Veneering Plywood for Cabinets

Summer’s barely started in Portland, but the weekend calendar for the rest of the season is already full. Which leaves little time for DIYing. Before our summer kick-off trip to see Sean-in-law next week, we decided to stick around the house, have a little BBQ action with some friends, bottle a batch of home brew (well, most of it) and veneer the cabinet boxes I’ve been working on.

Let’s take a step back… Because of the way I designed the mudroom, the cabinets need to be custom built to fit properly. I got a few quotes to have custom cabinets built, and they were upwards of $2,000. NO THANKS.  So I decided to build them myself (oh, weird).

Step 1: I drew up plans, more technical than the pantry plan, but still nothing super fancy. Then I did a little plotting, to make sure I could get the most out of each piece of plywood.

Step 2, 3, 4: With the plans drawn, I cut the plywood to size. Then, using a router with a ¾” mortising bit, I routed channels at the top, bottom, and where the shelves will go.  Glue the channels, slap everything together, clamp the panels together tightly and throw a few brads in each shelf for good measure.

Step 5: VENEER!!!

I’ve never veneered anything in my life. And when I read horror stories about bubbly, ripply, cracky DIY veneering nightmares, I was a little nervous. So I read all of the tips and tricks and how-tos out there before giving it a go.

I was able to find a sheet of CVG Fir online and had it delivered to the house for about $80. After it had “acclimated” to our climate, sandwiched between two sheets of plywood for a week, I cut pieces to loosely fit the cabinet panels, allowing for about ½” overlap on each side. Then, I applied a thick coat of DAP contact cement to the paper backing and the plywood cabinet box.

Laid down spacers on the plywood.

Lined up the veneer.

And working from the center, pulled out each spacer. Then, with my homemade veneer scraper, applied plenty of weight to the veneer to assure good adhesion and to remove the bubbles.

Then I trimmed the edges with a very sharp utility knife, and voila:

Once I build the face frames and cabinet doors, these puppies will look like they’re made of solid fir…. Well, at least from the outside.


  1. Jim Dodd said:

    Uncle Jim says “Good Job”!!!

    July 9, 2012
  2. Mommy said:

    You continue to amaze me! When we build our next house…..OH NO…I so am not ready to go through all that again!

    July 30, 2012

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