The Basics of Custom Cabinetry

Click on each label to read the details of each part and the difference between a store-bought cabinet and a custom cabinet.



The store-bought cabinet is high-production without any input from the client, so they standardize the size of the cabinets. 


If you think about it, not all homes are built to standard. With Abacus, you can size your cabinets so they fit in any kind of space, keeping other features of the room in mind like art walls, windows, and other elements that make up the whole room.



The standard store-bought cabinet comes with 1/2 inch shelves. The shelf pins are plastic and they can break.


Our shelves are 3/4 inch minimum. We use stainless steel pins that prevent shelves from sliding. To accommodate glass shelving, we use a pin that has a rubber coating on it to prevent the glass from rattling and breaking. 



Pre-built cabinets usually have a 1/4 inch back that's tacked on with flimsy nails. This can result in the fastener pulling through the back or the back disintegrating. The rest of the cabinet is fastened with micro pins. 


Our 1/4 inch backs, sit inside a secure groove. Behind that, we mount 3/4 inch nailers, strong enough to hold the weight of the cabinet and last a long time. We use 3/4 inch material on all four sides of the cabinet and we screw them together using 7 millimeter confirmat screws. 

Leg Levelers

Our leg levelers are designed to level and lift your cabinets, while providing greater support and stability.


Removeable Toe Kicks

With our cabinets, we include removable toe kicks to make it easier to clean under the cabinet and adjust the leg levelers.


Internal Hardware

Componentry is so important; it’s one of the most undervalued aspects. It’s the difference between a good cabinet and an amazing cabinet.

On a store-bought cabinet, they don’t usually use soft-close hinges, which makes doors bounce when they are closed. 


The cabinets that we build, have a much more intentional closing mechanism, where the door feels solid and won’t bounce.

Our standard is heavy duty Blum soft close slides for drawers and soft close hinges for doors. We also work with automated hardware like electronic lifts for tall upper cabinets.


Our vendor offers hardware that can handle a drawer 48” wide and support 175 pounds with their heavy duty version. 2ft wide and 6ft tall doors.



The store-bought cabinet has a partial overlay door, which gives the builder a lot more flexibility and a wider margin of error with the door. It allows people to put two cabinets next to each other and worry less about what the space in between the two doors. It looks fine and it gets the job done. These doors are usually made with a 1/4 inch inset panel, which feels unstable and can crack due to contraction or expansion. It’s glued and stapled to the frame, which makes it a little wobbly and rattling when you close it. 


On our cabinets we have a full overlay door. We have a lot of control over the reveal between two cabinets, our standard is 1/8 of an inch. In custom cabinetry, we spend a lot of time thinking about reveal lines and how to make sure they’re consistent all around the faces of the cabinetry. On a shaker profile we use a 3/8 inch panel, which feels a lot more solid. 

Door slab


It offers a modern look, which is really big in Colorado. It’s a slab that can be done in different colors and materials. 

Shaker door


It’s the most standard design going on right now. It features a flat centre panel (usually mdf) and square edges with minimal detailing or profiling.

5-piece door


It has a thicker panel in the middle that gives it more depth and detail. It can have different inside and outside profiles, which will give it different character.

9-piece door


This type of door has applied moldings, which takes more time, but it gives it more of a custom feature.

Our vendor is able to offer doors specially for Colorado's dry climate, which helps with the expansion and contraction. They acclimate the lumber if it’s coming from other parts of the country using moisture sensors to make sure the moisture is not over 8% and never less than 5%.




Melamine or TFL

(Thermally Fused Laminate)

We most commonly use this material for the interior construction of our cabinetry. It’s a particle board with a paper laminate applied to it. It's a very durable material, easy to clean, water resistant, and the particle board provides fairly solid construction and it allows us to use confirmat screws, giving us the flexibility to put cabinets together and take them apart if we need to. 

Our vendor lays out melamine locally. They offer melamines in a wide range. 



Is a thin layer of acrylic laminate that gets laid up on an mdf core. It is a high quality option for high gloss and matte materials and they’re easy to clean.


Our vendor provides acrylics that are scratch and finger print resistant. Their materials are laser edge banded to match the color or two toned edge banded, which replicates the look of glass for a more decorative option. Acrylics also have a lot of flexibility, they can have L-Folds, magnetic panels, or dry-erase certifications for more functional purposes. 



We mostly use Veneer Wood, which is a thin slice of wood glued to an mdf core.The most common ways veneer is peeled are rotary cut and book match. When the veneer gets peeled, it’s done sequentially, which allows for grain matching. If you’re looking for a really consistent product we can use reconstituted veneer, which is still real wood but it’s man-made through dying and cutting.


