Friday, February 24, 2012

Kitchen Cabinets

With the help of a $100 Visa card from One Project Closer, we were able to give our kitchen cabinets a brand new look.

Before, they were a dark-stained wood with a decorative design carved in the front. They were in pretty good shape so we decided to reface them, rather than replace them.


We were inspired by this kitchen, featured on The Lettered Cottage, to transform them into shaker style cabinets.


Tools and Materials

poplar board (1/4" thick)
wood putty
Youngdale hinges
belt sander
wood glue
nail gun and nails
primer and paint
dremel (optional)

Our plan was to trim out the cabinet doors with four pieces of wood trim, creating a simple shaker style panel. We opted against adding another piece of trim in the middle, like in the inspiration photo. We wanted to keep it simple and also keep the cost down, since more trim would mean more money. We also wanted to replace the exposed hinges with something a little more hidden. We looked at several different hinge options and decided that Youngdale hinges were the best option.

hinges before

Youngdale hinges

The first major change was to fill in the design routed into the front of the panels. The trim would cover up most of it, but the rounded part had to be filled in with wood putty. To make sure the wood putty bonded well, we used a Dremel sanding head to sand inside the decorative grooves, but you could probably skip this step. This required a fairly large amount of the wood putty since we did this to every cabinet panel. After the wood putty dried, we sanded it smooth with fine grit sandpaper. Wood putty isn't perfect with a large area like this, so there were some minor gaps. We applied more wood putty where necessary and sanded, repeating the process until the panel was one smooth surface. Using the belt sander to get a smooth finish with fine grit paper is the key to making that groove look like it was never there. We were uncertain how well this would turn out since the trim would not cover the putty, but the paint job ended up totally concealing the minor differences between the two surfaces.

Attaching the trim was the most time consuming aspect of the whole project. I (Zach speaking here) never used a measuring tape once to do this and instead relied on sight on and feel. Measuring the door and then marking the board will always introduce a slight error. I always recommend skipping the measuring device when making precise cuts if its possible and logical. Two cabinet doors of the same size weren't precisely the same size, especially after 45+ years of use, and many varied by 1/16 of inch or more. Every poplar board was laid out on the cabinet face, marked, cut and then tested to fit so that the edges would be as flush as possible. I always cut on the long side just in case I needed to shave off 1/32" or so. After the vertical board was cut for one side, it was glued and clamped. The rest of the pieces were cut after I secured that one edge so that the pieces would match the profile of the door as closely as possible.

After everything was trimmed out, we applied a coat of Kilz primer, followed by two coats of Sherwin Williams Pro-Classic paint, matched to Behr's Bleached Linen.

We reused the existing cabinet knobs but upgraded the drawer pulls to cup pulls, in brushed nickel.

Youngdale hinges

Before, the two drawers beneath our electric cooktop were false drawers. After removing the false drawer fronts we realized there was no reason they couldn't be made into real drawers. We did a little research online and looked at other kitchens, and found no safety concerns with having drawers below an electric cooktop. Zach built two new drawers out of some scrap wood we had on hand, then trimmed the drawer fronts out like the rest of the cabinetry.  I am so excited to have more drawer space in the kitchen!

Check back in Monday for photos of the completed kitchen!


  1. Hi, Looks great! My husband and I are doing a similar remodel in the kitchen. We would like to use the Youngdale hinges for our 3/8" inset cabinet doors, but don't have a table saw/dado blade. Any recommendations?

    1. That's a tough one. You could build a jig or clamp guides to the back of your cabinet and use a router with a spiral bit. If you don't have a router, you could use a circular saw, but you're going to have to make a lot of cuts, so I wouldn't recommend it. Good luck!

  2. What size youngdale hinges did you use? We refaced our cabinets as well and need to replace the hinges. Have been having the hardest time with hinges.

    1. There are several styles of youngdale hinges and you need to match the style and size hinge to the type of cabinet doors you have.
      Our resurfaced doors have a 3/8" lip on them so we used the youngdale #4 3/8" inset hinge which we found here for a very good price (

      A good place to determine what size you need for your cabinets is here:
      The example drawings give you a good idea of which hinge to use with your particular cabinets and their specific measurements