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How to Build RV Cabinets?

How to Build RV Cabinets?

If you’re like most RVers, you want your rig to be as functional and organized as possible. One way to achieve this is by installing custom cabinets in your rig. This can be a daunting task for the do-it-yourselfer, but don’t worry – we’re here to help! In this article, we will provide tips and advice on how to build RV cabinets that are both functional and stylish. Let’s get started!

Common types of RV cabinet cases

When it comes to building RV cabinets, there are a few common types of cases you should consider. Plywood is the most popular and versatile, but hardwoods like oak or maple can also work well. Additionally, particleboard and melamine provide less expensive alternatives with a modern look that only requires minimal finishing. When it comes to constructing drawers and shelving, frameless construction is the best method for maximum flexibility. Finally pre-fabricated cabinet boxes are available for those who don’t have the time or tools to build their own cabinets from scratch.

Common types of RV cabinet cases

Skinned and framed

Once you’ve decided on the type of case material to use, the next step is to decide whether to build skinned and framed cabinets or frameless ones. Skinned and framed cabinets are constructed with a face frame attached to a cabinet box which gives them an attractive finished look. The frame also adds strength and rigidity, making it ideal for heavier loads where stability is important.

Framed cabinetry requires more precise measurements since the frames must align perfectly with the box parts in order for everything to fit together properly.

Frameless cabinetry (also called European-style cabinetry) offers greater flexibility when it comes to shelving and drawer configurations, but they don’t provide as much structural support as its framed counterparts do. This type of construction is also more difficult to assemble and take apart, so it’s best to discuss your options with a professional if you’re considering this route.

Integral cabinets

Integral cabinets are slightly different from skinned and framed or frameless construction, but they are still a popular choice for RV cabinetry. With integral cabinets, instead of being built with individual parts (face frame and box), the cabinet is constructed as an entire piece. This eliminates the need for assembly as well as making sure all of the components line up together perfectly. These types of cabinets provide greater stability since there is no space between the door and drawers which can cause rattling while driving down the road. Plus they come pre-finished so you don’t have to worry about sanding or painting them yourself.

What type of wood is best for building RV cabinets?

When it comes to selecting the right wood for the RV cabinets, there are a few things to consider. Hardwood is generally regarded as the best choice because it’s strong, durable and looks good. Maple and oak are both popular options due to their strength and attractive grain patterns. If you want something lighter in weight, pine or fir can be used instead. Plywood is also an option but should be avoided if possible since it won’t stand up to heavy use over time like solid wood will.

What type of wood is best for building RV cabinets?

In addition to choosing the type of wood, you should also think about what kind of finish you want for your cabinets. A clear coat of polyurethane will help protect your wood from scratches and moisture damage. If you prefer a more decorative look, staining or painting the wood are also good options. Whatever finish you choose, make sure to apply it evenly and in multiple coats for the best results.

Joining techniques

Now that you’ve determined the materials and design of your cabinets, it’s time to dig into the details of making them. Joining techniques are what bring all your components together to form a complete cabinet. While there are various methods to join two pieces of wood, here are some tried-and-true joining methods that work well in RVs:

  • Dowel Joinery – When dowel joinery is used on an RV cabinet, small wooden pegs (called dowels) help hold the two components together. This is often seen in preassembled furniture or cabinetry and can be useful for creating strong joints without the need for additional hardware such as screws or nails.
  • Pocket Hole Joinery – This is a very common technique used in RV cabinetry. It involves drilling two holes at an angle on the edges of each joint, then inserting screws to join them together. This creates a stronger bond than other joining methods and also eliminates the need for additional hardware.
  • Butt Joints – These are simply two pieces of wood that are joined together by attaching one piece onto another with nails or screws. While it’s not as strong as dowel or pocket hole joinery, this method can be useful for simple projects where extra strength isn’t necessary.

Use of pocket screws

Using pocket screws is one of the best ways to build cabinets for your RV. If you’ve never heard of them before, they are small screws that when fitted into pre-drilled holes create a very strong joint between two pieces of wood. They’re incredibly durable and make assembling and dismantling cabinets much simpler. Plus, with pocket screws, you don’t have to worry about using bulky nails or extra glue which can get in the way if you need to adjust something later on.

It’s important to note that pocket screws should only be used where necessary as they do require more materials than traditional methods of cabinetry construction. The cost of these materials should also be factored into your budget before you begin your project.

