The tools required to build kitchen cabinets are fairly extensive, if you are planning to build them starting with raw lumber and are building cabinets finished to contemporary standards as opposed to rustic shelves. Nearly all modern kitchen cabinets are made with a veneered substrate as opposed to solid wood. Veneered sheet goods can be bought or you can buy the substrate and the veneer separately and assemble them yourself.
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Planer or Hand Plane
If you are working with rough lumber, you will need an electric planer and/or a hand plane. An electric planer is much faster and will plane wood to very accurate thicknesses, but it is possible to do it all by hand. If you buy your lumber pre-planed and dimensioned, a planer is not absolutely necessary, although it is still handy for incidental dimensioning and smoothing.
A table saw is the centre of any woodshop. It gives you the ability to rip long boards quickly and accurately, to mass produce many multiple components in a fraction of the time that they would take to cut by hand and to cut notches and rebates with the help of a dado blade. If you are going to try to build something with only one tool, the table saw is without question the tool you want.
Routers are versatile hand held tools that accept a variety of differently shaped heads. Routers can be used for cutting notches, profiling crown moulding and door frames and cutting notches for hinges. Many shops have router tables as well, a fixture with the router mounted upside down with the spinning head protruding from the surface of the table. This set-up allows you to run long pieces of wood along a fence for shaping and dimensioning.
If you are mass-producing a large number of drawers or other case goods, an air nailer can save a lot of time and effort. For small numbers of items it may not be worth the investment, as you will also need an air compressor. Air nailers don't really do anything that a screw can't do, but they do it much more quickly. Air nailed joints should also be glued for maximum strength. Joints that can be glued and then securely air nailed generally don't need clamping.
Don't underestimate the importance of a good set of clamps. In building cabinets, doors and drawers, there are many situations where you will be gluing things together and will need them to sit tightly attached for an hour or more while the glue sets. C-clamps, bar clamps and web clamps are all necessities in a well equipped woodshop. High quality clamps are fairly expensive, but worth it.
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