Attempt myself or pay cabinet maker? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Attempt myself or pay cabinet maker?

Hi. I'm very much a beginner woodworker. I've listed the tools I have at the bottom of this post.

We wanted a new fridge for our kitchen, counter depth but they were all too wide for the available opening. The cabinets (maple) were made by Diamond and no longer available. I called a couple of cabinet makers to obtain pricing on shrinking the width of the two cabinets to the left of the fridge ("A"; lower left is 24" deep, "B"; upper left 12" deep) and moving the cabinet above the fridge ("C"; 12" depth) to the left and adding wider spacers to each side and I got a bid of $480 from one and between $400 and $500 from another based on pictures and dimensions I sent them.

Based on this I removed the cabinets from the wall and we bought the new fridge. Then we we decided we'd also like to get a secondary quote to additionally bring the 12" depth cabinet above the fridge forward to standard 24" (still leaving the upper left cabinet at 12" deep). The first cabinet maker came out but unfortunately his bid on the initial part changed from $480 to $760. This included "about 20% for installation" that wasn't in the original $480 with the rest of the increase being because they had decided they couldn't modify the existing boxes and would have to build from scratch. The secondary bid (making the upper cabinet deeper) was a further $270, so $1030 total. I'm still waiting on a bid from the second cabinet maker but I have my doubts i'll ever receive it.

Anyways, my question. Is this something that someone who is handy, keen to learn but with zero finish experience should consider taking on? In addition to lack of experience I don't have an indoor shop space, I'd have to do the work outside under the carport. Also I can tend to be a bit of a procrastinator and the cabinets are in the dining room at the moment and my wife is getting restless :-)

If I can't do the whole thing, I was pondering shrinking the boxes myself and pay for the doors. My wife is ok with this as we'd at least have the storage space back. I need to see how much glue was used on the boxes. The staples are clearly visible (blue arrows). In theory if I can separate the sides without major damage to them, since I'm reducing the width by 2" I should be able to reuse a lot of the materials.

Advice welcomed. I attached some pictures.

I have the following tools that I've used a fair bit (none for finish level work).
  • Bosch 4100 table saw with TS2000 gravity feed stand, TS1002 rear feed extension, TS1003 side feed extension, TS1007 dado insert and 2 Leecraft zero clearance inserta (both unused)
  • Hitachi C10FSH 10" compound saw
  • Bosch 1617EVSPK plunge/fixed router combo kit
  • MLCS 45 piece router bit set http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shops...ges/set45.html

And the following that I've bought but not yet used:
  • CMT Industrio 999.402.00 Portable Router Table. Made by Bench-Dog, similar to older style Bench-Dog 40-001. I bought it a couple months ago new/unassembled in box off Craigslist for $80 [I know I'd need to make a coping jig]
  • Bosch RA1165 under table router base
  • Woodcraft 144755 tablesaw tenoning jig
  • Makita 3901 Plate Joiner
  • Jessem 4016 Double Fetherboard
  • Hitachi 72T finishing blade
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Last edited by crazybrit; 03-20-2014 at 04:37 PM.
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post #2 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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More pics

More pics
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post #3 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 04:46 PM
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If you would post your location, there may be someone in your area who would help you.

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OH, wait a minute ............Yep!.............That's what he said!

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post #4 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdntrdr View Post
If you would post your location, there may be someone in your area who would help you.
sorry, my bad. i just updated my profile with location. I'm in Portland, Oregon.
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post #5 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 05:59 PM
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Narrowing your doors and cabinets is definitely not a beginner project.

I recently shortened a raised panel door cabinet, (2 Doors), and the client was charged 4 times what a new box store cabinet would cost.

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post #6 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 06:02 PM
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For the cabinet above the fridge, it would be easier to make a deeper box, than try to modify the existing one. You could get away with the doors if you don't mind a spacer on the sides.

For the end cabinets, I doubt you could get the doors apart without damaging them. You could reproduce that same look without going to the rail and stile work. The upper cabinet might look better if it's on the same frontal plane as the cabinet over the fridge. If you do that, you would need a new box.

The base cabinet can be salvaged, as neither side shows. You could remove one side, carefully removing and saving it, and reinstalling it once you cut down the face frame, floor and back. You can likely still get the drawer to work.

If you feel confident to do all the preliminary sizing and fitting, and then to do any finishing that may be needed, go ahead and tackle it.





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post #7 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 06:05 PM
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It's a lot of work, but can be done.
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post #8 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
The upper cabinet might look better if it's on the same frontal plane as the cabinet over the fridge.
We decided we don't want to do this. We'd rather have the upper/left cabinet stay at 12" deep allowing easy access to the worksurface without the upper/left cabinet being "in your face". This is regardless of what we decide to do with the cabinet over the fridge (stays at 12" or comes out to 24").

Quote:
The base cabinet can be salvaged, as neither side shows. You could remove one side, carefully removing and saving it, and reinstalling it once you cut down the face frame, floor and back. You can likely still get the drawer to work.
This was my hope.

Quote:
If you feel confident to do all the preliminary sizing and fitting, and then to do any finishing that may be needed, go ahead and tackle it.
That is the question. I'm not sure if I'm biting off more than I can chew.

