How to Build Your Own Cabinets: Techniques and Projects

In partnership with
Instructor George Vondriska, Woodworking Expert
Woodworkers Guild of America
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Course No. 4074
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Create your own door-lock joints for drawers.
  • numbers Build a six-foot bookcase with adjustable shelves that swivel.
  • numbers Learn how to determine the right wood for cabinets and drawers.
  • numbers Explore expert strategies for measuring and cutting door frames.
  • numbers Learn how to make drawer locks using a router table.

Course Overview

Cabinets are some of the most versatile and rewarding woodworking projects out there, and they can be designed to fit almost any space imaginable. If the idea of applying your woodworking skills to building cabinets and other storage solutions sounds intimidating, it’s not. It’s actually a lot easier than you think.

There’s an art and craft that goes into building your own cabinetry, whether it’s for storing dishes and foodstuffs in your kitchen, keeping books neat and organized in a child’s bedroom, or for making essential tools and first aid equipment more accessible around your shop. There’s also a strong sense of pride that comes from creating cabinets the way you want them instead of being limited to commercial options or expensive custom work. Knowing the woodworking techniques behind great cabinetry gives you the power to take matters into your own hands.

And, while cabinetry can be a challenge, any woodworker can—and should—take it on. All you really need to understand cabinetmaking, and to do it in your own shop, are the techniques and guidance of a master woodworker.

Woodworking instructor George Vondriska of the Woodworkers Guild of America has crafted a series of lessons designed to give you those very techniques. In the 11 lessons of How to Build Your Own Cabinets: Techniques and Projects, George takes you into his workshop for an in-depth look at how woodworkers build cabinets—and how you can, too. You’ll learn step-by-step methods for building your own projects, from kitchen cabinets to bookshelves to dressers. And you’ll come away with a host of tips and tricks you can use you the next time you set foot in your workshop.

Build Drawers, Bookshelves, and More

From calculating your dimensions to assembling the final project, Mr. Vondriska guides you through several exciting woodworking projects designed to exercise your woodworking skills and put the knowledge you learn in these lessons to practice.

In How to Build Your Own Cabinets, you’ll get the chance to build projects perfect for your home or wood shop.

  • Kitchen cabinets: Imagine kitchen cabinets that fit you, not the other way around. Over the course of several lessons, you’ll get an informative walkthrough of how to design, build, and finish your own kitchen cabinets, as well as tips on how to mount them.
  • Dressers: Mr. Vondriska shows you how to build your own dresser (either with uniform drawers or drawers of graduated dimensions). And it all starts with mastering the craft of making a simple drawer, to which Mr. Vondriska devotes an entire helpful lesson.
  • Bookshelves: Two lessons in this course are devoted to different styles of bookshelves. First, learn how to make an impressive swiveling bookcase that can double as storage for coats. Then, tackle a more traditional bookcase made from cherry that includes dentil molding.
  • Small cabinets: Not all cabinetry has to be massive; some of it can be designed for simple things that need to be readily accessible in your workshop. This course offers build ideas for cabinets that can hold safety gear and first aid kits.

And the best part: Even if you’re a novice woodworker, Mr. Vondriska carefully guides you through every single project. You’ll never feel overwhelmed—or left behind.

Shop-Tested Tips and Techniques

As in his other popular woodworking lessons with The Great Courses, Mr. Vondriska has filled How to Build Your Own Cabinets with easy-to-use, shop-tested tips, tricks, and techniques that will help you tackle your next project with more confidence and knowledge.

Here’s just a sampling of the helpful insights you’ll learn throughout this course.

  • When using a router freehand for delicate jobs, move the router with your hands and fingers, not with your arms and shoulders. Because hands and fingers are best for small movements, this will help ensure your cuts are more precise.
  • Building doors with a stub-tenon joint is a good way to solve a couple of problems. First, it can fit the groove very specifically to a piece of plywood. It can also result in a door that has square inner edges instead of profiled inner edges.
  • Want to avoid tear-out when cutting your rails? Mr. Vondriska recommends you make your end-grain cuts first, which simplifies support the material to prevent tear out.
  • Choosing the right wood is a critical part of any woodworking project. Choices include plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and melamine. Learn which material is best for your next project.
  • When building cabinet doors, remember that the door hardware often dictates the dimensions of your cabinet doors, so make sure to purchase the hardware before crafting the doors.
  • There’s nothing worse than getting three-quarters of the way through assembling a cabinet and realizing you’ve got some pieces on backwards. Take time to label your parts and sides to ensure you don’t lose track of where you are on the piece.
  • When building projects from solid wood remember to allow for the expansion and contraction of the material due to humidity and other seasonal changes. Neglecting to take this into account can often lead to cracks appearing in your project.
  • When assembling a cabinet, make sure to clamp in right-angle fixtures to assure you have square corners. Check for square by measuring from corner to corner when you’re done.

