A Faster, Easier Approach to Custom Cabinets
Create desks, bookcases, pantries, and more with a slick hybrid design and problem-solving pocket-screw joinery.
Magazine extra: Watch Mike demonstrate how he uses a pocket-hole jig to make strong hidden joints for cabinet boxes, face frames, and more.
When designed and constructed properly, built-in cabinets can bring both style and storage to many parts of a home. Over the years, I’ve refined my approach to constructing cabinets to decrease the time and tools it takes to build them while ensuring their strength and good looks. I used my technique to build the Douglas-fir kitchen island featured here for my home, but I’ve followed the same process to make stain- and paint-grade kitchen cabinets, bookcases, linen cabinets, pantries, desks, bathroom vanities, and storage cubbies.
Your shop is where you make it
The beauty of this system is that the setup is simple and doesn’t rely on the space or tools found in big cabinet shops. Being able to set up shop in a driveway, a garage, or a small room has always been helpful in keeping my work on schedule.
The tools you need to construct these cabinets are likely sitting in the back of your truck. For cutting components to size, you need a miter saw, a portable tablesaw, a circular saw, an edge guide to cut sheet goods safely, and a portable thickness planer. To fasten the carcase and face frames together, you need a 16-ga. or 18-ga. finish nailer, a screw gun, a pocket-screw jig (www .kregtool.com; www.pennstateind.com), a bunch of screws, and some glue.
A hybrid design makes face-frame cabinets better
Cabinets are typically designed in one of two ways: frameless or with face frames. Each has its merits. Face-frame cabinets are traditional and strong, and they can be scribed to fit seamlessly against a wall. Frameless cabinets are quicker to put together and can be…