How to build your own kitchen cabinets

Sep 02 2023
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This was one of the biggest “I don’t have any idea what I’m doing” moments I had during the renovation. A kitchen cabinet is really just a box with doors on it… right?…. right? Well I set out to build our kitchen one cabinet (and 2×4) at a time and I am still pretty happy with how it turned out to this day. Wish I had a LOT more pictures of myself during the process but back in 2015 I had a crappy cell phone and a rather nice camera that I also didn’t want anywhere near construction work… So I will always lament how many more pictures I always wish I had taken! See the kitchen today by going here.

So back over the last few months Lodi mentioned that he wanted to get us new butcherblock counter tops for in the kitchen. I believe

DIY Farmhouse Kitchen Reveal, somehow I took space AWAY from my kitchen and yet I ended up with MORE storage and a bigger feeling kitchen! A small remodel!

DIY Farmhouse Kitchen Reveal, somehow I took space AWAY from my kitchen and yet I ended up with MORE storage and a bigger feeling kitchen! A small remodel!

Its pretty amazing to read back and realize how much has changed here at Grandma’s house! Here is the original post:

Welcome to the final wind down to my full kitchen reveal! You’ve seen my kitchen island (and how I built the butcher block on top of it) and my kitchen sink base that I also built.

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.

(8/1/2019 A lot has changed in my life since this post came out four years ago. I’m a single gal now and have completely transformed my home making it truly my own. I am still so totally thrilled with the kitchen cabinets I built, since this post they’ve gone through their own transformations and I just finished remodeling my entire kitchen! CHECK IT OUT HERE!)

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

Doing so much of the work here alone actually saved me on material in some places. I couldn’t build actual cabinet “boxes” because I wouldn’t be able to lift them into place myself.

So, I built all of my “cabinets” in place.

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.

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.

Here is a closer look on exactly how I built each cabinet. With the kitchen basically done the over the refrigerator cabinet (and rolling pantry) was just screaming to be built. Just look at how empty that spot is! So, after work one day, I told Diesel (my dog) that it was time to get to work!

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

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 one board at a time. 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.

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 scrap 1xs. (Which I had a ton of leftover from trimming out the whole house.)

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

How to build your own kitchen cabinets with 2x4s and 1x4s and a little paint and hardware! Country kitchen, home made, diy,

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 I 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. (You can also try adding cut to size glass cabinet inserts to your door panels.)

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!

It is absolutely wonderful to have the cabinets in the kitchen FINALLY all complete!

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


  1. Kim domingue
    October 22, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    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 on you guys…..but we’ll get ‘er done nonetheless! Y’all did a praise worthy job on your grandparent’s place. I’m sure they would be proud!

    • October 22, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      Oh thank you so much for commenting! 🙂 The renovation was a BIG job, it took us fifteen months but grandma’s house was built in 1915 and most of it hadn’t been updated since then so the whole place had to start with a complete gut. So, maybe your place built in the ’50s won’t be quite so bad! *crossing fingers for you* good luck!! I would love to see pictures too when you’re all done and once your start your renovation! Email me at (Also, sorry about that – the new site design is really wide! I’ll have to think about scaling it back a tad.)

  2. Sandra Gibson
    October 22, 2015 at 7:36 pm


  3. Kathy Wood
    October 25, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    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.

    • October 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      Hello! The 2x4s on the entire “box” I put up so their widest edge was facing out – so the 1×4 covered them exactly (because they’re the same 3 1/2″ width). Does that make sense? Feel free to email me! I can send more detailed pictures etc. thanks!

  4. January 21, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    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!

    • January 21, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Thank you! I was so nervous going into it but, so far at least, we’re really happy with them! 🙂 Thanks again for stopping by!

  5. March 19, 2016 at 5:08 pm

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

  6. March 19, 2016 at 5:38 pm

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

    • March 21, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you! It was a big job but over a year later and we’re still happy with them!

  7. April 7, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    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)

  8. Ali
    April 15, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    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?

    • April 15, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      They’re holding up really well however, I learned the hard way with the 1x4s on the fronts of the cabinets to absolutely ALWAYS use at leach 2 inch long brad nails! I had a couple of pieces of trim start popping off when it got really dry in the house this winter *shaking my head*. Other then that though the main cabinet boxes etc look exactly like the day I built them and, so far, we’re very happy with them. A note: I can’t believe how much storage I have! A lot of it is vertical storage so I keep a stool around but I would encourage anyone to get or build their cabinets all the way to the ceiling – its amazing just how much room they offer!

  9. May 18, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    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!

    • May 18, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      THANK YOU!! It was a really big and scary job lol so glad they turned out ok! Men! Right!? lol

  10. May 19, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    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

    • May 19, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Oh my Gosh Christine Thank you SOOOO much!!

  11. May 30, 2016 at 1:59 am

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

  12. June 12, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    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.

    • June 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Thank you so much Jean! I was so nervous when I tackled our kitchen but, so far so good! 🙂

  13. June 15, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    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!

    • June 16, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      I dream of being able to roll like that someday but I’m such a control freak that I have to admit that doing it all myself might be the only way I’m capable of rolling lmao! Thank you for coming by!

  14. June 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm

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

  15. July 8, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    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.

  16. July 11, 2016 at 1:28 am

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

  17. July 15, 2016 at 12:19 am

    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.

  18. July 18, 2016 at 2:18 am

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

  19. July 18, 2016 at 4:44 am

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

    • July 18, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you Susan 🙂 It was a lot of work – I’m so relieved they turned out ok!

  20. July 18, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    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

    • July 19, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      So glad you found me! Thanks for coming by 🙂

  21. July 19, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    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!