We use varnish finish, which is higher quality, thicker, and more durable. The options for finishes on wood are clear coat, stain and glaze, or stain glaze and distress

Paint Grade


Paint grade is usually made out of maple, poplar, or mdf. It’s wood that can be painted easily and it’s used with a mdf core in the middle, which will keep it from warping and contracting. 

A varnish finish is also applied on paint materials to ensure high quality. 


See Paint options bellow or we can customize any color you want. 



Dovetail drawer

Dove Tail

Our vendor uses a half blind dovetail, which makes the drawers sturdier and it allows you to have a nice, smooth look in the front.


They also offer several custom inserts with integral dividers for any uses like silverware, trash can, baking sheets, pans, lids, corner drawers, and around-pipes drawers. 

Legra box drawer

Legra Box

Legra box is Blum's line of drawers. The most common type is made of steel for a slim and light design, but they can customize your drawers to be other materials like glass, wood, leather, or stone.


These drawers have also different options for inserts.

Hafele drawer


Hafele offers several types of drawers. They are also made of white or gray steel with the option to add glass panels. 


Even though, the client purchases the pulls, we're more than happy to install them. We like to know in advance if they will be face mounted or routed in. These are the different types of pulls we've worked with. 



There are different styles of routed handles, but they all accomplish the same objective, to give your cabinets a stylish, smooth look.



These types of handles are usually built-in profiles that vary in shape, size, and material. They add a unique modern look to the cabinetry. 



There are the most traditional types of handles. They come in different materials and shapes. They're usually drilled into the cabinet. 


Touch Latch

This mechanism works with a different piece of hardware. It is a spring-loaded plunger that pops open when you push it, giving your cabinetry a seamless look. 


Metal Details

We work with Perspective Design. We regularly refer our clients to them for metal work and we also go to them to incorporate some metal details into our cabinetry. The materials most commonly used for metal details in cabinetry are steel (hot rolled, cold rolled, and stainless) and aluminum. The options are endless as to what can be done with metal. We can incorporate metal frames for decorative options, we can have metal doors done,  put a pattern metal sheet in front of wood, add metal corners or strips, and more.  


The thickness of metal or gage and the flexibility factors are important when we’re talking about weight. Bending the metal but keeping it thin is the best way to avoid problems because of weight, beefing up the hinges is also a good way to avoid any issues. Here's some metal details we've incorporated into our cabinetry. 


Metal Frames

These frames were added as a decorative feature to wet bar cabinetry. They definitely make the space look sophisticated 

and unique.


Metal Mesh

The mesh in this closet was an idea the home-owner came up with when they were concerned about their clothes not have enough breathability. It's a functional and stylish feature. 


Metal Doors

The metal doors in this kitchen add character to the space. Being the focal point, but also offering storage. 


RGB Light

The RGB lights come in strips and in square shapes. These lights add mood to the space and can be controlled from an app. 


Our vendor offers lighting for closets, kitchens, offices, shoe shelves, bathrooms, and more. The lighting features can be customized for size, thickness, colors, they can be automated with sensors or include light switches or remotes. Their products can be hooked up to smart-home systems, which is convenient or they also offer an app to control all your lighting from your phone or tablet. 

Besides lighting, our vendor also offers automated sound for your cabinetry, which can be mounted on countertops, behind cabinet doors, or behind drywall, which can also be controlled from an app.


Linear Light

Strip LED lights vary in color and thickness. They can come with different lenses to soften up the light. They can be plugged into a driver and be installed into a recessed profile or a surface mount. 

They also offer water-proof options.


Puck Light

This modular stage light can me recessed or surface mounted. It varies in size, color, and profile too. They can also be found in a square shape.  


Our Recommendations for
Cabinet Care

Number 1


It is important to keep the cabinet surfaces dry, wiping up spills immediately.


The areas around the sink, dishwasher, cooking areas and handles require special attention. Remove liquid and grease spills before they are allowed to penetrate and break the surface finish.

Number 2


Clean occasionally with a soft, clean cloth moistened with to remove sticky substance.
Make sure to remove any residue of water with a clean, dry cloth.

Do not drape damp towels over cabinet doors.

Number 3


Do not use cleansers that contain abrasives (Ajax, SOS pads), soaps, acids, alkalis or ammonia (Windex); they will damage or discolor the surface.
Any cleansers or residue of cleansers on a cloth used to wipe the cabinets will void the warranty on the finish.


Instagram Live Series

This is a weekly live series where we talk about basic concepts from designs to cabinet construction.


Tune in on Wednesdays at 9:15am on our instagram 

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