DIFFICULTY: Intermediate

The Custom Built-ins started out with lots of research, and like many DIY project we looked to Pinterest and Houzz for inspiration. You can follow me on Pinterest here and Houzz here. A lot of love and time went into this project and in this post you will learn how the cabinets were made. The second post will discuss the fireplace and the third will conclude with the bookshelves. Below is a photo of the final project.

Finshed Project – Shaker Fireplace Surround and Cabinets

Samantha and I started out on Pinterest pinning many different types of looks and styles. We later mixed and matched features that we liked and finally found something that worked. I can’t stress enough how important research is. This process is often over looked because DIYers just want to get to the building process as quickly as possible, but trust me when I say doing solid research will save you a lot of stress and time when it comes to building. 

I have created a PDF with all the information, measurements and details you need to make this amazing fireplace. Here is a link to where you can download the plans

Watch How To Build A Shaker Door Video


  • 3/4in 4×8 Sheet UV Birch Plywood | https://homedepot.sjv.io/MaPDN
  • 1x2x8 Select Poplar Board | https://homedepot.sjv.io/vnrZYe
  • 1x3x8 Select Poplar Board | https://homedepot.sjv.io/vnrZYe
  • MDF Pannel | https://homedepot.sjv.io/6ZnPV



Step 1

How to build a shaker cabinet you can start by following these basic instruction. For a more detailed version be sure to download the plans.

3/4″ Birch Plywood

Step 2

The next part of the building process was to build the face frames. A face frame is the part of a cabinet that the doors attach to as well as the front of the cabinet. I chose to use Poplar wood for my face frames because it is easy to work with and paint.

Faceframe for my cabinets

I used glue and a Kreg Jig to attach all the parts of the face frame together.

Pocket holes using a Kreg Jig

Step 3

Next I had to build the cabinet doors. This was my most favorite part of the project. Because I wanted to build a shaker style door I used a mortise and tenon joint for the cabinet doors. You can see in the picture that I am using my table saw to cut the tenon.

Step 4

Here are the shaker doors. I produced a total of 6 doors for the cabinets. Below is a picture of the doors assembled and ready for painting.

Shaker Doors ready for painting
Painted White Shaker Doors

Step 5

The most challenging thing to cabinetry is getting everything square. The margin for error is very narrow about 1/16th to 1/32. Here is a top and front view of the cabinets with the doors attached.

Bottom Shaker Cabinet With Doors attached

Step 6

Before I started painting I had to add a 1 inch strip of poplar to the front top to cover up the layers of plywood. This gives the impression that the top is made out of a solid piece of wood. Next, I gave everything a 320 grit sanding to prep it for painting.

Here is a fun Animated GIF of the installation. You can see the adjustable shelves being installed and the doors.

During the installation of the cabinets into my house, I learned a lot about how my house was built. Unlike cabinet making, houses do not have to be built perfect or square. In my shop, the cabinets doors fit perfectly and were square. When I installed the cabinets into the house, I noticed my drywall and floors were not level or square, this caused all sorts of issues with my cabinet doors.

If you look closely at the picture above you can see the doors are not exactly flush with the face frame. This is because the cabinet base and sides are torqued by the walls and floor. Before I started the project I knew this could be an issue so I compensated about a 1/4 of an inch gap for the cabinets to breath and fit into but this was not enough. This issue has given me an opportunity to learn and think of different about my installation and building methods.

I learned a lot about cabinetry and I hope this post will help and inspire you in your wood working projects. Check out part 2 “How to Build a Built-in Part 2 of 3 – The Firleplace


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Tiffany Riddle February 12, 2016 at 6:09 am

If you had to do it again would you chose to build the cabinetry into the space rather than retrofit?


    Philip Miller February 12, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    That is a good question. I think I would have just made the cabinetry smaller by 1/2in or 3/4 in, this would remove torquing pressure that the walls created on the cabinets. The floor unevenness could have been compensated by shims. The only issue remaining would be the gaps and I think I could have solved that issue by creating custom strips of wood to fill and blend in with the cabinets.


Marshall March 28, 2016 at 1:02 am

I am doing almost the same build but instead of a fireplace that’s my media cabinet and then tower speaker openings on each side of the TV. I am still debating on hinges, I was European concealed hinges, I see you went with inset visible hinges. This is my first cabinet project, is there a reason you went that way, my only concern is finding concealed hinges that work with a face frame because it’s not even with the interior dividers.


    Philip Miller March 31, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Marshall,

    Looking back I should have used different hinges to help compensate for the torquing that happened during installation. European hinges were what I was going to originally used but I liked the idea of exposing my hinges to give the built-in contrast. I used a No Mortise Hinge you can purchase them here on amazon http://amzn.to/1RPH6K2 I should have used these Deluxe Butt Hinges http://amzn.to/1VaByce because I could have compensated for the torquing issues….the only downside is you have to mortise them in so that will take some additional time.


Richard October 29, 2017 at 10:23 pm

How high is your mantel and how much distance from top of mantel to bottom of TV?


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