Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Thank you Klara!!!  That section would flash up at me when I would begin and then disappear and I didn't know how to get it back. . . . Post Options!!  So cool, thank you so much.  My followers are the greatest!!

Hope you all enjoy the tutorial.  We will finish them next month,  Kris

KITCHEN CABINETS - How to make contemporary kitchen cabinets from mat board.

These are pictures of my corner cabinet doll house.  There are more pictures in the blog under "Pictures of Room Boxes"  in the left margin under THINGS TO DO, THINGS TO SEE.
I made my cabinets from wood, that's before I realized the wonderfulness of mat board.  Believe me if I had known about what could be done with mat board I would have made them from mat board.  Much less investment in tools and materials!  The most you would need to invest in is a mat board cutting system, with all the bells and whistles that's about $100.00.  BUT YOU CAN STILL DO THIS WITH JUST YOUR KRAFT KNIFE.  So don't NOT try this out!!
I am married to a cabinet maker.  From him I've learned how to build correctly, from wood, cabinets.  Mullions, stiles, rails, faces, all the terms I've learned from him.  Some things we will use, some things we'll do because we are using mat board, not wood.  I've blended things I've learned from him and things I've developed working with mat board.  In the end you'll have cabinets that will look designer professional.  No need to wish for that fabulous kitchen you saw in the mini-mags . . . .YOU CAN DO THIS.
After you read this you should be able to go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy one of those beautiful books full of designer kitchens and pick one out to make yourself, really.  That's what I've done, that's where the ideas come from.  Search the Inter-Net for standard sizes and convert to 1 inch scale, 1 inch equals 1 foot, 1/2 inch equals 6 inches and so on.  Counter tops are 2 foot wide, that's 2 inches, cabinet bases are 36 inches tall, including the counter top, that's 3 inches.  We are making the sink base, it would be 6 foot long in full-size, it's 6 inches in 1 inch scale.
I am going to begin with the posts at the side.  I've turned mine using my Dremel in the Work-Station, then sawed them half on my table saw.  I don't think many of you have these tools, some might and please go ahead and make some turned posts.  I've changed the posts so that they can be made from mat board.  I want to make them first because the counter top has to have a lip, stick out, beyond the posts so I need to know just how thick they will be.  I like measuring from the finished item, my husband would shake his head at me, "You should know this from measurements, the thickness of the material and figure back."  Yeah, I said I use some of his stuff!     

There are six parts published in this January blog.    I will publish how to finish the cabinets in February.         


*Keep your pencil sharp for better marking of measurements.  Keep a sharp blade in your craft knife.

Glue a piece of card stock to a piece of mat board.  Use yellow glue through out this tutorial.

Cut 2 pieces of this sandwich 1/4" x 2-7/8".  Measure and mark 3 lines, evenly spaced onto the card stock side.

*2-7/8"?  That's because the counter top will measure 1/8" or as close as we can get with 2 pieces of mat board, together that's going to be 3" or 3 foot in full-size.

Use a small ball stylus to press into the card stock side on the lines.

*I glued card stock to the mat board because when the ball stylus was used it would cause the mat board to separate.  The lines are close together here, on the doors we won't need to do that, the lines are farther apart.

To build the post you need to cut from 1/4" wide mat board 2 pieces each: 1/4" x 1/2"; 1/4" x 7/16", (top pieces); 1/4" x 3/8" and 1/4" x 5/16, (bottom pieces).

Round with sand paper, (120 grit) of 1 short side of each of these pieces.

*When I say round I want you to make a "quarter round" edge, you are only rounding off the top edge or corner.  You are not rounding off the whole side or both edges.

Glue the 1/2" and 7/16" pieces together matching 2 long sides and the un-sanded short end.  Glue the 3/8" and 5/16" pieces together matching the same way as before.

Glue these assemblies to the 1/4" x 2-7/8" long piece with the lines.  One set on top and one on the bottom.  Match your sides evenly.

Now, we need to cut a "shoe mould".

*That's the piece of quarter round that goes at the bottom of the post.  (This should also be at the bottom of base boards.)  Quarter round is called quarter round because only one of the 4 corners is sanded round.

Round by sanding an end of a 1/4" wide strip of mat board.

Cut the end off, I cut mine at 3/32" wide.

I rounded with the bigger piece first because it is easier that trying to round this little piece after it's cut to width.

