Special Cabinets and Accessories

Special Cabinets and Accessories

Almost every kitchen renovation project will require some type of custom cabinetwork. Each project is different, and it’s impossible to predict what requirement will arise. However, I believe you’ll be able to meet the needs of almost all situations by applying the standard design principles of this cabinet system. The standard upper, base, corner, pantry and microwave cabinets can all be easily modified to meet just about any need.


Base and upper cabinets that are at the end of a run and open to view on one side must be finished so that we don’t see the melamine PCB sides. These open end-run cabinets should be identified in the planning stage, prior to cabinet construction.


On base cabinets I add a 3/4″ filler to the bottom of the cabinet side to extend it to 31 3/4″ so the applied veneer panel will be flush with the bottom of the face frame.

To allow for the finishing trim that’s used on end-run cabinets, increase the stile width by'”” on the side to be finished. Increasing the stile width on standard upper and base cabinets does not alter the dimensions of any other cabinet part. This stile-width-increase technique is needed for end finishing, contour fitting of the cabinet to a wall or custom cabinet fitting of a cabinet run that is closed by walls on both ends. In the planning stage, I normally designate a cabinet that requires increased stile width with a measurement and side designation. A 30″ cabinet that will be used as an open left-end-run cabinet will be shown on my plan as a 30″ plus Vs” L upper or base. Standard stile width is 1″, and standard side thickness is ‘A”. This means that on a normal cabinet the stile extends beyond the side by Vs”. The plus Vs increase in stile width makes the stile extend a total of 3/4″ past the side.

After cabinet installation, I install wood doorstop molding around the perimeter of the cabinet end. Doorstop molding is available in most wood types, typically oak, pine, cherry and maple. This molding is rounded-over on one side and flat on the other, as shown in Figure 8-2. I install it around the perimeter of the side with the rounded-over side to the inside. Its slightly flexible, so the flat side can contour with any small wall irregularities.

The combined thickness of the veneer plywood and the doorstop molding is greater than 1/2″, so its slightly inset on the extended cabinet stile. This type of end-run cabinet finishing looks very professional and adds visual depth to the cabinet side.

The screw holes that secure the end-run cabinet stile to the cabinet rails must be filled with wood plugs so they won’t be visible. As stated earlier, I use a 1/2″ countersink drill bit assembly with a ‘A” counterbore hole for these screws. I fill the holes with Vs” wood plugs sanded flush to finish the visible stile sides on these end-run cabinets.


Some cabinetmakers leave the underside of upper cabinets unfinished. This area, while not normally visible when standing in front of the cabinets, may be seen by someone sitting in the kitchen. It may not be considered a major issue, but I believe finishing this area adds a measure of quality to the cabinetwork.

Install 1/4″ veneer plywood of the same type as the cabinets, cut to fit, on the underside of the uppers. The front edge of the veneer will not be visible because the face frame extends 3/4″ below the cabinet carcass. If there is a open end-run cabinet, the end edge of the veneer plywood can be hidden by the doorstop molding that is used to finish the side.


There are instances when standard cabinet width is not suitable. Typically, this situation will arise when cabinets are to be installed in a “closed run,” such as between two walls in a kitchen. The wall-to-wall distance is often not equal to the combined width of a number of standard cabinets.

The stile width of standard cabinets can be changed without changing any other cabinet component dimension. This procedure was discussed previously under the End Cabinets heading. The major issue is the visual appearance of the cabinets. If possible, we want to maintain a uniform and balanced look.

A typical situation might be a galley kitchen where the wall-to-wall dimension is 107″. Three 36″ cabinets would be too large because their combined total width is 108″, and any other combination of the standard cabinet widths does not total 107″.
There are two or three solutions to this common problem. The first is to design the cabinet run for that area with one cabinet being a drawer bank. As discussed under the Four-Drawer Base Cabinet heading, a drawer bank can be any size because it isn’t dependent on industry-standard-size doors. The 107″ dimension could be achieved by using two 36″ base units and one 35″ four-drawer bank unit. However, this is not always practical if upper cabinets are to be installed above the base units.

