Building Built-In Cabinets and Shelves (part 1)
I’m pleased to announce the start of yet another Pro-Follow! This time I’m shadowing Mike, one of the carpenters that works with Steve Wartman. Mike is very skilled at custom woodworking, tackling all sorts of projects ranging from shelves to furniture to kitchen cabinets. Today we’ve partnered together to build some built-in cabinets and shelves. As you’ll see in the article, Mike is a big fan of Kreg tools, and he feels confident that with only a few Kreg products, even inexperienced woodworkers can create beautiful custom pieces.
Step 1: Check and Measure Space
Mike built a base cabinet and shelf unit for each side of a fireplace, and he began by checking the space with a square and level. Walls and corners are rarely straight or square so Mike sized the base cabinets for the smallest dimension. He’ll work to conceal any gaps afterward with trim and additional padding.
The base cabinets will extend flush with the front of the hearth, and the hearth is about 1/4″ out of square with the wall.
Step 2: Cut Pieces
Mike made a shopping list of the necessary pieces, and he used a combination of table saw, Kreg Rip-Cut attachment and miter saw to cut all the pieces. All of the base cabinets and shelves were made from 3/4″ top choice maple plywood.
Step 3: Mark and Label Each Piece
As each piece was cut out, Mike labeled them and drew the rough locations for the pocket holes. Pictured is the bottom of a base cabinet and you can see the markings for pocket holes on the underside (where they won’t be visible).
Here are some diagrams indicating where the pocket holes were marked. Remember, these were drilled on the outside / underside of the board where they will not be visible after the built-ins are installed.
Step 4: Drill Pocket Holes
Mike used a Kreg pocket hole jig that he mounted to some LVL for easy transportation and setup. If you’ve never used one of these jigs, they make drilling pocket holes very easy. A clamp holds the work piece in place, and a collar on the drill bit sets a consistent depth
Step 5: Clamp and Screw Sides
Mike has a variety of Kreg clamps that hold work pieces steady while he drives the screws.
Mike joined the sides together using 1-1/4″ Kreg screws.
Step 6: Install Support Boards
Before installing the bottom, Mike cut 4″ support / spacer boards on the back and sides. These boards were secured with a brad nailer.
Step 7: Secure the Bottom
With the support boards in place, Mike installed the bottom of the base cabinet and secured it with Kreg screws.
Step 8: Cut baseboard
Back inside Mike used a Bosch OMT to trim the baseboard.
Step 9: Plane (if necessary)
After attempting a dry fit, Mike discovered the need to plane a small amount off the right-side base cabinet.
Step 10: Test for Fit
After planing the one corner, the base cabinets fit well. You can see the slight gap along the hearth and brick facade. That gap and the visible pocket holes will be concealed with another piece of 1/4″ plywood.
Step 11: Shim Level
Mike inserted shims on the bottom, sides and back until the base cabinets were completely level.
Step 12: Cut Countertop
Mike measured each side individually and added a 3/4″ overhang for the countertop. At this point, it was not screwed in yet. Before mounting the countertop, Mike will add a veneer with an eased edged to the exposed sides (also secured with pocket holes).
Step 13: Build Hutch
Back out in the garage Mike assembled the hutches in a similar fashion to the base cabinets.
The notable difference is that the bottom is left open and the support / spacer boards are at the top of the hutch.
Again, Mike put the hutches in place to see how well they fit. Eventually, crown molding will go across the top concealing the small gap between the built-ins and the ceiling.
That’s all for this Pro-Follow update. The next time we pick up this story, you’ll see how we built the face frames, painted everything, added the shelves and more!
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