Another benefit of pocket screws is that they are relatively easy to use, even for novice DIY-ers. All you need is a pocket screw jig and bit, which can be purchased at any home improvement store. Once you have the necessary tools, simply drill pre-measured holes in the wood where they’ll go, insert the screws and tighten them with a socket wrench or power drill. It really couldn’t be simpler!

Use of pocket screws

With pocket screws, RV cabinet construction becomes much more straightforward than it would otherwise be. With the right supplies and some patience, you can easily create beautiful cabinetry that will add style and storage to your RV without breaking your budget.

Securing the RV cabinets

The next step is to secure the cabinets before fixing them into place. For this, you can use screws, brackets, and glue depending on the type of cabinet. Generally speaking, drill pilot holes in the bottom corner of each cabinet before securing it with screws or brackets. If you are using glue to attach your RV cabinets make sure that the surfaces are clean and dry before applying it. Lastly, finish up by caulking around the edges of the cabinets so as to keep them air-tight.

Once all your RV cabinets have been secured you can start attaching them onto to wall studs in their respective positions. Before doing so make sure you measure twice cut once (as they say)! And don’t forget to pre-drill holes for the screws that will be holding up the RV cabinets.

Cabinets too deep

Sometimes the cabinets you purchase are too deep to fit onto the RV walls without protruding out. In this case, you’ll have to adjust the depth of your cabinet. This can be done by cutting off an inch or two from either side using a saw.

This is also a great time to add any additional finishing touches like adding more shelves or attaching trims and moldings. Once again make sure that all measurements are correct before going ahead with any changes so as to avoid any costly mistakes!

Cabinets too narrow

On the flip side, sometimes the cabinets you purchase are too narrow to fit onto the RV wall. The simplest solution here is to get adjustable brackets that can help hold up your cabinet even when it’s too narrow. For best results, place two brackets on either side of your RV cabinet and secure them with screws into studs on the wall.

Cabinets too messy

Sometimes RV cabinet installation can leave a mess of screws, nails and other hardware scattered on the floor. To avoid this make sure you label each piece as you go along so that you know exactly where it belongs at the end of your project. This will also help keep your work area clean and organized while making it easier to access whatever parts or tools you need during installation.

Cabinet shelves too tall

If your cabinet shelves are too tall for the RV space, you can choose to trim them down. Again make sure to measure twice before cutting once! The best way to trim shelves is by using a saw and then sanding the edges. This will give you an even cut with no jagged edges which will result in a professional look for your RV cabinets.

Creating and installing RV cabinets isn’t as hard as it may seem! As long as you take accurate measurements, secure each cabinet properly, and finish off with any additional detailing, you should be good to go.

Securing the RV cabinets

Not enough space in your RV cabinets

If you find yourself running out of space in your RV cabinets, don’t worry! There are simple solutions that can help maximize storage space. One great way to do this is by adding drawer organizers and dividers to the cabinet. These are easy to install and they keep everything neat and organized while making it easier to access whatever items you need without having to rummage around the entire cabinet.

You can also add magnetic strips or hooks on the inside of your doors so as to hang up any utensils or other items that may be taking up too much space. This helps free up more room for storing bigger items like pots and pans which would otherwise take up a lot of valuable real estate in your RV cabinets.

Building RV cabinets can be a fun and rewarding experience, with great results if done correctly! So take your time, make sure you measure everything carefully, and follow these simple tips for the successful installation of your RV cabinets.

How to Build RV Cabinets

So you want to build your own RV cabinets, do you? Well, if you have a bit of patience and the right tools, it’s actually not as hard as it may seem.

First things first: plan out what type of RV cabinet you want and then make sure you have all the materials and supplies that you need ready. You will need wood (typically plywood or particle board), some screws, glue or other adhesives, drill bits for making holes for the screws and any other hardware that may be needed (e.g., hinges). Make sure to measure out exactly how much material is needed so there are no surprises when you start sawing the wood.

The next step is to cut out your pieces of wood and assemble them into a cabinet frame. Depending on the size and shape of your RV cabinet, you might need to use a jigsaw for this purpose; if it’s a simple rectangular box, then you can likely use a table saw or circular saw instead. Make sure to follow all safety protocols when operating power tools such as these.

Once the frame is assembled, you can begin attaching the panels that will form the sides, top and bottom of the cabinet. Use glue along with screws to secure each panel in place; again, make sure that your measurements are accurate so that everything fits together properly. If you need to make any holes in the panels, such as for a door handle or other hardware, now is the time to do that.