Glue your shoe mould onto the bottom of the posts.

Cut the front of the base cabinet, 2-7/8" x 6"

Set the posts onto each side of the cabinet base front.  I set the posts 1/16" from the ends.  Mark 1/16" from the inner edge of each post.

Mark and draw a center line on the front.
Measure up from the bottom a 1/4" and draw a line.

We are making the toe kick at the bottom front of the cabinet base.

I used a circle template to make the curved ends of the toe kick.

Cut the mat board out on the lines you drew.

You can glue the posts onto the front of your cabinet base.

Door and drawer faces are 1-3/16" wide with a 1/8" space between.

Cut a strip or strips of mat board 1-3/16" wide.
The doors are 1-1/2" long, cut 4.
The drawers are 11/16" long, cut 2.
This is the first layer of your doors and drawers
Don't glue them on, yet.

Cut another strip 1-1/16" wide.
For doors cut 4 pieces 1-3/8" long.
For drawers cut 2 pieces 9/16" long.
This is the second layer.  We are going to make an ogee edge on the doors and drawers.
Make the drawer fronts first.  Round off all for edges.
Center the small piece on the large piece and glue together.  Make 2.

*Note:  I've written before about the ogee reveal.  I try by best to keep measurements from getting into the 32nds and 64ths.  Sometimes I have to, though.  Make a sample, if you want less of a reveal, the space between the edge of the top layer and the edge of the bottom layer, make you top layer a little larger.  Not quite the whole 1/8" I have all around.  This is your design, make them the way you would like to have them.

The door faces are decorative, something like the kitchen dresser from an earlier blog, (May, 2011).
On the smaller pieces for the door I measured in from all sides 3/16".

Again, you can change these measurements to suit your tastes.  This is about technique, really.
Sand all for edges of these 8 pieces.

I used an oval template to make the curve at the top of the door.  This is optional.

With a sharp blade in your craft knife cut the inside shape out of the top layer of your door faces.

Remember, several light cuts are better than 1 deep cut.

Center the top layer of the door faces onto the bottom layer.

Draw around the opening.

I measured and drew evenly space lines on the bottom layer of the door faces.

I used a small ball stylus to press into the mat board.

Center the top layer onto the bottom layer and glue the layers together.

Cool doors, huh?

Can you see it, yet?

Lay your drawers and doors on the front of the base cabinet.  The doors should be about 1/8" from the bottom and the drawers should be about 3/16" from the top.
The space above the 2 center doors is where the farm house sink will go.  We need to measure and cut out the space.

Measure 7/8" down from the top.  If you have the drawers and doors where you want them, spaces between even to your eye, measure 1-3/4" in from each side of the front of the cabinet base.

Connect all the marks and draw lines.

Cut out the sink space.

I've got my doors and drawers just setting on the front.  Don't glue them on yet, it's more realistic if you paint them separately.


Cut 2 strips of mat board 5-7/8" x 1-7/8". (I know my strips are wider than 1-7/8".)  Glue them together.

Center this piece under the cabinet front, leave a 1/16" space at each side.  The bottoms should be even.
Trace the toe kick area.

Cut the toe kick out.

Oh my, look at that messy cut!

 Glue this piece, the big piece, to the back side of the cabinet base front.  Center this so that there is a 1/16" space at each side and bottom is even.  When we glue the toe kick's back in it will have some realistic depth to it.  We won't be cutting and gluing the toe kick's back in until we get to the finishing of the cabinet.

 With the posts glued on we can figure how wide the sides need to be.  Remember, the counter top is 2" and we want a little lip past the post.  This can be as little as the width of a fingernail but not more than a 1/16".

1-11/16" is what I'm going to cut the width of the side.  That leaves a 1/16" past the post for the lip of the counter top.
Cut 2 at 2-7/8" x 1-11/16"
Glue the sides onto the cabinet front.  The cut edge of the front shows on the sides.  You don't glue onto the cut edge of the front.

 The piece we glued to the front makes a nice "L" shape for the sides to be glued into.

For stabilization I want you cut some triangles to glue into the corners of the cabinet.

If you have a square, use it.

Glue the triangles into the cabinet base.
Glue the top ones level with the front and sides.
Glue the bottom triangles about a 1/4" up from the top of the toe kick.

