Time Capsule: DIY Cabinet Upgrade Part I

Jump back in time with me to see what we were working on a year ago this month!

Our orangey oak builder-basic cabinets have been screaming for some attention since we moved in.  Plus, yesterday I realized that the cabinets in my kitchen at home are the exact same cabinets as the ones in the kitchen at work.  (Crikey.)

So here are some before pictures:

Right after we moved in


At Christmas


After we painted and had the fluorescent light fixture box replaced with recessed lights


That should give you a pretty good idea! 

Alright, so first thing to do in our upgrade is install some trim.

I picked up some 1x2s, some molding (I chose a shorter and squattier version of crown), and some brass brackets.  I spent about $30.

I cut the 1x2s to size with a hand saw.

I cut the trim angles with a miter box.


I used Liquid Nails and brads from my staple gun to attach the trim to the 1x2s.

Then I countersunk all the brads and filled the holes in with wood filler. 

Finally, I coped the single inside angle with a coping saw. 


I discovered an “oops” at the same time.  (See below)

Then it was time to install!

I set each piece on top of the cabinets and originally intended to use the brackets to attach it from the back.  No dice.  I don’t know what the deal was, but I couldn’t get the screws to screw into the back of the cabinet facing.  I’m thinking maybe I’m not strong enough to give it the pressure it needed, or I couldn’t get enough leverage (standing on the counters doesn’t give you much leverage) or both?  So I made do. 


I ended up using 2” wood screws and because they weren’t quite long enough to go through the 1×2 AND into the top of the cabinet, I had to use the weird little boring tool I used on the headboard. 

I drilled the holes probably a quarter inch into the 1×2 and then my screws were long enough.  Then I could just drill a screw straight down through the 1×2 and into the top edge of the cabinets. 


The picture above was from my headboard project, but that’s the little tool I used on the cabinet trim as well.


And now the cabinets are ready to be sanded and primed!


So the one “oops” I discovered was I needed to cut the crown one inch shorter than the 1×2 in the inside corner.  Otherwise, the 1×2 that butts up against it will be impeded by the crown.  But I installed my molding and THEN realized I should’ve cut it shorter.  My solution was cutting a notch out of the other 1×2 so that it would fit in nicely under the crown of its neighbor. 

If I’d thought more about this project before I started, I might’ve realized that.  But when you’re impatient to get going and you think you can figure it out as you go, I guess you have to deal with the bumps as best you can.


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