Kitchen cabinet designs – one way to do it.

Create Your Kitchen Cabinet Designs: Some Advice

Kitchen Cabinet Designs

You can create your kitchen cabinet designs with pencil and paper.  And that is a way to easily explore ideas.  But when it comes to modifying the design aspects, which are not exactly how you want them, pencil and paper prove not so easy.

One alternative is to go to a big box store and let the designer do it for you.  Good luck!

SketchList 3D allows you to quickly and easily create and explore your kitchen cabinet designs – the overall sizes, the components and subassemblies, the use of doors and drawers, materials, everything you need.  As with any good woodworking modeling software, SketchList 3D provides automatic generation of images, cut lists, shop drawings, and material layout diagrams.    It also is easy to learn and use without investing a considerable amount of time and effort.

After all, you want to design and build, not learn computer programming.  This article covers a few main ideas and steps to take to get you started on your design-build journey.

SketchList 3D is a free 3D modeling software that is useful for woodworkers.  This powerful and easy-to-use software allows you to design, build and straightforwardly modify your cabinet projects.  You can quickly explore and prototype your ideas.   The main idea behind it is to come up with a real-life, functional idea in 3D.  You simulate the workshop outcome as a 3D model.

SketchList 3D can create one-piece or multiple-piece kitchen cabinet designs and easily add doors and drawers. It is an intuitive, visual and powerful tool.

This section gives you a quick overview and is mainly intended to get you started with your kitchen cabinet designs.

Let’s take a quick step-by-step approach.

Decide how to break up the overall project into assemblies.  The number of assemblies you end up with depends on the cabinet’s function, its overall size, and the logical groupings of boards.

  • Function – will the project store, display, or provide work surfaces? If so, does it make sense to group the parts in an obvious way?  For example, shelving for displaying dishes might comprise one assembly and a case of drawers another.
  • Overall size – how big is too big? What fits in your shop and the way you cut and assemble?  What fits in the space on the job site – don’t forget the elevator or stairways.  Are there standards – like base cabinet height – to be adhered to for the design?
  • Logical groupings of boards – as you move on with your design, you will see that specific groupings of boards might be best designed as one assembly.  You can then copy and modify this assembly to fit another space or purpose in the design.  For example, make a base unit one with and depth and add one shelf.  Copy that base unit and change the sizes to become an upper cabinet.  Insert more shelves or perhaps a divider.

Think through the design at the assembly level. What’s important to you? Is it counter space, access, lighting, or ventilation?  What’s the most likely use of the cabinet – to store a bunch of tools? Light kitchen workspace?   Think about how you will access the drawers and what types of tools will be stored in each drawer.

Start SketchList 3D and create a project.

Just enter the project name and its dimensions – width, depth, and height.  You can specify if you design and build in metrics or the imperial measuring system,

Insert, size, and locate the assemblies needed for the design.  Play around a bit at this stage.  Does the layout make sense?  Is it logical?  Can you build it?

Once the assemblies are sized and placed, begin adding the boards necessary to fill them out.  Select an assembly and go to the assembly level.  After that, click the new board icon at the upper left of the screen.   Enter the board name, select its material, and set the dimensions, thickness, and grain direction.  The board will appear in the assembly. Rinse and repeat – in other words, do it again!

In addition to boards, you can add doors and drawers to the assembly.  These serve as sub-assemblies which you can ‘build out’ to match the ways you make doors and drawers in your shop.  As usual in SketchList 3D, you insert, size, and locate the doors and drawers in the assembly.  And then go into the door or drawer level and build it out using boards.

There are three tools for sizing and locating.  The calculator on the right side of the screen, the spreadsheet and the bottom, and the red and blue dots appear in the design area when you select an object.

Reports for kitchen cabinet designs.

There are several reports, but three are the most used in SketchList 3D.  These are as follows.

  1. Cut list – which shows the sizes and materials for every part.
  2. Shop drawing – which shows a 2D line drawing of the objects with dimension lines.
  3. Optimized layout diagram shows how to best position parts on the materials from which they are cut.

Any changes to the kitchen cabinet designs are automatically reflected in the reports.

There are several utility types of tools that speed your designs.  For example, clone and space make any number of copies and space them, a set amount or equal spaces,  across a distance in your design.  You can shape boards as needed by the project.

Kitchen Cabinet Designs


Your vision of what is needed from your project should flow from idea to assembly.   More than that, it must have the ability to go in both directions based on what you learn along the way.  Too many woodworking projects fail because incomplete ideas were dragged along to that assembly table.  That is, after all, where mistakes are discovered.  (Forgetting, of course, the worst-case scenario where they get discovered on the job site!)  The ability to make changes actually enhances easily and quickly your product and the process as well.

For another approach to this read this post.




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