Chocolate stained kitchen island refaced with 3m peel and stick veneer from rockler. the dishwasher is disguised by the diy appliance panel and blends right it with the other sets of drawers on the island.

A week ago I shared how I converted our standard stainless steel dishwasher in to a paneled dishwasher. Today, I’m going to show how to build an appliance panel. (Already have everything you need and just want the steps click here.)

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It was really important to me that the panel be sturdy and lightweight. One of the things I noticed about appliance panels is they are usually one large door looking thing. I really wanted my panel to look just like the other drawer groupings I had in our island. But, if I made the panel out of multiple drawers I would have to attach each drawer separately or risk it being a little flimsy.

I decided to make one solid panel from 1/2″ plywood and then glue 1/4″ on top of that to mimic drawers. Then I used edge banding to hide the plywood and the 1/4″ seams.

Supplies you will need

  1. 1/2″ plywood I used a 2′ x 4′ project board
  2. 13/16″ or 7/8″ Edge banding this is for 3/4″ wood. Make sure to buy the same specie of wood if you’re planning to stain this. If you’re painting choose one with minimal grain like birch or maple. Oak and mahogany have open grain and the graining is still obvious after painting.
  3. 1/4″ plywood
  4. 3M Rockler peel and stick veneer in chosen wood specie – this is only if you plan to stain the wood. If you’re painting you don’t need this. Rockler often has promo codes and this isn’t an affiliate link so please find one, I got 15% off of the sheets I bought. I needed three for our whole island.
  5. Hardware: knobs, pulls, etc.
  6. 1/2″ sheet metal self tapping screws
  7. Black paint or something dark
  8. Wood glue
  9. 1/2″ brad nails
  10. 120 grit sand paper
Side note: if you don't want to use the peel and stick veneer and plan to stain this make sure to buy the 1/2" and 1/4" plywood in the same specie wood you need.

Tools you will use

  1. Table saw or circular saw or something to cut all your wood pieces
  2. Miter saw or chop saw
  3. Drill
  4. Drill bit to drill holes for the pulls/knobs through the wood
  5. Utility blade
  6. Iron
  7. Measuring tape
  8. Pen/pencil for marking
You will also need whatever you plan to finish your panel with, stain or primer + paint.

Step 1: Cut your base for your appliance panel

Your panel is already the right width 24″, but now you need to cut it to be the right height. Measure from the bottom of your dishwasher to the top of the cabinet drawer or door top next to it so that your panel will not be taller than the other door/drawer fronts. Cut at that height.

***The bottom of the appliance panel cannot extend past the dishwasher. The dishwasher most likely will not be able to open all the way if it does.

Step 2: Design your appliance panel layout

Decide how many “drawers” you would like to have on your appliance panel.

I wanted to have three slab drawers and one large shaker drawer. But, the possibilities are all there: one large door/drawer, two drawers, three drawers, one slab and three shaker drawers…I think you get the idea.

Basically mimic what you already have in your kitchen.

Cut your 1/2" plywood 1/4" strips to the right height once you decide on a layout.
My faux drawer strips were made up of 4 7/8″ tall strips for the slab drawers and 2 1/4″ wide strips for the shaker drawer

Step 3: Get the right heights for your faux drawers

Measure the heights of the drawers you already have in your kitchen and use their size as a reference for cutting your 1/4″ plywood. My slab drawers are 4 7/8″ tall and my taller drawers are 14 7/8″.

When you use your first cut board as a tool to line up your next cuts you will avoid cut mistakes and wasted time measuring and marking cuts.

Step 4: Cut the 1/4″ boards for your appliance panel

Cut your 1/4″ plywood to size. I ripped (to cut lengthwise) my 1/4″ into three strips 4 7/8″ x 24″ for the slab “drawers”. For my faux shaker drawer I ripped the 1/4″ into 2 1/4″ strips and cut two at 19 1/2″ long and two 14 7/8″ long. I like to cut with the grain on the long cuts.

I laid the 1/4″ plywood panels onto the 1/2″ exactly where they would be permanently, marked the spaces with a pen so that I would know where to paint my black lines.
Blue pen marks the location where the spaces between the faux drawers will go on the dishwasher appliance panel.
If you look closely you can see that I marked the spaces with a blue pen.

Step 5: Paint the spaces between your faux drawers

Place your 1/4″ on your 1/2″ plywood and line everything where it should end up making sure your spacing is similar to the cabinets it will be next to and to each faux drawer on the panel. Mark where the spaces are onto the 1/2″.

Using your black paint, paint lines on the 1/2″ where the spaces will be. This will help add depth to your faux drawers and look like they actually do have space between them.

I painted the spaces between the faux drawers on the 1/2″ plywood and the edges of 1/4″ plywood that made up the spaces on the faux drawers to create the illusion of space and depth between my faux drawers.
The dishwasher appliance panel is butted up next to the trash can drawer panel to make sure the spacing between the boards remains consistent.
My dishwasher appliance panel is right next to my trash can drawer panel. When I made them I had them butted up next to each other so that the spacing was the same across the boards.

