How to Build Inset Cabinets

Have you ever dreamed of having custom built-in cabinets in your home? Don’t let the costs associated with hiring a professional discourage you – it’s easier than you might think to build inset cabinets yourself! In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of the tools and materials needed for DIY inset cabinet construction as well as detailed instructions on how to assemble and install them.

How to Build Inset Cabinets

With some simple carpentry skills and an afternoon dedicated to crafting your new storage solution, you’ll soon have beautiful custom cabinetry that will make guests envious! So grab a hammer, drill saw, and other tools from your toolbox: it’s time to learn how to build inset cabinets!

What are Inset Cabinets?

Inset cabinets are different from other types of cabinetry because the door and drawers of the cabinet sit partly inside the frame. This gives them a more polished, finished look that can really add character to any room in your home.  This cabinet style is also much easier to install and adjust than other types of cabinetry, so it’s a great way to save time when installing your custom cabinets.

The Benefits of Inset Cabinets

1. Add Style

Inset cabinets provide a sleek, stylish look that is perfect for modern and traditional homes alike.  They are also easier to adjust than other types of cabinetry because the door and drawers sit inside the frame. This means you can make minor adjustments without having to worry about misaligning or damaging any parts of the cabinet.

2. More Space-Efficient

Inset cabinets are also much more space efficient than other types of cabinetry. The smaller profile of the cabinet allows you to fit more storage into a smaller amount of space, making it ideal for tight quarters. Additionally, inset cabinets have fewer visible gaps and joints, giving them a seamless look that is perfect for more formal areas of your home.

3. Easy to Install and Adjust

Inset cabinets are much easier to install than other types of cabinetry because they don’t require as many adjustments or complex measurements. Additionally, the door and drawers sit inside the frame, making it easy to make small adjustments without damaging any parts of the cabinet.

Tools and Materials

Materials Needed for Inset Cabinets

The materials you’ll need to build inset cabinets include the following:

  • Wood (plywood or hardwood) for the cabinet frame, doors, and drawers
  • Cabinet hinges for attaching the doors to the frame
  • Cabinet drawer slides for mounting the drawers in place
  • Screws and nails for assembling the frame
  • Sandpaper for smoothing out rough edges on wood pieces
  • Wood glue or wood filler to join wood pieces together
  • A finish (paint or stain) for the final look

Tools Needed for Inset Cabinets

Before you can begin assembling your inset cabinets, there are a few tools you’ll need to get started:

  • Table saw or circular saw for cutting wood pieces to size
  • Drill and drill bits for screwing together the frame and mounting the hinges
  • Sander for smoothing out rough edges on wood pieces
  • Chisels or a router for cutting grooves in the frame for mounting cabinet doors and drawers
  • Hammer and nails for assembling frame pieces
  • Level to ensure your cabinets are even when installed
  • Finish (paint or stain) for the final look

10 Techniques on How to Build Inset Cabinets

1. Measure the Space

Before you start building your inset cabinets, it’s important to measure the area where they will be installed. This will ensure that your cabinets fit perfectly in their space and have an even look when installed. The proper measurements will also make it easier to determine the size of the wood pieces you need to purchase when shopping for materials.

Ensure That Your Cabinets Fit Perfectly

2. Cut Wood Pieces to Size

Once you have your measurements, use a table saw or circular saw to cut the various pieces of wood needed for your cabinets. Make sure all of your pieces are cut accurately and precisely, as they will need to fit together correctly in order for the cabinets to be properly assembled.

3. Assemble the Frame

Once all of your wood pieces are cut to size, you’ll need to assemble the frame of your cabinets. This is done by screwing or nailing the pieces together, making sure they are securely joined and aligned.

4. Attach Hinges and Drawer Slides

The next step is to attach the hinges and drawer slides to the frame of your cabinets. This will ensure that the doors open and close properly, as well as provide extra stability for the drawers when in use.

5. Cut Grooves for Doors and Drawers

Once the hinges and drawer slides are in place, you’ll need to cut grooves into the frame for inserting the doors and drawers. This can be done with a chisel or router, depending on your preference.

