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post #1 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 12:10 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Kitchen Cabinets - Advice

Who here has made their own kitchen cabinets and could offer up some advice to a newbie? I have posted a link to the kitchen I plan on basing my renovation on for reference.

My background: generally handy but I have never taken on a project of this scale. Father is an electrician. I plan on working my way up to this project through smaller projects: garage storage, laundry room, bathrooms then this.

I have a large shop with the basics and enough space to do the work and store everything until installation. What I don't have and need will be bought .

Questions:

best materials? My MIL just had a wonderful custom remodel with what looks to me to be veneered cherry with laminated plywood boxes (where not visible) Is there a reason he went this route? Strength, warping, cost?

Best hardware? Where can you save money where is it best to splurge?

Tips and tricks?

Good resources?

Thanks for your time!



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post #2 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 12:33 AM
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If you use prefinished plywood for the cabinet carcases, you don't have to deal with any further finishing of the insides. So all you have to do is make the face frames and treat them as you desire.

I just finished remodeling our kitchen. Still have crown molding to install and the back splash after the counter top is installed.

Knotty Alder w/prefinished Birch for the carcases.

I follow the basic construction techniques described by Kris Reynolds in his You Tube videos.

Good luck in your endeavor.
Mike
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post #3 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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So far everything I have researched has steered me towards prefinished plywood which is why I posed the question about materials after seeing my MILs custom kitchen.

I have actually just finished watching his series. Obviously the construction would be different given the difference in styling but there is still a lot I've learned from his videos already.

Your work is lovely, I have never seen a cutlery drawer done like that, I knew this was the right place to go to ask questions.

Do most people opt for corner drawers? I don't want to sacrifice the modern styling so I don't think that I can go that route but bring the drawers for everything else.
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post #4 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 03:07 AM
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I've built a good number of kitchens and one of the things you want to make sure of is careful measuring and cutting, and get your carcasses square within 1/32". Personally, I have never used pre-finished ply. Can't help you there.

Hardware? Well, the best hinges would be some good quality solid brass butt hinges. However, they are expensive and time consuming to install accurately. Most people go with euro-hinges these days. They're inexpensive, ($2.50-$5.50/hinge, depending on the range of opening you need) they offer adjustability in all directions when you are installing them, and they are fairly quick and painless to install. They are not the most sturdy hinge out there, and out of an entire kitchen, you will likely have a couple of doors go out of alignment each year or two. But they can be readjusted with the turn of a screw or 2. I usually use Blum, but the distributor here has been pushing Salice and I've tried them. They are fine, also. I used Grass a long time ago but had too many hinges with rough opening mechanisms.

For drawer slides, I typically use KV 8400 or 8405 series. They are steel ball bearing slides, full extension (8405 is full extension + 1" over travel) and rated for 100#. There are different brands available in basically the same slides, similar to the ones in your pictures. I like these far better than the white enamel slides with the nylon rollers, but they cost more. The enamel ones are around $5/pair, the 8400 series costs me about $13/pair. A lot of people like the undermount slides such as Blum Tandem series, but then you're really jumping in cost, at least double or more.

The other thing I ALWAYS recommend to my customers is to go with only the top row of drawers being shallow. All the rest of the drawers should be deeper, and if you have the space, include some 10"-11" deep drawers. People usually go with that and they are always glad that they did. If you end up with some deep AND wide drawers, increase the thickness of your drawer bottom from the standard 1/4" to either 3/8" or a full 1/2" if your going to keep cast iron pots/pans in it. But then, a lot of the people I've built kitchens for use their kitchen the way my wife and I do, like an industrial kitchen. So a lot depends on how you use the kitchen in your life. And personal preferences. For instance, we would never put an island in our kitchen, but most people seem to love the idea of islands. I do not want to have to constantly be walking around an island when I'm cooking. I want to be able to reach things easily and quickly.

Drawers for kitchens are most commonly made from 1/2" baltic birch plywood. It's generally pretty good quality, seldom has any voids and if there are, they're very small, and if you sand it to 220 grit, it finishes nicely and looks good. Attach the finished face to the front of the box. And it dovetails just fine. I've been dovetailing baltic birch drawers for at least 15 years, so I know.

