A Kitchen Remodel 8: Finishing Kitchen Cabinets With Custom Molding

The cabinet display at Lowes

I wanted to give my kitchen a custom look by adding molding to the top of the cabinets.  I wished to capture the two-tone effect begun with the choice of the dark bordeaux-stained handles and as seen on the display that guided our original choice of cabinets.  However,  I wanted something more understated than the bold blocky molding seen on that display.  I also  wanted to maximize the height of the space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling to permit things like vases and semi-decorative items to be kept there.  I also wanted to put an element on the bottom of the cabinets to mask the light sources from the under-cabinet LED lights.

I couldn’t find any moulding that met my vision in the catalogues available from the kitchen cabinet area of Lowes.  So, I decided to create a custom molding.  I decided to mimic the bullnose on the granite counter-top and created a moulding from 5/4″ cherry hardwood.  In order to create this moulding, I ripped the 5/4″ stock to 1 3/4″.  This would allow the back of the moulding to line up with the back of the face-frame of the cabinets and to overhang the face of the cabinet by 1″ (around 1/4″) beyond the doors.  To make the bullnose I ran the stock through a router with a 1/2″  quarter-round router-bit.  The process of running the router along the side of such narrow and thin stock would be challenging without the use of  a router table.

The Bench Dog Tools ProTool router table.

Over the years, I have made a few rustic shop-built router tables, I discarded the latest one only a year or so ago.  I have always wanted a proper one, but don’t have the room for a dedicated full-sized table.  After some research, I came across the ProTop Contractor by Bench Dog Tools. While it was not an inexpensive investment, it made the operation of routing  this moulding quite easy.  Notice that when I took the photo at left I was using the fence in the same way that one would use the fence on a table saw.  In this orientation the attached shop vacuum couldn’t draw sawdust away from the work because the work was in the way of the vent.  I later oriented the router bit inside the opening in the fence and pushed the side to be shaped against the fence.  It worked even better that way!

Once I routed the stock I  sanded it with 150, then 250 and finally 350 grit sandpaper and trial-fit it cutting  it to

The top of refrigerator and pantry cabinets before moulding

length and mitering as needed.

The top of refrigerator and pantry cabinets with moulding

I finished the custom moulding  by using a pre-stain (to reduce  blotchiness) then  stained and finished it.  I installed it so that the bullnose projected 1″ on the front of the cabinets, projecting nearly 1/4 inch beyond the doors.  On the sides of the cabinets, I allowed  only a 1/2″overhang.  I  pre-drilled and countersunk holes in the top of the upper moulding and bottom of the lower moulding  and secured the moulding with 1 1/2″ #6 wood screws.  The miter joints were glued with wood glue and stapled to assure proper alignment.

The finished kitchen

This concludes my posts on remodeling my kitchen.  If it seems out-of-place for this blog to deal with non-theatrical matters, then recognize that the very skills needed for technical theatre were invaluable to me during this process.

That’s enough for now! Have fun!  Be safe!




2 Responses to “A Kitchen Remodel 8: Finishing Kitchen Cabinets With Custom Molding”

  1. Thank you! Have been looking forever at molding for the top of my cabinets. Not a fan of crown molding so coming across your idea was a blessing! I’m “tearing” the crown molding down as soon as I finish typing. Thank you again!

  2. Thank you! I’ve been looking for a different type of moulding for my cabinets instead of crown moulding. Love your idea!

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