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Discussion Starter #1
I know there are a few threads about this, but I thought I would give my .02.

Last weekend I got two sets of large 30x18x12" upper cabinets installed in the van. I also have two sets of smaller 36x12x12" cabinets that I am still figuring out how to hang ready to go from the weekend.

If you are handy like KOV or RD then you would probably be fine making your own cabinets without second thought.

My father who is helping with the build found some unfinished oak cabinets from Lowes and was excited about trying them out. I claimed that I have read that it would be easier to just build our own, but he wanted to try the pre-made ones out. I have a Kregg tool and really wanted to try it out. I guess that will be for the galley.

-Face frames and doors are naked oak that we clear semi-gloss varnished.
-Everything else is pressboard that we reinforced with solid oak on the bottom and sides. Pine was used on the tops. Everything is glued and screwed. This gave us the clean fabricated insides, while supporting the pressboard.
-The backs are just the van wall
-They were hung from a solid oak strip from the top ribs (3) and from another oak base strip screwed into the wall studs.
-If you can tell that the cabinets are crooked by a little bit, that is because they were labeled, but when someone varnished and sanded them they took the labels off. They were originally prefect.

Cabinets were cut down to fit the curve of the van, which doesn't seem like a lot until you remove half of the upper portion.
Pretty much every cut was done with a skill saw and a jigsaw. So for those without fancy tools this requires few specialty tools.

Total cost was about $300 for all four cabinets. All the wood was already on hand, but if you factor in the wood and varnish it was probably closer to $350. Still under the cost of one of those nice soft bag cabinets.

What I originally wanted to do was build the faces, buy pre-made doors, attach faces to a bottom sheet of oak and side panels. Then hang the face from the stringer up top and support the base with a stringer. We basically did that, but with the original cabinets as a skeleton.

Pretty much done for you minus some cutting and reinforcing, not need to attached hinges, make faces, etc.
Look great
Cheaper than some options, such as the fabric cabinets
Everything is straight
Dad was happy

More expensive than just making your own
Possibly more labor intensive than making the boxes without the skeleton
Less ability to customize.


I think pre-made can work for people who are less handy. Will it be easier than just making/buying faces and doors? I don't know, maybe not, but it work for us.
Here are some pics of the 18" and then the 12" unhung so you can see what they look like.



Premium Member
7,570 Posts
I’d say you’ve come a long way to understanding how to build your own. Your modifications look strong. Kudos.

Premium Member
128 Posts
We are building our own cabinets out of necessity, we made a bunch of design choices which made it so we had non standard dimensions everywhere so we couldn't fit the standard 24" depth cabs in for instance.

Most of the cabinet isn't straight...but it looks straight and functions so thats all I can really ask for.
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