As for the corner drawers, no, not a lot of people opt for that. Most go with lazy susans in one form or another.

I finish all of my kitchen cabinets with satin polyurethane. It's a very tough finish and if you do a good job, it looks as good as anything out there, although it will impart an amber color. If you want no color from the finish, you could consider water-based finishes. I tried them 20 years ago and didn't like the results, but I hear they have come a long way. I would not recommend lacquer. It has been the industry standard for quite a while, but it waterspots. I have seen quite a bit of that over the years. Conversion varnish is the latest rage, but I know practically nothing about it.

Good luck.

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post #5 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 08:52 AM
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Once you use conversion varnish you'll never go back to poly.
It's so much easier and more durable.

JC
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post #6 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 08:52 AM
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Usually when you remodel a kitchen there is modifications to be made to the house as well. You might have to move electrical outlets or make repairs to the plumbing. Often the house is plagued with problems with drafts around the sink which need to be addressed as well. It may only be a matter of spraying in some great stuff expansion foam or it might involve taking the rock off the wall.

The type wood and finish is a personal choice thing. It wouldn't matter for the structure which wood you use. The carcasses I normally use birch or maple plywood and put a clear finish on the insides of the cabinets. I think it makes it nicer to have the inside of the cabinet light than stained. The exposed ends of the cabinets I normally make a frame that matches the doors. On cheaper cabinets I just use the same type plywood as the faceframes.

When you design the cabinets you need to plan on if you are going to have undercounter lighting or not and what type fixtures. I normally use puck lights. When I do this I normally make a wider bottom rail on the upper cabinets and make a hollow cavity under the bottom shelf to hide the wiring. You might also want to put french cleats on the upper cabinets to make installing them easier. If the cabinets go to the ceiling with small trim at the top that may not be possible. The cabinet would have to be installed at least a couple of inches from that ceiling for that to be an option. Personally I don't care for it. The cabinet has to be made an extra 3/4" deep and leave a hollow wasted space behind. What I do for installing upper cabinets is put them in first before the bases and I have a couple of saw horses 52" tall I set the cabinets on until I can screw the cabinets to the wall.

When you build the kitchen it makes it easier if you make the faceframes first. Since I don't stain the insides of the cabinets I stain the inside edges of the faceframe prior to building the cabinets to prevent getting stain on the inside parts of the cabinet. From that point you can take the faceframe and get the dimensions to cut the carcase parts. It's normal today for cabinets to have adjustable shelving so I'm assuming you will also. There is a machine called a line bore for this however it's expensive and not worth the expense doing one kitchen. I take a piece of 1/4" plywood about 10" wide and 8' long and drill a line of holes 1 1/2" apart for the full length of the board and use that for a pattern. I use 5mm shelf pins which is 3/16" and use a brad point drill bit in a hand drill to drill the holes in my parts. To keep the dept consistent I drill a hole down the center of a dowel rod and then cut the dowel rod to the length I need as a stop to fit over the drill bit.

For finishing the cabinets I prefer to use a precatalyzed lacquer. It's simple, dries fast and a lot less labor than many other finishes. Normally I can spray the cabinets with a vinyl sealer and by the time I finish spraying the cabinets the first one is ready to sand using 220 paper. Then blow the dust off and topcoat. Normally a very light sanding after the first coat I put a second coat on and the finish is done. Since the finish dries fast there isn't the overspray issues that you have with some other finishes. I often refinish a kitchen spraying the finish inside a customers house. What overspray that goes through the house settles like dust and can be wiped off. As far as spray equipment I just use cheap Harbor Freight sprayers and they work fine. Spraying cabinets it's easier to use a pressure pot sprayer because you can turn the sprayer at any angle and it will work and you don't have a cup hanging off the sprayer to get in the way. A pressure pot sprayer will put out more volume so spraying the inside of a cabinet there isn't an orange peal issue. Where a lot of folks leave the backs off the cabinets to spray them for that reason I can spray the inside of a cabinet on the wall with fixed shelves in the way and the finish comes out nice.

