Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Refacing Kitchen Cabinets: Adding End Shelves - Getting Started - Part 1 of 6

by Jim Mallery
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Does your run of kitchen cabinets end in the middle of nowhere? Why not build some attractive end shelves to hold your display items? This first of six articles gets you started. Following articles will take you through building and mounting the shelves.

End Shelves to Complement Your Kitchen Cabinets: Getting Started

  1. Tools. If you are tackling this project, you probably are a do-it-yourselfer and have a good table saw or radial-arm saw with sharp blades. You can use a saber-saw for rough-cutting rounded edges. A 10-inch sanding disk for your table/radial saw is wonderful for smoothing down a curved edge before final sanding, although a table sander is better. You might want a small, reciprocating sander, but hand-sanding works fine for the finish work. You also need a drill and at least three 18-inch wood clamps. Optional tools include a band saw (much better than a saber saw for cutting curves) and drill press. Don't forget the usual assortment of sandpaper, from 80 grit to 220 grit.
  2. Design decisions. You probably want your end shelves to match your cabinet design--same wood, same stain. You could, however, try giving the shelves a look that ties to something else in the room, such as a dining set or a hutch, but that's a gamble. Remember these shelves are going to be attached to the end of your cabinets, so the safest bet is to match the cabinets.
  3. Plywood. Where do you find cherry, birch, maple, oak, hickory or other types of cabinet-grade wood? You are looking for ¾-inch plywood, and better lumberyards will carry the most common types. Most large-population areas have a shop or two catering to woodworking buffs where you can find a myriad of exotic plywood. Lastly, you can try a cabinet shop for what you need. You won't need a full 4- foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood, and most yards will sell you a half sheet. A cabinet shop might even have usable pieces in the scrap pile.
  4. Board. You also need a ¾-inch board of the same type of wood as the plywood--say a 1-inch by 6-inch, about 4-feet long. It should be available at the shop that supplied the plywood. This is for making strips to cover the edge of the plywood. You may be able to purchase a roll of edging in your type of wood that would eliminate this step, though the commercial edging is not as classy.
  5. Color. If your cabinets are stained, you will need to do some experimentation to match the color of your kitchen cabinets. Do some test patches with scraps of the same wood--don't do tests on hemlock if your shelf wood is birch, for instance. Or, you can have the colors professionally matched.

This gets you set up for your shelf construction. Part 2 explains how to build the shelves.

About the Author
Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding homes.

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