7 Ways to Customize Your Cabinets

Get organized fast by converting store-bought cabinets for shop use.

uilding your own shop cabinets isn’t rocket science (See More Resources,  bottom of page, for cabinet-building tips). But if you’d rather buy than build, start shopping for inexpensive unfinished or ready-to-assemble cabinets at a home center. woodworking tips techniques

(We found a 12″-wide unfinished wall cabinet for $35, for example.) Most you can finish and install for all-purpose storage—if they don’t buckle under a stack of stoneware dinner plates, they’ll hold your tools. You can also modify them for special uses, such as tool stands.  woodworking tips techniques

If you’re on a tight budget (or no budget), ask kitchen remodeling pros if they’ll let you haul away old cabinets they remove. Or shop recycled building-material stores, such as a Habitat for Humanity ReStore (habitat.org).  woodworking tips techniques

Up against the wall   woodworking tips techniques

New or used, most stock cabinets follow standard dimensions, making it easier to mix cabinets from more than one source. Base cabinets measure 24″ deep and 3412 ” tall. Wall cabinets measure 12″ deep and either 30″ or 42″ tall. And cabinet widths vary from 9″ to 36″ in 3″ increments.  woodworking tips techniques

To install a row of base cabinets, use a level to find the highest point of any slope on the floor. Position the first base cabinet there and shim the bottom edges until the cabinet is level from front to back and side to side (below). Then screw the back to the wall studs.  woodworking tips techniques

Drive shims under the cabinet to level the first cabinet front to back and side to side. Later, attach trim to the toekick to hide gaps.  woodworking tips techniques woodworking tips techniques

Now position the second cabinet next to the first one and shim it level and flush at the front and top. Attach this cabinet to the first one and then to the wall. Repeat for the remaining cabinets. Then, fasten on a countertop (plywood or MDF work great) and go to work. 

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