The next step is to add doors and drawers (if applicable). When installing doors, use hinges so that they can open and close properly; make sure to predrill all screw holes before attaching them. Drawers require slides – these are usually made of metal and attached at both sides of the cabinet opening – as well as drawer fronts. Installing handles on the drawers is optional but does make them easier to use.

Finally, you’ll want to finish off your RV cabinets with some type of sealant or paint. Choose a finish that matches the rest of your RV’s interior, or something that complements its overall look.

How to Build RV Cabinets

Make proper measurements and planning

Building RV cabinets is a lot simpler when everything is properly measured and planned out. Take your time to measure twice, cut once; it’s worth the extra effort in the long run. Also, don’t forget that you can always add additional features or storage options later on as time and money allow.

Measurement of the outside dimensions

Before you start cutting any wood or assembling anything, you’ll need to measure the outside dimensions of your RV cabinet. Measure twice and write down these measurements so that there is no confusion when it comes time to cut the wood and assemble the frame.

Make the frame for the cabinet with 5/8-inch plywood

The frame of the RV cabinet should be constructed from 5/8-inch plywood. This will provide a strong, sturdy base for your cabinet and ensure that it can withstand regular use over time.

Attach the cabinet to the RV wall

Once you’ve assembled the cabinet frame and added any doors or drawers, it’s time to attach it to the RV wall. Use screws or other hardware to secure the cabinet in place; make sure that everything is level before tightening down the screws.

Sand and finish off your RV cabinets

Finally, you can sand down any rough edges on your RV cabinets and finish them off with a sealant or paint. The type of finish you use will depend on the look you want for your cabinetry – go with something that matches the rest of your RV interior design or choose a bolder color if desired.

Make the frame for the cabinet with 5/8-inch plywood

Installation of the doors

The doors and drawers should be installed after the cabinet frame has been assembled. Make sure to use hinges for the doors so that they open and close properly; drawers require slides as well as handles (both of which are optional).

A summary of how to build RV cabinets

Building the cabinets in your RV is a great way to create extra storage options, and it can even add value to your motorhome.

The frame

When you start to build RV cabinets, the first step is to create a frame. You’ll need some basic tools such as saws and drills, plus materials like wood or metal for the frame. Measure your space carefully and cut your pieces accordingly.

Ensure you have a sturdy frame that can adequately hold the weight of whatever items you’ll be storing in your cabinets.

Pocket holes

The next step is to join the pieces of your frame together. This can be done with pocket holes, which are pre-drilled holes in the wood that you use to drive screws. Once all the pieces are joined together, make sure everything is square and secure by driving a few more screws into each joint.

Kitchen frame

If you’re building a kitchen cabinet, you need to build a separate frame for the drawers. This should be slightly smaller than the main frame and can either be wooden or metal. Measure the opening in the existing cabinetry that you have and make sure your drawer frame is slightly smaller so it will fit snugly into place.

A summary of how to build RV cabinets

Building rear supports

The next step is to build rear supports. These will be used to attach the cabinet to the wall, and they can either be made of wood or metal. Once again, measure the opening in your cabinetry and use this as a guide for how long the supports should be. [1]

Additional Tips

When building your own RV cabinetry, there are a few additional tips to keep in mind:

  1. Choose the right material: Plywood can be more expensive but is more durable and easier to work with than particle board or other materials. If you are looking for something that will last longer and withstand frequent movement then this might be worth the extra cost.
  2. Consider creating adjustable shelving: Not all items stored in your cabinets will have the same size so creating adjustable shelves can allow you to customize them according to what you plan on storing inside of them. This also adds an element of practicality since you won’t have to buy new shelves every time you want to store something different.
  3. Choose the right hardware: Make sure you purchase all the necessary brackets, screws, and other hardware for your cabinets. This will help ensure that everything is held together securely, especially if you plan on traveling with your RV often.
  4. Take measurements: It’s important to measure out the space you have available before beginning to construct your RV cabinet so that it fits perfectly in its designated spot when finished. This can save a lot of time and frustration later on down the line!
  5. Don’t forget about aesthetics: Even though practicality should come first in designing and building an RV cabinet, don’t forget to also keep aesthetics in mind! Consider adding some extra touches like decorative trim or hardware to make your cabinets stand out and look more inviting.

