Building your own cabinets can be intimidating, but don’t let it be! In this post we’ll break down the different parts of a cabinet and the different parts of cabinet doors. Hopefully once you read through this post, you’ll see that a cabinet is pretty much just a box. It’s nothing to be intimidated by!
So whether you’re building your own cabinets and want to know what you’re getting into or you’re about to buy some new kitchen cabinets, let’s get clear on the terminology.
Parts of a Cabinet
The cabinet carcass (or carcase) is the main structure of the cabinet. Essentially it’s the cabinet box itself. It’s comprised of sides, a back, a bottom, and some top stretchers.
Each cabinet carcass will have two sides. The sides might be rectangular panels or they might have a cut out at the bottom for an integrated toekick. We’ll cover what the toe kick is in just a second.
The back of the cabinet is where we are likely to see the most variation between different cabinet designs. Some cabinets have a full ¾” back. This is a great option between is provides more stability to the cabinet and it also allows you to easily secure the cabinet to the back wall.
The second option is to have a full back, but instead it’s made out of ¼” plywood. This option is sometimes chosen because it can be slightly more economical.
The third option is to not have a full back. In this case, you would open the cabinet and see the wall rather than seeing a cabinet back.
With both options 2 and 3, you will need to add 1-2 stretchers along the back of the cabinet. These will be used to secure the cabinet through the wall.
Nothing fancy here, the bottom is well, the bottom of the cabinet. It is important for the structural integrity of the cabinet and help to keep the cabinet base squared up.
The top stretchers serve two main functions. First, they help to keep the cabinet square. They prevent the sides from kicking in and out and give the structure more stability.
Second, they are used to secure the countertop.
A toe kick is only applicable to lower cabinets. It is when the bottom few inches of a cabinet is recessed, allowing you to stand closer to the countertops without stubbing your toes.
Generally a toe kick is between 3-4” tall and 3-4” deep.
A toe kick can either be integrated or separate. If integrated, it means that side panel goes all the way to the floor. The bottom outside corner of the side is notched out to make the toe kick shape.
For cabinets that will not be seen from the sides, we prefer the separate option because it allows you to make a very simple cabinet box. You can build the toe kick underneath and then place the cabinets on top.
Face frames are an optional addition to a cabinet. Learn more about the pros and cons of frameless vs. frame cabinets here.
If a cabinet has a face frame, it refers to an additional frame that is secured to the cabinet carcass. It is generally made from 1×2 wood.
Generally shelves in cabinets are adjustable, meaning you will see multiple holes inside of the cabinet carcass. These holes allow you to place shelf pins at a variety of different heights.
For lower cabinets, shelves generally go ⅓- ½ of the depth of the cabinet.
Parts of a Cabinet Door
The rail is the horizontal pieces of the door, aka the top and bottom pieces.
The stile is the vertical pieces of the door.
The panel is the middle area of the door. If you are doing flat panel doors, you won’t have rails and stiles, instead you’ll just have a panel that spans the whole size of the door.
The edge profile is the design or shape you add to the door edge.
A reveal occurs on face frame cabinets. It is the area of the face frame you can see when the door is attached and closed.
If you want to decrease the reveal, you can increase the overlay of the cabinet door.
There you have it! Now you know the terminology for all the different parts of a cabinet and for the parts of a cabinet door. Cabinets really aren’t too complicated when you understand the different pieces.