Building a Full Carcass Kitchen Cabinet

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A full carcass is commonly known as a kitchen cabinet box. Base kitchen cabinet boxes are built with two sides known as gable ends, a bottom and a back. Upper cabinets normally have two gable ends, a top, bottom and a back board. Base cabinet boxes do not require a top board because the countertop normally covers that opening.

Ordinarily, when constructing full carcasses using a Euro cabinet leg, the top and bottom boards are attached to the gable ends. The result is that the width of the top and bottom boards will determine the width of the interior of the carcass because the gable ends are attached to these boards through the use of simple butt joints. The back board will then cover all the edges of the top, bottom and gable end components of your kitchen cabinet boxes.

Full 5/8″ back boards are great because they stiffen the box and allow for easier mounting of the cabinet onto the wall. Moreover, these full back boards help to prevent racking or twisting which may sometimes occur while mounting the cabinet onto a flawed wall.

The carcass is assembled as follows. You first apply glue to the bottom panel biscuit slots and the biscuits, and then glue them in place. Next you need to spread the glue in the dados and put in the shelf. Add glue to the side panel biscuit slots. It is easier to begin at the top by squeezing some glue onto the top slot. Thereafter, spread the glue with a brush and smear whatever comes out down towards the next slot, in order to have glue on the entire bottom of the side panel. Do this until all the slots are completely filled with glue then assemble the bottom, add the top saucer and clamp it all together, ensuring everything is square.

After building the full carcass, you may apply tape to the exposed front edges which forms the basic Euro cabinet. Alternatively, you may build a ¾” solid wood face frame to cover the exposed edges thereby creating a hybrid North American traditional style cabinet. Both these full carcass designs are very popular with homeowners.

The material most ideally suited for kitchen cabinet construction is 5/8″ melamine coated particle board (MCPB). You will find that MCPB cabinet boxes built with butt joinery and fastened with 2″ particle core board screws to be very strong, especially if 5/8″ material is used for all the parts.

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