DIY Apothecary Style Kitchen Cabinets

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The easiest and fastest way to build kitchen cabinets! All these base cabinets for $400! Plans by

Hi everyone!  Thank you for all your support for our show premiering on DIY Network next Tuesday (Dec 15, 2015 at 10PM EST).  We are humbled by your kindness, and know none of this would ever be possible without you.  Truly, thank you.

We are so excited to show you our cabin, and how it was built.  Just five days to go!

So what do you do for a kitchen in remote Alaska?  There's no kitchen cabinet store out here, and with a pile of scrap wood, you bet I'm going shopping in the wood shop.

Only thing is, this is the wood shop.  It's does have a killer view, making up for the mosquitoes and the dirt.

The drone is from the tv film crew to get different angles.  

To make these kitchen cabinets (more details in plan below) I used 3/4" plywood, ripped first into strips the depth of the cabinets, and then cut into pieces for the sides and bottom.  The boys were using all the sawhorses, so to cut, I put scrap foam insulation down in the dirt, placed my plywood on top, clamped a straight edge to guide my saw, and cut.  If the saw blade cuts into the foam insulation a little, it won't matter.

Now to build it.  To make things less expensive and easier to build, I decided to build my cabinets townhouse style instead of detached single family

This is one cabinet, not three put togeher. It is nearly eight feet long, with the center being the sink base.  This was much faster than having to build three cabinets (and doubling up material for the sides and face frames). And then having to get three cabinets to line up just right.

Another thing I did to save plywood was use scrap 2x4s to create the toekick base, raising the carcass up on this base.  The toekick later gets painted or covered in trim, so it really doesn't matter what it looks like.  It just elevates the cabinet.  This means alot of cool things for the DIYer -

  • You don't have to cut toekicks out of the side panels of the cabinets
  • Your plywood side lengths are shorter (which is a big deal since the sides now are right at 31", a perfect number for maximizing material use on an 8 foot sheet of plywood)
  • The bottom of the cabinet is continuous, across all three cabinets, so this helps make the cabinet stronger, squarer, and easier to build.
  • It's easier to build the carcass, as you just attach everything square with outside edges (instead of the bottom being elevated on the sides)

Sorry, I take my woodworking way too seriously.

 To finish out the front and make everything look pretty, I used 1x2s to make a giant face frame that covers the entire front of the 8 foot long cabinet.  

We didn't have any way to make nice doors out in the wild, so I thought why not create an apothecary style door that looks like a bunch of drawers?  To make sure everything fit, each door was built inside the face frame, leaving a 1/8" gap between all the boards.  The gap allows the wood to expand and contract, so no fancy joinery methods needed - just some 1-1/4" screws.

Here is the first demo drawer I made to test out the idea (and sell it to the hubs).  I orignially had planned for the Charcoal (it's Chalked by Rustoleum) but after painting the test door, Country Gray was the hands down winner.

It's nice to use Rustoleum Chalked because it has no enamel and you can easily sand and distress it.  We distressed all of the doors and face frames by lightly sanding.  

This was the hardest part.  All that hardware, and it has to line up perfectly.  I speak the truth when I say I'd rather build the cabinet than put the hardware on.

We created a pattern and Uncle Bill drilled all the holes and installed the hardware (I can't wait for you to meet him when the show airs).

For the hardware I found these cup bin pulls for a little over $2 a piece.  

This is not the time to splurge on hardware - not when you have 24 pulls in your kitchen.



Then we just used these hinges to attached the doors to the face frames.  I love this type of hinge for inset cabinet doors because they are easy to install and look beautiful.

It's a plywood box, on a 2x4 base, with a pretty face frame and scrap wood doors put over top.

The drawers and doors are so believeable, I've found myself trying to pull drawers out that area really cabinets.  Also notice the large drawer is one 1x6, with saw cuts in the face to look like a 1x2.

The cabinet on the other side of the stove was made using the same steps, but this time, just one door/drawer.  The drawer slides are attached on the insides of the cabinet sidewalls at the front (we shimmed to bring the side in to match the face frame) and sockets were used to attach to the back.

Here they are all together!

All of those base cabinets cost about $400 to make and took one day to build (working on it full time with help here and there).

This is not the first kitchen we've ever made from scratch.  But it's my favorite.

Because it is unique and hand crafted and resourceful.  

And it is truly something that most anyone could build.

Check out the customizeable plans following (if this is the homepage you'll need to click READ MORE below) to make your own DIY kitchen!

