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Back in time

Make a traditional, country style kitchen cabinet using simple materials and some perseverance


I’ve wanted to make something slightly different from the usual kitchen cabinets for a while now and finally happened upon the traditional country style which I really liked. 


I designed my project based on pictures I found on Pinterest for inspiration. After many drawings on SketchUp pro, I had my plan ready. You can take the cutting list below to your nearest Timbercity and have your project pieces cut while you wait, or you can order them for later collection. I had my wood cut at Strydom Park Timbercity and found all the cuts extremely accurate.


By Johann Stadler


Large bag of 3.5 x 40mm cut screws

3mm wood drill bit

Wood glue

5L Prominent Paints Wood Primer

2L each of two Prominent Paints Sheen colours of your choice

1 small tub wood filler

Project guide

Difficulty: Intermediate

Estimated time: 1-2 weeks

Cost: ±R3500

Cutting list

19mm shutter ply:

      Quantity         Length               Width

A            2              800mm              530mm

B            1              1 257mm          762mm

C            4              181mm              100mm

D            4              200mm              100mm

E            2              1 257mm          530mm

F            2              450mm              481mm

G            3              319mm              511mm

H            2              762mm              511mm

I             2              440mm              752mm

J             2              1 257mm          231mm

K            2              1 077mm          300mm

L            1              1 295mm          300mm

M           1              1 257mm          1 077mm


6mm MDF:

      Quantity         Length               Width

N           4              440mm              70mm

O           4              612mm              70mm


Meranti worktop:

1 355mm x 560mm

Step-by-step guide

Step 1: Sand every piece of material you have with 100-grit sandpaper. I used an orbital sander for this. I only sanded after assembling the pieces and it was a lot more difficult. Don’t sand too much, you don’t want to sand away the natural grain that will be visible through the paint.

Step 2: Router piece M with a 90* V-grooving router bit every 126mm down the 1 077mm side. Only router about 2mm deep. This is to create the effect that the back is put together with individual wood panels (see Fig. 2). 

Step 3: Glue and clamp the 6mm pieces to the doors (pieces I), the two 440mm lengths (N) at the top and bottom and the 612mm (O) lengths on the side. Make sure they are nicely aligned, don’t use too much glue and clamp them thoroughly. Leave them to dry for a few hours.

Step 4: Now cut the legs. Place pieces C and D next to each other. Piece C is 19mm shorter than D to compensate for when you attach C to D – this will make up the lost 19mm. Cut out a curve as shown in the leg graphic before you sand them neatly (see Fig. 4).

Step 5: Attach pieces D to pieces C with three 3.5 x 40mm cut screws each. Remember to first drill a 3mm pilot hole through the first material piece (D). This will guide the screw into material C without splitting the wood. You end up with four corner legs. You can sand the butt joints smooth again (see Fig. 3).

Step 6: Join one of the E pieces to B; this is the top and back of the lower cupboard. Then join another E piece to B on the other end. Now you have a back, top and bottom joined. 

Step 7: Turn the joint pieces lengthwise and attach one of the A pieces to one side. Turn the project the other way around and attach another A piece to the other side. Now you have an open box shape. Make sure you attach the material pieces exactly square so that you end up with a square box. 

Step 8: Now build the inside shelves as in Fig. 5. 

Step 9: Attach the legs to the bottom of the cabinet. I did this by drilling and gluing two 6mm dowels in each side and two screws through the width of the material. I then clamped them tight and left them to dry overnight. 

Step 10: Use a round over router bit to router the edges of the meranti worktop. Only router the top sides and front. Don’t router the back.  

Step 11: Sand the meranti worktop with 80-, 100-, 120- and then 150-grit sandpaper. This will leave it smooth. Wipe any dust from the worktop with a lint free cloth lightly soaked in turpentine. Then apply a generous amount of Woodoc 10 to the top and bottom with a proper synthetic paintbrush. Leave it for 12 hours and repeat. Make sure the sealer doesn’t run and make teardrops on your worktop. Leave it for a further 12 hours at least, then apply a final coat. I then left the top for about three days to dry properly. 

Step 12: Assemble the top part by attaching the sides (K) to the back (M). Next attach the top part (L). Now measure 350mm from the top down. This is where the first shelf (J) goes. Measure another 350mm and attach the second shelf. 

Step 13: All the pieces are now assembled. Now fill every hole, indent or gap on all the pieces with wood filler. Leave it to dry for about four hours and then fill again as the wood filler will shrink as it dries. Now leave the wood filler to dry for at least 12 hours before sanding it smooth with 120-grit paper.

Step 14: Now rid your workshop of dust – vacuum the material, then wipe down all the pieces with a wet, lint free cloth.

Step 15: Of all the jobs in DIY, I hate painting the most, but working with Prominent Paints made it quite a pleasure. It is easy to use with a smooth and even spread, while it also cleans easily. Start painting your project with the Prominent Paints Wood Primer. I used a 110mm sponge roller and 25mm synthetic brush for this. Leave it for about 12 hours to dry before applying another coat. Then leave the wood primer to dry for at least 18 hours. Make sure the primer doesn’t form any droplets as these will show on the finished product, especially in your V grooved router slots. Use a paintbrush to thin out the primer. If you did make that mistake, you can sand the primer lightly when it is dry.  

Step 16: Apply the first coat of paint. Start with the lighter colour. Paint all along the edges and hard-to-reach places with a paintbrush; again, take great care in the V grooves.

Step 17: Now apply the lighter colour paint wherever needed with a smooth sponge paint roller. Repeat step 16 and 17 several times with at least five-hour intervals. It will take several coats of the lighter colour to cover the wood primer properly, but do this properly and you will be well rewarded with a properly finished cupboard.

Step 18: As with the lighter paint, apply the darker colour with a brush in the hard-to-reach areas and then apply the rest with a roller. The darker colour covers much easier and you will find that two coats will most probably do the trick. 

The water-based paint will easily wash out with running water and is environmentally safe, so it can be flushed down the drain. The wood primer is more difficult to clean. I cleaned the brush with turpentine and let the sponge rollers dry before I binned them.

Step 19: Once all the paint is dry, hang the doors. I used normal butt hinges, two on each door, and evenly spaced the doors inside the cupboard (about 5mm on each side) before screwing the hinges down. 

Step 20: I found two ceramic, hand painted door knobs at a boutique. I think they really create a perfect finish for the cupboard. I drilled two 6mm holes about 100mm down and 35mm in from the side to attach the knobs.

Step 21: Turn the top piece upside down. Attach the meranti worktop to it 30mm from each side and flush with the back (see Fig. 6).

Step 22: Turn the top piece upright and place it on the bottom piece. Drill two holes from the inside of each cupboard through, so you can secure the worktop to the bottom piece.


You are now finished and you can enjoy your cupboard. Although it was hard work, I thought this project wasn’t too difficult and it was very rewarding to see the final result.

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