For the back we need to cut a piece 2-7/8" x 5-7/8".
Before gluing into the cabinet base measure 7/8" down from the top, one long side.  Draw a line.  Cut a strip of mat board about 1/4" wide and about 3" long.  Glue this right under the line you drew in the center of the back.
Now, glue the back into the cabinet base between the sides.

Here's the back glued in with that strip glued in.

Cut more triangles and glue them into the cabinet base.

Cut a piece of mat board 1-5/8" x 3".  This is the shelf the sink sits on.

Glue this into the cabinet base.

The cabinet base is done, onto the sink.


Cut a strip of mat board 7/8" wide and at least 9" long.
I know my sink is wide, but that's up to me.  You can design your cabinets the width you need and the sink you need.
Cut 2 pieces a little less that 2-1/2".  The opening is 2-1/2", we need room for gesso and paint.  Don't cut more than a 1/16" less.  The sides are 1-7/16".  Glue the sides inside the back and front.

Cut a bottom to fit inside your sink.

Cut a hole for the drain.  Mine's 1/4".

Set your sink into the cabinet base.  If you need to trim the front edges of the cabinet on either side of the sink, try sanding the sink first to see if that will help.  If it doesn't carefully trim the sides of the cabinet where the sink will go.
If you've made the sink too small  you can "shim" out the front opening with narrow strips of card stock until the opening is right.  This shimming is perfectly acceptable it's done all of the time is full-size.
The sink should be level with the top edge of the cabinet.  If it's not you can add a shim to the shelf to level the sink.

Sand the top edges of the sink round, all the way round, taking off the two square edges.  Sand the front corners round.  I also sanded the bottom front edge a little.

Paint a layer of acrylic varnish on to seal.  Let dry.

Now, to make this mat board box look like porcelain.
I've used gesso for years to shape wood into porcelain or porcelain covered cast iron.

I've used a piece of mat board to apply the first layer of gesso on the sink.  If you have a spatula, use it.

Use a soft brush dipped in water to smooth out the surface as much at you can.

Let this first coat dry over night.

It's morning and my first coat is dry and it's got some cracking.  That's all right, we will fill them in.
You can sand some of the rough spots off.  I found using the soft wet brush while the gesso is wet is the best way to go, though.  Not so much sanding after the gesso is dry.

I've applied another coat with a flat stiff brush to add more gesso and fill the cracks. I am going to use the wet brush to smooth it out.

I am adding gesso to the inside corners and the seam where the bottom meets the sides.
Set this aside to dry.  You can add more gesso, smooth, let dry until you are satisfied with the surface.

While the sink is drying we will move onto the counter top.
I've got a 1/16" lip over the front, that's past the edge of the posts, so I am going to have a 1/16" past the sides.  I'm going to cut the bottom layer of mat board 6-1/8" x 2".  I want to make an ogee edge so I will cut the top layer 6" x 1-15/16".  Only need the ogee on the front edge.

Sand round 2 short ends and one long side, that's your front.  Glue the 2 pieces together keeping the un-sanded edges even and the small piece centered on the larger one.

*Note: I've been playing around with gluing mat board together and I think I've found something helpful.
When gluing two large pieces like the one we have here I used a DRY iron to set the glue.  Be sure your pieces are stuck together and all excess glue has been wiped away.  Set the iron to it's hottest setting and to dry, no steam, and press.  Don't slide the iron, that can shift the pieces.  I left the iron on for about 30 seconds, enough to get the heat through.  I took the iron off and then I pressed with a block of wood, I used my tailor's clapper, (I used to sew A LOT), until the mat board was cool, maybe a minute or so.  Seems to work well.

We need to cut out the hole for the sink.  Center the counter top on the cabinet base and mark where the hole is on the front of the counter top.

If you can put your sink into the base, set the counter top next to it and slide the sink out to match the front of the counter top.

Now, measure from the back of the cabinet base to the sink.
In this picture I've got my cabinet base on it's back to measure.  My back is slightly con-caved  and I want my cabinet to fit flat against the wall.

Looks like the sink is 3/8" from the back edge of the cabinet.

Draw your lines to cut on.

Cut out the hole.

Let's do a dry fit!

To fill gaps around the counter top glue on narrow strips of card stock.  Especially along the back where you can see the layers of mat board.  Paint will not cover that up.

*Note:  We've been layering mat board together to make ogee edges.  There's no reason not to try a couple of layers of card stock for a layer and make a different profile.  You can add different combinations of thicknesses to create new profiles.