6. Install Doors and Drawers

Now that all of your openings have been created, it’s time to install the doors and drawers. Start by inserting the doors into their grooves, then insert the drawer slides in place and attach them to the frame.

7. Add Finishing Touches

Once all of your pieces are in place, it’s time to add some finishing touches to your cabinets. This can include adding decorative trim around the edges or installing handles and knobs on the doors and drawers.

8. Sand Down Rough Edges

Before applying any finish to your cabinets, it’s important to sand down any rough edges or imperfections in the wood. This will give your cabinets a smoother look and help protect them from damage over time.

Sand Down Any Rough Edges

9. Apply Finish

Once all of the rough edges are sanded down, you can begin to apply a finish of your choice. This can include painting or staining the cabinets for an even look and extra protection against wear and tear.

10. Install Cabinets

Finally, it’s time to install your inset cabinets in their space. Make sure to use the appropriate hardware and follow any instructions from the manufacturer for a secure installation.

Once your cabinets are in place, you can enjoy the extra storage space and stylish touch they add to your home! If you need help with this project, consider enlisting the services of a professional to ensure that all steps are completed correctly. A qualified contractor will be able to provide insight into materials, design options, and installation techniques to make sure you get the best results.

8 Safety Measures to Take

1. Choose the Right Clothing. Wear safety glasses, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to protect your skin from debris. The right footwear, such as boots or steel-toed shoes, is also important.

2. Set Up Your Workspace Correctly. Make sure the area is well-ventilated and free of combustible materials before you begin working with wood or tools. If it is not, make sure to move the work outdoors or to a different area.

3. Follow Safety Instructions on the Tools. Read and understand all of the safety warnings that accompany the power tools you will be using before beginning your project.

4. Use Clamps and Other Supports Whenever Possible. Clamps help keep pieces of wood in place while cutting or grinding them, and they reduce the risk of injury.

5. Wear a Dust Mask When Cutting Wood. Wood dust can contain toxins that can be inhaled if you don’t take safety measures to protect yourself. Dust masks are inexpensive and easy to wear.

6. Disconnect the Power Source Before Making Adjustments or cleaning the tools. This will help prevent accidental starts that can cause serious injury or damage to your tools.

7. Unplug All Electrical Devices when not in use to avoid electric shocks as well as potential fire hazards. Unplugging tools when not in use also helps to conserve energy.

8. Keep Children and Pets Away from the work area at all times. Accidents can happen quickly and unexpectedly, so it is important to keep small hands and paws away from any power tools or sharp objects.

Wear Safety Glasses

By following these safety measures, you will be well on your way to building inset cabinets that are safe and durable. With the right tools, materials, and knowledge, you will be able to design and create cabinetry that meets all of your needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Will It Take to Finish the Project?

The amount of time it takes to build inset cabinets can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of your project. Generally speaking, a small cabinet made from solid wood such as maple or cherry can take anywhere from one day to three days. If you are using plywood, the project may be completed in less time. In either case, it is important to take the time necessary to ensure the cabinets are built correctly and will last for many years.

Ensure the Cabinets Are Built Correctly

What is the Best Wood for a Cabinet?

The best wood to use for cabinet construction depends on the look you are going for and your budget. Hardwoods like maple, cherry, and oak are the most durable and will last a very long time if properly maintained. Plywood is often used as an affordable alternative but may not be quite as strong or aesthetically pleasing as solid wood.  Consider the look you want to achieve and your budget when choosing the ideal wood for your cabinets.


Building inset cabinets might seem like an intimidating job, but with the right materials and preparation on how to build inset cabinets, you can make it look easy. Utilize these tips for accurate measurements and mounting as a guide, and you’ll be able to create your own beautiful inset cabinets in no time. After framing the cabinet components and installing them in the opening, don’t forget to install the doors, knobs, and drawer pulls that will help bring it all together.

Your new built-in cabinets will add character to your space while helping meet all of your storage needs. The possibilities are endless with what you can do when you put your mind to it; building customized inset cabinetry is just one example of making something great out of nothing!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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