  22. July 19, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    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!

    • July 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Thank you Suzie!! We’re happy with them so far! 🙂

  23. July 20, 2016 at 12:29 am

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

    • July 20, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Dara, absolutely! I just used the same concept and built a little grill station out on my deck (project for the blog next week). Thanks for coming by!

  24. July 20, 2016 at 3:57 pm

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

  25. July 21, 2016 at 3:25 am

    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!

  26. July 24, 2016 at 4:41 pm

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

  27. July 24, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    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!

  28. July 27, 2016 at 12:43 am

    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

  29. July 27, 2016 at 5:29 pm

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

  30. August 1, 2016 at 2:03 am

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

  31. August 1, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    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.

  32. August 2, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    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.

    • August 3, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Thank you Linda! I was terrified and SO relieved that they turned out ok.

  33. August 3, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    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

    • August 3, 2016 at 5:54 pm

      That’s very cool Carla, I knew we weren’t alone in building those cabinets – store bought cabinets are just SO ridiculously expensive! Thanks!

  34. August 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    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 🙂

    • August 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      Thank you so much! Yes, Diesel always helped me a lot on the house 🙂

  35. August 18, 2016 at 3:52 am

    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.

    • August 18, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Thanks Theresa and good luck with your project!

  36. August 28, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    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! 🙂

    • August 29, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Kendall, we’re so far really happy with our cabinets! They’re so sturdy and because we built them ourselves, they were tailored to us too! 🙂 Thanks for coming by!

  37. August 30, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    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.

  38. August 30, 2016 at 10:29 pm

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

  39. September 9, 2016 at 12:30 am

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

  40. September 13, 2016 at 12:41 pm

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

  41. September 13, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    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.

  42. November 18, 2016 at 1:03 pm

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

  43. February 21, 2017 at 5:07 am

    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.

    • February 21, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Hey Leanna! I helped my mom refinish all of her cabinets and I tell ya what, it was a lot of work! It took us two full days and then some but it was so totally worth it!

  44. February 21, 2017 at 10:09 pm

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

  45. April 6, 2017 at 3:54 pm

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

  46. May 23, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    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!

    • May 24, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      This project totally scared me SO much, I am not a wood worker lol But they were actually easier to build then I thought they would be and, so far at least, we’re still really happy with them! And, goodness knows, they were far less expensive then even the cheapest stock cabinets!

  47. 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

  48. June 12, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    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!

  49. Emma
    July 11, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    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!

    • July 12, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you so much Emma, good luck on your project! Building our cabinets absolutely terrified me!

  50. September 21, 2017 at 1:52 pm

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

    • September 21, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Thank you so much Miriam!

  51. October 3, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Wow! That is seriously impressive. Sounds like so much work but I bet you saved loads compared to buying a kitchen and also sure this is much sturdier than flat packed MDF kitchens! We just redid our kitchen which I love and I know how much hard work that was so in awe!!! #twinklytuesday

    • October 3, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Oh thank you so much Fran! It was a lot of work but it surprised me that once I dove in it was more time consuming then scary!

  52. October 7, 2017 at 11:56 am

    This looks amazing! I am so impressed. And how wonderful to look at it and know that you did it yourselves! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  53. October 31, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Wow I bet these last longer than anything you could buy from the shelf. A briliant result. #DreamTeam

    • October 31, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      They are definitely sturdy! Thanks for coming by Fiona!

  54. November 3, 2017 at 6:50 am

    It sure was a lot of work, but you now have amazing cabinets just the way you want them. Great job! Thank you for sharing your tips at The Really Crafty Link Party! I love when people show us that you can DIY virtually anything. Pinned!

    • November 3, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Thank you so much for coming by, reading and commenting!

  55. November 3, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Hi Tarah, you have done yourself proud there! I hate being helped too, it stresses me out more. I’m best being left to figure things out for myself. Buying premade cabinets may have been easier if you didn’t have the wonky walls to consider, but that wouldn’t have been so rewarding.

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


  56. November 8, 2017 at 1:44 am

    I am always so impressed with what you create! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Whisk It Wednesday. Have a great week and come back to see us real soon! ~Carrie

  57. March 24, 2018 at 2:14 am

    This type post will win the heart of every bloggers. This post has shows some new ideas of how to write a quality article. So thanks for such a wonderful post with us.

  58. November 3, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    You did a fantastic job! Is it possible to doing one on the right and wrong to replace cabnet doors only? And can u tell me if all wood cabnet doors and be pit on cabinets that are not all wood? Would it be to heavy? See I live in a modular home and when purchased there was not enough money to upgrade to all wood cabinets, and the doors are litterly Crap. Any advise would be very much appreciated

    Thank you

    • November 5, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Hi Irene! Well, my main doors (the ones I made not the windows) are just 1/2″ plywood that I added hardware to and painted. I don’t see why that couldn’t work for you, it wouldn’t cost much and would definitely improve the look for awhile!

  59. November 2, 2023 at 12:10 am

    I just had the pleasure of reading your blog post on how to build kitchen cabinets, and it’s an impressive and detailed guide for those looking to embark on a DIY cabinet-making project. Your step-by-step instructions, complete with photos, make the process seem approachable even for beginners. I appreciate how you’ve covered everything from design and materials to construction and finishing touches. Your tips on measuring, cutting, and assembling are invaluable for anyone tackling this ambitious project. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive resource; it’s a fantastic reference for DIY enthusiasts who want to create their own custom kitchen cabinets!

  60. December 19, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Great read on the ‘Top Kitchen Cabinets’! Perfect timing for my kitchen renovation. Excited to use these insights to find the ideal.

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