Dec 11

Making better off the shelf kitchen cabinets.

Off the shelf kitchen cabinets can save you a ton off money and some of them look pretty darn good. I was surprised how good these looked from Home Depot. They don’t come in many finishes or sizes but I found what I was looking for.

Working alone- bringing them into my workshop the large sink base cabinet took a hard hit. Needless to say it busted a corner seam. They are not very strong and I was planning on reinforcing them anyway. I bought expensive Kraftmaid cabinets for my apartment in the city and even those I  reinforced the top and bottom.These off the shelf cabinets have very cheap insides and that is why they are cheap. Everything is MDF except the doors. It took me a day and 1/2 to rebuild these 4 cabinets. The sink base was actually not for a sink but I was able to  switch the drawer from the top to the bottom and the doors to the top. Now my sink base has a drawer at the bottom. It was well worth the time spent for the money saved- now I have very durable cabinets. The only thing is the drawer slides are not the b est but for the kind of use they are going to get they will be fine. I could  replace these also someday if it bothers me enough.

reinforced off the shelf kitchen cabinets

Look at how cheap the cabinet bottoms are made. I used 2x6PT and 1" pine.

reinforced off the shelf kitchen cabinets

1x12 inch pine was glued and screwed to the backs. Holes were drilled for the drawer slides.

reinforced off the shelf kitchen cabinets

I even slide a piece of 3x4 pine behind the drawer slides. For the tops I added 2x2 and more.

The only big issue with doing this is the fasteners. I glued and screwed everything except where it was going to show and then I used finish nails.  Pre-drill the laminate to contain any damage. I am going to surround the base back and sides with v-groove cherry –  so I am not worried about any fasteners their. For the upper cabinets I reinforced the tops and bottoms with 1×12″ pine and on the backs I used 1/2 inch plywood.

reinforced off the shelf kitchen cabinets

The sink base with a reconfigured bottom drawer.


The kick-plate will be cherry. This counter top was a test. It is 3/4″ plywood with a cherry stain and multiple coats of varnish. People liked it so I decided to go with it.  This winter I will take it off and add another layer of 3/4 inch ply  offset underneath with a strip of cherry around that to match. I do not have oak and a lot off cherry. The purest would never mix the two in this fashion but I don’t mind it at all.