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enter image description hereI want to build some kitchen cabinets after my house flooded a few years ago and the old cabinets were removed. The fear of another flood coming makes me want to build them from from solid wood instead of plywood, thinking plywood will fare worse after a flood. I read in the old days they built cabinets like this, "stick built" they called them. I was going to build the front frame out of pine 1x4s, on top of 2x4s as the kickboard, held together with pocket screws. Then horizontal boards as shelf supports and for the drawer slides to screw into. I wanna do Euro style frameless plywood doors but my fear is that the wood frame will expand and contract and mess up the fit of my doors. I can see it not mattering as much with face frame cabinets but I really want the frameless look. Perhaps 1x4s won't be strong enough as the vertical boards. The countertop will be formica, maybe it won't be too heavy. The countertop will be supported on the back wall by a 2x4 screwed to the studs. enter image description here

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  • Hi, welcome to StackExchange but I've voted to close as this is very firmly a subjective query, see What types of questions should I avoid asking?
    – Graphus
    Oct 15, 2022 at 9:34
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    Also about to vtc (subjective), but wanted to mention that there are waterproof plywoods (even mdf!) out there that would survive light flooding. However you proceed, be aware that inset doors are hard but do-able. Just make sure you have decent margins, or you’ll be planing doors in the summer. Oct 15, 2022 at 13:53
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    And if you do your side panels out of solid wood, design to allow expansion/contraction. Oct 15, 2022 at 13:55
  • thinking plywood will fare worse after a flood That seems like a huge assumption that may not be valid. If you'd said "...thinking I won't feel so badly about throwing cabinets made of 1x4s out after the next flood" I'd be more inclined to agree.
    – Caleb
    Nov 14, 2022 at 20:57

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For what it's worth, 1x8 or wider boards are often better quality than 1x4's.

Just for comparison as a sanity check: My standard "student bookcase" design was four 4' 1x12's screwed together as a frame, plywood 4'x4' back screwed in place all around to help provide stiffness, slightly shorter 1x12's (to fit inside) resting on adjustable shelf rails. Not pretty but not bad looking, can be thrown together in a few hours, has held up for decades overloaded with books... And because it is just held with screws, when it eventually outlives its usefulness I can disassemble it back into useful lumber.

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1x4s have no structural role at all. This means they are pretty much completely unregulated. Their small size means they can come from pretty much any piece of crap wood. They are usually crooked in one dimension or another.

I would suggest that you mill or cut down (resaw) 2x lumber, at least that way you know the wood met some kind of quality standards before you started. And hopefully, you can locate straight segments to start with.

Speaking of straight, you may have to make some or all of your "legs" into L-shaped pieces to prevent bowing, which may affect what designs you can reasonably make.

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  • the "common boards" at home depot look nice and straight, better than their 2x4s . I was thinking I'd go to a lumber yard and find something like that. I added a new pic showing the shelf supports in the middle I had planned. Would that prevent bowing? Oct 15, 2022 at 4:28
  • oh did you mean I should have a board going longways across the front in the middle? the same way I have a board going across the top longways. Oct 15, 2022 at 4:40
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    @JohnGarner, we actually have a number of previous Answers here on how to be selective when buying 2x material, how to deal with it once you get it home (spoiler: do NOT expect to use it immediately for anything other than rough carpentry, which is what it's intended for) and you'll also find the generally sound advice not to actually use it for anything that counts as far as furniture/built-ins go.
    – Graphus
    Oct 15, 2022 at 9:39
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    Resawing 2x material (unless you have a jointer and a thickness planer) is not a good way to get straight material. By resawing, you can release internal stresses that were otherwise balanced in the entire piece. Oct 15, 2022 at 13:48
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate, yes very much this! Although the somewhat related sawing down of wider stock can be a good way to get superior "2x" material. Not just because of beneficial grain orientation, wider stock like 2x10s or 2x12s can be better wood (different species, e.g. SYP) in some markets.
    – Graphus
    Oct 15, 2022 at 18:50

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