Video /
Apr 15, 2021

How To Build Cabinet Boxes



Boston-based NS Builders' cabinet maker Ken Decost walks you through how to build cabinet boxes from plywood, CNC cut pieces, edge banding, to assembly.

In this project, Decost creates two-toned cabinets for a kitchen project.



This week, we're gonna walk you through how we make our cabinets, so our actual cabinet boxes, and for us, this process starts not in our shop actually, we have all of our cases made on our friend's CNC up the road.

We'll dig into that process here in a minute, but for now let's go ahead and unload all of our parts and bring them into the shop. We've talked a little bit before about flow and in our shop, that starts here. So everything comes in and out of this area. So as we're coming in, one of the first things that are going to happen with these cabinets is they're going to be edge banded.

Now we have in this kitchen, two different color edge bandings. It is a two-toned kitchen, so we're gonna go ahead and try to sort some of those as we're pulling them out of here. Fortunately, these pieces are all labeled, but that's gonna take a little bit extra time to kinda dig through all those. So we actually know that it's only the upper cabinets that are a different color here, so we're going to try to dig out the smaller pieces, right, the shallower depths of these cabinets and keep those ones aside so we can edge band them separately from the rest of the kitchen. There's a lot of parts here.

So how do we get to this point and why are we using a CNC? So we are a small shop and our time is better spent on some of the finer details where making the boxes is a process that we can automate. So sending these to CNC saves us a lot of time. Once the drawings come in, I've reviewed them, and we've had a couple of revisions, we get our shop drawings, once they get approved, I go ahead and break down what we're actually going to need for our case sizes.

I send them over to the CNC operator where he draws them up, lays them out, and begins to cut. We store a lift of plywood over there so we're never having to bring materials back and forth. This allows us to just make one trip over to his space to pick everything up, bring it back here, and that brings us to this point. So now that all the pieces are in our shop and are somewhat separated into the piles that we had mentioned being the two different color edge bandings, backs, and shelves, parts that aren't gonna get edge banded, we can go ahead and run them through our edge bender. This is a very large piece of machinery, not every shop has one, and they are quite finicky.

So there's a bunch of different ways to apply edge banding, there's several other smaller handheld machines that will do this, as well as the old iron-on method. So for us, we're gonna go ahead and get started with edge bending, so we'll get this set up and begin that process. So when these pieces come back in from the CNC, a lot of the times they do have a little bit of fuzz kind of leftover from the cut. We just wanna go ahead and clean that up as it can affect the edge banding on this machine. So just a light pass with a block to clean up any of that fuzz. He goes into the close-up and I biff it, huh?

Ready to feed our edge banding, we got all our settings set up for this, and we're ready to go. So I like to give it just another pass just to make sure the edge is clean. I also always like to make my pieces go through the machine face up. The way that the trimmers work is they come down. Every once in a while, it will catch the edge of your board and cause some tear out. We wanna try to avoid that so we're gonna go face up with everything.

Now with all our pieces edge banding, we're gonna start to assemble our cases.

Clean them up. There's a lot of extra dust and debris that falls inside this joinery. Any debris that's leftover inside these mortises can cause an issue when we do go to assemble our cabinet. We also don't want to leave any of these stickers that are on the inside.