Cabinet Bottom and Sides Material

      Cabinetmakers discuss the materials they use for parts of a cabinet that don't show. October 22, 2005

This may have been discussed before and if so please point me to the thread. What Iím interested in finding out is the norm (if there is such a thing) to use for cabinet bottoms and sides that will not be seen and the inside of cabinets. Do most cabinet makers use pre-finished plywood, melamine, luaun, etc. and just put oak or maple or whatever for the finished sides and face frames? I am a custom furniture maker 70% of the time and am now getting into cabinets.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
My standard interior is birch plywood. I will usually use a B-2 grade, putting the 2 side inside it gives a nice light brown color to the interior. I do all my milling then I pre-finish the inside before assy. If they will never be seen and you don't anticipate water then use MDF or melamine.

From contributor R:
In my market I build most cabinets from white or maple melamine. For finished ends and bottoms I buy veneered melamine. Some people use melamine for everything and add a 1/4" skin for the exposed end.

I find the veneered material easier. You don't have to remember to add 1/4" to your face frame to cover the edge of it. I also use this material on frameless cabinets where you really can't add a 1/4" skin because of the edgebanding (no face frame to cover it). I also pre-finish (the outside) pieces before assembly.

From contributor J:
I almost exclusively use pre-finished maple veneer core plywood. Itís nice and bright inside the cabinet, and everyone loves wood. I can't stand working around (or lifting) particleboard, not to mention the formaldehyde, and it doesnít look that good. Veneer core costs more, but it's also a selling point. When a client desperately wants white melamine, I will use a combo-core instead of particleboard. (Interior core of crossband veneers with two outer layers of MDF, finished with wood veneer).

From contributor F:
I agree with Contributor J on this one. I also use veneer core ply on almost everything. I believe it is a far superior product well worth the price, and my clients agree. Most people when they understand the difference will pay for it. I generally use pre-finished maple for cabinets unless I need a matching interior, or MDO for paint grade. I've only used melamine on one commercial project and I made sure the client understood what they were getting and that I could not guarantee the work for more than a year.

From contributor L:
I use 3/4" birch ply for non-exposed components of the cabinets (bottoms, shelves, partitions, etc.) Note: I did say 3/4", while most are using 5/8" and 1/2".

From contributor P:
In our area, Bitterroot Valley in Montana, most cabinetmakers, myself included, use white, almond or woodgrain melamine for interiors. I've never had a client ask for real wood veneer plywood, except for a high end piece of furniture.

From the original questioner:
One of the reasons why I am asking is the expense factor. I have been doing mostly custom furniture that uses all "oak" (or whatever) plywood, hardwood, moldings, (inside and out). I have built around five kitchens so far and I am obviously overbuilding the cabinets. I have been using all the same material inside and out and it gets expensive.

I also donít like trying to finish the inside of cabinets that people are going to line with shelf paper anyway. Iím just trying to find a good way to cut down on the time (I am a one man shop) and the material cost (but not quality) since it appears that I may be doing a lot more cabinets.

From contributor F:
I would suggest that you target the high end work and use 3/4" pre finished maple or birch. Use conformant screws, 1/2" backs, and finished end panels over the screws and exposed 1/2" edge. We do mostly beaded inset face frames on wall units and entertainment units.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Custom Cabinet Construction

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2019 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article