Furniture & Cabinetmaking
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New review from the prestigious UK magazine Furniture & Cabinet Maker

CWW Strength Test
shopnotes dowelmax 
Canadian Woodworking Strength Test: Dowel joints are fast, easy and flexible to make, but how strong are they? We put this popular joint through some tests to figure out if they are as good as they seem.


Steps for Building Kitchen Cabinets Using the Dowelmax System

  • Kitchen Cabinet

You can build professional kitchen cabinets and save thousands of dollars by doing it yourself. All you need is a table saw (or use a friends), the Dowelmax System for joining the door and cabinet components, a few clamps and some inexpensive hand tools.  The step by step process shown below will guide you through the basic steps, but we recommend that you view the following tutorials on making strong cabinet joints for the details:

Decide on the treatment that you want for your cabinet doors and drawer fronts.  You should decide at this point on whether to use face frame construction which adds a frame to the front of the cabinets, or whether you will use flush mounted doors equal to width (less 1/8”space). 

The kitchen shown below was built using the Dowelmax Joinery System and features flush mounted doors and drawer fronts without face frames which is a popular way of building kitchen cabinets.

The Dowelmax joinery system was used to create these kitchen counters and cabinets. The following steps illustrate how easy it is to build professional do it yourself kitchen or bathroom cabinets. Do it yourself kitchen counters and cabinets


Kitchen cabinets are built in a modular fashion by creating a series of “box units” like the one above. The boxes were created from 5/8”white melamine which is a standard building material for cabinets.

Although the dimensions are flexible, here are some guidelines for the box units.  Standard height is 36” from floor to top of counter, and a 4” kick space at the bottom is normal.  This leaves a box height of 36”- 4”- counter thickness” for the height of the box. 

Counter tops are 24”, so the depth of the box is 24”- doorwidth”- 1”overhang. (Note that if you use face frames you must also subtract the width of the face frames.)
Kitchen cabinet lower box unit

Step 1: Calculate the height, width and depth of the basic box and cut the pieces for each side, the top and bottom.  The dimensions of the pieces are:

  1. Sides – Counter height less counter thickness less 4” kick space (legs)
  2. Bottom – equal to width of the finished box minus 2 times the thickness of the sides (2 x 5/8”= 1 ¼”).
  3. Top rails – same width as bottom and 4 inches wide.
Back – same width as bottom and tops pieces, height equal to sides less 2 x width of the top and bottom pieces.
do-it-yourself kitchen cabinet



Step 2: Edge banding has been glued to the edges of the cabinets that will be visible from the front of the cabinet.  Purchase edge banding from your local hardware store to match the type of wood you are using for your doors and face frames. do-it-yourself kitchen cabinet


Step3a: The Dowelmax Joinery
System is used to join the cabinet pieces together creating a strong joint.  Do not use nails and glue as they will not hold.

We suggest viewing the basic instructions on how to use the Dowelmax system to create precise professional joints at as some of the details will be left out in this step by step process.

Use the Dowelmax system to drill the holes in the various pieces as shown on the right.  A spacing of 6” between holes will provide suitable strength for the completed box unit.
Use Dowelmax for professional strong joints


Step 3b: Use the extender bar to with the same setting for the complimentary holes for each dowel. cabinet case edge joint



Step 4: A perfectly aligned set of complimentary dowel holes.  It is always good to do a dry fit on a number of pieces to double check hole spacing Check layout of kitchen cabinet components


Step 5 & 6: Mount the drawer slides on the insides of the side panels according to manufacturer’s specifications.

Mount the slides accurately before you assemble the box as it is easier to mark and fasten the slides more accurately.

Step 6: Assemble the box by adding glue to the dowel holes and clamping the final box together. If the Dowelmax system has been used properly, all pieces will be self aligning.  It is not necessary, but screws may be used to ensure that dowel joints are held tightly during the glue drying stage.


Box showing kitchen cabinet drawer slides


Step 7: Build the boxes for the drawers.  The width of the drawer should be equal to the distance between the insides of the cabinet less manufacturer specifications for the spacing of the drawer slides.

Fasten the drawer slides to the drawers.

You can build the drawer boxes using box or dovetail joints, but alternately you can use the Dowelmax joinery system to create the joints which will be equally as strong, and can be created much more quickly.

do-it-yourself kitchen cabinet


Cabinet drawer slide detail do-it-yourself kitchen cabinet


Lower cabinet drawers in


do-it-yourself kitchen cabinet


Step 7: Screw the drawer fronts to the drawers and insert the drawers into the box units at final assembly.  Note that drawer fronts should be 1’8”less than the overall width of the box units.  Allow 1/8”spacing between drawers for a professional job. Completed lower kitchen cabinet box and drawers


Step 8: Upper cupboards are made with the same box approach.  A standard height for the cabinets is 30” (although you can make them higher to go right of the ceiling) and a depth of 12”.  (If you are using face frames, subtract the width of the face frame from the 12”.)  In the example shown to the right, we have made cabinets that go the ceiling. do-it-yourself kitchen cabinet


You will want to drill holes for the shelf guides prior to assembly as shown at the right, and the guide  holes for Blum style door hinges prior to assembly.

Tip:  You may want to make the upper kitchen cabinets slightly less than 12”so that you can cut 4 pieces from a standard 4”sheet of melamine.)
do-it-yourself kitchen cabinet



Upper cabinet case ready for mounting and doors do-it-yourself kitchen cabinet



Step 9:  Stand back and admire your professional job.  The following pictures show how easy it is to build professional kitchen cabinets and cupboards using the Dowelmax system to make strong professional joints. Finished kitchen cabinets


Completed kitchen cabinets Finished upper and lower kitchen cabinets


Completed upper cabinet case showing shelves and doors

Upper kitchen cabinet shelves


Completed kitchen cabinet doors Finished upper cabinet doors

Completed kitchen cabinet drawer fronts Finished lower cabinet drawer fronts


Completed kitchen cabinets by Jesse Friesen Do it yourself kitchen counters and cabinets





do-it-yourself dresser dowelmax constructed dresser

These pictures show an example of how to build a do it yourself fine woodwork dresser cabinet. The Dowelmax joinery system allows for quick and accurate joints once the basic wood components have been cut to dimension.

Build this china cabinet yourself using Dowelmax dowelmax constructed cabinet

These pictures show an example of how to build a do it yourself fine woodwork china cabinet with the Dowelmax by Dowelmax Inventor Jim Lindsay. The wood used is Alder. In the finished cabinet there are 60 precision multiple dowel wood joints for the strongest and most accurate construction possible. The wood joinery shown in the picture above is exposed for illustrative purposes using special stepped dowels.