How to Build a Built-in The Cabinets - Woodworking

The Custom Built-ins started out with lots of research, and like many DIY project we looked to Pinterest and Houzz for inspiration. You can follow me on Pinterest here and Houzz here. A lot of love and time went into this project and in this post you will learn how the cabinets were made. The second post will discuss the fireplace and the third will conclude with the bookshelves. Below is a photo of the final project.

How to Build Custom Built-ins

Samantha and I started out on Pinterest pinning many different types of looks and styles. We later mixed and matched features that we liked and finally found something that worked. I can't stress enough how important research is. This process is often over looked because DIYers just want to get to the building process as quickly as possible, but trust me when I say doing solid research will save you a lot of stress and time when it comes to building. 

Purchase and Download the Fire Place Cabinets and Bookshelves Build Instructions

I have created a PDF with all the information, measurements and details you need to make this amazing fireplace. Here is a link to where you can download the Instructional Guide

The first place I stopped was my local home improvement store. I had to purchase a lot of furniture grade plywood, 3/4in birch plywood to be exact. I used this wood for the sides and top of my cabinet. I know that's a lot of wood in the picture below, and we definitely didn't use that much for this project! There are lots of future projects to come!

Birch Plywood

The next part of the building process was to build the face frames. A face frame is the part of a cabinet that the doors attach to as well as the front of the cabinet. I chose to use Poplar wood for my face frames because it is easy to work with and paint.

Face Frame Built In Cabinets

I used glue and a Kreg Jig to attach all the parts of the face frame together.

Kreg Jig face frame

Next I had to build the cabinet doors. This was my most favorite part of the project. Because I wanted to build a shaker style door I used a mortise and tenon joint for the cabinet doors. You can see in the picture that I am using my table saw to cut the tenon.

shaker cabinet door

Here is a video that Samantha took as I was cutting the doors. In the background you can see my dad helping me test fit everything. At the end of the video you can see the face frame sitting on top of the cabinet. Please subscribe to my channel.

Each cabinet has a set of three doors. I produced a total of 6 doors for the cabinets. Below is a picture of the doors assembled and ready for painting.

shaker door

The most challenging thing to cabinetry is getting everything square. The margin for error is very narrow about 1/16th to 1/32. Here is a top and front view of the cabinets with the doors attached.

Top view of the cabinets with attached doors. I used painters tape to keep the doors from swinging.

Top view of the cabinets with attached doors. I used painters tape to keep the doors from swinging.

Shaker doors are attached and fitted.

Shaker doors are attached and fitted.

I have attached the top to the cabinet and it is now ready for a 1in strip poplar lip.

I have attached the top to the cabinet and it is now ready for a 1in strip poplar lip.

Before I started painting I had to add a 1 inch strip of poplar to the front top to cover up the layers of plywood. This gives the impression that the top is made out of a solid piece of wood. Next, I gave everything a 320 grit sanding to prep it for painting.

shaker doors painted
cabint painted

Here is a fun Animated GIF of the installation. You can see the adjustable shelves being installed and the doors.

cabinets installed

During the installation of the cabinets into my house, I learned a lot about how my house was built. Unlike cabinet making, houses do not have to be built perfect or square. In my shop, the cabinets doors fit perfectly and were square. When I installed the cabinets into the house, I noticed my drywall and floors were not level or square, this caused all sorts of issues with my cabinet doors.

If you look closely at the picture above you can see the doors are not exactly flush with the face frame. This is because the cabinet base and sides are torqued by the walls and floor. Before I started the project I knew this could be an issue so I compensated about a 1/4 of an inch gap for the cabinets to breath and fit into but this was not enough. This issue has given me an opportunity to learn and think of different about my installation and building methods.

I learned a lot about cabinetry and I hope this post will help and inspire you in your wood working projects. Check out part 2 "How to Build a Built-in Part 2 of 3 - The Firleplace"


•    Poplar Wood 1x3 -
•    Poplar Wood 1x5 -
•    Poplar Cove 9/16x3-1/2 -
•    Poplar Mantel 1x5x60 -
•    ¼ in MDF -
•    Pine Wood 2x4 –
•    Wood Glue -
•    2.5 in Wood Screws -
•    Paint Cashmere White -
•    Carrara White Marble -
•    White Thin Set Mortar-
•    White Grout -
•    Long Nails -
•    Short Nails -
•    Ultraset SF -
•    Rope Caulk -
•    Knobs -


•    Bosh 12in Miter Saw -
•    Grizzly Table Saw -
•    Nail Gun -
•    KregJig -
•    Freud Dato Blades -
•    Air Compressor -
•    Air Hose -
•    Tape Measure -
•    All Purpose Sponge -
•    Tile Spacers -
•    Square Notch Trowel -
•    Rubber Grout Float -
•    5 Gal Bucket for cleaning and mixing -
•    Level -
•    Hammer -
•    Rubber Mallet -
•    Bessy Clamps -
•    Paint Gun -
•    Bora Clamp -
•    Bosch Router -
•    3/4 Router Bit -
•    Circular Saw -