The cabinets I’m building are traditional face frame cabinets that will be painted white. The panels will be flat with an applied moulding which is actually the same layout as all the panels in the original wainscoting in the house. For the cases I’m using 3/4″ one side pre-finished birch plywood, and for the face frames I’m using rough cut 4/4 Poplar. Poplar is cheap, nice to work, strong, and paints up great.
I’m using Norm Abrams technique of cabinet making from Season 20 of New Yankee Workshop, but without a professional table saw, jointer, or thickness planer I’ve had to come up with some ways of producing the cabinets using the tools I have. To break down the plywood I use my Paulk Workbench and track saw, and the bench is also great for assembly too. I make all my rip cuts first using the track saw, and then I make all my cross cuts using the Paulk Crosscut Jig that I recently built along with the tracksaw. The jig has been fantastic and once calibrated makes perfectly square cuts. I’m using housing dados and rabbets to increase the strength of the cabinets, and to cut them I use a router on a straight track because I can’t fit a dado stack in my small table saw.
For the face frames I use rough-sawn Poplar. I create a reference face using a jack plane (or jointer plane if the piece is >3 feet), a straight edge, and winding sticks. Then I joint one edge also with the jack plane. That gives me the reference faces I need to then process the rest of the piece by table saw. I enjoy working with hand planes, and the process is actually pretty quick. Once the cases are glued and screwed together I attach the face frames using just glue and floating tenons; there are no mechanical fasteners which makes for a better show face. The back panel is inset about 1/2″ from the wall, which makes adjustment cuts for irregular walls in an old house like this very easy. I also overhang the face frame stiles about 1/8″ past the case edge which makes it easy to butt the face frames of adjacent cabinets together. The cabinets are incredibly strong and should last for many years!