Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Introduction to Cabinetmaking J. Edwards

Using the tools found in a small home shop; learn to plan, build, and install custom cabinets. 


Introduction to Cabinet Making



This week long class will investigate the techniques for building cabinets in a setting that can be made in a simple home shop. We will explore the design, layout, and installation of an existing location at the school wood shop. After we draw our plan, we will prepare materials for cabinets, make doors, drawers, and install hardware. We will cover countertop installation and finishing options. 

Discussion will cover basic design and construction as well as alternative styles of both traditional and contemporary cabinets. We'll also explore varieties of standard and specialty cabinet hardware. You will learn how to plan with consideration of preexisting constraints like plumbing, electrical, windows, and appliances. The class is intended to demonstrate cabinet making with common tools and getting good results we can all be proud of. 

Class discussion and demonstrations will focus on the process of finding a solution for an existing need. At the end, we'll take our accumulated knowledge and, as a group, discuss and brainstorm individual student cabinet projects, real or imagined. Bring your ideas, plans, questions and dreams, and we'll see what we can come up with.

Class Description

This class will demonstrate how to design, build, and install a small set of cabinets by building them in our classroom. This process will be used as an example that students can apply directly to their own projects. Those personal projects will be discussed including drawing and developing a materials list.

  • Day 1: Receiving and  processing materials. Plan and begin cutting the materials. 
  • Day 2: Building the cabinet base structures and completing the face frame design. 
  • Day 3: A combination of box placement and face frame, drawer & door assembly. 
  • Day 4: Counter top and laminate installation. 
  • Day 5: All about  hardware and detail refinements. Review the process and application 

In this class we will cover:

  • Specific process instruction includes cutting plywood clean and straight without the use of a table saw.  
  • How to accurately measure a room and lay out cabinet runs.
  • How to plan for plumbing, electrical, and venting requirements
  • How to deal with dead, inaccessible inside corners
  • How to make sure that cabinet doors and drawers open cleanly without interfering with adjacent units
  • Differences between modern and traditional hardware
  • What hidden traps are lurking in wait for the unsuspecting craftsperson, and what can you do to avoid them? All this and more will be revealed!

We'll also include some of the more arcane, but necessary cabinetmaker's skills, such as scribing-to-fit and other black arts that make installation a pleasure instead of a nightmare. Finally, we'll lead you through the maze of design & technical resources available to the beginning cabinetmaker.


  • You do not need to bring any tools to class.
  • You should bring protective gear - ear defenders, dust mask and eye protection


    For the beginning cabinetmaker - no experience.
    Just bring along common sense and enthusiasm.

    Class Information and Registration

    Class starts at 9:00am on the first day. The class runs Monday to Friday each week.
    This class takes place in Building 304 at Fort Worden (Map).
    Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School..
    Please also read our Registration Policy.

    Class size: 10
    Cost: $750
    Materials Charge: $25

    When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.