off the second smaller trim on the face of the doors.
You can see how I built those doors and drawers here:
But for the pantry, I made the actual drawer boxes a bit different. The reason I changed methods is because (1) I’m always looking for better and easier ways to do things, and (2) I bought drawer slides that are rated to hold 100 pounds, and I wanted to find a way to build super strong drawer boxes that could hold a lot of weight (i.e., that could hold lots of china, should I decide to use those to store my 12 place settings of china).
And just a note here, building drawers and pull-out shelves is pretty much the exact same process. There are only two exceptions. (1) Drawers usually have higher sides, where pull-out shelves usually have very low sides. And (2) drawers usually have a pretty, decorative face attached to the front, where pull-out shelves are generally just left plain and often hidden behind a cabinet door.
So with that said, the pictures below are actually of one of the pull-out shelves I built, but again, the drawer-building process is exactly the same.
First, I cut the pieces for the sides. For my pull-out drawers, I made the sides 3.5 inches high by 24 inches deep. (These went inside the tall cabinet on the right of the pantry, and that cabinet is 26 inches deep. For the regular 24-inch-deep base cabinets, I made those drawers 22 inches deep.) The width will be determined by the cabinet size that it’s going into, of course.
Using wood glue and 3/4-inch narrow crown staples, I attached those just using plain old butt joints. I don’t so fancy joints, but I do use wood glue quite generously. 🙂 Also, staples hold more securely than nails, so these boxes will be very sturdy when finished. And FYI, this is the staple gun I own.
Just one note about the above picture. Again, that’s for a pull-out drawer, which won’t have a pretty drawer front attached to it. When you open my cabinet door, that plywood box is all you’ll see. Because of that, I built my pull-out drawers so that the front piece of plywood covers the front edges of the side pieces. In other words, the corner joint isn’t visible from the front of the drawer, and won’t be visible when the cabinet door is opened to reveal the pull-out shelves. That leaves a few staple holes on the front, but it’s nothing that a bit of wood filler can’t disguise.
However, for the drawers that will have pretty faces attached to them, I did it just the opposite way. I built them so that the side pieces would cover the side edges of the front piece of plywood (i.e., the joint is visible from the front of the drawer box). That way, when the pretty drawer front is attached, you don’t see any plywood edges and butt joints on the sides of the drawers.
Next, I used my table saw to rip several strips of 1/2-inch plywood to 1/2-inch thick. (I could have also used 1/2-inch square dowel rods for this, but since I had so much scrap 1/2-inch plywood lying around, I decided to put it to use.) I cut the pieces to length so that the fit inside the drawer box, and I attached them using wood glue and 3/4-inch narrow crown staples right around the inside of the box.
Here’s how the drawer looked from the top once that small 1/2-inch piece was attached all the way around the inside…
And finally, I cut a piece of 1/2-inch plywood to fit perfectly inside…
I attached it with wood glue and staples, but before I did any stapling, I checked each corner with my speed square to be sure that the drawer box was perfectly square (or as close to perfect as a DIYer like myself can get 😀 ).
With the drawer box finished, I then attached the drawer slides to the side of the boxes using #8 1/2-inch wood screws…
And then I inserted them into the slides that were attached inside the cabinets…
The drawer boxes above will get decorative drawer fronts attached to them (which I attach using screws going from the inside of the drawer box into the backs of the decorate drawer faces), and the pull-out shelves below will get a dab of wood filler on each staple and a bit of sanding.
And that’s it! I hope that answers all of your questions, but if I left something out, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my very best to clarify any part of the cabinet-building process.
My pantry is finished! Want to see the entire project from start to finish? You can find every single post about the pantry build right here…
Or you can skip to the end and see how it turned out. Here’s a peek of the finished pantry…
You can see more pictures on the before and after post right here…
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
I hope you’ll join me on my DIY and decorating journey! If you want to follow my projects and progress, you can subscribe below and have each new post delivered to your email inbox. That way you’ll never miss a thing!