Get Out There and Make Chips

For more than 30 years, Mr. Vondriska has taught audiences across the country the secrets of great woodworking. He has also taught for organizations including the Peace Corps, Northwest Airlines, and the Pentagon. Currently the Managing Editor of the Woodworkers Guild of America, he’s written for popular woodworking publications including American Woodworker Magazine and Woodworkers Journal.

Illuminating to both novice and seasoned woodworkers, the tips and tricks in How to Build Your Own Cabinets will help you rethink the way you work with wood. And every single one of these lessons will open your eyes to the possibilities (and the projects) hidden inside your own everyday workshop.

With Mr. Vondriska’s practical and engaging lessons, you’ll find yourself more inspired than ever to start your own cabinetry projects or, as he puts it at the close of some of these lessons, to “get out there and make chips!”

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11 lectures
 |  Average 105 minutes each
  • 1
    Essential Woodworking Techniques for Cabinetmaking
    Great cabinetmaking starts with mastering essential techniques that will simplify the cabinetmaking process. Once you master these simple concepts—how to use the Golden proportion for classic furniture design, the right way to rough-cut sheet goods, why it’s better to sand components before you assemble them, strategies for measuring and cutting door frames, and tips for using the most common tools involved in cabinetmaking—you’ll be able to tackle the large variety of projects in the lessons ahead. x
  • 2
    Cabinetmaking: The Next Level
    Take your cabinetmaking to the next level with this informative and insightful lesson filled with great tips and tricks for your workshop. Among the many helpful pointers you'll learn are: how to cut melamine to size while avoiding chipping the surface; how to build a toe kick into your cabinet; how to easily remove saw marks from your stock using a surface planer; how to install shelf standards the right way (using a hand-held screwdriver); and how to ensure you have square corners when assembling your cabinets. x
  • 3
    Kitchen Cabinet Construction, Part 1
    A lot of woodworkers are keen on making their own kitchen cabinets. It increases the beauty of a kitchen—and the value of a home. In the first of two lessons on kitchen cabinet construction, focus on the process of creating cabinets, from dimensioning to cutting to laying out your pieces. Mr. Vondriska explains the jargon of building cabinets, shows you how to use optimization software to organize all your parts and dimensions, demonstrates how to effectively and accurately cut sheet stock to size, and teaches you how to assemble a cabinet carcase using staples, screws, and butt joints. x
  • 4
    Kitchen Cabinet Construction, Part 2
    In this second lesson on kitchen cabinet construction, Mr. Vondriska helps you wrap up your kitchen cabinets with face frames, drawers, and doors, as well as expert tips on pre-finishing your entire project. How do you build doors with European-style hinges? What's the best way for cutting face frame parts? How do you build a countertop that's longer than a single sheet of material? What's a quick workaround for gluing on a face frame accurately? What's a great way for building rock-solid kitchen cabinet drawers? x
  • 5
    Methods for Making Cabinet Doors
    Cabinet doors can be intimidating for some woodworkers. But they don't have to be when you use Mr. Vondriska's accessible and flexible methods. As you explore techniques to find what works best for you and your shop, you'll explore ways to make raised panels, discover a cool technique for cove cutting doors on the table saw, determine the right material for your cabinet door, practice making an arched rail using patterns, and create rabbets for glass panel doors. x
  • 6
    Build a Quality Drawer: Dovetails & Drawer Locks
    Drawers are absolutely integral to any fully functioning cabinet. Which is why if you want to make cabinets the right way, you need to learn how to master building a quality drawer. Mr. Vondriska takes you through some of his favorite shop-tested techniques for making sure that when you build a drawer, it's going to stand the test of time. Some of the many topics you'll explore in this lesson include half-blind dovetails, through dovetails, and several ways to make drawer lock joints using a table saw or router table. The ultimate goal: to give you an arsenal of tools so that when you're working on your next set of drawers, you have the confidence you need to make sure everything comes together the way it should. x
  • 7
    Dresser Essentials
    Dressers are a great example of carcase and face frame construction, allowing you to use what you’ve learned about cabinetmaking to craft a beautiful piece of custom furniture. With the case built, you’ll start on drawer construction, learning to size the drawer boxes to create graduated drawer sizes—large drawers on the bottom and small on the top. You’ll also learn to assemble the drawers using a rock-solid drawer lock joint. x
  • 8
    Safety Gear Cabinet & Cordless Drill Organizer
    Stay organized in your shop with these two fun projects designed to make some of your most commonly used gear and tools easy to find. First, you'll build a simple cabinet for storing items such as protective goggles and ear plugs. It's a project that's a great way to hone your ability to make half-lap joints and prep a door for glass. Then, you'll craft a wall-mounted drill organizer for storing everything from batteries to chargers to drill bits. Some woodworking projects are about form; these are about function. x
  • 9
    Swiveling Bookcase
    Take a turn practicing your woodworking skills on a neat project that's perfect to put in a child's room or anywhere where space is at a premium. Your project: a six-foot bookcase with adjustable shelves that's made more accessible by swiveling and offering additional room for things like coat racks and whiteboards. Mr. Vondriska shows you how to work with lazy Susan mechanisms, apply banding to plywood, cut biscuit slots, create adjustable shelf holes, and use other woodworking tools and techniques. x
  • 10
    Cherry Bookcase
    Who doesn't need more bookcases in their home? Here, Mr. Vondriska shows you how to build a beautiful, elegant bookcase from cherry. A simple dentil molding and arched base adds amazing detail to a piece of woodworking you'll be proud to show off anywhere. Then, Mr. Vondriska continues on to several other woodworking projects, some of which offer creative ways to use up some of the scrap wood you've been hoarding: a removable pizza cutter handle, a wine bottle stopper, and sawhorses with stools for extra workspace in your shop. x
  • 11
    Shop-Made First Aid Cabinet
    If you have a shop, then you need a first aid kit readily accessible. But don’t settle for an ugly metal first aid cabinet when you can make something on your own, right in your own shop. In this lesson, Mr. Vondriska walks you through the process of building a small-scale case for your first aid essentials that features dovetailed joints, small raised door panels, touch-latches, a lower panel that acts as a work surface, and more. This project is a great way to stay safe in your shop—while showing off your woodworking skills. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 11 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 11 lectures on 8 DVDs
  • 26-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 26-page printed course guidebook
  • Resources
  • Tool lists
  • Cut lists

