Kitchen Cabinet Construction: How to Build Casework with Titebond Glue

April 29, 2020


Build kitchen cabinets with plywood, Titebond II glue, and clamps

On the bench in front of me, I've got all of the pieces I need to build a base cabinet for a kitchen. Now when you're
building cabinets you're typically not just building one, so we want to keep in mind a few things:

  • We're going to be using plywood that's nice and stable, easy to cut.
  • We're going to be hiding the edges of the plywood in the front with some hardwood edge banding.
  • We're not going to be using any mechanical fasteners in our cabinet; it's all just going to be held together by glue and clamps.

Let's get started!

So, Bob, we're going to be gluing up our base cabinet today, and I think you might have brought some glue with you.

Titebond II is water-resistant, gap-filling, and sets up quickly

I did. So today we're going to use Titebond II, as you said. With the cabinets done, you got more than one going on, you want to kind of get them in and out of the clamps. And Titebond II has that short set time. Easy to work with.
Right viscosity. So we can get moving on.

Is there a little bit of water resistance?

It does have some water resistance. Especially for kitchen cabinets, if you run into a leak or under sink cabinets, you don't want cabinets falling apart, so this is the perfect glue for kitchen cabinets.

All right, and so we've rehearsed our glue-up a little bit, we're working with plywood we've got dados we're putting our bottom into.

Right, and so we what the reason we did the dry fit was to look at the seams and see how the joints fit. And that's going to determine a little bit how much glue that you're going to put into those. If it's a little gap here, if it's a little bit looser, we'll want to put a bit more glue in. And if they're tighter-fitting, obviously, less glue.

We want to reduce the amount of squeeze-out, hopefully, that we get with the cabinet.

Okay, we ready to go? Yeah. Let's go for it.

Coat all sides of the joint thoroughly with Titebond glue

All right, so you want to get a nice bead in there and remember plywood is always going to be half end grain. So we want to make sure that we wet it out with adhesive so that we get good bonding on these surfaces.

And we want to keep the squeeze-out from getting too far on there. A little bit more in this corner. We want to make sure that the sides of the glue-up have enough glue on them. You know, watching you apply glue is, I guess, kind of like watching da Vinci paint.

Haha, I've done a lot of glue. I've done a lot of glue-ups.

All right, we want to get our panel in.

And we're using corner clamps.

Corner clamps to adjust. We want to make sure that that is a good fit.

Really, we just need corner clamps on this. We don't need to add any pressure. That is correct.

That's going to make sure that these sides are at 90-degrees. Set that off to the side, get our other piece in, you want to give it a try?

Titebond II has a generous assembly time and a fast drying time

Once it's making contact, that's sort of the end of the open time? That's the end of the open time. Then we have the total assembly time, in which we need to get the clamps on. That's about five to ten more minutes. So yeah, about ten to fifteen minutes to get it together.

Yeah, when you have help, it tends to go a lot faster.

So speaking of help, can you help me grab this, and we'll set it on the ground? Absolutely will. 

These clamps really do help hold that together.

We want to look and see if we're bowing out anywhere, if there is any movement, the glue will fill enough of the gap, to see if maybe we need a clamp in there. It looks like we're good.

Yeah, we've got some nice straight plywood.

So we'll let this cure up in a clamp for good thirty minutes, then we can at least take them out of the clamps that set it aside to let it dry overnight and cure up hard. And then we can start working on the next one.

Now the facing, you can start putting that on right away. Awesome. Okay thanks, Bob appreciate it.

Facing clamps hold the edge banding in place while the Titebond glue sets up

So we've let our cabinet cure in the clamps for about thirty minutes—time to take off the clamps. So now we're going to hide the edges of our plywood with our hardwood edge banding.

We've got our thin strips cut here; there's actually a little bit of burnishing on this side, so we're going to make sure to have the non-burnished edge going against the plywood carcass.

But clamping on edge banding is a little bit tricky. It looks like you've got some good clamps here for us. 

Besse clamps offer a couple of really good options for clamping. One is this KF series that has spring-loaded lobes that grip the workpiece and automatically apply pressure to the worktop once you start forcing down the edging.

And then my favorite is the EKT55, because once you have the first piece in—if you're doing a large say dining room table that you're edging. Once it's set up, you're able to work two clamps—one in each hand. So it's great for production.

As you turn the handle, the arms move in to grab the workpiece. Once there's pressure, the clamp senses that and starts to feed the central screw forward.

Wow, that's some engineering right there, that's pretty cool. So let's glue on our two edges, let that glue set for
about thirty minutes, and then we'll come back and do the top and bottom, and we'll have a nice looking cabinet.

You betcha.

Glue the edge bands flush to one edge and then flush cut the other edge

As I'm gluing the edge strips to the cabinet, I hold the inside edge flush to the cabinet face.
once the glue on the strip is cured, I use a small hand saw to trim any excess length on the strips. 

Then, I use a flush-cutting bit and a router to carefully work around the exterior of the cabinet, flushing the strips to the cabinet sides. Depending on the overhang on the pieces, you may need to do this in more than one pass.

After routing, I do a little sanding, and the edges are perfectly flush and smooth. So you've got a nice solid hardwood edge on your plywood. 

There we go, a nice solid cabinet. I just finished routing the edges nice and flush. With a little bit of sanding, it'll look pretty good. I'm going to build a few more, install our kick, and I'll have a kitchen again.


—This video is from Franklin Titebond, an advertiser of ProTradeCraft. Titebond's solutions-driven focus has produced an impressively broad line of revolutionary Titebond wood glues, flooring products, and construction adhesives and sealants. See all of Titebond's videos.