How to build your own kitchen cabinets

Oct 19 2015
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Welcome to the final wind down to my full kitchen reveal! You’ve seen my kitchen island (and how we built the butcher block on top of it) and my kitchen sink base. Today we’ll be moving on to the big post about how to build your own kitchen cabinets. The kitchen cabinets turned into my own little project, it was something I was equally stressed and terrified about and, don’t get me wrong, they are NOT perfect, but I’m very happy with them. When I get stressed about something to work on the worst thing is for me to have anyone around trying to help. (Sorry, Love-of-my-life, but, you know its true, I cannot be helped when I’m worried about screwing up a project.) So, I took several days off over the course of a couple of weeks to build the kitchen cabinets on my own. I figured, if I could build a wall I could certainly a build a cabinet! Right!?

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

The main cabinet boxes themselves I built out of 2x4s and 3 inch long screws, they would not be going anywhere. In the photo above you can see the roughness of it all but they’re very sturdy! We ended up with a enormous amount of 1×4 scrap leftover from my floor and from doing all of my trim so, after a million cuts, I used the scrap to cover the bottom of all of the kitchen cabinets and build all of the shelves. (In the next picture you can see an already finished base cabinet on the right side of my kitchen. This is a save from when we remodeled the house and I really don’t know its history. But it has solid steel drawers and, with a coat of paint and new hardware, I think it turned out nice! I’ll be posting about it soon too!)

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

You can see how excited we were to finally have some cabinets to put stuff in! What you see in the above picture took me two whole days. All of the 2x4s are covered in 1x4s and/or bead board and they are ready for paint! Just about everyone in my life questioned my choice to build my kitchen cabinets when I could certainly find decent cabinets used that I could modify to work. I would normally have leaned that way (we all know I’m a refinisher and not a builder!) but I wholly expected that trying to get premade kitchen cabinets to work on my very crooked walls and in my specific kitchen would have been far more trouble and we simply could not afford to have someone else build kitchen cabinets for us. On top of all of that, I had my heart set on using three old windows for cabinet doors. In my mind there wasn’t any choice and it was what I had my stubbornness set on and Lord help anyone who would try and stop me when that happens.

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

Now that you’ve got an idea of what the rest of the kitchen had to go through to get to its “finished” state, here is a closer look on exactly how I built each cabinet. With the kitchen basically done the over the refrigerator cabinet (and pantry – I’ll tell you about that in a later post) was just screaming to be built. Just look at how empty that spot is! And it was, of course, totally covered in crap we didn’t have anywhere else to put. So, after work one day, I told Diesel (the dog in the picture – doesn’t he just look so excited?) that it was time to get to work!

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

No, the bottom of the cabinet is NOT sitting on top of the refrigerator, the angle of the picture makes it look like that a little bit but I built the bottom frame a good two inches above the top of the refrigerator. Just like with the rest of the kitchen cabinets I started on the outside and worked my way in. I measured and secured a board across the back and cut two more identical boards for across the front. From there I secured the outside boards (four of them) and then secured the two front boards that were identical to the board across the back. Everything I leveled as I went. This turned into a four foot wide by two foot deep cabinet so I didn’t mess around when it came to getting it WELL SECURED. I used 3 inch long deck screws liberally. The board in the center across the top of the cabinet is screwed directly up into floor joists.

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

Now I connected the top and bottom frames together with boards running vertically across the front in three places on the cabinet. These I cut the same length and forced the top and bottom frames to match. If this had not been a 100 year old house with nothing level there would not have been any “forcing” but nothing here is straight so I improvise and work with how things are. I then had to crawl into the cabinet to cover the bottom of it with 1xs.

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

I covered the entire cabinet with 1x4s (the same boards I used on all of my trim etc) and you can see the end where I used leftover bead board that we put on all of my ceilings. I painted it with two coats of my flat white trim and ceiling paint and then put two coats of a semi gloss poly acrylic. From there I took some measurements and, after work the next day, stopped at my local lumber yard and had them cut my doors from a piece of smooth 3/4″ plywood.

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

All of my painting had to be done inside because my temperatures are now dropping below freezing at night now so I just said “forget it” covered the floor in a bunch of towels and got to work in my entryway. I don’t know if your dog immediately has to sit or lie down on anything you put on the floor but Diesel is entirely that way so, I laid down extra towels for him so he could “help”. The doors got the same white paint and poly treatment as all the rest of the cabinets. Then, my shiny knobs and hinges!

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIY

It is absolutely wonderful to have the cabinets in the kitchen FINALLY all complete! Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be moving on to other aspects of the kitchen, the before & after of the base cabinet that was my grandparents’ that we salvaged from the house, the easy tip & tutorial about how I built a little shelf beside the microwave, a post solely devoted to those windows that I made into cabinet doors, my tip & tutorial about my finished pantry that is the absolute love of my storage life and then, finally, the complete kitchen!! Can’t wait for you guys to see it!

