Easy SOLIDWORKS Cabinet Making Part 1

Article by James Swackhammer updated November 7, 2020


In this four part cabinet woodworking series I’m going to go through the steps for designing a large wooden cabinet using SOLIDWORKS, the cabinet shown below is typically for a front entrance way.

I have seen SOLIDWORKS used for just about everything. Don’t believe me? Well here’s a list of out of the box items (pun intended): zippers, toy building blocks, 3D printable flowers, cell phone towers, and the list goes on. One thing people tend to forget is the woodworking industry. I’m going to break down some easy steps on how to make cabinets.

Cabinet Design

Cabinet Design

Start with a mid-plane extrusion

Starting off with a simple sketch on the front plane, using the center rectangle tool and drag out. Don’t forget to fully define with dimensions. I use the extrude with a mid-plane. If you used the center rectangle and mid-plane extrude the origin will be in the middle. I tend to do this more for assemblies but it also beats having the origin in an arbitrary corner.

Basic boss-extrude with dims showing.

Basic boss-extrude with dimensions showing

Define material thickness

Next step establishes our material thickness. I try to use standard material thickness because this makes it easier to purchase and make. Since I can purchase 5/8″ from my local hardware store I use this dimension more often, also it give a high level of strength. The shell command is now used removing the top. Tops of cabinets are usually a nicer material like a granite counter top, butcher block or real hardwood.

5/8" good one side ply wood will be used.

5/8″ good one side ply wood will be used.

Split the cabinet pieces

The next steps are where we see the cabinet pieces come break-out. A great under used command, Split, is used to separate pieces form the box. Split is located in the Direct Editing tab or use the search. We need three Split commands in total. First split we select the inside face of the eventual front piece. You will now have two bodies being the front piece and the rest of the box.

Inside face of the highlighted Magenta part was selected.

Inside face of the highlighted Magenta part was selected.

For the second Split we grab the side inside faces at the same time for the side pieces. As for the final Split command it is best to separate the bottom piece as we want it to be a full length piece. In total we will have 5 bodies, front, 2 sides, back and bottom.

Completed split model

In the next article

We will separate the front piece for drawer fronts, a bottom door and talk about miters. For another woodworking example please check out my workout bench design article.

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James Swackhammer

James is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Application Expert based in the Javelin Oakville head office