How to build base cabinets


The transformation of our guest bedroom into a crafts room continues this week. My wife and discussed a number of storage ideas and I drew up some sketches for some dressers that would fit beneath the window. After much back-and-forth, we finally decided that what we really needed was a set of base cabinets.

WWMM Base Cabinets 2

To design these, I closely examined our kitchen cabinets and just simplified those construction methods. It’s surprisingly easy to build base cabinets. Just make as many boxes as you like and hook them together.

Start by building the individual cabinets. I made two for drawers and a center cabinet for shelves and doors. These are made with 3/4″ (19mm) plywood, joined together with glue and pocket screws. The backs are 1/4″ (6mm) plywood. Gluing and tacking them on gives the cabinets a lot of strength.

The drawer runners are strips of solid wood glued into place.


All the cabinets sit on a frame that creates a toe-kick area. Mine set on top of a heating vent, so I cut a hole in the front of the toe kick and installed a register.


All three cabinets get screwed together, then screwed to the base.


I made my drawers out of 1/2″ (12mm) plywood with hardboard bottoms. These are just butt-jointed together with glue and brads. I made “false fronts” for the drawer faces using solid lumber. False fronts make positioning the faces easier; you can adjust them with the drawers in place so they all line up.


The bottom drawer is a deep one intended for storing fabric. It has two faces, giving it the appearance of two drawers.




The top is just a plywood board with strips of solid lumber framing it out.


We gave the whole cabinet a vintage, distressed look my using chalk paints and stencils from Plaid. I just love this look.



WWMM Base Cabinets stencils


Kathy picked out some awesome drawer pulls. Each one has a different clock face. Check them out!

WWMM Base cabinet knob





Obviously, you will need to customize these to fit your space, but these will help you get started.




  1. Thanks, Steve! I’m getting geared up to make a mobile kitchen island, and this is perfect for what I need to make. 🙂

    • Unfortunately, I didn’t include a cut list because I figured the sizes would need to be so different for everyone.

  2. Thanks Steve, I really like your approach when you do your presentations. You keep it simple, not like those other guys who tend to make it complicated down to a 1/16th of an inch and you need a slide rule or an Engineering degree to build their plans. Great job, keep up the good work.

  3. great job Steve. love the video I’m glad to see somebody that can make a mistake like that and not try to hide it or edit it out of the video kind of refreshing. keep up the good work

  4. Question: Why did you insert a 1/4 panel inside the left and right cabinets? Was this just one one side of each cabinet? Was this structural or visual? Sorry if you addressed this and I missed it.

  5. I have never been a tool savvy person, and these cabinets look pretty tricky to build. I think I’m just going to go with the pros and let them do it right the first time. I have a lot of other things around the house that I would be willing to do myself though. Can I do carpeting on my own?

  6. So good! Love your YouTube channel watching all of it. I’m a luthier (guitar builder) AND a first time home buyer with lots of furniture my wife wants to buy. Being a woodworker (of a different sort) I sought out to save money and learn a different side of wood working and make that furniture. You made that transition super easy. And helped me save a ton of money. Thank you so much! AND your delivery makes me laugh every time you throw in an add.

  7. Thanks for posting this Steve. I am wanting to build a tall linen cabinet for my master bath and this will be helpful in that effort. I do have one question. What is the purpose of the 1/4″ material that you added to the inside of the cabinets?


  8. I have wanted to get into woodworking for a while now and love your videos. One quick question what size nails do you use?

  9. I’m not a “woodworker” nor do I have all the table saws, etc. but I sm a woman who needs base cabinets in my sewing studio, desperately!! All I have is a circular saw hand saw and an electric drill/screwdriver. Is it possible to make these cabinets with the very few tools I have?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here