The Trades

Research, insights and advice from craftsmen and industry experts

Rabbet Joints: What They Are and How to Cut Them

cabinetry carpentry Mar 04, 2021

Rabbets and dados are some of the most common ways to join together two pieces of wood in cabinet making, and they can be cut using a dado blade on a table saw like the step-by-step method below. 

Don’t let the blade name confuse you—a dado blade, or dado stack, is used to cut both dados and rabbets. You’ll also often hear carpenters use the phrase “dado out” which refers to how the dado blade carves a recess into the material no matter which type of joint you are making.

What is a rabbet joint?

A rabbet is a recess cut into the edge of a workpiece. The piece that extrudes is called the tongue. A rabbet joint is the result of joining a rabbet to another piece of wood, typically to construct shelving and cabinet boxes. Rabbet joints are great for building drawers, cabinets, and lighter items like a picture frame. They can be cut with a table saw, table mounted router, or hand held router with a rabbet bit or straight bit.

A rabbet joint is stronger...

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What Is a Butt Hinge?

cabinetry carpentry Mar 03, 2021

If you’re building your own cabinets or replacing existing hinges, there are endless hinge types to choose from. Although they vary in size and application, there are two main categories: traditional hinges and European hinges. A butt hinge is the most common traditional hinge style—it’s likely that the front door to your home is hung with a butt hinge. It is a sturdy, classic type of hinge that is easy to find at your local hardware store and simple to install. 

What is a butt hinge?

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A butt hinge is a type of surface mount hinge that sits on top of the surface of the door material and does not need to be mortised or recessed to install. They are made of two mounting plates (also called leaves) and a barrel held together by a hinge pin. One of the plates mounts to the side of the cabinet box or door jamb and the other to the side of the door. When the door is closed, only the barrel is visible between the door and frame.

When to use a butt hinge

A butt hinge...

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Inset vs. Overlay Cabinet Doors: How to Choose

cabinetry carpentry Feb 17, 2021
 

Whether you’re building your own cabinets, or having them built by professional cabinet makers, you’ll need to determine what type of cabinet door overlay works best for your home. Overlay is how the cabinet doors lay on the frame of the cabinet when the doors are closed, and it impacts the look and feel of your cabinetry. 

 The three main types of cabinet door overlays are: 

  1. Inset
  2. Full overlay
  3. Partial overlay. 

They’re all similar in function, so the choice is largely aesthetic. As with choosing your cabinetry hardware, consider the overall style of your home when you’re choosing what type of overlay is right for you. 

Inset cabinet doors

With inset doors, the cabinet door is flush with and on the same plane as the cabinet frame, and the frame surrounds the entire cabinet door. They are called inset because the door is set into the cabinet frame. The door takes up a small amount of storage space in the cabinet but they offer a...

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Complete Guide to Cabinet Hardware

cabinetry hardware Feb 17, 2021

When it comes to cabinets, hardware is both functional and decorative. Hinges, drawer slides, and latches fall into the functional category, although they can still add visual impact if you choose exposed versions like surface mounted hinges. 

In the cabinet building industry, the hardware that attaches to the fronts of cabinets and drawers is referred to as decorative hardware. There are infinite options for handles and knobs, and the choice is largely aesthetic. The hardware should fit the personality of the home, any existing cabinet or drawer fronts, and the homeowner’s preference. It’s the last item to install but is an important final touch.

Knobs and handles

Knobs and handles are the two most common types of decorative hardware. You can mix and match knobs or pulls to add visual interest, or use only one type of hardware throughout all of your cabinets and drawer fronts for a consistent look.

Knobs

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Cabinet knobs are mounted to the exterior of the cabinet...

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How to Build Slab Cabinet Doors: Step by Step Guide

cabinetry carpentry Feb 09, 2021

Cabinet door styles run the gamut: from the ever-popular shaker style to raised panel, recessed center panel, mullion frame, open frame, and slab. There’s also the option to add molding, edging, hardware, material, and finish. When building your own cabinets, the opportunities to get creative are endless. 

Two of the most common cabinet door styles are the panel cabinet door style—also called a slab cabinet door—and the shaker cabinet door style. Slab doors or flat panel doors are called such because the panel is made from a single piece of material. They require fewer steps to build than shaker style doors and offer a clean and modern look.

Note: DIY shaker cabinet doors are a more complex undertaking than building slab doors. Shaker doors require that you make a 5-piece door and a face frame cabinet box, which in turn requires you to learn how to drill pocket holes and use a specialty pocket hole screw type. In this article, you’ll learn how to make...

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How to Build Cabinets: Complete Step by Step Guide

cabinetry carpentry Feb 09, 2021

There are many different types of cabinetry—built-ins that are secured to the wall (think kitchen cabinets), moveable modular cabinets, wall cabinets, and base cabinets. There is also a wide range of styles from cabinet fronts finished with ornate trim, classic simple looks like the shaker style door, and minimalist modern styles with sleek inset doors. But, they all start with one essential piece—the cabinet box.

In this article, you’ll learn now to build a frameless style cabinet box and flat panel door, as taught by cabinet builder Ken DeCost in his online course Introduction to Cabinetry. Ken prefers the frameless style because of its simplicity, approachability, and clean look, but the opportunities to get creative with cabinetry are endless.

“People now have access to a lot of the same tooling that high-end cabinet shops and mass-produced furniture companies have right in their own small shop, and I think that we're entering the next stage of people...

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How to Choose Drawer Slides for Cabinets

When choosing cabinet hardware there are countless options, but once you make a few key decisions about functionality and aesthetics you’ll be well on your way to completing your cabinet building project.

If your project includes a drawer system, corresponding drawer slides are an essential piece of hardware. Nearly all drawer slides are composed of two pieces: a drawer profile and a cabinet profile. The drawer profile attaches to the drawer and the cabinet profile attaches to the inside of the cabinet. Once the two pieces are attached, either a ball bearing or roller mechanism allows the slide to move.

Tip: Best practice is to build the cabinet box before building drawers. After assembling the cabinet box, choose your drawer slides, and build the drawers to the specifications of both the cabinet and the slide.

How to choose drawer slides

“In general in our shop, we typically gravitate toward hardware that is concealed. Most hardware is not very appealing to look at. So...

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Complete Guide to Cabinet Hinge Types

When it comes to hinge types, the options can seem endless, but the type of cabinet and door style you are working with will narrow your choices down immensely. From there, you can begin to hone in on special features, styles, and finishes based on your needs, personal preferences, and the style of your home.

How to choose the right cabinet hinge

1. Consider your door overlay style

It’s essential that the hinge type you use matches the cabinet door style that you are building so that the door is mounted with the proper amount of clearance. There are two main styles of door overlay—inset doors and overlay doors. Overlay doors come in partial overlay and full overlay. Take a look at your cabinet design to determine which you are working with.

  • Inset: The cabinet door is flush with and on the same plane as the cabinet frame, and the frame surrounds the entire cabinet door. For inset doors, the most common hinges are butt hinge or surface mount, and inset European.
  • Full...
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