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Hello Again Michael Evans and anyone else who might have a suggestion, 

When I went to buy my wood for the garage cabinets I planning to make, I was going to buy 

3/4 birch like you suggested. I was told by Home depot associate that I can use 3/4 pine. I didn't think using all pine was good but I was thinking of now using
The 3/4" Birch for the sides, tops and bottoms of the cabinets, and the 3/4 Pine for the doors. Do you think this is a good idea, or stay with all 3/4 birch. I am also having trouble trying to figure out what hinges to use. Maybe I should have just bought ready made cabinets huh?....LOL  Anyway I appreciate yours and anybody's help, and Hope I not being a Pain about this. Thanks Again, Wayne


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Wayne, either one works however it depends on what quality and how you want to build the cabinets.  You can use the birch plywood that is 3/4inch for the boxes and also doors if you are wanting to build a slab door style.  You should however use some 3/4" lumber of either birch, popular and or pine which would be the least expensive of the wood common in cabinet building for face frames.   The pine is the softest of the ones used and would be my last choice,   If you are wanting to build a true European design which is known also as frameless you can use all birch plywood and use the tape to cover the plywood ends. 

Keep in mind that unless you use a cabinet grade plywood you will find  voids in the edges.  You could also use thin strips of a hardwood (birch or popular) in place of a tape edge.  If building a slab door you will also be needing to add the strips and or tape on the door edges as well if you are wanting to make a nice looking cabinet.

From my experience in the trade I would recommend building face frame cabinets as they are much easier to build as in European cabinet the tolerance of fitting is close. 

As far as doors there are several options from the slab door to the panel doors.  In the panel door they can be the simple flat 1/4" ply wood panel all the way up to the raised panel doors.  It is a choice of your options with the slab door being the better between the simple 1/4 inch plywood panel that is surrounded by a 3/4" thick by 1& 1/2"  to 2"  wide solid wood rails and stiles.  The simple reason is the weakness of a thin panel is the ability of it to warp and especially in an environment where moisture can be come a factor.  My choice would be the panel doors only using a raised panel of solid wood as it is a strong and rugged door when built correctly.

Hinges again is another option of choice.  You can use the simple exposed hinge or the hidden hinge known as the European hinge.  The European hinge gives you more options of hinge configuration for amount of opening as well as allowing you some control over how the door hangs on the openings.  With the European hinge you can adjust them for reveal, and tilt and tips in the door.  With the simple hinge you do not have this option. 

I have several cabinet photos and projects on my main page as well as several articles that I have written recently on European hinges that may be of interest to you.  Use the search setting on the main page and type in European hinges and you may find some help by typing in cabinet building. 

If I can answer any questions let me know and I would be glad to help you.

Wow Jay , Thank You for taking the time in answering my question with such a detailed answer.

I truly appreciate the time you put into writing this. Being a beginner I will have to do a search on some the the
woodworking term you used...LOL
This will make it easier for me to understand.
Once Again...Thank You Very Much, Wayne

Wayne here is one of my posts:


Reply by Jay Boutwell on August 30, 2014 at 12:34pmDelete

Cheryl, in continuing with the explanation of the European cabinet and its variations.  European styled cabinets are the ones that have no face frame and can have either inset doors that actually are housed within the inside of the cabinet box.  They can also be ones that have the doors that are located outside of the cabinet box and hinged using European (concealed hinges).  The cabinet box construction is straight forward however due to the configuration of the European hinge the best material thickness to build the cabinet box out of is 3/4 Inch.  In to days practice most think of the European cabinet as being made of melamine which is the usual white color and is some applications is the best such as used in the industrial cabinetry and medical uses.  It is preferred as a material as it is easy to clean and does not leave a finish that is preferred as germ free surface.  However the use of 3/4inch plywood is also a good choice as it gives you an easy option to finish in a variety of ways and is lighter in weight than melamine.  Melamine is also a chip problem in both cutting with a saw and also edge chipping.   Getting back to the cabinet box design.