How to build kitchen cabinets @GrandmasHousDIYHow to build your own kitchen cabinets country white building wood working diy do it yourself

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114 Comments on "How to build your own kitchen cabinets"

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Kim domingue
Wow! I’m so impressed! I’m hitting the both boxes at the bottom of the comment box and crossing my fingers that it will sign me up to get your blog posts delivered to my email…..for some reason, only a quarter of the right hand, information side of your page shows up in the browser. Any who…..the hubs and I are embarking upon a remodeling journey of his parent’s home, circa 1950. I’m looking forward to referencing your fabulous remodel for idea, tips and inspiration. Might take us a liiiiittle longer than y’all….. the hubs and I have about 3 decades… Read more »
Sandra Gibson


Kathy Wood

I have a question. In the pic your husband took of you in the cupboard above the refrigerator I can see the 2x4s, especially the one coming down the middle. My question is how did you get to the flush finished look? You said you used 1x4s but a 2×4 is 1 1/2″ thick while the 1×4 is only 1/2″ thick. ? ? Confused. Lol

Thanks in advance. Needless to say, beautiful job gal! Love the rolling pantry too.


Wow, that is really impressive that you built your cabinets. And thanks for sharing how you did it. I don’t think I’m confident enough to try building my own, but I totally understand about not wanting anyone around when you’re stressed. I’m the same. I’m going to start following your blog because you’re DIY projects inspire me!

Vineta @ The Handyman's Daughter

Wow, what an undertaking! You did a great job!


Great coverage in this post! Thanks for sharing with the Thursday Blog Hop…makes me want to tackle my kitchen!


OH MY GOODNESS you two are not only ambitious … you are talented! Mad skills indeed! This looks great! Very impressive! I hope you have an amazing day!
The Curator’s Collection & Making Broken Beautiful (Thursdays)


Your kitchen is exactly like ours! Our house is just 20 years old but we are in need of a remodel too. We have very little storage and cabinet space. My husband wants to build our new cabinets , and go all the way to the ceiling for more storage, so I’m very glad I came across your blog! How is everything holding up?


holy WOW – you are seriously a ROCK STAR!!! I’m so impressed with your handiwork and positive attitude. You did a beautiful job on the cabinets and I love that they are 100% custom and built with love. BTW, my hubby would totally take the same photo of me working if I asked, MEN lol – great job!

Christine at Must Love Home

Loved your project!!The cabinets are amazing..I am so impressed! You have been Pinned, Tweeted and Posted to facebook! Congratulations -Your post will be featured this week at the Friday Favorites Link Party. The party goes LIVE on Thursdays at 7PM at I hope to see your there! Hugs – Christine at Must Love Home


This is so impressive…great job!! Thanks for sharing…hope to see you next week at Welcome Home Wednesdays!

Jean |

Ohmygoodness! I just had to come over from the link party to see a post about how to build your own kitchen cabinets! You are amazing, and I can’t wait to read more of your blog.

Karren Haller

You guys did an amazing job, nice to have a handy helper too!!

I would never tackle a whole job like that, but I did tear out a kitchen and prepare for new cabinets to be installed, new sink, plumbing, and appliances and flooring, had it all coordinated with the workers and was done in 1 week. That was the way I roll.

Thank you for sharing on #OMHGWW and for sharing my party banners below!!
Hope you enjoy your week!

Helen Fern

wow – you make it look so easy!! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party!


Tarahlynn, I am so impressed. I’ve never heard of anyone building their own kitchen cabinets from scratch. Thank you for sharing at Your Inspired Designs.

Sherry Nappa

Wow! A lot of work went into this. Thanks so much for sharing with us at Merry Monday.

Laura Ingalls Gunn

Wow! You are amazing! Such a detailed post and of course the action shots made me smile. Thank you so much for joining the gathering at Thoughts of Home on Thursday.


Wow! Your kitchen looks beautiful! Your amazing dedication and hard work has definitely paid off. Thanks for sharing with us at Merry Monday!


I super impressed and intimidated. You’ve wowed me. Thanks for sharing at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party.

At Rivercrest Cottage

very interested in how you built the cabinets and doors. Will be looking back through old posts to see how you build stuff. I’m your newest subscriber. r/sharon


Wow…these look so great! 🙂

I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipe, crafts, and tips:

Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!


Wow never ever thought of build cabinets myself. But you all did a great job they look awesome & look sturdy! Love the look! Happy to visit from #happynowlinkup!


