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post #1 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 01:22 AM Thread Starter
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Questions About Built-Ins

Hi,

I found this forum while searching for some info on building built-ins, so I hope I'm posting in the appropriate place.

My husband and I have been looking to put some built-ins in our family room around our fireplace. We bought our home new a couple of years ago, and the model home had built-ins, but we opted not to do them at the time due to budget. So now we're trying to get something similar to what they had in the model.

We've tried contacting the original cabinet builder for our home with no luck; we've also had a couple of custom cabinet makers come to give us estimates, and the estimates have seemed quite high to us. It might be that this is just how much it costs, but it's out of our budget.

Which brings me to my first question - how much would be reasonable to expect to pay for these built-ins? There are two openings, each is 52" wide and 96" tall. The rest of the cabinets in our house are made from beech, I believe. If it matters, we live in California.

Here's a picture of the cabinets from the model home:



I have also been thinking about whether or not this is a project we could tackle ourselves. I don't have very much woodworking experience at all, but I'm pretty handy and quick to learn. I was thinking we could get some pre-fabricated cabinets for the bottom, and build the upper portion. Is it possible to get pre-fabricated cabinets like in the picture above that are that wide, and does this seem like a reasonable approach?

The one thing that makes me the most nervous is the stain - it's pretty dark, and seems like it would be pretty challenging to do by hand?

I'm probably crazy for even thinking about doing this ourselves, but I'm always up for learning a new hobby!
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post #2 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 02:14 AM
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Lowers should be easy to find I a dark color. However, even cheap lowers are going to run you about $150-200 each. So I would expect around $800 for lowers and then you would need to build the uppers and stain as close as possible to match.

If it was me I would buy some cheap oak non stained lowers from lowes or Home Depot and use general finishes ebony stain to get the desired look your wanting. Then build the rest out of oak. That would be your easiest and cheapest method IMO. I would use cabinet grade 3/4" oak plywood for the sides and shelves and 1/4" for the uppers and face frame them with real oak boards.

Your going to need a router to make the decorative sides or buy them from a lumber yard pre milled.
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post #3 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 06:53 AM
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We have an introduction section where you can say a few words about yourself. If you fill out your profile in your "User Control Panel", you can list any hobbies, experience or other facts. You can also list your general geographical location which would be a help in answering some questions.









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post #4 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 07:33 AM
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It does matter some where you live. Prices vary around the country so what I might charge in Texas may be pocket change in California. For the two sections finished and installed I would charge about $3000.00.

If you could live with a center divider in the upper sections you could have the cabinet made with adjustable shelves.
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post #5 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 09:46 AM
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Custom built with FAS hardwood and cabinet grade plywood, finished and installed, my price would be a lot closer to $2200 each. There's a days work just meeting with you, taking measurements, planning and getting the supplies and materials. There is 5 days building, about 4 finishing and a day to install, probably over $1000 in materials.
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post #6 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 09:52 AM
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If I bid it... $5000.00 for both.






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post #7 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 12:41 PM
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Yea, I was gonna say if I was to did that job it would have been around $4000 for everything.
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post #8 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the responses! We have been getting quoted about twice that much so far, so we may need to see if we can get other quotes.

If we decide to tackle this ourselves I was thinking of getting a small piece of plywood and some stain and trying it first to see if I can get the stain right. Would hate to get it all built and then not be able to stain it properly. :)
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post #9 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 01:32 PM
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I hope I don't get in trouble for giving tips of the trade away... But if I was hand building this I would actually use maple. It's very sturdy, will withstand a lot of abuse and can be stained almost exactly to match your photo.

1. Buy a sheet of maple ply
2. Buy a can of "old masters" Rich Mahogany stain and Sherwin Williams dye. It comes in powder form and you add water.
3. Apply per instructions and sit back in awe.
4. Apply Polyurethane mixed 50/50 with mineral spirits. Wipe on, wipe off... Let dry and repeat the process another 3 times.
5. Your done with your finish.

*Edit*

On the quote that was given, my main concern would be what type of wood the company would be using. As that is going to be the big determining factor in the cost of the project. The labor should be pretty much the same no matter what material is used... Finish time may very, but the rest should be about the same.

So if your looking for quotes, I would ask or specify what material you would like used. If they are charging 10k? Then I would hope they are using Zebra wood or something crazy. :P

Last edited by Alaska_Guy; 02-20-2014 at 01:50 PM.
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post #10 of 24 Old 02-20-2014, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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I think one quote we had was with alder, and the other was either maple or cherry. One of the designs had a few additional features from what I have pictured above, but I can't see how that would add $5K in costs.
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post #11 of 24 Old 02-21-2014, 10:43 AM
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I thought you might be interested in this: http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/b...-thread-48369/

It's a build thread I did last year. It is the same idea with bookcase/cabinets on either side of a stone fireplace. I need to update it with some pictures of the final product. It now has the lower cabinet doors on and the crown molding put in.