Once the cabinet box is built the raw edge of the plywood or melamine should be concealed by either a tape or using wood face frame where it is built in two ways.  I prefer to use wood and if I wish to build a true styled European cabinet I will use wood that is also 3/4 inch thick and 3/4 in wide and glue and nail it to the cabinet box.  I will use a pocket hole in places where you can hide the pocket hole such as on the sides where it will be concealed by another cabinet and in cases where the use of a pocket hole can be hidden such as in a drawer bank.  A word about glue, the use of standard wood glue is excellent on the raw edges of both plywood and the raw edges of melamine.  The is the time when you must alter from the standard wood glue and that is when you need to glue actual melamine surface to melamine surface and this will require the use of a different glue.  My choice is "Roo Glue" which is produced in two types, one for wood and one for plastic.  You will need to use the one for plastic when gluing melamine to melamine.

Should this be you choice of design they you must cut the cabinet members down to accommodate the thickness or you will have a cabinet that is 3/4 inch deeper.  It would be like sizing the cabinet box cuts the same as you would should you be building one with a standard face frame.  When cutting sizes of the cabinet box members for the inset doors then you need to cut the members to the width that you wish the cabinet to be.  That is the difference that you must determine when cutting your cabinet box members.

In hinging doors for the true frameless or the ones that have a 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch face frame it becomes different when you begin to order European hinges.  You will be faced with a large number of combinations.  The most difficult is determining on what mounting you will need and how many doors do you have to hang on the cabinet panel members.  An example is you can have either one door per a cabinet panel such as the  cabinet with one door.  Here you can use a hinge that will overlap the full panel or one that over laps only 1/2 of the panel.   For a full overlapping of the panel you can use a hinge called a "full overlay".  In this case you will make sure that the door is sized to fit the cabinet and since it is a one door cabinet then you can cut the door the same size as the cabinet box.  I normally cut the doors for this 1/4 inch smaller in width and about 1/8 inch shorter than the cabinet height.  Here again it will depend on the design that you want and taking into considerations any obstructions that might require a different hinging such as walls.   If I am building a cabinet that will set on a wall that is open to both ends then I will most often use a full overlay hinge.

If you are building a multi-door cabinet it will now become different.   In this case you have an option of using either a "full overlay" hinge or a "1/2 crank" hinge on the end doors.  Since there is going to be a door that either hinges from or closes on the panel that the outside door closes on you will need to be sure to cut the door width to close on that panel at or near 1/2 of that panel which would be 3/8".  To be save I would cut it the door an additional 1/8 shy so that the door will close on 1/4 inch.  In doing this you allow the doors to open and close with close tolerance.  Since European are adjustable 6 ways (actually for practical terms 4 ways even though they are often advertised and sold as adjustable in 6 ways.  They get this by saying you and also tip the doors as well as adjust up and down and inward and outward at the hinged corner.)

Now that you have the end door hinged, the door that will mount on the cabinet panel that the end door closed on you will now note that there is about 3/8 of one inch in which to hang the door on.  Here you will need to use what is called a "half crank" hinge which allows the door to be inset a distance of near 3/8 of one inch.  A European hinge is designed to open the door by moving it inward and then outward as you open the door.  It is also adjustable so it allows you to work with  tolerances not possible with the standard mounted hinges.  This will explain the principals of this type of cabinet building.  It should be noted thought that there is also a combination of different mounting plates of which are different in thickness and screw pattern combinations that will also change how these same hinges work.  There are specialty hinges that allow the mounting of doors to almost any combinations of cabinet box configurations that you can imagine.  Also in the mix is the free swing and spring loaded hinges.  In addition these hinges come is different degree of swing making it a great assortment of combinations to use but also causes confusion

 Now to explain inset doors.  This is a design of which is known as the hall mark of the cabinet maker and is the most difficult to build.  This is a door that sits inside of the cabinet box and here is should be noted is the first thing you must take into account for is when building the cabinet box you must cut the cabinet members to the depth of the desired cabinet.  The face frame that is added must have its thickness deducted to the overall depth of the desired cabinet.  These face frames can be a standard type however it is best to limit the face frame inter stiles to be around 1 1/2 inches as this looks the best and allows better access to the interior of the cabinet.  In this construction of the doors this is where the problems begin as the door must be sized to a tight fitting door and everything in the cabinet face frame opening must be absolute square or it will require to preform some magic and cut the tapers and oddities of the face frame to the door.  Here is where the "full crank" hinge comes into play as it is the best hinge to use as it requires less building out of the cabinet side panels to fit the opening in the face frames.  The "half crank" is used as well as it means that the cabinet panel must be built out to 3/8 of an inch larger that the face frame opening. The "full crank' hinge is approximately a 3/4 inch kick back so that means that the panel can be about 3/4 inch larger that the face frame opening.