Wow! That is awesome! I wonder if I could use the same concept to build a new bathroom vanity…

Elaine Matthews

What a great big project…but it turned out beautiful!! Great Job!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday! Pinned!


Wow that is impressive and it all turned out so cute! Well done and thanks for sharing all your great tips at the Happy Now link-up!

Sandra Garth

Wow just wow! Looking forward to the next installment and thanks for linking up with us again at Celebrate Your Story.


Wow, these look amazing! I wouldn’t even know where to begin on a project like this! You make it look very easy, good job!

Anne @ Domesblissity

Hi Tarah. How lovely to meet you. Thank you so much for linking up to Thriving on Thursdays last week. I’ve been thinking about giving my kitchen a makeover and I would never have thought to make my own cabinets. My husband is pretty clever. I’ll get him onto it! I’m featuring your post at tomorrow’s party. Hope to see you again.

Anne @ Domesblissity xx

Mike Sherly

Great tips.
Love the ideas to build cabinets for kitchen at home. It can help one to save money.

Floyd Family Homestead

They came out so beautiful! Thank you for sharing at The Homesteader Hop


You Rock! These look amazing and in awe. It’s great to see this and we loved that you shared it at Dishing it and Digging it link party. We love having you.


Wow, I am so impressed! You are a hands on woman…you go! I never would have tried this, but I give huge kudos. Thanks again for sharing your creative spirit and venture at DI&DI.

Carla a.k.a Mrs. R

Taralynn, what a great job you did! My hubby built my kitchen cabinets when we were remodeling the kitchen. They were much cheaper that purchasing a full cabinet redo. I love them! Thank you so much for sharing with us at #SimplifyWednesdays. Have a beautiful week! Pinned, Tweeted, Shared

Lisa Ehrman

You are really amazing at building and finishing these wonderful cabinets! I could never do such a thing! Thanks for sharing with us at Together on Tuesdays, especially all the terrific photos. I especially love the dog helping, too 🙂


This is such a big project! Amazing. I want to reface mine with new cabinet doors but, I can’t get my Mr. to commit. I wanted partial glass. I think we’ll just be sanding and painting our existing cabinets. I love how yours are turning out. Congrats! Pinned & shared. Thanks for joining the #InspriationSpotlight party @DearCreatives.


I am loving your cabinets! We want to do something in our kitchen and have no idea what we want for cabinets. But, this look, I can dig it and it fits our desired lifestyle and a vision I have for our home/family! 🙂

Charlotte Burkholder

Wow for building your own cabinets! I refer all building projects to my husband. As in “Honey, I want this.” Then he is supposed to figure out how to make it happen.Thanks for sharing on Family Joy Blog Link-up. Please come back and join us again! Remember to leave your host a comment to increase the chance of being featured.

Charlene Asay

Beautiful kitchen. Thanks for sharing with us at Family Joy Blog Link Up Party this week.


You are amazing with all of the stuff you’ve done yourself to that house! Loving every update!

Aman Bansal

Nice ideas to build kitchen cabinets. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


Wow! Very impressive! I don’t know too many ladies who would take on a big project like this. Amazing job and I love white cabinets! Thanks for sharing with us.

Stephane Gingra

Great post! Thank you for sharing. Hope to hear more from you.


I am a bit overwhelmed at the thought of refinishing my cabinets and then look at you. Very well done, you go girl.

I love your blog one DIY project at a time.

Amber Harrop

So impressed with you kitchen I wish I had half your talent, to be honest !!

Julie Christiansen

You are ambitious! The cabinets look great. Thanks for sharing with us at My Busy Beehives #beeparty.

Emily @ The Mommyhood Moments

Oh my gosh, those just came out awesome! I absolutely love that you give such detail in how you did it as well. Maybe one day I can convince my significant other to help me do something like this to make over our kitchen!

Dean @Mrs. AOK, A Work In

This is amazing!! WOW! I’m so impressed. I cannot wait to have my own house again to do all the things I WANT to do.
Thanks for sharing with us #MMBH

April J Harris

What a project – and I love the results! Thank you for sharing this excellent post – including the great step by step instructions. Your cabinets look fantastic. Scheduled to share on Twitter and Pinterest. Thank you for being a part of Hearth and Soul. Hope to see you again this week!


Wow, you are amazing! That picture of you in the cabinet on top of the fridge almost made my heart stop! That’s impressive, and a bit terrifying! We’ve decided to build our own cabinets too, but we’re getting a kit that includes everything that we just assemble. Way easier, haha! I am so impressed by your handiwork!


This is truly inspirational. You have done a great job and thank you so much for sharing as it motivates us.

Iris Nacole
Making a shoe rack and closet storage out an old ladder


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