by Danny Proulx
What's the best way to build the carcass (cabinet
box) for kitchen cabinets?
And, which material is ideally suited for kitchen cabinet construction?
Those are two questions that make-up a good portion of my email each
month. Do I have the definitive answer? Unfortunately, there isn't one
product that's flawless. Many cabinetmakers, including myself, have opted
for 5/8" melamine coated particle board (MPCB) as the material of
choice. That's not to say there aren't a few drawbacks with this material,
however, in almost all situations MPCB is very acceptable.
Base cabinet boxes are built with two sides (gable ends), a bottom,
and a back. The upper cabinets have two gable ends, a bottom, top, and
back board. Base cabinets don't need the top board as the countertop covers
that opening. Normally, with carcass construction using the Euro cabinet
leg, bottom and top boards are attached to the gable ends. In effect, the
width of the bottom and top boards determine the carcass interior width
because the gable ends are attached to these boards using simple butt joints.
The back board then covers all the edges of the bottom, top, and gable
The back board is often an issue when constructing cabinet boxes. Should
we use simple mounting strips, a 1/4" backboard, or full width material?
I've opted for full 5/8" back boards on my cabinets because it stiffens
the box and the cabinet can be mounted to the wall very easily. Additionally,
the cabinet is very resistant to "racking" or twisting that can
sometimes occur when mounting to a less than perfect wall. MPCB cabinet
boxes built with butt joinery and fastened with two inch particle core
board screws are very strong, particularly if you use 5/8" material
for all the parts.
I don't believe it's worth the money to try and save a few dollars using
½" MPCB, 1/4" back boards or mounting strips. Over the
cost of a total renovation it may mean saving two hundred dollars. In my
opinion, the carcasses are the heart of your cabinet system and they should
be well built.
You have two options after building the carcass. First, tape can be applied
to the exposed front edges which is the basic Euro cabinet. Second, you
can build a 3/4" solid wood face frame to cover the exposed edges
which will give you a hybrid North American traditional style cabinet.
Both systems are very popular and it's simply a matter of personal choice.
Do you want a frameless Euro cabinet or a North American face frame cabinet?
P.O. Box 331
Russell, Ontario. Canada K4R 1E1
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