DIY Shaker cabinets

As I mentioned earlier, the cabinets in the kitchen are very old – but they are solid wood and, aside from a really bad paint job, were in pretty great condition. So my plan was to take the doors off and drawers out, sand the fronts down smooth, then follow Jenny’s tutorial for adding molding to faux the look of Shaker fronts, and finally paint with Benjamin Moore ADVANCE paint.



The pictures I have documenting this work are not pretty – certainly not something you’d want to Pin. Because I loved my job and was helping to test our Android app, I was using an S4 phone at the time which has the worst camera I’ve ever seen. Even outside the quality of the photos, they are not staged or prettied up to be featured on a blog (at the time I didn’t plan to blog about this at all!). This is a glimpse into our real life process for doing this crazy project of ours. As an aside about blogging in general, I do not know how people can do these types of projects while taking care of a family and living in the home and still some how manage to get really beautiful pictures of their projects.

Anyway, here goes:

I packed up a bunch of our tools from our Jersey City condo and drove out to the house to get started:


I bought an air compressor and a pneumatic nailer, and picked up enough pre-primed, pine lattice for all the doors. At this point, we were still thinking of removing the set of drawers to put the dishwasher there, so I eventually had to go back out and pick up more supplies when we decided to keep them.

The process was fairly simple: First sand down all the flat fronts. I used my palm sanded and started with 60 grit, went to 120 and then finished with 220.

Next, measure the height of the cabinet door and cut the lattice to length, and then secure to the door with several nails. If I was doing this project over, I would have absolutely used some adhesive to help secure the lattice to the door – rookie mistake here.


Measure the gap between the two vertical pieces of lattice, cut lattice to size and secure with nails.


Then, fill all gaps and nail holes with woody putty and sand smooth. This part sounds simple but it was really tedious.

For the uppers, I wanted to have antiqued mirrored fronts instead of the solid wood fronts like the lower cabinets, so I measured out a rectangular hole slightly larger than the interior perimeter of the lattice that I would be adding to the front, drilled a hole in the center of that so I could fit the jigsaw blade into it and then roughly cut out that shape with the jigsaw. After the hole was cut, I proceeded with the same steps as I did with the lowers.



I was feeling pretty great about this progress. I think I got this all done in one day. Maybe I did the puttying and sanding on day two, I can’t remember.

I moved all the doors up into the attic to paint them as we were getting all the wood floors sanded, stained and poly’d and there was no where else to put them. This was very early June 2014 at this point – surprisingly the attic was not crazy hot.



I primed everything using Stix Primer, recommended to me at our local paint store, brushing paint into the corners and then rolling smooth with a 4″ best quality, foam roller. It takes 24 hrs to dry. Next day, flipped over and primed the other side.



I chose Benamin Moore’s ADVANCE paint for the finish coat because it was highly recommend by Bower Power and Young House Love. It requires 24 hrs between coats and several days of drying time before flipping over to coat the back, so this part took awhile. During that time, it also got much hotter outside and so did my attic.

So after the floors were refinished, I moved this project into what would be our master bedroom once we moved in. I also picked up these little tripod thingies to lift the doors off the floor so I could paint the sides without the paint puddling and drying into lace like appendages that would then need to be sanded off (not saying that happened with the primer or anything like that…).


At this point, I was feeling pretty good. I had one more coat to go and about a week before move-in. Until I realized those little tripod thingies left deep dents in the wood which needed to be filled with putty, sanded, primed and painted again.

I had a breakdown at this point, FYI.

So now it was the day before move-in, my dad and brothers came to help me take out the old counters and install our new sink (which we couldn’t get done in one day, so they were doing this as the movers and Bryan’s dad were moving furniture and boxes in around us).

But some how we went from this:


To this to somewhere around a week after moving in:


Now that our bed and dressers were in the big bedroom upstairs, I relocated the doors to what would eventually be Bryan’s office and to finish painting them:


We were able to install the solid doors shortly there after:



(You may also notice I painted the walls somewhere in here. More on that later).

With the new hardware, it was looking pretty sharp:


Getting the glass cut, antiqued, secured into the frames and then hung was a much bigger project. We referenced many different tutorials, but more less followed this one.

With 1/8″ thick glass cut to size, we sprayed the back with Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint. Then we flicked acetone onto the painted surface and carefully sopped it back up. This lifted the mirrored finish off wherever the acetone fell. We tried to concentrate the drops towards the edged of the glass.



Once that was fully dried, we sprayed the backs with black spray paint. This would fill in the holes created in the finish with black which would give it the antiqued look we were hoping for.



Bryan took over the project fully at this point. He probably has more photos of what we did to secure the glass into the frames. But more or less, we used silicon adhesive to glue the glass to the lattice fronts of the doors, then added some small decorative molding to sandwich the glass into the frames. Everything on the back of the glass and the new moldings were then painted the same white as the door for a finished look when the cabinet is open.

Miraculously, they ended up looking like this:


To refresh your memory, this is where we started: