How-To Videos

How to Convert Flat Cabinets to Shaker Style

By: Danny Lipford


Adding plywood trim is an economical way to convert plain or outdated cabinets to shaker style:

  1. Cut a sheet of 1/4-inch thick plywood into 2-1/4-inch wide strips along the length. A table saw is the best tool for this to ensure consistency.
  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 back side of each. We used Titebond II Premium Wood Glue for this step.
    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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Fill the nail holes on the strips. Once the putty is dry, sand it down to create a flat edge all around the door.
  7. Apply a coat of primer and two coats of finish paint to the doors before rehanging them.

Watch the video for details.


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12 Comments on “How to Convert Flat Cabinets to Shaker Style”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    May 5th, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Hi, Robin!
    We recommend submitting questions involving unique situations like yours to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show.
    Please use this form to contact Danny Lipford, America’s Home Expert, directly:
    Take care!

  • robin Says:
    April 29th, 2019 at 5:51 am

    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?

  • Cindy Gaestel Says:
    November 21st, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    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.

  • Annie Dickens Says:
    November 18th, 2018 at 9:40 am

    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!

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    November 5th, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Hi, Anna!
    Absolutely! We used plywood for the shaker-style cabinets featured in this video.
    Good luck with your project. 🙂

  • Anna Says:
    November 5th, 2018 at 10:48 am

    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.

  • Ellen Says:
    March 14th, 2018 at 9:34 am

    I have the exact same cabinets and I hsve hard time finding a hinges for it. What kind if hinges did you use?

  • Drang Says:
    March 7th, 2018 at 4:59 am

    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.

  • Evelyn Rogers Says:
    January 30th, 2018 at 4:03 am

    Where can I buy the kit to paint the counter tops? I enjoy your ideas on redoing things. Thanks so much

  • Dan Says:
    October 28th, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    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

  • Olga Mora Says:
    October 28th, 2017 at 8:34 am

    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?

  • Fran Knitter Says:
    October 28th, 2017 at 7:23 am

    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?

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How to Convert Flat Cabinets to Shaker Style