diy cabinetPaying for carpenters or contractors to create your cabinets is a difficult and stressful process. You have to do a lot of research to make sure that you can find a trustworthy builder that won’t overcharge you, and even the fairest prices are extremely expensive. Even if you find the right worker and agree on a decent price, you have to plan your schedule around theirs so that you’re present while they build, and you have to deal with the noise and hassle of big projects happening in your home.

So why not save on the cost of labor while learning a thing or two about carpentry? Believe it or not, you don’t have to be an expert carpenter to make simple cabinets (if you want something more elaborate you ought to opt into paying a professional, however) and it really is satisfying to do the work yourself. Intimidated by the prospect? Here’s a straightforward set of directions for how to build your own cabinets that will keep your head above water throughout the process.

1. Figure out what you want.

Determine which cabinet dimensions are best suited to your space and your needs. Keep in mind that cabinet width is generally determined in 3″ increments and that you should always take the door size into account when you plan the width.

2. Cut out your panels and braces.

Once you know your dimensions, you can begin to cut out the sides, bottom, and front and back base panels, top brace panels, and facing panels of your cabinet. For materials, you can use MDF, plywood, or any other appropriate type of laminate. The sides won’t be seen, so don’t pick your material based on appearance. Strength and durability are key to this choice. If your cabinets are upper or wall cabinets, you won’t need a toe kick. If your cabinets will sit on the floor, be sure to cut a toe kick that will end up being your bottom front corner.

diy cabinet3. Join the panels.

Start out by joining the base panels to the bottom. Use wood glue and align the panels so that one flat face is flush with the back edge of the panel and the other is 3″ or so back from the front end. Then screw the cabinet base to the edge of the panels using butt joints. Use pilot holes if you want.

Next join the sides to the bottom with the same glueing and screwing process. Again, be sure that the edges are flush and fit the toe-kick in with the gap you made if applicable. Keep edges flush. A clamp and angle measuring tool makes this entire process easier.

4. Secure the top brace panel.

Glue and secure using the same process, making sure the brace panel will sit flat against the wall. The front brace panel should sit flush with the countertop. Then nail on a back panel. Measure and screw a 1/2″ plywood back panel into place, 3/4″ for a wall cabinet.

5. Reinforce.

Add corner brackets to all joints to reinforce them.

6. Install the shelves.

Measure and mark level locations where you want shelves. Add screws or brackets and put in appropriately sized surfaces here.

7. Add the facing panels. Assemble them the way you would assemble a picture frame. Nail and countersink the nails to attach completed faces to the cabinet.

8. Place the cabinet where you want and screw the back panel into wall studs to make sure the cabinet is secure.

9. Install the doors. You’re welcome!