Kitchen Cabinetry 101

Kitchen cabinets


Whether you’re remodelling your kitchen or just looking for a new cabinet to store your dishes, kitchen cabinets can be a worthwhile investment.

Cabinets come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from various materials. So it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you buy.

But, how do you know which one is right for you?

This guide will walk you through the basics of cabinetry so that you can make an informed decision when it comes time to choose your cabinets.

We’ll cover everything from cabinetry terms to cabinet categories, so whether you’re starting from scratch or just looking to update your current cabinets, read on for all the info you need!

What Is Cabinetry?

Cabinetry refers to cabinetwork or the technique of building cabinets.

In other words, cabinetry is a craft where woodworkers create cabinets using different materials such as plywood, solid hardwoods, and many more.

Cabinets are furniture built to store things, and they can be freestanding or built-in.

Freestanding cabinets are not attached to the wall, while built-in cabinets are flush with or protrude out from the wall.

They are also available in various styles, colours, and finishes. You can find cabinets that match any décor, from traditional to contemporary.

Cabinetry Terms

Cabinet Makers use many terms when talking about cabinetry.

Here are some of the most common:

  • Stile:  The vertical frame pieces of the cabinet’s exterior.
  • Rail: The horizontal frame pieces of the cabinet’s exterior.
  • Panel: The center portion of the cabinet door or drawer front.
  • Cabinet Carcass:  The framing and panels that make up the body of a cabinet.
  • Face frame:  The area that surrounds the cabinet’s front. The face frame covers all screw holes at the cabinets’ exterior. It also provides the fixing point for the door and drawer front.
  • Reveal: The space between the edge of the cabinet door and the outside edge of the face frame
  • Edge profile:  The design or shape of the edge of a cabinet or countertop.

Types of Cabinets

With the basics out of the way, let’s look at the different types of cabinets available:

Stock Cabinets 

Stock cabinets are pre-made cabinets that you can buy at a home improvement store. They come in standard sizes and shapes, and you can choose from a limited number of colours and finishes.

Semi-Custom Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets are made to order, but they still use standard dimensions and shapes. This means that you can get a specific look by choosing from available styles and finishes, but your cabinets won’t be custom-made.

Custom Cabinets

Custom cabinets are ideal if you want something truly unique for your kitchen or bathroom.

Adjusting fixing cabinet door hinge adjustment on kitchen cabinets

They let you choose everything from how the cabinet looks, its finish, and what materials the carpenters will use. You can even have cabinets built to fit your specific needs and space.

Materials Used in Cabinetry 

There are a variety of finishes and materials that carpenters can use in cabinetry. Here are some of the most popular:


It’s perhaps the most popular type of cabinetry. Hardwoods are strong and durable and come in various finishes such as oak, maple, cherry, and walnut.


Plywood is a type of engineered wood consisting of thin layers of medium to softwood glued together. It comes in various thicknesses, densities, and grades depending on its use.

Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)

MDF is a man-made fiberboard that is made from recycled wood fibers. It is uniform in density and readily accepts wood veneers, making it ideal for cabinet construction. This type of wood is inexpensive and readily available.


Particleboards are made from small wood particles glued together. It is less expensive than MDF, but it is not as strong and is susceptible to moisture damage.


A veneer is another type of engineered wood made from thin slices of hardwoods glued to a substrate such as particleboard or MDF.

“Cabinets come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from various materials.”

It is available in a variety of styles, colours, and finishes. It gives you the appearance of a more expensive wood at a fraction of the cost.

Different Cabinet Categories

Cabinets have different functions and are typically divided into the following categories:

Base Cabinets

A base cabinet sits on the floor and is typically used for storage. It has a door or drawer front that opens to reveal storage space inside. Base cabinets come in various sizes and are customizable with different features such as drawers, shelves, rollout trays, and pull-out baskets.

Wall Cabinets

A wall cabinet is mounted on the wall and comes in various sizes and styles, such as corner cabinets, Lazy Susan corner cabinets, and pantry cabinets. It has multiple shelves or drawers for storage inside. Wall cabinetry can be used to create open shelving or decorative wall designs.

Tall Cabinets

Tall cabinets are taller than they are deep and typically used in the kitchen. They are perfect for storing dishes, cookware, and other kitchen items. They come in various styles but usually have one or two doors open to reveal shelving inside.


There are a variety of finishes, materials, and styles to choose from when it comes to cabinetry. Therefore, it’s crucial to select the right type of cabinet for your needs and space.

By knowing the different kinds of cabinets available, you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your home.