The only other way to accompolish this is to use blocks attached to the cabinet panels and attach the hinge to these blocks.  Unless done carefully it can be eye catching and a distasteful touch to an otherwise beautiful cabinet.  If the panel is flush to the face frame opening then there is the  full overlay hinge that can be used in this application,

All of this makes it a difficult job and the use of several hinge combinations need to be used and careful placing of the cabinet panels must be done in such a way as they are square and plumb with the cabinet bottom and face frames.

The frameless European cabinet where the face frame is actually present and sized the same thickness as the panels  the procedures are the same.  It all requires careful craftsmanship and demanding planning before the first board is cut.  It is a challenging venture and one of which I hope every member at one time or another build some cabinets using the European hinge and its technology.  I think you will like the hinge and what it can do for you.

Cheryl, I hope this had given you some back ground in what you are doing,  If you go to my page and look at my discussions you will find many items of interest to you.  Just type in cabinets in the search  of my discussions.  Enjoy you work and project and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me,  I will add to this discussion when I find something that may be of help to you.  Anyone else who is interested, please feel free to join in.  

Something I might add the standard overlay in door making is 1/2 inch due to the design of the European hinge and cabinet construction looks.  It is the tried and tested desirable design.

Wayne this is one on  European hinges:

Reply by Jay Boutwell on April 9, 2014 at 3:28pm Delete

European hinges are a puzzle when yoiu first become aquainted with them however the offer much more that the standard hinges you can buy for cabinet building.  Installation can be tricky and also expensive if you buy the market tooling that is made for them.  I thought I would take some time and pass along some of my tricks for boring the cup holes of which is best done on a drill press.  Rather that buy the commercial boring machines I  build my own sinple method of which has served me well in my cabinet shop.  It is simple to build and inexpensive.  I will attach some photos of which will show how simple it is to build the jig. 

I used a length 3/4 inch thick hard wood (oak in this case) of which I milled straight on both sides.  The length is approximately 18 inches.  The width is 3 1/2 inches however it in not critical as long as it is flat straight on both of the long sides.  We will call this part "A".

Find the center of its length and mark it running a line 90 degrees to its length (across it).  This is the mark that is to be used in centering up the cup hole of each door end hinge.  I have found that the distance of the hinge cup hole center of a door works for a common doors is 3 inches. To set this distance for the bore cut and attach another short piece of 3/4" thick hardwood that is also straight on the sides and with a 90 degree cross cut on the ends.  This length needs to be between 4 or 5 inches (also not critical in length but this works well with the jig. )  You will need two of these pieces and we will call them part "B" and "C".  These will be the jig stops for setting the door up for boring.  They will set the door in position that will place the center of the cup hole at exactly 3 inches from the edge.

On part "A" mark a line exactly 3 inches from the center towards the end.  Do this towards both ends of part "A".   At this point lay Part "B" and part "C" at a 90 degree to Part "A" so that there is a distance of 6 inches between the two parts.

Using two inexpensive common door hinges that allow you to attach the parts to Part "A" and be able to swing them upward and backwards.  It is critical that the hinge on the right side be able to clear the handle that operates the drill quill as you lower the bit into and out of the work piece.  It is important that the hinge will close with the parts "B" ansd "C" remaining at a 90 degrees to Part "A". (refer to photos attached for a understanding of what I am refering to.)  This is the jig body. 

Now you need a method of centering the jig on the drill press table and under the center of the drill bit.  To do this you will need a drill bit the diamater of the hinge you are using.  The most common is a 35mm however there is the mini - dia cup hinge that is 25mm.  The drill bit will be the most expensive part of the jig and it operation.  You will need the bit anyway so there is really no great expense involved. 

