Which plywood to buy - Kitchen base cabinets

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xLrc

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Hi all, I'm new to woodworking and I came across this forum while trying to do my research into the types of plywood that would be suitable for making kitchen base cabinets. After watching loads of youtube videos about it, I decided I might look into it for my own kitchen which was botched by the previous owners. I've had a look at nearby timber merchants as well as places like Wickes. I have all the relevant tools to attempt a project like this.

These are the options I've found:

Wickes Non-Structural Hardwood Plywood £42
Timberworld Wisa Spruce Special Plywood £59.98
Timberworld Birch T/O Plywood £94.10 (expensive)
Anything else to consider?

Any feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Luke
 

mr rusty

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99% of kitchen cabinets are made from faced mdf or particleboard. Why do you want to use plywood? Unless you want odd sizes, it isn't really worth making base cabinets as they are readily available in different qualities and finishes in all the usual modular sizes, and the materials to make your own won't save you anything. For cutting faced material without chipping, if you do need to, the best tool is a track saw.

You may be better buying the cabinets, and if you want to, custom making the doors, although again unless you are really determined to DIY, doors are so readily available in both standard and custom sizes at such competitive prices, it really doesn't warrant the effort unless you are going down the hand-crafted bespoke route.

Self fitting a kitchen is enough work without hand-making all the components! And yes, I have done it when I was young and very poor, and made all the doors out of cheap whitewood...
 

xLrc

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Thanks, this is the kind of advice I probably needed to be honest.

Most of the videos I've seen are from US based woodworkers who seem to make everything from plywood and the simplicity of pocket hole joinery seemed to make it a good option. Our current particleboard kitchen is falling to bits and I did consider if ply would be a bit harder wearing and a bit better quality for the money.

Although I have all the right tools, tracksaw/tablesaw/mitre-saw etc, maybe I'm setting myself a task too big.
 

mr rusty

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Cabinets used to be 15mm, they are now usually 18mm and decent ones are not going to fall apart. Everything for kitchens is modular, so drawer inserts will be sized to neatly fit standard cabinets constructed in 18mm etc. IMHO the skill in making a nice kitchen is planning and attention to detail. It's a good DIY project (I've done a few) with plenty of challenges, without making the components as well! But perhaps I shouldn't say that on a woodworking forum.......:p

I get mine from Kitchen Carcasses and cabinets
 

Spectric

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This is very subjective and to personel taste, personaly I hate MDF because of the dust and it always reminds me of MFI although they did use a lot of weetabix (particle board) but it is cheap so great for throwaway kitchens. Ply is stronger but expensive, and you have the edges to deal with but just get the infinity router cutters and that is solved. MDF does take an edge well but people have been making kitchens far longer than either ply or mdf has been around. My approach is to use a frame and panel design for the carcasses so no edges to deal with and a lesser grade of ply can be used but still retain the look and feel of wood, mdf always looks mdf but there are some who can do odd things to it to make it look better. I think there is probably less work involved with mdf if you have the mdf toolkit, ie Lamello, Maefell etc but the final choice is yours.
 

Doug71

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If you are making cabinets and want to use ply I would always say Birch but it is expensive.

Making a kitchen is a lot of work but satisfying to know that you made it yourself.

Buying ready made cabinets is much easier and quicker, especially when it comes to drawers etc.
 

porker

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I've done a few kitchens for myself and always bought the cabinets. What you can do though is make all the expensive add on bits yourself although this does depend on the finish. My current kitchen is painted so I have some colour matched paint so have made nice end panels, plinth, cornice etc. how I want it to look. If you have a gloss or wrapped finish its more difficult
 

xLrc

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This is very subjective and to personel taste, personaly I hate MDF because of the dust and it always reminds me of MFI although they did use a lot of weetabix (particle board) but it is cheap so great for throwaway kitchens. Ply is stronger but expensive, and you have the edges to deal with but just get the infinity router cutters and that is solved. MDF does take an edge well but people have been making kitchens far longer than either ply or mdf has been around. My approach is to use a frame and panel design for the carcasses so no edges to deal with and a lesser grade of ply can be used but still retain the look and feel of wood, mdf always looks mdf but there are some who can do odd things to it to make it look better. I think there is probably less work involved with mdf if you have the mdf toolkit, ie Lamello, Maefell etc but the final choice is yours.

In terms of the router bits you mentioned, are these the V-edge trim cutting ones in order to put solid wood edging on?
Personally I don't really like mdf either just for the dust. I'm not really set up yet to be able to cut it outside which I'd rather do.
If you are making cabinets and want to use ply I would always say Birch but it is expensive.

Making a kitchen is a lot of work but satisfying to know that you made it yourself.

Buying ready made cabinets is much easier and quicker, especially when it comes to drawers etc.
I thought that might be the case, although I wondered if the other plywood would hold up in a similar way or if it would be more prone to warping or just not look as nice. I considered just paint-grade although I think if I went for the expensive birch I'd probably just want to stain it instead. I've never really worked with different grades of ply, so the last thing I'd want is to not end up being happy with the quality etc.
 