Additional Tips


What is the best material to build RV cabinets?

The best material to build RV cabinets with depends on your needs and preferences. Generally, plywood is the most popular choice for RV cabinet construction because of its strength, affordability and relative ease of working with it. Plywood also comes in a variety of thicknesses and sizes, which makes it easy to customize your cabinets to fit any space inside your RV. Hardwood is another great option for those looking for something strong and durable, although it can be more expensive than plywood. Laminated boards such as particle board or MDF are also options that offer durability while still being lightweight, but they’re not as strong compared to solid wood or plywood. [2]

What material is used for RV cabinets?

The material used for RV cabinets is typically wood, but there are various other materials you can use depending on your needs. Wood is the most common choice because it’s strong and durable enough to withstand travel, as well as attractive enough to fit in with the rest of your interior design. Plywood and particle board are two popular types of wood used for RV cabinets.

Plywood holds up better to heavy usage than particle board, so if you’re planning on using your RV heavily then plywood may be a better option.

You could also consider using plastic or composite materials such as MDF (medium density fiberboard) or melamine-coated particleboard. These materials provide good durability while also being lightweight which makes them ideal for use in RVs where space is limited.

If you want a more luxurious look, you could opt for solid wood cabinet doors and other wooden pieces such as crown molding or trim to match the rest of your decor. This will give your cabinets a more expensive feel but beware that it will come at a cost – solid wood can be much pricier than plywood and particle board. [3]

The choice of material comes down to personal preference and budget, so take some time to think about what works best for you before making any decisions.

How many coats of primer do I need for RV cabinets?

When it comes to primer, two coats are usually enough to provide adequate protection. However, some RV cabinets and surfaces may require up to three coats of primer in order to ensure that the paint sticks properly and lasts a long time. If your RV has particularly worn-down or porous surfaces, you should consider three coats of primer as well.

Be sure to apply each coat of primer evenly, starting from the top and working down towards the bottom of your cabinet. Additionally, allow ample time between each coat for it to dry completely before applying subsequent layers. This is especially important if you are using oil-based primers; these tend to take longer to dry than water-based variants. Once all desired coats have been applied, you can begin to paint your RV cabinets. [4]

When using primer, it is always a good idea to wear protective gear such as a face mask and gloves. This will help keep the fumes from the primer from bothering you and also protect your skin from any potential irritants. Additionally, make sure that you’re working in a well-ventilated area so that the smell of the primer does not linger for too long.

How do you make a simple cabinet step by step?

Making a cabinet for your RV can be easier than you think. Here are the steps to creating a simple, functional cabinet:

  1. Start by measuring your space and sketching a design of the cabinet on paper. This will help you visualize the design and plan out how much wood, hardware, and other supplies you’ll need.
  2. Cut all of the pieces to size using a miter saw or table saw depending on what kind of cuts are needed. Sand any rough edges with fine-grit sandpaper and make sure all edges are smooth before assembly.
  3. Assemble the frame according to your design with screws or nails ensuring everything is lined up properly and secured tightly at all corners.
  4. Attach the back panel to the frame with screws or nails and make sure it is secure.
  5. Cut your shelves and/or doors to size using a table saw if needed, and attach them to the cabinet frame with hinges. Make sure they are lined up properly and attached securely at each corner.
  6. Add any additional hardware you need such as handles, pulls, latches, or locks. Position these items as desired and screw them into place tightly.
  7. Finish off by adding trim pieces as desired for an extra bit of style to complete the look of your cabinet! [5]

Useful Video: RV Renovation – Building Out Our KITCHEN!


Building cabinets for your RV can be a great way to create additional storage space. But it’s also important that they are installed properly and securely so they don’t pose any safety risks while you’re on the road. With some planning, dedication, and know-how, you should have no problem constructing and installing your own cabinets in your recreational vehicle or camper van. Before starting the project, make sure you understand all the steps involved so that the entire process goes smoothly. Good luck!


  1. https://rvchief.com/build-rv-cabinets/
  2. https://rvblogger.com/blog/what-are-rv-cabinets-made-of/
  3. https://askthervengineer.com/what-are-rv-cabinets-made-from-and-why-you-should-care/
  4. https://joyfulderivatives.com/how-to-paint-rv-cabinets/
  5. https://mtcopeland.com/blog/how-to-build-cabinets-complete-step-by-step-guide-2/