Your Dream Kitchen

A ‘dream’ kitchen of luxury quality need not be out of your reach – if you build it yourself. This complete kitchen of wall and base units can be constructed using only simple woodworking techniques. Based on ‘unit’ construction, each item is made up of two box structures and can be laminated or finished according to choice.

The design of this set of kitchen base units and wall cupboards is modelled on two ‘box’ sections-a top and a bottom box for each. On the base units, the lower box provides the plinth, while the other box supports the drawers.

A similar construction is used for the cupboards. The strength of each unit relies on the support of the ‘slab’ material-the sides, backs and tops. This is glued and screwed into place.

The width of any unit can be increased by enlarging the sizes of the boxes. The metric modules used here should fit an average kitchen.

Choice of materials

Finnish birch blockboard, 19mm thick x 100mm wide x 435mm deep, is used to make the plinth boxes. The top boxes are constructed of 25mm x 50mm planed softwood, 493mm deep. The overall length of single base units is 535mm and of double units 107m. The working height of base units is 910mm, with a front-to-back depth of 535mm.

The wall units are 352mm wide x 230mm deep x 624mm high. The tops of each are covered with a panel of hardboard, pinned to the top ‘box’. Double-door units can be made by increasing the dimensions of the box sections.

All sides, backs and shelves are made of 19mm Contiplas laminated chipboard. Doors are cut from 12mm Finnish birch blockboard. Finnish blockboard, 19mm thick, is used for the worktops, which, like the doors, are surfaced with a decorative plastic laminate (Warerite). An advantage of using laminated material is that the interiors of units present a hygienic, wipe-clean surface.

You can use cheaper materials, such as standard hardboard, in place of plywood or laminated chipboard. However, a more robust job will give better service; it will still be cheaper to make the units yourself, than to buy similar factory-made furniture.

Tools needed are a coping saw, a smoothing plane, a tenon saw, a panel saw, a medium screwdriver, a carpenter’s hammer and a 19mm bevel-edged chisel, or a router plane, a marking knife and a marking gauge.


Only basic carpentry techniques are needed for construction. Joints are simple housings, 6mm deep. All other assembly is with glue, pins or screws.

Mark out and cut, at the same time, all pieces of timber of similar length; this helps to ensure accuracy.

Box-unit construction

Measure and mark out the housings, squaring the lines around the timber. Gauge the joint to a depth of 6mm and cut. An alternative to the bevel-edged chisel, to remove waste, is the router plane. To use, set the blade of the plane to about half the depth of the groove, and pass the plane over the slot until you cut to this depth. Reset the blade slightly to deepen the groove and, finally, set to the maximum depth. The blade is held to any set depth, which ensures that the joint is both neat and accurate.

Next, mark out all cross pieces of the same length, square lines around the timber, and cut. For ease of identification, mark the narrower centre pieces with pencil.

Both top and bottom side rails are inset 19mm-the thickness of the laminated sides. The ends of the front rails slot between these panels after assembly. Panels are later secured by countersunk screws through the panels and into both faces of the side rails.

Note that the centre rail of the plinth box is raised some 13mm above the level of the end rails. This allows for any central unevenness on the floor which may cause the unit to rock.

Projections on the rear housings are left on for ease of initial marking out. These are now cut off and the ends planed smooth after assembly. The front rails should be cut slightly oversized to allow the ends to be planed smooth before assembly.

Glue blocks

Glue blocks, 19mm x 19mm x 90mm long, are used to reinforce all corners, and as you will need a considerable number, it will be helpful to make a small jig to cut these out. This consists of a three-sided open timber box with a plywood or hardwood stop across the front.

Mark on the box the length of the blocks along the sides, so that these can be cut quickly and uniformly. Once cut to length, take a corner off each block-for neatness when assembled. Remove also a small piece from the opposite corner; this enables the blocks to sit squarely in the angle of the joints, allowing for any slight irregularities and projections.


The boxes can now be trial assembled to ensure that everything fits well. Any necessary adjustments are made at this stage.

Next, apply a glue, such as Evostik Wood-working adhesive, to the housings and at the end of all cross pieces. Spread this evenly on the mating surfaces, with a rubbing motion.

Knock the joints together, using a hammer and a piece of scrap, flat timber, or a soft-faced hammer. Secure the joints with three 38mm oval nails, in a ‘dovetail’ pattern. Similarly pin glue blocks and wipe off surplus glue with a piece of damp cloth.

Test the construction for squareness, by measuring the diagonals with a steel tape. Use hand pressure on opposed corners to correct any error, and leave the boxes on a level surface to dry; finally check for squareness.

End panels

Prepare the end panels for the base unit. Cut with a fine-toothed hand saw from 535mm-wide laminated chipboard. Take care to square the lines across the surface evenly, so that you cut rectangular panels. Cut to 890mm long, and gauge a line from the edge of the panel and saw to a width of 495mm.

Cut all similar panels identically, place together in a vice and mark the front edges for the drawer rails and ‘kicking-space’ recesses.

Square lines 22mm deep, gauge for depth and cut. Cut out the recesses with a coping saw and then pare back to the line with a bevel-edged chisel. Do this carefully, to avoid chipping the plastic facing.

Clean up the top and bottom edges of the boxes with the plane, then laminate the front surfaces. Mark out the position of the screw holes on the end panels, with a centre punch, drill and countersink for No. 8 wood screws.

Assemble the units, using 31mm No. 8 Pozidriv screws; where the end panels are seen, fit plastic-domed caps over the screw heads.

Finally, laminate the kicking boards. A dark-coloured laminate is best, since this does not readily show marks. The rail ends of the ‘boxes’, where these are seen, should be laminated with a matching colour, or carefully prepared and painted.

