How to Build Modular, Contemporary Built-ins

Cutting the Cabinet Parts Step 1

To rip stock for the top and bottom (A) and the sides (B) of the cabinet, set the tablesaw fence to rip 15-3/4 inches wide. Have a helper hold up the unsupported end of the plywood while you rip 15-3/4 inches from a full sheet. Or use a circular saw with a straightedge guide.

Step 2

To support plywood while crosscutting, use screws to attach an auxiliary fence to the miter gauge. Make the fence of 3/4-inch stock that's at least 3 inches wide and about 30 inches long. Or make the cuts with a circular saw and straightedge.

Step 3

Crosscut the 15-3/4-inch-wide piece into two pieces for the top and bottom (A) and two sides (B). If you will make a number of cabinets, you'll save time if you set up a stop block on the tablesaw.

Step 4

Rip and crosscut 3/4-inch plywood to make the door (D). Then rip and crosscut 1/4-inch plywood to make the back. Crosscut 1x4 stock to make three back supports (F). You can crosscut to a layout line with a circular saw or tablesaw or use a stop block on the tablesaw.

Pay Attention to Grain Direction

When planning how you will cut parts from a sheet of plywood, consider how the wood grain will be oriented in the finished piece. Generally, the grain should run in the same direction as solid boards -- vertically for sides, backs, and doors, and from side to side on top and bottom pieces and shelves. This is especially important for the doors and sides that will be visible. It won't be as noticeable if horizontal grain is inside the cabinets.

Options to Consider: Add a Dramatic Hardwood Edge

If you'd like to add a strong horizontal visual element to your built-ins, consider covering the exposed countertop edges with 3/4x3/4-inch edging made from a contrasting wood instead of matching veneer tape. The rich dark brown of walnut or the deep red of cherry would both have a dramatic look. (Remember that cherry darkens with age.) Attach the wood with glue and clamps or glue and 4d nails in predrilled holes. Make miter joints at the corners.

Continued on page 3:  Drill Shelf-Pin Holes


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