White Shaker Cabinets
Shaker cabinets never seem to go out of style.

Shaker cabinets date back to an 18th-century religious sect that valued simplicity in their values, customs and furniture. 

These cabinet doors may look simple, but they’re also timeless, and fit in with traditional or modern kitchens.

What began as an attempt to flee materialism has become one of the most popular, enduring cabinet designs.

Shaker cabinet doors
Shaker cabinets’ distinctive five-piece design features clean lines. (©cj2a – stock.adobe.com)

It’s also one of the easiest to recreate. Since Shakers built their own furniture, these cabinets are easy do-it-yourself projects that anyone can make.  

Adding plywood trim is an economical way to convert plain or outdated cabinets to Shaker style. Here’s how to do it:

1. With a table saw, cut a sheet of 1/4-inch-thick plywood into 2-1/4-inch-wide strips along the length.

2. Remove all the hardware from the cabinet doors. Sand the doors lightly to remove any dirt and gloss from the old finish.

3. Cut two of the plywood strips to the height of the door and apply wood glue to the backside of each. We used Titebond wood glue for this step.

Shaker cabinets in old-fashioned kitchen with brick walls
Shaker cabinets’ timeless design makes them a natural fit for farmhouse, traditional and modern kitchens.
(DepositPhotos)

4. Align the strips so they are flush with the outer edge of the door as well as the top and bottom. Secure them to the door with 5/8-inch brads.

5. Mark two more strips of plywood and cut them to fit horizontally between the two vertical strips before you repeat the process to secure these strips. This completes the basic design of Shaker cabinet doors.

6. If your flat doors have a beveled edge, fill the V-shaped void between the plywood and the door with wood putty. Overfill the groove slightly in case the putty shrinks as it dries.

Shaker cabinets, as seen in a white modern kitchen
Shaker cabinets look good in any kitchen, whether it’s dark or light. (DepositPhotos)

7. Fill the nail holes on the strips. Once the putty is dry, sand it down to create a flat edge all around the door.

8. Apply a coat of primer and two coats of finish paint to the doors before rehanging them.

That’s how easy it is to get the Shaker cabinet look from any flat cabinet door!

Watch the video for details.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. I enjoy watching your show each week. You and your daughter give me inspiration to try new ideas. Thanks for sharing your tested true methods and tricks of the trade! Do you ever come north to New York?

  2. hi my name is Olga and I love this episode I want to redo my rental property and update kitchen my question is what kind of paint is recommended for kitchen cabinets do I sand them first then paint or Can I just primer and paint?

  3. We just watched an episode where you converted to the shaker cabinets and you mentioned repainting the refrigerator but you didn’t actually go over what paint and how you did that I’d be very interested in knowing that

  4. Thanks for this great tutorial. We’ll be doing this to some cabinets that were given to us. I am planning on making an office space for my mom and buying new cabinets would be WAY over our budget.

  5. I have kitchen cabinets that look a lot like these. I want to do this but keep them stained like they are now. Will plywood work for this? I think our cupboards are made out of Ash Plywood, but could be birch.
    Thanks!

  6. Hey! I just watched your video on how to convert flat cabinets to shaker style. I am wanting to do this to the cabinets in our home, but our cabinets have already been painted. Does this make a difference? Can I still sand a cabinet that has paint on it already? Thanks!

  7. I transformed all my flat cabinets to shaker style, changed the hinges to the hidden European style hinges , painted them and they look great! However, adding the strips changed the thickness of the doors. Because they abut against each other way closer than the ones in your picture, adding the extra thickness means they could no longer open fully. I ended up having to router each hinge edge. Trying to fit all the doors together exactly was a nightmare, but I did manage to finally complete the job.

  8. i have the same styler hidden hinges as mentioned by Cindy Gaestel , could you please help me out in fixing this issue without changing the hinges?

  9. Hi. Loved this video and the idea of updating existing cabinets.
    I have a built in closet that runs the length of the bedroom. The doors are flat wood with basic hardware
    I was hoping to be able to change their appearance from a “locker” look more of a nice addition to the room. Do you see any issues with converting floor to ceiling doors this way? Thanks!! Janet

  10. I have a question about using wood putty. My concern is that the putty would eventually fall out over time (after closing the door multiple times. Could I get a little more information about the use of wood putty? Does this really last? Is there a specific type of putting. Would I be better off using a wood filler? Thanks for you help

    • Hi, Michael,
      Great questions! We have forwarded them to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show’s producer.
      He will contact you soon to discuss featuring them during an upcoming show.
      Take care!

  11. what kind of paint sprayer do you use? how much over spray does it have?
    where can it be purchased?

    thank you!

    • Hi, Simone,
      We use HomeRight’s Finish Max HVLP sprayer for many projects.
      It has minimal overspray and gives professional results.
      You can find it at The Home Depot! 🙂

  12. My cabinet doors cry everyday for help, after watching your video, I was almost ready to try and help them, but reality knocked and told me to call my handyman and tell him what I wanted. The video gave me the great feeling that it wouldn’t cost too much, and I would be happy with the end result. Thank you, your video came just in time.

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed this content! Please share it with friends — that’s how we’re able to create similar content.

  13. I really liked this idea. I prefer a traditional farmhouse look but I live in a new build home with modern, glossy cabinets (I don’t think they are wooden, maybe melamine?). Is it possible to convert these to shaker style using your method also?

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