All exposed woodwork, other than drawer runners, should be given a coat of protective polyurethane varnish.


Tops are cut from 19mm birch blockboard, 515mm wide and the same length as the base units. The front edge strip is also cut from blockboard but may be of solid timber, also 19mm thick. Its width should be such that it is in line with the front edge of the sink top.

This strip is pinned on and glued, and the top planed off flush with the work top. The front edge may now be laminated and trimmed. If the top edges are exposed, these should also be laminated.

The top is glued and screwed in place with 38mm No. 8 countersink screws through the top into the top edge of the cabinet sides. The top can now be laminated.

Use a ‘balancer’ laminate on the back of the worktop or seal the surface top with two coats of polyurethane varnish or paint to serve the same purpose.

The 38mm block upstand at the back can now be laminated on its top and front surfaces, and fixed in position by screwing it in from beneath the top box.

Cut the bottoms, shelves and backs to size and fit. The bottom panels are screwed through from beneath the plinth box. Shelves can be supported on plastic shelf bearers; there is a wide variety of these. Bearers may be surface fixed or recessed to fit holes bored into the timber sides.

Bottom and middle shelves on double base units are made from 970mm x 295mm x 19mm Contiplas. Shelves for single units are 535mm long. To prevent longer shelves sagging, two pieces of 25mm x 50mm planed timber should be cut to the length of the shelves and fixed on edge by screws, 13mm in from the front and the back edges. The front support may be laminated or painted. The strip at the rear may be finished with a suitable poly-urethane varnish.

The backs of the units are 535mm (single) and 107m (double units) long. These are made to the 885mm height of the end panels. For the sink-unit base, deduct 19mm from this measurement. These are drilled and countersunk then glued and screwed using 38mm No. 8 screws. Make the backs to fit the unit, in case any slight variation has occurred during construction.

Sink unit

This accommodates a single-bowl, single-drainer sink top. Merely by enlarging the size of the basic ‘box’ unit, a double drainer may be fitted. General construction principles are the same as for ordinary base units.

Check, first, that the sink top matches the unit measurements, since there may be slight variations between makes.

This unit is made 19mm lower than the height of worktop units, to allow for the depth of the sink top. This is located on top of the base units. Cut two pieces of softwood, 13mm x 10mm, to the depth of the lip in the sink unit edge; fit these into the lipped edges on each side of the sink top. The top is fixed with two mirror plates screwed, on each side, into this section of timber and into the sides of the base unit.

As the sink bowl occupies the space of a drawer, a false drawer front must be fitted.

Wall units

These are constructed in a manner identical with the base units. The doors of cabinets are also made up in the same way as these worktop units.


These are made from 12mm Finnish birch blockboard, 520mm wide, including the thickness of laminate, x 597mm long, for both base units and cupboards. Where doors are to be hung in pairs, as on double units, each should be made 3mm smaller in width.

This is so that the edges of doors on units standing on uneven floors do not catch against each other. Doors may sag slightly in these circumstances, but any uneveness can largely be corrected by adjusting the hinges.

Fit ting hinges

Hinges are a heavy-duty concealed type and easily fitted. First laminate door edges and fit a balancing laminate on the backs of the doors. If wished you can put on several coats of paint to act as a balancer. Pencil mark the centre position of each hinge-400mm in from the top and bottom and 22mm in from the edge. Dot punch to mark centres and, drill to a depth of 13mm with a 35mm boring bit. It is easier to do this if you use a power drill in a vertical stand.

After drilling the holes, the front of the doors may be laminated and trimmed to size. Tap the hinges into the holes and secure with screws provided. Screw on the carcass part of the hinge, offer the doors up to these metal blocks, and fit the doors.

Door pulls

The doors and drawers open by means of metal ‘pulls’, made of a standard extruded aluminium. These also act as an attractive front ‘trim’ to the units. A wide variety is available. This was supplied in 2m lengths and cut to length with a fine-toothed hacksaw, drilled, using standard No. 4 twist bits, countersunk, and secured with 19mm screws.


Drawer construction uses simple, pinned-and-glued methods of assembly.

When making box-shaped drawers it is essential that the fronts and backs are cut exactly the same to ensure that the sides are parallel. Drawers for single base units measure 577mm deep x 507mm wide x 140mm high. Drawers for double units measure 577mm deep x 462mm wide. The sides and backs are made of 12mm Finnish plywood, with bottoms of 6mm plywood.

Cut the sides and check that these are identical. The front and back section are smaller by the thickness of the ply forming the sides. Assemble, check carefully for squareness, and allow to dry.

Runners, or cleats, are fixed on the side of the drawers and cupboard sides. These consist of a central cleat between two outer ones. Two cleats can be fixed to the drawer, and the third to the sides of the unit, or the other way about.

To allow for the gaps between caused by the width of the cleats, oversized false drawer fronts are fitted.

When measuring the size of drawers, allow for the thickness of the runners and add a further 5mm to allow for timber expansion.

The cleats are made from 13mm x 13mm hardwood, drilled and countersunk, and fixed with 25mm No. 8 brass screws. Cut threads with a steel screw before using the brass screw, for these snap easily if used initially in hardwood.

False fronts

All drawer fronts consist of ‘over-sized’ sections of blockboard, laminated to match the doors. These are glued and screwed on from the inside of the main drawer ‘box’ into the backs of the false fronts with four 31mm No. 8 countersunk screws; this ensures that screws do not pull out or become loose with the action of opening.

The fronts for single units measure 557mm x 140mm. Leave a 6mm gap between drawers on double units, making the widths of these fronts 508mm. Fit magnetic catches to hold the doors closed. These consist of a magnet, fitted to the depth of the door inside the unit, with a magnetic plate on the door. The catches can be adjusted slightly, to allow for door movement.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Your Dream Kitchen


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