It's becoming popular to use soft close drawer hardware today. If that is what you choose they are temperamental with dust. They need to be kept very clean. What I would recommend is to use rear mount plastic clips to fit the drawers in the cabinets so the hardware can be easily removed later. I did a kitchen one time and after the granite people got done cutting the hole for the sink and the cooktop I had to replace half the slides. From now on I will remove all the drawer guides before any stone work is done.
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post #7 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverLee View Post
Do most people opt for corner drawers? I don't want to sacrifice the modern styling so I don't think that I can go that route but bring the drawers for everything else.
Our house was built in 1983 with the garden variety cabinets made from particle board and vinyl wood grained veneer. After living here since 1987, we decided it was time to redo the kitchen. My wife designed it the way she wanted it to be with all drawers in the base cabinets. We are getting too old to dig around in those cabinets.

For the corners, I used 28 inch full extension soft close drawer slides. There is some wasted space, but there is a lot of usable storage space also.

Since I used the prefinished plywood for the carcases, including 1/2 inch for the backs, I had some good sized cut offs left over. So, I used it for the drawer bottoms on the lower drawers and 1/4 inch for the 6 six upper drawers. The top drawers are made from maple and the lowers are poplar. I planed my stock to 5/8 inch thick. They should last a loong time.

I used the 22 inch full extension soft close drawer slides for the cabinets and Blum soft close hinges for the upper cabinets. That sure is nice. The two diagonal corner upper cabinets have three tier lazy Susans in them. That used to be wasted space. Not any more.

That is our version. Steve and mmwood have presented a lot of good info on how they build their cabinets. Take your time to figure out just exactly what you are going to do.

Note: It helps to have some in-house help!
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post #8 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 05:55 PM
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MT, I heartily agree with all drawers on the base cabs as a practical preference.

And I always try to discourage people from doing the slide-out shelf feature. What, really, is the point? It's basically a drawer behind a door, which almost invariably leads to the backs of the doors getting banged with the edges of the pull-outs. And if you are putting short sides on the shelves to keep things from sliding off, it's the same as a drawer in terms of work and cost. So you double the cost by doing doors and drawers. The only justification for that feature that I can think of is when the aesthetic look of doors is preferred over drawers on the exterior face.
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post #9 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Such great tips tricks and idea, I cannot thank you all enough! All of these things are so helpful, hardware, lighting, layout. Thank you!

It's funny the layout and plan for the kitchen is one of the few things I'm fairly sure about. Our kitchen is basically the same layout as that picture. The kitchen is meant to be used by several people at a time with separate cooking, prep and cleaning areas. I have been looking for a nice balance between larger kitchen but efficient use of space and have settled with this. There's nothing worse than having to go across a room 6 times while cooking. Also lots of counter space. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether or not I will be adding a pot rack. The kitchen in our current place is tiny and I have gotten very comfortable with our little ikea pot rack that houses all of our pots and pans save pressure cooker.

I do have some questions.

1. Counter depth?
2. I see people creating mock up plans on the computer and I remember hearing about programs that help you plan the most efficient way to cut your plywood. Anyone do this?
3. Has anyone made the small pull out pantry shelves? I keep all of my spices (I have tons) in mason jars and have been dreaming of this for a long time. There isn't as much information on these online although they seem pretty straight forward but with a higher probability of torquing the hardware.
4. Any opinions on the melamine? So far looks like plywood is the preference.
5. Has anyone made toe kick drawers? I think that I'll put in one for a footstool.
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post #10 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 10:23 PM
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Check out Rev-A-Shelf. They have all sorts of gadgets, pull outs, etc. We incorporated a dual trash receptacle into our cabinets. You just need to figure out what the opening of the cabinet needs to be and build it so it will fit. Ours is located behind the door panel to the right of the sink in our kitchen. That eliminated a can that has stood at the end of our cabinets for 2 decades. :-)
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post #11 of 22 Old 10-24-2014, 11:02 PM
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The kitchen in the picture is elegant in it's simplicity.
Everything in it is flat, slab doors, skirt at top instead of crown, etc.
This means that you can do the entire job with prefinished plywood, a table saw, peel & stick or iron on edge-banding and a few basic hand tools.
The grain looks so even that I'm guessing it's formica.
No matter, I have done these with prefinished maple, nice product, nice look.
One assembly trick......I rabbet the end panels that will show top and bottom in the 3/4" maple 3/4" X 9/16" leaving 3/16" of stock on the outside.
Then pre-drill and screw the stretchers down from top and the floors up from the bottom for finished ends with no screws showing.
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post #12 of 22 Old 10-25-2014, 06:26 AM
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My experience over the years is that any iron-on type of edge banding is best avoided in a kitchen, especially if you are going to really USE your kitchen. I also try to discourage customers from using melamine in kitchens and bathrooms. If water gets into the particle board, it will swell. Edge banding gets nicked, dented, and it peels. People love to say "It's great if you do it right", but I have seen too many kitchens where it looks like hell after 6 or 7 years. If you must use melamine, I strongly advise a solid wood edge, i.e. 1/4" thick edging. Iron-on edge banding is really just a way to save time and money in the short run. It is not a quality product.