Step 6: Finishing details for your 1/4″

Paint the edges of your 1/4″ plywood too but only on the edges that will make up a space. The other edges will get edge banded.

Sandwiching two boards together to apply wood veneer edge banding helped eliminate waste and time for applying the edge banding on the 1/4″ plywood that would create the faux shaker rails and stiles.

Step 7 – This is if you are making shaker drawers and optional if painting your dishwasher appliance panel

The utility blade easily separated the two boards by sliding it along the seam.

Edgeband the 1/4″ on your shaker edges that will be on the inside of the shaker square or insert. I stacked two together and then cut them apart with the utility knife. Trim the excess banding from the 1/4″ and sand edges smooth.

Make sure to change your utility blade if it’s dull. A sharp blade makes the cuts so much easier and cleaner.
If you look closely you can see that the top edges are painted black while the inside edges are edge banded with wood veneer.

Step 8: Attach your 1/4″ to your 1/2″ panel base

Apply wood glue evenly to the back of the 1/4″ plywood. Make sure you cover the entire board. I like to use a silicone cake spatula as my spreader. The glue peels right off the spatula when it’s dry.

wood glue being spread across a 1/4" board with a gray spatula.
I’ve seen some silicone spatulas made for this at Rockler, but these can be found for much cheaper at the dollar store or big box store for much cheaper.

Nail the boards in place on the 1/2″ plywood with your 1/2″ nails. It’s okay to go through the face of the board. If you are painting you will fill the holes and sand them smooth before priming. However, If you are staining you will be covering the plywood with 3m peel and stick veneer.

Helpful tip: if your nails are telegraphing through the backside of the 1/2" plywood, adjust the depth of your brad nailer. This will keep them from going too deep. The goal of the brad nailer is to get it flush with or just below the surface of the board.

If you are staining and not using the veneer you will want to clamp your 1/4″ to your 1/2″ and not use the nails. But if you do use nails, use them sparingly and get your depth right on your nail gun. Use clamps or heavy weights (I like paint cans) if the board bows/raises up in the middle.

The 1/4″ plywood is glued and then nailed to the 1/2″ plywood to create the faux drawer dishwasher appliance panel.

Step 9: Edge band the appliance panel

After the glue has dried, using the iron and the heat set edge banding, edge band the perimeter edge of the plywood. Trim and sand excess.

The kerfed joints between the faux drawers also helps create the illusion of multiple drawers on this faux drawer dishwasher appliance panel

Step 10:

Cut kerf joints where your faux drawers are through your edge banding. You can cut all the way through to the plywood. I only cut through the edge banding to the 1/2″ plywood. I didn’t cut the 1/2″ plywood.

Step 11: Add peel and stick veneer to your 1/4″

This step isn’t really necessary if you are painting your panel. If you are painting, just fill your nail holes, sand, prime and paint the same way you always do. I’ve got some great painting tips and a painting tutorial here.

Apply your 3m peel and stick wood veneer. Use a j-roller or rolling pin or a heavy hand to press the veneer firmly down and bond it tight. Trim and sand the excess veneer with a utility blade. I do this last so that the face of the veneer hides the edge of the edge banding. The edge is so discreet it isn’t that noticeable if you were to do the edges last. So don’t stress if you did it backwards.

Here is the appliance panel mostly covered with Mahogany veneer. The two stiles on the right and left faux shaker drawer are the only ones that haven’t been covered with the 3m peel and stick wood veneer.
trimming veneer with a utility blade helps make clean edges for the dishwasher appliance panel.
I found that using a saw pattern downwards helped make the cleanest cut when cutting perpendicular to the grain on the veneer.
When applying the veneer, line up the inside edge so that you won’t have to trim it, then trim the excess off of the exposed sides.

For the center panel of my shaker drawer I measured very carefully and cut my panel with a straight edge ruler to the exact size I needed. Because everything is square it made applying the inset panel veneer very straightforward and easy.

Now that the panel is veneered and stained it’s hard to believe it’s made from plywood and faux drawers.

Mount your panel to your appliance. I cover this step in more detail here.

The dishwasher blends right in to the island with the new appliance panel I built. It’s the set of “drawers” to the right of the kitchen sink. I also covered my painted island with the same 3m peel and stick veneer to reface it and give it new life.

For my trash can pull out drawer I also made a panel just like this one but smaller . I am so happy I did this project. Let me know if you tackled it too!

Disclaimer: Working with power tools and DIY projects can be dangerous and post inherent risks. While we work hard to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of the tutorials along with the information displayed on this website, Hambels Get Real cannot be held responsible for damages or losses sustained or incurred in the course of your project or in the use of the item you create.

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