To make this guage you will need another short block of hardwood that is milled straight on each side and an cross cut on each end.  It need to be exactly 6 inches long and then take off about 1/16 inch leaving it 5 and 15/16 inches long.  It needs to be about 2 and 1/2 to 3  inches wide.  Mark off the center of this piece and draw a 90 degree mark across the piece.  I have found that 1/8 inch distance between the cup hole bore and the extream outer limits of the door edge is a common distance for the bore of the cup hole.  Using this figure draw a line end to end on the 5 and 15/16" of which will be the outer limits of the bored rim of the cup hole.  You should have a 1/8 inch line from the edge.

Using a mounted drill bit in the drill press, sit the assembled jig (parts "A", "B" and "C" on the table and using a couple "C-clamps, loosly clamp to the drill press table.  Lay the 5 and 15/ 16 inch piece in the between the lowered stops.  The line on the center of the jig body and the guage  you are making should line up.  Lower the drill bit to just above the piece and move the jig so that the line that you drew in the center of the 5& 15/16 inch piece is under the center of the drill bit spur.  Keeping this lined up move the jig body and guage as a unit to a location where the rim of the bit just touches the edge of the 1/8 inch  line you drew on the guage block.  Lock the jig down to the table and drill a cup hole to a depth of !/2 inch.  (use the drill press stop)  This finishes the guage block and the jig body.  On most jig bits that I have used the top of the drill bit is made so that the depth is correct when the top of the bit is even with the door stile.

To use the jig is simple and shown in the photos.  Lower only one stop and place the door on the drill bit table and hold it flat and tight against the jig and drill the cup hole.  It is important that you use the drill quill stop to prevent inaccurate drill bit depth.  Most drill presses have this feature and if not check the bit head and see that it is 1/2 inch in thickness.  If not use a piece of tape wrapped around the bit to act as a depth guage.

On doors that require more that a top and or bottom hinge simply mark the location you wish to place a hinge and then at this point use a square to mark the location to the outside of the door and place a 1/8 mark to use as placing the rim of the bit.  (Note if doing more that one hinge attach the top and bottom hinge first as this is the main hinge of the door.  Then attach the remaining hinges to the cabinet.  You will find that most hinges will allow you enough adjustment on the hinge that they will properly set the door to its correct distance from the cabinet face frame.

I do not reccomend using a spade bit of which there is some liteature out there telling you that you can use a 1 and 3/8 inch di bit.   It is acutally better to use the bit that is designed for boring the European hinge as it is percise in dia and bores a clean hole.  Since it was made for drilling the speciality cup holes the bit spur in not too long that it bores through the outside of the door stile.  The average cost of these bits are about $35.00 for a 35mm and about $25.00 for the 25mm.  The strength of the hinge to door comes not from the mounting screws that mounts the hinge to the door but from the cup hole fit like a common house door uses its mortice to hold it giving its strength and the screws only hold the hinge in place.

Some European hinges also come with a dowel mounting system of which is usually a plastic dowel that you press into a special bored hole.  The hinge is attached to the dowel using a special screw of which I remove and replace with a standard screw.  I predirll them using a vixs bit and then hand tighten.  Using the vix bit assures that the screw hole is centered with the hinge mounting hole.

 During my career building cabinets I have used the drilling machines that are both manual and automated.  They are expensive and tedious in set up and actually are slower to use than what you can do with the above jig.  I have also used the portable manual operated such as Russ mentions and they too are tedious to set in position and some have the tendacy to become inaccurate.  The above jig is fool proof and accurate and inexpensive with parts quick and easy to replace.  

I hope this is of benifit in taking the mystery out of European hinges.  Photos attached.


European Hinges jig continued:


Jay's advice -- as always -- is good. I'd suggest staying away from pine for cabinets, particularly doors, as it's soft and easily dented. I built some cabinets (first time building cabinets) using birch plywood, frameless construction, and built my own doors using 1x3 birch for the rails and stiles and 1/4" plywood for the slab. They turned out very well. I also used european-style hinges, and while they took a bit of work they were well worth it with the ease of adjustment. I made a jig for drilling the holes for the hinges, using some scrap, and then used that for all the doors. I'll have to take Jay's word for it that face-frame are more forgiving, but if you go slow and measure/cut carefully, frameless isn't too difficult. I love the look of the frameless cabinets.

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