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Discussion Starter #1
I’m in the midst of a planning a kitchen renovation and will finally get the chance to build new cabinets! I’m looking to build a high quality set of cabinets that will last for years. These cabinets will be painted. From what I have read the boxes are usually made out of hardwood plywood or MDF. The frames and doors out of hardwood of course.

I’m leaning towards plywood for the boxes because there’s far less dust when cutting, and I haven’t liked how screws and nails hold in MDF on past projects.

That said what grade plywood should I be looking for? Is A grade overkill? I definitely want a smooth finish.

Any and all thoughts appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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I would use birch or maple veneer three quarter inch grade AA plywood. Doors and drawer fronts can be make from a good quality solid wood. You will need no frame with this size plywood. The box will hold together fine. Glue it and use rabbet joints. Always use the highest quality material and methods, and they will last a really long time.



If you think about it, MDF is nothing more than very find saw dust. And folks use that in a wet\damp locations like a kitchen. Kind of silly if you ask me. And that crap that is being sold at the box stores and other retail stores with the cam lock fasteners, that is a real joke. What a waste of money.
 

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If you are going to paint rather than stain, poplar is a less expensive option that takes paint well, though it's a relatively soft hardwood.
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Handyman25: Be sure to check the core plies for cavities. Some manufacturers use cheap filler wood between the veneer. I have found that 7ply, or 9ply birch, cherry, or maple is stable, and smooth w/less cavities. Joints as Andy stated with glue, will serve you well. With a good router, raised panel doors are not too complicated. If, that's what you have planned. You Can also go to Woodworkingtalk.com and our partner forums found in About Us for more ideas and methods.
 

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I would use birch or maple veneer three quarter inch grade AA plywood. Doors and drawer fronts can be make from a good quality solid wood. You will need no frame with this size plywood. The box will hold together fine. Glue it and use rabbet joints. Always use the highest quality material and methods, and they will last a really long time.
Instead of using rabbit joints for the back, what about a dado pattern like this?

I built cabinets in a shop many many years ago, 1/2" birch sides, 1/4" backs, never liked how flimsy they felt. Always wondered how well a 3/4" box might work with this T-cut dado pattern.

Does anyone do this or is it a bad idea?

 

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Don't go to a big box store, go to a specialty lumber store or a wood workers store to get a better grade of plywood. And, yes, you want plywood for the box of the cabinets. They can guide you as to the best plywood to use.

You can do a simple dado with a router to fit the back and bottom into the sides. And then use glue and screws to hold it together. Or you can do a fancier, but more secure router edge to hold it together with glue and a few brads.

But make sure that you get full coverage with the glue. Use a silicone brush to spread it around. (The glue will come off of the silicone easy once it dries).

One thing to consider is to build the base cabinets with legs that are easy to adjust.

You can also save some time and buy the drawers and doors. Unless you want to build them yourself.
 

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I agree with the 3/4" plywood for the boxes. I've found decent cabinet grade at the box stores. I pick good sheets from the pile, checking for any voids. For the face frames, I like birch. It machines well, is noticeably harder than poplar. I use pocket screws and glue for the boxes. Most of the boxes the pockets screws are on the outside where they won't show when the cabinets are installed. For cabinets with exposed ends I put the pocket screws on the inside and plug them.
Mike Hawkins
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank so much for all the replies! This is a big help. I contacted my local lumber yard and they carry A1 and B2 3/4" Birch. There is a pretty significant price difference between the two, so I was wondering everyone's opinion on if B2 would be an OK option. (A1 is $117 a sheet, B2 is $76). If A1 is truly that much better than I will go for that, otherwise I'll save the money and get the better counter top.

Thanks
 

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Thank so much for all the replies! This is a big help. I contacted my local lumber yard and they carry A1 and B2 3/4" Birch. There is a pretty significant price difference between the two, so I was wondering everyone's opinion on if B2 would be an OK option. (A1 is $117 a sheet, B2 is $76). If A1 is truly that much better than I will go for that, otherwise I'll save the money and get the better counter top.

Thanks
Assuming the $117 sheets is good both sides, whereas the $$76 would be G1S. I would go with the G1S and hide the inferior side wherever possible. I cover the facade with a laminate, so it's easier for me to do so. These cabinets are a european style (no face frame) banded (all edges) with a durable hardwood .......<......birch.
 

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For paint I would use BC for sides not exposed and AC for exposed sides. I would make face frames from poplar.
 

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One thing to consider with quality of plywood is face quality vs core quality. AB and C grades usually refers to quality of the face, knots, voids, etc. If you are painting you don't need A quality, you can patch up things with putty or other things. Any money you save by buying a cheap "import" ply like Home Depot or any other source that provides prices too good to be true, will leave you swearing at the cheap bad glue void filled layers.

No problem with MDF core or Melamine if you build it right. They only reason I would avoid it is it is heavy. But if you build it right and install it right both will last decades. If you have to move it around or change anything though you will regret it's use.

I just rebuilt a MDF based with Hickory sides pantry that I have moved around and it got stressed, but I still was able to rebuild.
 

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Personally, for cabinet sides and backs that don't show except on the inside of the cabinet, I would use melamine particleboard in maple print. It's kind of the industry standard for such things. Finishing the inside of a cabinet is a major PITA.


And I think you would crazy to use any plywood that you have to fill and sand. MDO plywood is a much better choice here. MDO is a high grade plywood with a thin mdf outer layer to provide a smooth and flawless surface to paint.
 
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