Standard cabinet depth is 24". A 1" overhang is typical, so 25" is pretty common for the counters. But that is not set in stone. Customers have had me make deeper counters, shorter counters, taller counters....it's yours and you can do what you like. Be aware that most appliances are going to be based on 24" cabinet depth and 25" counter depth. If you make the cabs or counters deeper, you will need to take that into consideration when doing cut outs, etc.

I have a sheet of paper with 4 rectangles drawn on it. They are scaled to size for 4' x 8' ply. I also have a sheet with 4 squares on it, scaled to size for baltic birch ply, which comes in 5' x 5' sheets. I make copies of these and these are the "programs" I use to determine the layout of my ply pieces. I write up my cut lists, then lay them out on the diagrams. Then I know how many sheets of ply I will need, and I know which cuts to make first, second, etc. wherever applicable. Quick and easy and it doesn't require a computer program to do it. A simple calculator is helpful though. Also helps keep your brain in the game, so to speak.

Never have done toe kick drawers, and I'm not sure what you mean by the small pull-out pantry shelves.
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post #13 of 22 Old 10-25-2014, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverLee View Post
Such great tips tricks and idea, I cannot thank you all enough! All of these things are so helpful, hardware, lighting, layout. Thank you!

It's funny the layout and plan for the kitchen is one of the few things I'm fairly sure about. Our kitchen is basically the same layout as that picture. The kitchen is meant to be used by several people at a time with separate cooking, prep and cleaning areas. I have been looking for a nice balance between larger kitchen but efficient use of space and have settled with this. There's nothing worse than having to go across a room 6 times while cooking. Also lots of counter space. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether or not I will be adding a pot rack. The kitchen in our current place is tiny and I have gotten very comfortable with our little ikea pot rack that houses all of our pots and pans save pressure cooker.

I do have some questions.

1. Counter depth?
2. I see people creating mock up plans on the computer and I remember hearing about programs that help you plan the most efficient way to cut your plywood. Anyone do this?
3. Has anyone made the small pull out pantry shelves? I keep all of my spices (I have tons) in mason jars and have been dreaming of this for a long time. There isn't as much information on these online although they seem pretty straight forward but with a higher probability of torquing the hardware.
4. Any opinions on the melamine? So far looks like plywood is the preference.
5. Has anyone made toe kick drawers? I think that I'll put in one for a footstool.
1. Normally a base cabinet is 24" deep so a formica countertop is 25" deep but most of the stone counters I've seen were 25 1/4" to 25 1/2". This is something you need to get from the counter people and needs to be allowed for when building the cabinets. If you have a oven cabinet or pantry the depth of the cabinet needs to be slightly more than the counter depth so the counter doesn't stick out.

2. I don't use a computer to figure materials. The easiest way to manage materials is to cut out the biggest cabinets first and work your way down to the smallest. You have enough to think about building the cabinets without worrying about materials. There is going to be some left over wood regardless of what is done.

3. There is a lot you can do with a pantry. You can put can racks on the back side of the doors and install pull out shelves behind. Regardless of how deep you build the pantry you can get full extension drawer guides to make the pull out shelves work well.

4. I don't care for melamine. The coating is very thin brittle and most of it has a particleboard core. If a white finish was desired I would paint plywood before using melamine.

