Plywood garage cabinets are a great way to add storage space to your garage or workshop. Build them yourself and you can save money as well as have something unique that no one else has. These plywood cabinets are easy to build and cost less than buying readymade units, not to mention the time spent searching for the right ones and the effort of assembling them. A standard set of cabinetry will consist of four wall cabinets, two base cabinets, a top shelf unit, and two corner units. The overall measurements need to be proportional so they all fit together nicely. Each unit should also have a clearly defined back panel that can be removed for installation, allowing all components to be accessible from behind once they’re installed on-site. This article will explain how to build plywood garage cabinets with ease.
How To Build Plywood Garage Cabinets
- The first step is to prepare the plywood for cutting. To make the most of your plywood, you need to cut it into smaller pieces first, ideally the same size as your cabinets. If you’re using a circular saw, this will be quite easy. If not, enlist a friend to help you with this part.
- Now that your plywood is cut into small pieces, you can start building your cabinets. The wall cabinets are the simplest and easiest to build; they consist of a door frame and back panel only. Assemble them by screwing the door frame together with two screws on each side and then screwing on the back panel with two screws on each side as well.
- The base cabinets are built in the same way as wall cabinets but have additional shelves and legs which need to be assembled separately of course. They should also have a hole for power cords or plumbing pipes if needed (this is usually noted in plans). You can finish off by adding handles or knobs for convenience once they’re installed in place on-site later on.
- Next up are corner units which consist of three sides plus an open front-facing corner with an adjustable shelf inside it (depending on what type of cabinet you’re making). These units can be finished off with doors too if there’s enough space available but they don’t necessarily need them because their function is mainly decorative rather than practical (they just look nice).
- The top shelf unit is the most complex of them all; it consists of two sides and an open back panel that can be removed for easier access behind them. It also has adjustable shelves inside it that can be fixed in place with brackets if needed. This unit should have a hole for power cords to pass through as well.
- Finally, there’s the corner unit which is built in the same way as corner units but has four sides so it can fill up a corner without leaving gaps along the edges. These units are used to make corners look more interesting and they usually house doors as well so they’re practical too.
What You’ll Need
For the walls, you’ll need a sheet of plywood that’s at least 2 inches thick. The base and top shelf will be made from ¾-inch plywood, while the corner units will require 1/2-inch plywood sheets.
You’ll need several accessories to help you fasten the cabinets together, including ½-inch screws, four hinges for each cabinet door, two handles for each door, two knobs or pulls for each door, and a self-tapping screw for securing shelves and wall cabinets to the wall studs. You can buy these items in a hardware store or online at Amazon.com.
You can find ready-made drawings online at sites like Google Drive, Scribd, Dropbox, or even Pinterest. You can also create your own by using a CAD program like AutoCAD, Solidworks, SketchUp, or even Visio. Alternatively, you can download free clip art images of cabinets online and then use them as templates when you draw your own plans. Simply print out your template on graph paper and transfer it to a piece of plywood using carbon paper between each sheet. Use an electric drill with a countersink bit to make holes where necessary then cut out the template with a jigsaw or band saw so it fits perfectly on your wood paneling material. This is an easy way to create plans without having to learn complicated software programs.
Wood paneling material
You can use any type of wood for the panels. As a matter of fact, the only requirement is that it should be at least 1 inch thick. For example, you can get half-inch plywood or particle board and glue it together to make your own paneling material. You can also buy sheets of 3/4-inch wood veneer in a lumber yard and glue them together to make your own panels. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging and use an appropriate adhesive to ensure they’ll stick properly.
Build The Wall Cabinets
- The first step is to build the wall cabinets. Cut the plywood sheets and lay them on a flat surface, then mark out the cutout for the doors. Cut the door opening, then place it back on the sheet and mark it for drilling. Drill holes for wood screws, then apply wood glue along the edges of the door and screw it into place.
- Create a box by screwing together two adjacent sides first, then adding two more adjacent sides, and finally attaching one last side to complete the structure. This will form a box with one open side that allows you to easily slide onto your shelves.
- Place a shelf inside your box with at least 3” sticking out on both sides, then use a pencil to draw where you want to add your vertical supports at equal intervals between each shelf (see image below). Remove your shelf and drill holes in each marked point with a drill bit just slightly bigger than your screws (about 3/8”).
- Screw in all of your supports once you have finished marking them all, making sure they are level with one another as well as flush against each side of your wall cabinet box structure (see image below). You can cut off any excess support pieces if desired once all four sides have been screwed down and are level with one another.
- Use wood filler or putty to fill in any gaps around each support post until everything is smooth and flush against one another again.
Build The Top Shelf Unit
- Cut the plywood to size. The top shelf unit should be a little taller than the wall cabinets and have at least one long side measuring 2” longer than the width of the wall cabinets. This will allow you to easily attach it to them later on.
- Cut out the back panel. Cut out a rectangular piece of plywood that’s 1” wider and taller than your wall cabinets, so they can fit snugly into it when they’re installed on-site.
- Mark where to drill holes for screws. Use a pencil to mark where you need to drill holes for screws that will hold your shelves in place or use a template as you did with your wall cabinets if you want cleaner lines and fewer marks on the face of your shelf unit (see below).
- Pre-drill holes for easier drilling later on. Using a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the diameter of your screws, pre-drill holes into each pencil mark from step 3 above so you can easily screw in your screws without splitting the wood when it comes time to install these shelves onto their face frames (the wooden frame around each shelf).
- Attach the back panel using pocket hole joinery. With this method, you create small pockets in your plywood back panel by drilling holes into its edge and then inserting short pieces of wood called ‘staples’ into these holes before fastening them together with nails or screws. This is a very easy and quick way to join two pieces of wood together, which is why it’s used in this project.
- Cut the plywood for the shelf faces. Mark the plywood for each shelf face according to your measurements and cut it accordingly. The front edges of each shelf should be cut at 45 degrees so that they can fit into their face frames easily when you install them later on.
When building plywood cabinets, always make sure the end grain is facing outwards, as this is the weakest part of the board. If you want the plywood to last longer, you can replace the end grain with squares of solid wood. If you want a clean, modern look, you can paint your cabinets. Alternatively, you can stain them if you prefer a more traditional look. Whichever finish you choose, always apply several coats to prevent the wood from drying out and cracking prematurely.