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Brad(SS)

Building cabinets from solid wood

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I would love to build kitchen cabinets for my house. I’d like to build the carcass from solid wood and of course the panel doors, but this is where the questions start popping up for me. Is it okay to use solid wood for the entire carcass, and then at what thickness should the carcass walls be if I use solid wood.. 

Would it be wise to avoid a full solid wood carcass?  Maybe have the back board be plywood backing to help prevent stress splitting from moisture swelling

Im not looking to save money, as this is a project I when I start that I want to go all out on.. any help would be great.

 

Very respectfully,

Brad

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Welcome Brad!!

Cabinets are built from sheet goods due to wood movement. When you screw something to the wall you limit its ability to move and typically that thing will split apart. Sheet goods are much more stable than solid wood.

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Your best bet would be a plywood carcass.  You can get plywood with any hardwood exterior you would like, Oak, Cherry, even walnut, then use solid wood for your face and doors.  In this case, it's not about saving money, it's about construction.  Solid wood will move no matter what you do to prevent it. Plywood is 10 or more times stable, and as far as appearance goes, just how much of the carcass in reality will be seen?  Going all out with solid wood will eventually give you a small pile of expensive firewood.

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@Brad(SS), the others are correct, sheet goods for the carcase will save you grief. You CAN easily make free-standing cabinets of solid wood, as I did in this thread. You can also use these frame and panel techniques for all the exposed end panels of your attached cabinetry, and I recommend that over veneered plywood for aesthetics. But stick with plywood for the unseen inner structure.

If you really, REALLY feel the need to go all solid wood construction, I would at least make each box separately, hang them with a cleat system that allows 'wiggle room', and use battens to cover the gaps between units. No one says you CAN'T do it, just consider that doing it successfully requires a lot of forethought and extra work. Trust me, YOU are the only one that will ever know or care that the cabinets are solid wood.

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Thank you Pkinneb and richardA.

if the quality is going to be with using ply, Thats good Advice and I can agree and do the ply for all pieces not of relevance. I will plan on making the sides that are visible with solid wood. I was thinking of floating those pieces because they would be engraved with a CNC. I hope that would also allow for moisture and swelling, and so forth.. Lol, sounds cool in my head, but not trying to re invent cabinets. Just make something that will be appreciated down the road.

anyways 
I‘m in the process of drawing my plans for a cabinet over the washer and dryer. Rough draft

 5’x3’ with a depth of about 16” maybe 18” 

Thank you with the assist.

And any further advice, warnings, and so forth is very much welcomed and appreciated.

V/r,

Brad

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We made solid wood cabinets in the early 80's. We also built in the sofits in the cabinet. That was a long time ago. 1x12 pine was used the but now it's all plywood. You can save the headaches of just using sheet goods with a variety of choices. 

Put your time and money into specialty items for your cabinets. Nobody looking inside your cabinets .....

I'm often, if I had the a bigger kitchen amazed at the European style cabinetry. A lot of tricks we here miss on out cabinets...

 

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Brad, we did a slightly different approach when we had ours built. I told the cabinet maker that I that wanted solid wood beech wherever possible in a shaker style. I also wanted solid wood door panels as I hate the “hollow” sound the door makes when you close them, using 1/4 ply. I suggested that he use raised panels and put the raised part on the inside of the door so that the outside will be flat. The exposed ends of the cabinets, both upper and lower are also frame and panel, using 1/4” beech ply panels and attaching them to the 3/4” ply carcass. So all exposed wood is solid except for the end panels. Now, the down side came 5 years later, last year, when my wife decided she wanted them painted. Given that the solid wood panels on the doors move with humidity changes, the two cabinet doors above our coffee maker and the two small ones above our range now have a small crack in the paint where the panels meet the frame. Fortunately, I guess due the fact that we run our ac 11 1/2 months of the year, there are no problems with the 18 or so doors. 

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6 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

You can also use these frame and panel techniques for all the exposed end panels of your attached cabinetry,

27F3BFF4-BC33-4B0A-8ED6-C2BF66E3075C_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.11751c1c3d05f5eebdedee6a632fabf6.jpeg

Above is a frame and panel solid wood under construction. Internal parts are plywood. Your wall cabinet above your washer should be around 12" deep. Deeper is not that useable for an upper cabinet. Good luck!                                                       

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6 hours ago, curlyoak said:

27F3BFF4-BC33-4B0A-8ED6-C2BF66E3075C_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.11751c1c3d05f5eebdedee6a632fabf6.jpeg

Above is a frame and panel solid wood under construction. Internal parts are plywood. Your wall cabinet above your washer should be around 12" deep. Deeper is not that useable for an upper cabinet. Good luck

@ curly oak

thanks for the tip, I will cut the length down a bit, and after telling my wife she could put blankets in there... she said more like cleaning supplies only.. 12” or 14”sounds good now. Make room for the high demand toilet paper and I may need to lower the cabinets for reachability or buy a step stool for top shelve.

Fantastic answers from everyone so far. With the advice and picture/links coming in, I’m able to better prepare for these projects. I look forward to more advice. 
V/r, 

Brad

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Build the step stool yourself.  The Shakers have a simple but beautiful design.  Ask Google, it'll take you there.

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