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Your professor

George Vondriska

About Your Professor

George Vondriska, Woodworking Expert
Woodworkers Guild of America
George Vondriska has been teaching woodworking since 1986. In addition to teaching classes at his own Vondriska Woodworks School, George has taught at woodworking shows and retail stores across the country, in Africa as part of the Peace Corps, and for organizations from Andersen Window to Northwest Airlines. He has even taught woodworking at the Pentagon. After getting his B.S. in Science Education at the University of...
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How to Build Your Own Cabinets: Techniques and Projects is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 10.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lots of tips; lots of equipment Course provided lots of tips and clear instructions that produced beautiful furniture for the presenter, but these required so much expensive mechanical equipment that would not be available to me that I cannot really make use of the information. It would have been helpful to at least explain how procedures were done by hand in previous eras.
Date published: 2020-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great knowledge I've gone through the entire course and I've found it interesting and well taut. I applied most of this knowledge in my workshop almost immediately.
Date published: 2019-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course. Great course. Lots of practical tips for the novice and experienced woodworker. Excellent step by step guide.
Date published: 2019-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I like this guy! I am enjoying this series of videos. The teacher is down to earth, easy to listen to, and the camera angles help me to understand what he's doing. (Video is a must for this course.) He knows that sometimes it takes time and repeated attempts to get things just right. I was particularly interested in learning to make dovetail joints, and that lesson was very helpful; I watched it several times and caught something new each time. I was also encouraged to buy and use my first dado set, which worked first time like a charm. I'm obviously a beginner, and this was a great set of videos to start with, though there's plenty to challenge me to grow my skills and knowledge. At this point, I don't know whether I'll ever use all the techniques he teaches, but I'm enjoying the journey. I'd recommend this both for novices and for folks who've done a lot of woodworking on their own - there's plenty to learn here.
Date published: 2018-10-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Poor Quality Video The quality of the video is bad. High Def would have been nice but what can you expect for $70? The first instructor is ok, the other guy is really good and has some great ideas. Very monotone however and watching a two hour video is hard. Overall the information is good and even after being a woodworker for years I have picked up on several things.
Date published: 2018-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best I've seen! George Vondriska has a firm grasp on his profession. He's a great communicator and has an extensive knowledge of his tools. Those fortunate to be able to sit in his class will come away with great susses.
Date published: 2018-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring Well done, well organized lessons. I watched most of the lessons last week, and this week I'm building two small tool cabinets.
Date published: 2018-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from He shows and takes his time so one can absorb it. Very well done step by step training. The teacher is very funny, he doesn't put you to sleep! I have been able to refer back to it many times as I build my kitchen cabinets.
Date published: 2018-02-07
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