I'm not sure on the doors but I think I can probably take on the downsizing of the boxes. I was thinking (since I am narrowing by a good 2") that I could use a jigsaw or my oscillating tool to make an initial rough cut a few mm from each side on the horizontals, then once apart, make a final cut to the correct width on the horizontals. This would then leave me to have to remove the few mm of the original horizontals attached to the side pieces, hopefully leaving the sides able to be reused as-is. Not sure if this is a good plan?

I also noticed the frame is presently secured using pocket screws. Once I narrow them down, if I retain this I'd need to get a pocket hole jig. Or I could use some alternative fastening scheme, biscuits?

Last edited by crazybrit; 03-20-2014 at 06:21 PM.
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post #9 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 06:40 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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looks like a 3 cabinet build to me

You'll need the upper and lower on the far left, and one upper in the center above the fridge.

You can look at the old ones to see how they were built. Your upper cabinet needs to be longer, and deeper, also the left side upper, so no "shrinking" there.

The main issue I see, setting aside your "inexperience" is the lack of a workspace. I've done a lot of cutting outside under canopies and awnings, but it ain't a good environment.

A cabinet build is really more about organization and somewhat less about the actual making/cutting in my opinion.... making the drawings, figuring out the dimensions, making a cut list, figuring out the panels on the plywood to minimize waste, double checking everything, is the key to a successful build.

Having accurate machines and making accurate cuts is another issue. Small tablesaws with minimum tables don't make for great accuracy. A circ saw and an edge guide is a "tedious" method and requires patience to measure twice, cut once. Making the raised panel door panels, rails and stiles, is another issue, and requires some practice trials on scrap to get things just right.

I would not say "Don't try it", but those are the issues I see. There is plenty of help here, but IF the wife is anxious about gettin' them done, that can be another issue. Another approach I would consider is finding stock dimension cabinets from a supplier, that can be modified either by making new doors or by adding side frames to make the dimensions work.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 03-20-2014 at 06:42 PM.
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post #10 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
You can look at the old ones to see how they were built. Your upper cabinet needs to be longer, and deeper, also the left side upper, so no "shrinking" there.
Left side upper doesn't need to be longer or deeper. Just narrower.

Rest are good points. thanks!
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post #11 of 18 Old 03-20-2014, 07:05 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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right you are

Brain fade on my part.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #12 of 18 Old 03-21-2014, 12:17 PM
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I'm a pro cabinet maker and contractor and started out knowing nothing with few tools but had a passion to learn .That was about 40 years ago.Just a little background to let you know where I'm coming from.You have to start learning somewhere and I have always learned by doing.That being said,with your limited knowledge and tools I would not learn on this project.I don't know if you installed these cabinets or not but from the pictures ,if you did the install I would not take on the rebuild.
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post #13 of 18 Old 03-21-2014, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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I don't know if you installed these cabinets or not but from the pictures ,if you did the install I would not take on the rebuild.
The cabinets were installed by the previous owner. She was a corner-cutter to be sure. Everything done to 70% standard which then costs $$$ to redo over properly.

I'm curious - in the limited pictures I posted - what made you say the above? Since I didn't install them I'm taking no offense but I'm curious what you see?

Last edited by crazybrit; 03-21-2014 at 12:24 PM.
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post #14 of 18 Old 03-22-2014, 09:23 AM
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I assumed being a DIY'er that you installed them.My mistake.
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post #15 of 18 Old 03-22-2014, 01:39 PM
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Given the info in your first post, and having a wife, I would definitely have a cabinet shop do the job.
Just bite the bullet and pay.

Also, DO NOT get the lowest bidder, Sett;le for someone in the middle.

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post #16 of 18 Old 03-24-2014, 12:54 PM
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My suggestion would be to practice and see if you got the skill and/or tools. That is what I did when I built the buffet.
Can you make a door similar to the existing doors? That includes similar hinges and fit when installed.
Can you make the cabinet box with face frame similar to your existing.

Give it a shot using cheaper materials. You will most likely answer your on questions.
Mike
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post #17 of 18 Old 03-25-2014, 02:39 PM
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Save the faceframe and hinges. Then tackle the box. If it looks good then do the rest. You never know you may surprise yourself. What happens if you mess it up. You have to have one made. But at least you tried to do it yourself first.

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post #18 of 18 Old 03-26-2014, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Save the faceframe and hinges. Then tackle the box. If it looks good then do the rest. You never know you may surprise yourself. What happens if you mess it up. You have to have one made. But at least you tried to do it yourself first.
Yes, this is what I'm going to do. Attempt the box myself. None of the cabinet makers want to reuse the old (labor cost > material cost) so if I mess up I'm not really any worse off. If it turns out fine, the wife will be placated for a few months by having the cabinets back on the wall, albeit without doors.

I'm also going to check the local discount cabinet store where the previous owner originally bought these from. I'd discounted their current styles as none of the doors matched but they had same natural maple finish. So if the price is cheap enough and they have the right sizes, I can just buy them for the box and get new doors made.
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