5. I suppose a person could make drawers in a toekick however I've never seen it done. Most of the time the cabinets don't sit directly on the floor. You end up shimming under the cabinets so the top is level. I would think it would make it very difficult to make a toespace with drawers and have it strong enough to support the cabinet if it was broken up with drawers. To have any chance of making it work the toespaces would have to be built separate from the cabinet so you could get everywhere to shim it against the floor. Also keep in mind the toespace is always dirty where everyone mops the floor up against the base. I think it would be difficult to keep the dirt out of the contents of the drawers.
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post #14 of 22 Old 10-25-2014, 10:32 AM
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Here is a link to the build thread for the cabinets I did, not quite as nice as some of the high end stuff I see on this forum, but I am still super pleased with them. Not only that, Mrs. Carvel still brags on them!

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/c...-thread-37129/

"Workin hard at loafin!"
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post #15 of 22 Old 10-29-2014, 06:24 PM
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I really like prefinished maple. Use blum tandem drawer slides with soft close, expensive but out of view and easy to install. Plus the soft close will blow people away. Side mounted drawer slides fill with gunk, and don't have the mechanical advantage that undermount slides do.Blum hinges also. Almost always do flush front face frame as this separates my kitchens from what's available at home depot. Use drawer front locaters to nail the reveals on drawers in their openings. Pocket screws work best for me as far as carcase construction. You can use prefinished maple to build your drawers also but will need a solid wood edge band 1/8-in. thick to give you just enough to round over. If you do a five part drawer then pocket screw the fronts and backs into the sides to hide your fasteners. Slip tennons on the doors or dowels if you have a good jig. I haven't used cope and stick router bits so not sure on those. Jim Toplins building kitchen cabinets got me started some 20 years ago and I still think its still a great book. Oh and use story sticks, they will help tremendously!!

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post #16 of 22 Old 02-18-2017, 07:57 AM
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Hey there,

Appreciate you posted this quite a bit ago but did your project come to fruition?


Best


Robbie

JD RENOVATORS LTD are here to help you get the kitchen you've longed for
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post #17 of 22 Old 02-18-2017, 12:37 PM
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Hey there,

Appreciate you posted this quite a bit ago but did your project come to fruition?


Best


Robbie
Check his profile. He hasn't been on the forum in over 2 years.
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Quote:
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Who here has made their own kitchen cabinets and could offer up some advice to a newbie? I have posted a link to the kitchen I plan on basing my renovation on for reference.

My background: generally handy but I have never taken on a project of this scale. Father is an electrician. I plan on working my way up to this project through smaller projects: garage storage, laundry room, bathrooms then this.

I have a large shop with the basics and enough space to do the work and store everything until installation. What I don't have and need will be bought .

Questions:

best materials? My MIL just had a wonderful custom remodel with what looks to me to be veneered cherry with laminated plywood boxes (where not visible) Is there a reason he went this route? Strength, warping, cost?

Best hardware? Where can you save money where is it best to splurge?

Tips and tricks?

Good resources?

Thanks for your time!



Do you have around $2500 and tooling?
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post #20 of 22 Old 02-10-2020, 10:19 AM
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Personally I build 90+% of cabs using the frameless or System 32 method. IMO it is THE only way to go. Eliminating the face frame not only saves a lot of time and material, but is a much more efficient use of space, no center stiles necessary on double door cabs.

If you're considering this, I highly recommend Danny Proulx's book. He also has a lot of information on hardware. I can see you've got a lot of research to do regarding standard specs such as countertop height and depth.

I've built kitchens, vanities and various built ins of both ply and double sided melamine. Melamine gets poo poo'd by the purists, but IMO it is an excellent choice, and very economical. One big concern is using in sink bases. I've never had an issue, even with minor leaks, you can always use ply there. The biggest selling point is easy to clean and bright white interior cabs are a plus. Then again some people think is looks "cheap".

Hardware is a major consideration, and the cost can be a big portion of the expense. Here you do not want to go cheap or you will regret it. Euro hinges and soft close slides are the industry standard now, as well base drawer units have replaced doors. Painted kitchens are also popularized by designers.

At the minimum you'll need a table saw, a track saw is nice, and a router table for making doors. Material handling is also a consideration, as well as storage for holding finished boxes.

Depending on whether they are painted or wood grain, you'll need a paint spraying set up, or send them out to be painted.

If I haven't scared you off by now, all I can say go for it.

One viable option is to build the boxes and have the doors built and finished by a shop.

Robert

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