Have an awesome day!



PS - There's just five days left in our Alaska Dream Vacation Giveaway, and you can enter every day for more chances to win!



Shopping List

3/4" plywood - prefinished PureBond recommend for easier finishing, ripped into strips 23-1/4 wide (for 24" overall width cabinet including doors). Measure appliances and adjust if necessary for the right width. 1x2 boards, a true 1-1/2" wide for face frame and doors 1x6 boards, a true 5-1/2" wide for doors and drawer faces scrap 1x material (1x3 or wider width) for supports 2x4s for the toekick 1/4"plywood for attaching to back

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Miter Saw
Table Saw
Brad Nailer
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Carcass - The carcass is just 3/4" plywood and then scrap 1x material (or 3/4" plywood strips) as support on the top. I use 3/4" pocket holes and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws to build the carcasses. If I know the cabinet will be hidden on outside sides, I place my pocket holes on outsides. Do not span more than 3 feet per cabinet - perhaps even less if you plan on using a granite or concrete or other heavy countertop material. Drawers tend to work best less than 24" in width - an larger and they start to not slide as well.

Step 2

Toekick Base - This is an easy step, just cut and screw or nail together. Make sure boards are placed under all dividers in the carcass so the weight of the counter-top is transferred directly to the floor. You can use pocket holes, wood screws, even framing nails to build this base. On installation, 2" screws through the bottom of the cabinet is the easiest way to attach. You could also attach from underneath by using pocket holes (set for 3/4" stock and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws even though you will be drilling into 2x4s).

Step 3

Face Frame - The face frame covers all of the plywood edges. Make sure your 1x2s are 1-1/2" wide. Use 3/4" pocket holes and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws to build. Attach to front of plywood cabinet with glue and 1-1/4" brad nails (I recommend building doors and fitting drawers before attaching. You could even attaching the door hinges to the face frame before installing face frame on carcass).

Step 4

Doors and Drawers - Place all of your drawer/door boards inside the face frame, with the face frame face down. Use 1x2 boards to connect the door boards together. Remember there should be an 1/8" gap around all doors and drawer faces, and in between door boards. Use 1-1/4" screws and glue.

Step 5

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.



Thu, 12/10/2015 - 11:39

This is a beautiful and practical space! Are there any drawbacks to building the cabinets townhouse style instead of detached single family? 

Ana White

Thu, 12/10/2015 - 21:38

Thank you!  

I love building cabinets this way!  It saves a ton of time and you don't have to line up cabinets between appliances.  This was the fastest and easiest kitchen we've ever made, and I love it the most.

Doors could be a challenge if you do them differently - not so much the style, but how they are sized and installed. Townhouse style is suitable for inset door cabinets (where the cabinet door sits inside the face frame), if you want to try overlay doors you will need to use 1x3s between the doors to give enough room for hinges and overlays OR you could shim the insides of the cabinet where the face frame overhangs and just use euro style frameless hinges.

This is my preference for long runs of cabinets for sure!


In reply to by niagra19

Ana White

Thu, 12/10/2015 - 21:40

Hi!  I'll do a post soon on the countertops.  They are actually stained Early American on spruce.  This wood took the stain much darker than we were expecting, usually Early American is lighter.  Thanks for reading! Ana


Thu, 12/10/2015 - 19:15

I absolutely love the cabinet and it looks perfect in your space. There's a niche in my small kitchen that would be perfect for this build. Is there any drawback to building the cabinet townhouse style rather than detached single family?

Can't wait for your show to air! Thanks for being so generous and sharing your plans.


Tue, 03/01/2016 - 11:13

I was working on my buy and cut list to tackle these cabinets for my coffee station this weekend and had a question on the height. In step one you cut the carcass to 31 inches then in step three you cut the face frame to 30.5 inches the 30.5 seems to get me the right spacing for the drawers and doors but not sure what happened to the other 1/2 inch from step one. Please help. I think for the face frame to be 30.5 I want the sides of the carcass cut at 30.5 and any interior supports at 29.75.


Fri, 07/29/2016 - 02:37

Hey that is some good work. That is something innovative and easy to make as well. A few days back a friend of mine got his kitchen renovated from a contractor. He wanted to have a custom design for his kitchen so he looked for that sevice and he found a great site which provided him what he wanted and the contractor did some good work. He was complimenting their work.


Wed, 03/15/2017 - 08:40

Can these cabinets be done in a mobile home. If so, should 3/4 be used or 5/8