Spectric

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Hi

These ones are great Edge Banding Bits - Infinity Tools and I now use the ones with the tongue for that extra location.

With a frame and panel design you will have a traditional style kitchen so if you want the modern clinical look of gloss and glass it may not work for you but will probably outlast you! By using uprights with grooves you just slide the ply panels in, no edging and solid structure.
 

xLrc

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I've done a few kitchens for myself and always bought the cabinets. What you can do though is make all the expensive add on bits yourself although this does depend on the finish. My current kitchen is painted so I have some colour matched paint so have made nice end panels, plinth, cornice etc. how I want it to look. If you have a gloss or wrapped finish its more difficult
It really is a shame it becomes so much more expensive to do most of the job yourself. Probably doesn't help with the price of ply etc. Custom doors could be really cool, I quite like the 'shaker' style, at least I think that's what it's called.
Hi

These ones are great Edge Banding Bits - Infinity Tools and I now use the ones with the tongue for that extra location.

With a frame and panel design you will have a traditional style kitchen so if you want the modern clinical look of gloss and glass it may not work for you but will probably outlast you! By using uprights with grooves you just slide the ply panels in, no edging and solid structure.
I only have a cheap trim router at the minute, a router table might be a project in the near future though, this is starting to get expensive :ROFLMAO: I'll definitely save this link though, I'm already thinking about all the things I could use it for
 

Spectric

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A router table opens up a load more possibilties and can make some dent in the bank balance but a load of good info on these forums. I think that doing a job yourself is so much more rewarding but the tools can do more than just your kitchen!
 

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Could be useful to blag design ideas:

 

Phil Pascoe

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I bought decent enough hardwood 18mm from B&Q a couple of weeks ago for £42 because I wanted it cut to size. Worth thinking about if you've a fair few pieces, to have them accurately and cleanly cut - a lot of work saved. They're not the only ones with a dimension saw, of course (they are here).
Birch of course is ideal, but you won't get that in the sheds.
 

recipio

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The current trend seems to be spray finished MDF in dark shades of green/blue/ grey. The bespoke makers must love this - no need to mill down all that expensive hardwood. Kitchens are nothing more than 'presses ' and I have seen a few post war versions made of hardboard. They don't have to cost the price of a car. ;)
I once helped with a kitchen veneered in bird's eye maple. We ordered the veneer from the US in 8 x 4 sheets. With a little imagination you can create virtually anything although I would use some kind of plywood as the base. MDF doesn't stand up to water ingress very well.
 

morqthana

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Another option if you're looking for an unusual finish might be phenolic resin coated ply - aka mesh ply, hex ply, resin ply. Buffalo Board is a brand name. Sold to use as flooring in trailers, horse boxes, scaffold towers....
 

HarryHL

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Hi all, I'm new to woodworking and I came across this forum while trying to do my research into the types of plywood that would be suitable for making kitchen base cabinets. After watching loads of youtube videos about it, I decided I might look into it for my own kitchen which was botched by the previous owners. I've had a look at nearby timber merchants as well as places like Wickes. I have all the relevant tools to attempt a project like this.

These are the options I've found:

Wickes Non-Structural Hardwood Plywood £42
Timberworld Wisa Spruce Special Plywood £59.98
Timberworld Birch T/O Plywood £94.10 (expensive)
Anything else to consider?

Any feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Luke
Does anyone have much experience with Wisa Spruce Special Ply?
Previously I was using Birch Ply for my cabinets before it went up in price.
It is more work as other have mentioned, but a good project if you're keen.
 
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Kayen

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Nothing wrong with MFC (Melamine Faced Chipboard) - brands like Egger produce really good boards with finishes far more durable than any paint. The chipboard is very dense and hard, nothing like the chipboard of old. I would, however, use a bit of PAR soft or hardwood for the top front and back rails.

A properly fitted kitchen won't need to stand up to water ingress - there are really good sealants now available which means none of the cabinets will ever see a drop of water unless of course some dodgy plumbing has been carried out - but that's a separate issue.

As someone else suggested, buy pre-made cabinets constructed from 18mm MFC. Or alternatively, get the boards cut and edged (with 2mm ABS edging) to your defined sizes - there are a lot of companies that now offer this service and they cut and edge far better than most of us could do it, due to the machinery they've invested in.
 

sawtooth-9

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Just remember that where the cabinets meet the floor - this area can get wet.
If you are going to use plywood, suggest you use waterproof at the base.
Particle board - even if coated' will absorb water ( e.g when washing the floor ) through the cut surface - resulting in unsightly swelling.
 

Ollie78

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If doing an entire kitchen I would look into getting the parts all cnc cut by a specialist.
I forget the name now but I found one who would cut parts from pretty much any plywood mdf valchromat and a number of other things. You can ask for quotes for different materials. Might look expensive but you don't need to cut anything so it saves massive time.

There is a company near me called the plywood kitchen company who do birch ply carcasses and full kitchens.

To be fair though I would be inclined to just buy carcasses from DIY kitchens or somewhere like that. They have pretty much any size and shape and it's pretty cheap.

Ollie
 
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