Video /
Apr 19, 2020

How to Build Custom Shaker Cabinets

NS Builders explain the benefits of building their own cabinet doors

Nick Schiffer, founder of NS Builders, and the company’s in-house cabinet maker, Ken DeCost, share how they custom make shaker cabinet doors in order to ensure the quality and maintain control of their projects. 

NS Builders used to order cabinets before they hired DeCost, but Schiffer says they found that process to be unreliable. 


“We've had doors that we've waited two plus weeks only for them to come in on the crate [and] the crate was damaged, or we open them up and the doors are damaged. Some of them I swear were never glued,” Schiffer says. “So we made the decision, ‘How about we just control everything?’”

One tip that Decost shares is to leave the rails and stile an extra 1/16-inch proud while assembling so that a builder can trim and square the doors without losing width on those features.

See more by watching the video. 


What's up guys? We are in the shop here at NS Builders, and a bunch of you guys have reached out asking us about how we build our doors or why we're building our doors. A couple reasons being that you know sometimes we have insane schedules that I hold Ken to, and secondly, a bunch of times, we've had doors that we've waited 2 plus weeks for only for them to come in on the crate. The crate was damaged, or we open them up the doors with damage on some of them I swear were never glued, so we made the decision, like it came to me and said, “How about we just control everything?” We're gonna build them in the shop which I loved, and a few Twiggy details that we're hitting now. You know, some of you guys have commented that's overkill, but for us it's peace of mind.


So basically, what we start with, step one, is we're bringing in rough sawn soft maple from there. We're milling it down to a heavy ¾, just under maybe three sixteen-thirteen sixteenths to get a little bit more meat on hard railing style. We're talking about a flat panel shaker door with a beaded edge, and then we're taking our MDF panel and paint-grade MDF panel three-eighths thickness, and we're using, I actually have it here, a white side number 58-50 raised panel back cutter. So rather than using a quarter-inch piece of MDF as our flat panel, you know, where you're gonna get some you know movement and out of it it's gonna be kind of flexible if you push on it. Especially be a bit build a large door, it's not gonna feel as you know, that's plenty. So the the 3/8 allows us to do that, and then that back panel that cutter is putting this basically profile on the back, so your thickness is going backwards versus a raised panel where this would traditionally be forward facing. So you have that detail. 


Measure extra to save width

So we're gonna walk through, so basically once the stuff milled up, walk us through our process from that all right. So one hasn't milled, and I had to cut to size so they leave everything a little bit proud. I will cut my doors to the full size that they're going in we're gonna get along a face frame so I'll give you a 12-by-20 opening in my face frame, making my door to go by 20 okay so I'll do my calculations so that the door is that size. Also leave my rails and styles 1/16 proud so that once I'm done assembling, I can go ahead and trim the door and square it up, and I don't lose any width off of my railing style. And I can still have that consistent 332nd gap right between doors and the face rings and that extra 16th on that material allowing you to do that so you can fit it, totally to the opening. If it's out of square, and it's sacrificing any meat off of her for sure, Ellen style is perfect. So for that I'll head over to a router table here, and I start with the rails, and I hit the end grains on the rails. 

See the full transcript here.



2 questions... First... Can you give me the information on the cope and stick cutter in the video? Secondly, I cannot locate 3/8 MDF anywhere!!! Do you have a possible source you could provide?

2 questions... First... Can you give me the information on the cope and stick cutter in the video? Secondly, I cannot locate 3/8 MDF anywhere!!! Do you have a possible source you could provide?

nmaynard's picture

Thanks for your email. You may want to leave a comment for NSB on their YouTube page. They are very responsive.

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