Building the Cabinets


We started by cutting out the pieces for the front cabinets! They are mostly 1/2″ birch ply with one section of 3/4″ birch for the head board section. I used the 5’x5′ baltic birch plywood sheets that were superior in surface quality as well as uniformity to the 4’x8′ plywood you can also find.


I decided on tongue and groove which makes assembly a snap, but also adds a bit of work to get the height settings of the tongue and groove bits correct so the pieces match up correctly. It also took some extra time to cut the groves in the middle of a few pieces with a straight edge and a 1/4″ straight bit. Chip out was a problem as well but I managed to fix that by taking a shallower cut first, and reducing the speed of the router on the groove cuts.

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Labeling the individual pieces of the cabinets is a must. Also labeling good and bad side, and tongue and groove sections helped avoid many mistakes.

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Using the template for the inside section of the wall I was able to trim the cabinets to fit the profile nicely.

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  • Mark Ketting

    Hi Ryan

    I’m having difficulty seeing how much ply I need for the cabinets. It’s a little difficult to add up all the components of the cabinets to identify how many sheets of ply I should pick-up from the hardware store. Do you have any pointers for me?


    • I had to go back and check my parts list page since I couldn’t quite remember. I used 1 5×5 3/4″ (18mm) and 4 5×5 1/2″ (12mm) sheets or baltic birch plywood for the cabinets.

      If you have been using my SketchUp model you can create the virtual plywood sheets and break each cabinet piece out of the model and overlay it on the sheet to plan your cuts. If you want to very clean look watch the grain on the wood and make sure the grain goes the same way for similar components. In my case horizontal surfaces the grain was side to side, for the vertical pieces the grain went top to bottom. With the cabinet and drawer front I used cuts from the same section so the grain lines matched across pieces.

      Good Luck!

  • Michael

    Hi Ryan-

    are there any concerns in your opinion using only 1/2″ thick baltic birch vs a mix of 1/2″ & 3/4″ thick baltic birch for the rear cabinets? I see you mixed both thicknesses, but I’m not sure why 3/4″ is needed after all?


    • Mark Ketting

      IIRC the 3/4″ is for the vertical weight-bearing walls and for the main bench. In both cases I’d not skimp on the 3/4″.