Another option is to increase the stile width of the standard cabinet to achieve the desired total width. A combination of two 36″ cabinets and one 33″ cabinet in the center totals 105″. If the outside stiles (on the 36″ cabinet sides that are against each wall) are both increased by 1″, we will achieve our 107″ wall-to-wall dimension. The extended stiles will look balanced because each cabinet run end will be equal. This can be done with both the upper and lower cabinets against each wall. In situations like this, I add 1/8″ to each wall-side stile so that I can scribe fit or contour the stile to match any irregularities in the walls.

There are other solutions that are possible; however, they are dependent on the location. The closed wall-to-wall run may contain a window so the cabinet combination is very dependent on the size of the window opening. Possibly a sink needs to be installed in that run or you have other specific needs. Many of your solutions will be influenced by your needs, but I believe this cabinet design system is flexible enough to meet those requirements.


Toe kick boards are attached to the European cabinet legs with a fastener called a plinth clip. These clips are available from the hardware supplier that provides the cabinet legs. They are attached differently, depending on the manufacturer. One style of clip requires a small dado cut on the backside of the toe kick board and another style is attached with screws in a plastic frame. The boards are easily installed and can be removed when necessary.

There are many advantages to the adjustable leg and removable toe kick board system. They make cabinet installation very simple, and the toe kick boards can easily be removed when the client is installing new flooring material. (Flooring installers like this system because they can remove the toe boards and run the new flooring under the cabinets, thereby avoiding a lot of cut and trim work.) You can remove the toe boards in the event of a water spill and dry the floor under the cabinets, eliminating the possibility of cabinet damage. When removing old kitchens, I’ve seen the amount of damage that moisture can cause because cabinet sides and wooden base supports were fastened to the floor. Cabinet legs can prevent this problem. Cabinet life can be extended by installing legs with the removable toe kick board system.


Under-cabinet lighting is a common accessory in many kitchen renovation projects. There are numerous types and styles of lighting assemblies available, including low voltage and fluorescent fixtures.

I use a fluorescent lamp assembly with this cabinet system mainly because of the energy efficiency of this type of light, as well as its low heat properties. A warm-white fluorescent tube gives an even, soft illumination to the normally dim under-cabinet space.

Its best to decide whether or not you want under-cabinet lighting during the planning stage because power and switches must be installed. This could be as simple as attaching the power feed line to an existing circuit or bringing in a new line from your service panel. Its best to get all the electrical modifications inspected and approved, based on the codes in your area.

The under-cabinet lighting system consists of a 1″ x 4″ board, of the same type of wood as the doors, mounted on edge under the upper cabinets, approximately 6″ from the wall. Use angle brackets to secure this board under the cabinets. Mount the fluorescent fixture, which is available in 2-, S-and 4-foot lengths, to the back of the board. I have mounted the fixture to the bottom of the cabinet behind the board; however, the bare bulb can be seen by someone sitting in the kitchen. It’s best mounted to the board, making the fixture almost invisible.


There are situations that will arise where your needs can only be met with a custom cabinet. One example would be a requirement to construct a cabinet to fully enclose a fridge. Situations such as this, as well as others you will no doubt be faced with, require that you design and construct very specialized cabinetry.

In the majority of custom cabinetry situations, you can apply the standard cabinet design principles to meet your needs. In the example discussed, you can use a modified version of the 33″ over-the-fridge cabinet. Extend the sides and stiles to meet your overall height requirement, normally 85″, using wood-veneer PCB and hardwood stiles.

Modify how you fasten the top and bottom boards with the use of screws and brackets. If you plan to use wood doorstop as a perimeter trim, place the screws that support the bottom and top boards in areas where they will be hidden by the trim. Reduce the depth of the top and bottom boards by vs” so the back board is set in flush with the sides in the rear of the cabinet.

Enclosing the refrigerator is a very common situation, so I simply extend the sides and stiles as discussed earlier. The depth of the standard 33″ over-the-fridge cabinet must be increased to fully enclose the fridge. The width of each stile should also be increased to maintain the 33″ inside clearance for the fridge. In most cases, you can use 2″-wide stiles that are notched on the inside to 1″ wide below the bottom rail to the floor. You can also extend the sides and stiles on the 36″-wide standard upper, which gives you a 34″ inside dimension for wide refrigerators.

Custom pantry units are also a popular request. By applying the standard door-to-cabinet-width relationship and the face frame-to-interior-carcass-width principle, I can easily build any size pantry cabinet.

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