SIZE THE PARTS
To get started on the built-ins, rip ¾-inch plywood into 16-inch-wide strips, and then cut them to length to create the sides, shelves, and cabinet dividers. Prep the ends of the shelves and top edge of each divider for assembly by drilling pocket holes. Note: Because my cabinets are 9 feet high, I also used pocket holes to add another foot to the height of each cabinet side. To fill the pocket holes, I used wood glue and plugs, which I then trimmed with a flush cut saw and sanded smooth. For less noticeable pocket holes, I used wood filler.
MARK THE SIDES
With the large pieces cut, stack the cabinet sides. Measuring from the bottom edge, mark the height of the shelves. Carry this mark into a line on the inside walls of each cabinet to keep the shelves level front to back during assembly.
LAYOUT THE PIECES
Layout the pieces with the horizontal shelves sitting between the vertical sides. Assembling large pieces like this—and keeping them square—can be difficult. I recommend working on a flat surface and using corner clamps to keep connections square.
ASSEMBLE THE PIECES
To use a corner clamp, set the side of the cabinet into the clamp, apply glue to the end of the shelf, position the shelf into the clamp, and then adjust the placement. Note: I also used a pocket hole right angle clamp to keep the front edge of the board in place, and then screwed the pieces together. With one side of each shelf attached, I apply wood glue to the opposing edge of each shelf and tip the remaining cabinet side into place.
Add the supports under the bottom shelf and nailers to the top of each cabinet to later support the crown molding.
ADD THE DIVIDERS
Measure and mark the lines for the vertical cabinet dividers, and then place the dividers. Use pocket holes to attach the top edge of each divider, and mark and screw through the bottom of the cabinet to secure the bottom edge of the each divider.
ADD THE SHELF SUPPORTS
Because my built-ins are so wide, I also attached a 1×2 on edge below each shelf to help carry the weight of long the shelf. For even more support, I’ll also screw through these supports and into the studs in my wall. This combined with the support of the face frames along the front edge of each shelf will help carry the weight through the center of the shelves.
SIZE AND INTALL THE BACK PANELS
Lay ¼-inch plywood backs onto the assemblies and trim them using a router fitted with a flush cut bit. Note: You could also use a jigsaw or table saw to size the back panels, but I found this was the easiest way to get a good fit. Also since this edge of my cabinet will be hidden by the adjoining walls on the outside edges and the mantle and TV panel on the inside edges, I chose not to inset my panel, so this was just a straightforward trim cut.
With the panels sized, slide them to the side, mark the placement of each shelf, and then nail them into place through the back edge of the shelves and cabinet walls.
BUILD THE FACE FRAMES
Cut the boards to size, and then drill pocket holes into the ends of all the horizontal pieces. Rest the pieces face down, and then glue and screw them together. NOTE: I rested the face frames on the cabinet during assembly. I would have preferred to place them on a flat surface, but these are big assemblies and I was officially out of working space at this pointJ
Lastly, flip the face frames over to check their fit.
FINISH THE CABINETS AND PREP FOR INSTALL
With all the major assembly work complete, give them a few coats of paint.
Cut recesses for any electrical boxes. Install furring strips over the studs on the walls to create a cavity to run wires to the new television wires, and to act as the nailer for the shelves.
INSTALL THE CABINETS
Lay the cabinets in place on the floor, and then tip them up against the furring strips.
ADD THE FACE FRAMES AND MOLDING
Tip the face frames up and nail them into place. Add the baseboard and top it all off with crown molding.
INSTALL THE CENTER PANEL
Run all the cords and wires, and then size and install the center panel and television mount.
INSTALL THE DOORS
Lastly, install the doors. Note: I used European inset hinges, but had to pad out the inside walls of my cabinets with a scrap block because they were made for frameless cabinets.
ENJOY YOUR NEW BUILT-IN!
Fill nail holes, caulk joints, touch up with some paint, and enjoy your new built-in!