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Custom Ikea Kitchen: Cabinet Fronts


We are renovating our kitchen, and we have made the decision to install Ikea kitchen cabinets, but with custom Doors and Drawer fronts. This article is about how to do so.

This article is NOT about building doors or drawer fronts. My focus is on how to go about attaching them properly -- where do we need to drill mounting holes and how to do so.

But first, I need to figure out how big to make them, so I took the easy approach and bought some of the cheapest basic Ikea cabinet doors and then measured them, and used them to design jigs to help with mounting my own doors and drawer fronts. In this photo I am holding a door, while a drawer front is laying under it on the tablesaw.

From these actual Ikea doors and drawers I learned that the key measurement is 1/8 inch. For a 15x30 drawer, the drawer front measured 14-7/8" by 29-7/8". For a 12x30 upper cabinet, the actual door measured 11-7/8" by 29-7/8". So in each case the actual door/drawer is 1/8" smaller than the cabinet/drawer that it is mated to. I used that guideline to make my own custom doors and drawer fronts.

I bought the largest size of drawer front -- the 15" tall drawer. I took that drawer and I used the drillpress to drill THROUGH the drawer, through all the mounting holes that were pre-drilled into the drawer front. I then used those holes to make a drilling jig for my own drawer fronts. I made the jig reversible so that it could clamp on either side of the drawer. It's just a piece of plywood with six holes drilled in it, and a lip of plywood around the edge, so that I can hold it firmly against the lower part of the drawer front. I then used a 3/16" brad point drill to mark on my custom drawer fronts where to drill.

I used a drill press to then drill the holes, as I was concerned that the plywood jig might wear out from repeated drilling.

I made a similar sort of jig for the doors. It has one large 32mm hole for receiving the cup-hinge, and it has two small holes as well. On most kitchen hinges there are two screws that go into the door beside the 32mm hole, but the ikea hinges -- Ikea uses Blum hardware currently -- there are two registration "dimples" that get pressed into holes for alignment.

Like the other jig, this jig is reversible so that it can be used at the top and the bottom of the door simply by flipping it over. (Sorry for the slightly out-of-focus picture here.

I also made two more jigs for attaching the handles to the drawers and doors. The door jig is reversible, so that it can be used on both the left and right door of a cabinet. The drawer jig does not need to be reversible. However it does have a center line, marked by the blue arrow in this photo.

Again, this is just a simple L-shaped jig that fits over the top of the drawer, and has two holes for where you need to drill for mounting the handle. I chose to center my handles 2-1/2" down from the top. For five-inch drawers, this means that the handle is centered. This is up to you how you want to mount your handles. The center line is important since you use it to alight the jig with the center of the drawer.

With the jig clamped in place, I used the pre-drilled holes to guide me as I drilled holes into the drawer fronts. IMPORTANT NOTE: I also added a block of scrap BEHIND the jig when clamping, so that the back of the hole did not blow out while drilling.

Here I show the door jig clamped in place and being used. Again, choose your own offsets! Our doors have 2-1/2" wide rails and stiles, so the handles are centred on them. So the jig is set to position the mounting holes 1-1/4" from the edge of the door. Also we set ours so the handle is 3-1/2" from the top/bottom edge of the door. Some people prefer their handles centered on a door, whereas we prefer them to be closer to the bottom (or top, in the case of these pantry doors).

Here I am attaching one of the handles to the bottom drawer.

And a look at the finished piece. Well, almost finished -- I still need to tweak the side panels.

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)


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See Also:

Custom Ikea Kitchen : Intro and Bulkheads