I am an amateur. This project was challenging for me but I am very happy with the results. Depending on your skill level it is absolutely do-able but you do need some carpentry skills and some tools. The main thing would be a reliable way to cut square and accurate panels from 4x8 sheets of plywood into the panels. This would primarily be done on a table saw with suitable infeed and outfeed or with a tracksaw. Either is an investment if you don't already have it. For what it's worth, I had guesses of around $5k for my project if done custom professionally. You could go cheaper with prefab cabinets but their sizes will be standard so depending on your space, you'll have filler pieces that will affect the form and function of the install. If you have any questions, please ask.
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post #12 of 24 Old 02-21-2014, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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That looks great, thanks!

I'm very tempted to try to tackle the project ourselves, but I'm not sure how much of an investment we'd have to make in some tools. We have a miter saw and a circular saw, and some clamps and whatnot, but no table saw or router. I was thinking I could maybe just have the bigger cuts done at Home Depot or a lumber yard, and use the circular saw for the smaller cuts.

I'm looking for threads like yours to get an idea of how realistic a project this would be, so this is very helpful. :)
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post #13 of 24 Old 02-21-2014, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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One other question I have is, is it possible to buy pre-fabricated cabinets that are wide enough to fill the 52" space? When I look online at Home Depot and Lowes, the widest I can find is 36". It's hard to tell from the picture from the model if the cabinets are a single unit, or two units put together, and whether or not they go all the way to the sides.
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post #14 of 24 Old 02-21-2014, 03:03 PM
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Short of building them from scratch as I did, I have a couple of suggestions with varying degrees of difficulty. But both easier than scratch built.

1. Go to a custom cabinet shop and have them build the boxes. If you give them the dimensions you want and all they have to do is build boxes it should be cheap. They could even do the doors and drawers which require even more specialized skills and tools. You could then bring the boxes home and install yourself. You could also consider having them finish them. We hand painted ours which gives it a certain look. But a cabinet shop would have the equipment to spray the finish.

2. Go to home depot or lowes and look at their "semi custom" line of cabinets. There will be a vast array of styles and sizes. You won't be able to "customize" a size like 55 and 1/2 inches. But they will come in multiple widths. Then with filler strips you'd be able to do the install. If this works, it's a great alternative.
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post #15 of 24 Old 02-21-2014, 03:08 PM
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This is a custom job, you will never get store-bought cabinets to fit in these niches and look built-in.
At least the builder had economics in mind, with the fluted pilasters, etc. the box parts are 1/2 sheet or less.
The economy and market in your particular area has a lot to do with price, in Naples Fl in 2000-2005, $1,000 a linear ft.
Not any more!
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post #16 of 24 Old 02-21-2014, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska_Guy View Post
Your going to need a router to make the decorative sides or buy them from a lumber yard pre milled.
And finding a local lumber yard that specializes in moulding and trim shouldn't be a problem.
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post #17 of 24 Old 02-21-2014, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bzguy View Post
This is a custom job, you will never get store-bought cabinets to fit in these niches and look built-in.
At least the builder had economics in mind, with the fluted pilasters, etc. the box parts are 1/2 sheet or less.
The economy and market in your particular area has a lot to do with price, in Naples Fl in 2000-2005, $1,000 a linear ft.
Not any more!
Sorry, should have clarified - I was thinking of buying the lower cabinets pre-built and then building the top box/shelves. Sounds like I may need to get the lowers custom built though.
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post #18 of 24 Old 02-21-2014, 07:41 PM
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Since they are 52" wide... You would either have to have the bottoms made, or do some sheet rock work. Since the space currently on either side of the fireplace is 52" and the bases you can buy that are close to looking like the ones pictured come in a 24" wide carcus, that means you would need 2. This would give you a 48" wide area... Pretty easy to build up false wall using a few 2x4's and some sheet rock to fill in that gap.

Again, this is just another suggestion to keep it cheaper. Not necessarily the way I would go about doing it. :)

But 10 2x4's = 20-25 bucks, then a couple sheets of 1/2" rock = $100... Decide which is cheaper and will work for you. :P
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post #19 of 24 Old 02-22-2014, 07:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natterjak View Post
I think one quote we had was with alder, and the other was either maple or cherry. One of the designs had a few additional features from what I have pictured above, but I can't see how that would add $5K in costs.
Wood is a commodity like anything else and the prices vary depending on popularity but you are right there wouldn't be a $5K price difference. The material prices of the woods you listed might only vary a couple hundred dollars.
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post #20 of 24 Old 02-22-2014, 07:45 AM
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Guys please try to remember the op is in California. from talking to cabinet guys in California on other forums I know their prices are a lot higher than prices in North Carolina. The quotes they are getting May be right on track for their area. It is impossible to say if the quotes sound high if you are not in the area of the op.
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