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
- 1/2″ plywood I used a 2′ x 4′ project board
- 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.
- 1/4″ plywood
- 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.
- Hardware: knobs, pulls, etc.
- 1/2″ sheet metal self tapping screws
- Black paint or something dark
- Wood glue
- 1/2″ brad nails
- 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
- Table saw or circular saw or something to cut all your wood pieces
- Miter saw or chop saw
- Drill bit to drill holes for the pulls/knobs through the wood
- Utility blade
- Measuring tape
- 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.
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″.
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.
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.
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.
Step 7 – This is if you are making shaker drawers and optional if painting your dishwasher appliance panel
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mount your panel to your appliance. I cover this step in more detail here.
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!
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