Corner Cabinet Basics

      Tips for a beginner on building corner cabinets. February 11, 2010

I have built mostly built-ins, fireplace surrounds, and cabinets of that sort since I started in business six years ago. Now I am getting more requests for kitchen cabinets, which I somewhat hesitantly take on.

Can you give me some direction in how to build corner cabinets - 36" base, 24" and 27" uppers? I'd like to know how you build and fasten the face frames, the measurements for the carcasses, depth of dados, etc. I have fumbled my way through a number of them, and they turn out fine, but they take a long time and I know there must be some standards. I use 3/4" material for the sides, tops, and bottom and 1/2" or 3/4" for the back. I screw the carcass together when I can and use pocket screws on the face frames.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
"The best measurement of anything is its actual measurement."

You have a method of construction. Draw a 36" square on a table and continue to draw it in life size scale from the back corner. Repeat for the 24 and 27" corner uppers. We actually made templates of this on 1/4 inch for teaching some years ago. With your experience you can do this.

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From contributor L:
Corner cabinets are actually not that complicated once you get some standards established. We use a CAD program, so that also makes it easier. If you don't have a program, the template idea isn't a bad one. Here is a picture of how we construct base corner cabinets. We use 3/4" all the way around and 1/8" dadoes. Pocket holes to fasten face frame. We clip the back corner so the cabinet fits in the corner better.

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Here is a picture of a diagonal corner upper. It works really well to fasten the face frame from the inside with brad nails as is shown.

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From the original questioner:
Thanks. I have thought about the template thing, but never have made one. Maybe I should... Do you guys cut a dado in the face frame?

From contributor L:
All we do is glue and screw or nail (clamp if needed).

From contributor B:
On an angled face I attach the face frame to the side with a rail and stile joint like you would build a door. The side is profiled with a male joint (I use the same cutter as a 1/4 rd bead for a door). The face frame stile is cut at a 45 degree using the female joint. This gives me instant alignment with about 1 1/2" of glue surface.

From the original questioner:
Huh, that joint in interesting. I guess you rip the 1X at a 45 on the table saw and make a jig for the shaper to hold the rail at 45 degrees also? Then I guess there would be a ridge left that would be sanded down. I like it.

From contributor B:
Actually the shaper cuts off all the wood without having to rip at 45 first. Maybe a picture of my fancy jig would be in line. It takes about 20-30 minutes to build. Then use it for years.

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