How to Build Custom Kitchen Cabinets

Canply_Kitchen_CabinetsHow to Build Custom Kitchen Cabinets

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Three styles of kitchen cabinets made from strong and easily handled fir plywood.
Cabinet (1) stores your canned goods in an orderly and space saving fashion.

(2) Is a typical overhead cabinet with dimensions variable to fit any kitchen. The sink cabinet

(C) is a convenient sink work center.

How to Buy Plywood

In the bill of materials, CANPLY EXTERIOR fir plywood with two faces of highest appearance (Good Two Sides grade) is specified where both sides of the panel will be seen on the finished job. Faces of this grade, which may contain carefully made repairs, are smooth and easy to pain. Select plywood with uniform grain pattern and coloration if you intend to use a light stain finish.

Where only one side of the panel will be seen once the project is completed, Good One Side grade is specified for economy.

Medium Density Overlaid (MDO) plywood (plywood with a resin impregnated fiber overlay) may be used as an alternative to Good Two Sides when an extremely high quality paint finish is desired. MDO plywood is not suitable for a stain finish.


Douglas fir plywood stamped CANPLY EXTERIOR is made by member mills of the Canadian Plywood Association. It is bonded with 100% waterproof glue and may be used indoors out. Look for the edge mark CANPLY EXTERIOR on every piece of plywood you buy.

How to Work with Fir Plywood

CANPLY EXTERIOR fir plywood is manufactured in large sized panels, which simplify every building step for you. Laying out the parts for cutting is the only step required before starting actual construction. Be sure to allow for saw kerfs between adjacent pieces.


Use an 8 to 10 pt. Crosscut for hand sawing. Support panel firmly with good face up. For curves use a fine toothed coping saw. For inside cuts, start hole with a drill; then use coping or keyhole saw. For power sawing, a combination blade gives best results. With first cuts, reduce panel to pieces small enough for easy handling. Use of scrap lumber underneath panel prevents splinting on back. Plan to cut matching parts with the same setting. Curved cuts may be made with a jigsaw, band saw, or saber saw.


Support plywood firmly. For larger holes use brace and bit. When point appears through plywood, reverse and complete hole from back. When drilling, finish slowly to avoid splintering.


Remember, edge grain of plywood runs in alternate directions so plane from ends toward center. Use shallow set blade.


CANPLY EXTERIOR fir plywood is manufactured – a big time saver – so minimum surface sanding is necessary. Most sanding should be confined to panel edges. Use 80 or finer sand paper before sealer of flat undercoat is applied. After sealing, use 120 sand paper in direction of grain only.


Glue may be used on panel edges and faces. Apply glue to clean surfaces. Press firmly together until “bead” appears. Maintain pressure with clamps, nails or screws to allow glue to set. For exterior exposure use resorcinol type waterproof glues. Gluing is recommended for strongest permanent fastening.


Nail size is determined by the thickness of plywood used, as follows:



Substitute casing for finishing nails is needed. For exterior work always use corrosion resistant nails.

Other Fasteners

Screws, bolts, and other special fastenings may be used. Always pre drill for screws and bolts (see “DRILLING” above). Minimum screw sizes are as follows:



How To Finish Fir Plywood

For best results always use quality finishes, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Whenever practicable, fill the plywood edge grain before painting. Natural finishes do not withstand weathering and are not recommended for plywood outdoors.

Exterior Finishing

Paint Prime the panels carefully, front and back, with oil base house paint undercoat. See that the primer and subsequent coats seal the edge grain. A three-coat finish with an intermediate coat of primer mixed with half and half with the finish color will look the best. For the final coat apply the paint as it comes from the can.

When painting plywood doors, give the front and back the same number of coats.

Choose bright colored exterior sash and trim enamel for a high gloss finish on toys, patio furnishings, etc.

Stain finishes are available which have considerable hiding power but do not conceal the texture of the plywood grain. Creosote base stains penetrate deep into the plywood, producing rich lively colors that ehnance grain beauty. Both creosote and non-creosote stains are highly recommended for exterior finishing of CANPLY EXTERIOR fir plywood. Apply according to manufacture’s directions.

Interior Finishing

When it comes to finishing indoor projects, give your own taste full sway. Fir plywood can be painted to harmonize with your decorative theme, or stain to bring out the full beauty of the wood grain. Extra care in surface preparation and application will give you a more attractive and durable finish. Clean all surfaces perfectly and fill nails holes and blemishes with wood filler. Sand lightly between coats.

Paint or Enamel

Conventional wall and woodwork paints and enamels may be used. (For surfaces, which will be cleaned frequently, use washable paints or enamels). First, brush on flat paint or enamel undercoat. Thin if desired. Second, apply second coat of undercoat, tinted to shade of finish coat. (Note: For gloss finish mix equal parts flat undercoat and gloss enamel for second coat). Third apply final coat as it comes from the can. (A two-step finish without second undercoat may be also used).

Interesting textured surfaces may be obtained by priming as above, followed by heavy coat of stippling paint. Use brush, roller or sponge to texture. When using water-thinned paint, first seal plywood with clear resin sealer, shellac of flat white oil paint. Then paint according to directions on can for sealed surface.

Natural Finishes

For an easy, inexpensive “blond” finish, fist apply coat of interior white undercoat thinned so grain pattern shows through. (Tint if you desire color). Second, apply clear shellac, flat varnish or lacquer. Attractive and economical on coat stain waxes are also available in various colors. If you prefer a dark stain, first apply coat clear resin sealer to subdue grain contrast.

Here’s a four-step system you can use to get a luxurious light stain glaze: First apply white undercoat thinned with equal parts of turpentine or paint thinner. Wipe or dry brush for more grain show though. Second, apply one coat thinned white shellac or clean resin sealer. Third, to provide color apply interior undercoat or enamel thinned as in step one. Choose any color you want for this coat. Wipe or dry brush to proper color tone. Fourth, one coat flat varnish. Steel wool for added luster.

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