On the Drawer Front

Yesterday, we shared some of our kitchen progress.  On Sunday, Ben the builder and Handy Sammy worked on drawer fronts.  We have a post in the works detailing how we made our own cabinets, drawers, drawer fronts, and cabinet doors, so I won’t get into too much detail right now.  Basically, Ben cut a sheet of 1/2 inch thick MDF to the drawer sizes.  Then he cut countless strips of 1/4 inch thick MDF into 2 1/2 inch wide strips.  Then, he glues…

and nails (using the same pin nails) the thin strips on the 1/2 inch MDF.

Wipe away the excess glue and you’ve got a drawer front.

Repeat these steps twenty or so times and you’re almost done.

Ben likes to run each edge through the table saw to get everything perfectly lined up.  Once that’s done, he passes the unfinished fronts on to me.  Montana winter is setting in, so I hauled all 20 drawer fronts to the large basement bedroom to get started on filling the holes and seams.

In a way, I’m happy Ben used pin nails.  The holes are tiny, which makes filling easier.  At the same time, it makes finding the nail holes much more difficult.  Can you spy all six nail holes in this picture?

The brown flecks in the MDF make it difficult to decide whether I see a nail hole or just a spot.  But, I just filled every hole and crack I saw.  I like to use my finger to fill nail holes and a small spatula to fill the seams.

Two episodes of Bones later, I finished.

With the fronts!  I still have to fill all four sides of the drawers.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to fill some seams.  I think I’m going to go crazy after that.  After that, tons of sanding, priming and painting.  Yep, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy.  And you thought our kitchen was chugging right along.  This is going to take a while.

Does filling holes, priming, and painting drive you batty?  How about waiting for paint to dry?  I’m so not looking forward to all that painting, but I want pretty drawers.  Wish me luck.  Hopefully we’ll have something to share in a week or two.

15 thoughts on “On the Drawer Front

  1. I’ve been loving following your step by step progress. You’ll truly have a handcrafted kitchen when you are done. My goodness though, I’m glad it’s you doing the work and not me! LOL.

    1. Hey Catherine! Thanks so much! Our kitchen will be fantastic (at least to us) when we’re done, but yes, it is so much work! Definitely be thankful you’re not filling, sanding, priming, and painting everything. 😉

      Hi Monica W, You’re right, completely tedious, but it will be worth it. And, it’s not like we didn’t know what we were getting into. Heck, we’ve made cabinet doors and drawers for two entertainment centers, my office, three bathrooms, and the laundry room. I think we’re well versed in tedium. Haha.


  2. I think doing everything by hand must be so tedious, but in the end you’ll appreciate it so much more. I wish my husband would be up for that challenge!!

  3. Holy crap! You are SO productive!! I still think your kitchen is chugging right along….you move much faster than I do 🙂

  4. Oh my goodness they are going to look SO good. I can’t stand filling, sanding and waiting either, I actually cringed a bit when I saw those pictures and wished I could just pop by to help. It will all be worth it though, those drawer fronts are going to be such a wow factor in that kitchen, along with the floors, counters, cabinets, oh my!


  5. ohhh my god….that is what i want my hubby to do…we are making our own cabinets tooo….itsss so much work…but we are saving so much on labor by doin it our selves…n at da same time keepin an eye on a 4yr old hyper active toddler….one thing we figured out is why labor cost is more than material cost…becoz no matter what thers soooooo much to do…n i for one hate waiting for the paint to dry…lolz thanks for this post btw….i cnshow dis to my hubby….coz ur cabinets are more than ours…n we thot we wer working hard….lolz

  6. Those are looking good! I love that you measure time like I do- in episodes of TV shows. I once tried to explain to someone that making 2 quilts took me 2 seasons of Skins and 8 episodes of Bones and she looked at me like I was crazy. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my time measuring ways.

  7. That looks incredible! I have a question though. You said you used a spatula to fill the seams. Would you mind giving me a little more information about that? Me and the hubs are on the upswing of our first kitchen renovation, and I’ve been spending countless hours filling in seams between cabinets! Your method sounds like it might be much easier.

    1. Hi Andrea P! Thanks so much! You’re always so encouraging! Love it!

      Hey Jen! Thanks, lady! Filling, sanding and waiting is the worst, right? I wish you lived closer, even if you were here just to chat. 🙂 And, it will definitely be worth it in the end. I just have to remember that while working on endless drawer fronts. Haha.

      Hi Zana, Building cabinets is SO much work! We’re definitely saving money compared to buying cabinets, and we got to make every decision, so that’s nice. I hear you on the hyper kiddos to watch while working on the kitchen. 🙂 Good luck with your cabinets!

      Hey Julie, Aww, thanks! It’s much easier to measure in episodes, isn’t it? Because if you take a break between episodes, you still know how many you’ve watched. And, if you really wanted to figure out the time,you could multiply the minutes per episode by episodes/seasons watched. It’s perfect! And, kudos to you for working on quilts that take 2 seasons to complete. I would have stopped right after cutting every piece. Ha.

      Hi My Honest Answer! In my experience, tedium usually equals tons of money saved. It will all be worth it in the end. That’s what I tell myself when I’m working on these projects.

      Hey Kristen! Ben’s the handy one, I’m the patient, detail oriented one. Haha. Just a little more to go. 🙂

      Hi Tiffany, Thanks so much! To fill the seams, I use a very small spackle spatula, like this. Actually, mine isn’t a multi purpose, but it works best of you put a little compound on it, then drag it across the surface. I find the best way to get a smooth surface is to hold the spatula as close to parallel as possible. This helps reduce drag marks. Can I ask where your seams are that you’re filling? On cabinet doors? Actual cabinets? A wall?


  8. Found your blog via younghouselove. I’d love to build new cabinet doors for my existing kitchen. I get how you made the drawer fronts and attached them to the plywood for the lower cabinets, but what about the upper cabinets that aren’t drawers but just needed doors therefore no plywood to attach them to. Did you build the upper doors the same way and then just put them on hinges?

  9. OK I really dislike MDF because it chips easy-learned that the hard way after installing MDF baseboards. How are your cabinets holding up though?

    1. Hi Monika!

      Yes, MDF can chip easily, but all the MDF drawers we’ve had have held up well. We don’t live in that house anymore, but our current ones are doing well, too. The good thing about painted MDF is that it’s easy to fill and repaint. Hope that helps!


  10. I would really love the details on how you built the doors. I am finally ready to tackle making mine.


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