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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm new here. I had Maple custom kitchen cabinets installed. They were just cleared to have a natural appearance. The cabinet maker is one used by my contractor. I didn't choose him but agreed because he was associated with my contractor who is working with my insurance company (this is part of a water damage claim).

I've been having some issues with him regarding the quality of the work. First, the boxes and faces of the cabinets are very rough when running my hand over them. The doors are smooth (he outsourced them). Is this normal? Why would they be rough after being stained? He is saying its normal.

Also, the nail holes were filled but are very visible everywhere. He said they used a 'maple filler' but it doesnt match anywhere. Since the cabinets were just cleared and not really stained the wood varies greatly in shade (which I'm fine with) but the hole filler doesnt seem to match anywhere. Now he wants me to pick one piece of wood that will be the basis of the filler used to correct this problem. Isn't there a way to shade the filler properly so they blend better? I'm sure not looking for perfection but I can see these holes from 5ft away.

Any insight would be appreciated. By the way I'm in the DFW area is anyone knows a good cabinet guy who would be able to advise me and correct the problem if my guy won't. The contractor seems to know the work is not great but he's really leaving it up to me to deal with. I think he'll be fine with me bringing in someone to correct the issues.

Thanks for any info.

John
 

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John I would say yes and no. Sorry for the confusion but yes its becoming more and more common for so called cabinet shops to put nails through the face frames that will always be visible when stained but even more so when they are natural color. Is it right ? No way in hell if you ask me. I don't believe you should ever put nails where they can be visible. It's not fair to the customer and I consider it poor workmanship.

Outsourcing doors is also more and more common and in most cases you can get a better product for less money. All these companies do is make doors it makes sense.

Now as for the finish, again its poor workmanship. The cabinets should have a smooth finish just like the doors or be very close to it. Someone didn't spend the proper amount of time during the finishing process. There response is just as poor as the work.
 

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Doesn't sound like you're into woodworking, just looking for advise which is fine. But if I'm wrong (hoping I am because we always like new friends), go into the intro forum and introduce yourself.

I'll be the 1st barer of bad news - that cabinet maker working with your contractor doesn't sound like much of a professional cabinet maker - unless you gave instructions to go real cheap within a particular price range. I'm saying this because most cabinet makers do not use nails on the face of their cabinets. Face frames are usually put together with joinery that does not show and then the face frames are glued onto the front edges of the cabinets.

But since the face was nailed on :eek: the holes were filled with a non staining filler (even the ones that say they accept stains... don't), they show like a sore thumb :censored:. I'm sure the cabinets would look better if they had not been filled, but you're in a pickle now. If your contractor tries to redo the holes, he's going to harm the finish and probably make it look worse. The only possible fix to your delima is to use a melting stick with the matching colloring to cover the eyesore.
 

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I doubt that any cabinet maker would advise you for fear of being a witness in court.

When I make face frames I do sand them smooth. As for filling the nail holes that is something else. If the wood is something like red oak, I'll try to put the nail holes in areas of grain. This usually hides the nail holes and when filled they just sort of blend in. Usually in a light species, a lighter color filler is more difficult to see than a darker one. If I'm making shop cabinets I don't bother to fill the nail holes at all.

In this problem you have two potential allies on your side. I'm not sure who chose the general contractor but go to the contractor and say that you're not happy. If you get any poop, just come back with "He's your guy and I expect you to beat him into shape."

Your second ally is the insurance company, maybe. If they gave you the check and you engaged the contractor it is your problem. However if the contractor is being paid by the insurance company they will assist.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
John I would say yes and no. Sorry for the confusion but yes its becoming more and more common for so called cabinet shops to put nails through the face frames that will always be visible when stained but even more so when they are natural color. Is it right ? No way in hell if you ask me. I don't believe you should ever put nails where they can be visible. It's not fair to the customer and I consider it poor workmanship.

Outsourcing doors is also more and more common and in most cases you can get a better product for less money. All these companies do is make doors it makes sense.

Now as for the finish, again its poor workmanship. The cabinets should have a smooth finish just like the doors or be very close to it. Someone didn't spend the proper amount of time during the finishing process. There response is just as poor as the work.
I thought I did enough research before they began the cabinets but it didn't occur to me to ask about nails. My old ones had nails but the filler was very hard to see. The doors are nice and if the boxes looked the same I'd be happy. Good to know I'm not crazy and the wood should be smooth.
 

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I'm curious as to why it is your responsibility to make the cabinet subcontractor get things right? As a general rule I do like to talk directly to the person(s) doing work in my house or on my car, because I'm a control freak. But if they are not getting the job done to your satisfaction it seems the responsibility shifts to the prime contractor, and ultimately to the insurance company. I guess it depends on the fine print of your policy and settlement.

To the point about roughness of finish, does it also look rough, or does it just feel rough? If you can't tell the difference visually you might consider saving your powder for other skirmishes with the contractor/subcontractor. Just my opinion, and here's why...

Thanks to advice from the fine folks on this forum, I was recently able to build and install light rails on our kitchen cabinets. They run along the bottom edge of the upper cabinets, their purpose being to conceal the under-cabinet lights. I'm thrilled with the outcome. I was terrified that I would not be able to get a color or finish match. But visually it is quite good. Alas, I was impatient with the finishing, so if you rub the surface with any sensitive part of your body you can feel a difference between my work and the factory work. My wife and I are too old to have sex on the countertops anymore, so it really doesn't matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Doesn't sound like you're into woodworking, just looking for advise which is fine. But if I'm wrong (hoping I am because we always like new friends), go into the intro forum and introduce yourself.

I'll be the 1st barer of bad news - that cabinet maker working with your contractor doesn't sound like much of a professional cabinet maker - unless you gave instructions to go real cheap within a particular price range. I'm saying this because most cabinet makers do not use nails on the face of their cabinets. Face frames are usually put together with joinery that does not show and then the face frames are glued onto the front edges of the cabinets.

But since the face was nailed on :eek: the holes were filled with a non staining filler (even the ones that say they accept stains... don't), they show like a sore thumb :censored:. I'm sure the cabinets would look better if they had not been filled, but you're in a pickle now. If your contractor tries to redo the holes, he's going to harm the finish and probably make it look worse. The only possible fix to your delima is to use a melting stick with the matching colloring to cover the eyesore.
I like woodworking on a small scale but this stuff threw me. So many things were jumping out at me I began to think I was crazy. I didn't request cheap cabinets at all. I asked for specifically what I wanted and he agreed to do it for the amount paid by the insurance company. My problem, I guess, is that I didnt realize he would try to cut corners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I doubt that any cabinet maker would advise you for fear of being a witness in court.

When I make face frames I do sand them smooth. As for filling the nail holes that is something else. If the wood is something like red oak, I'll try to put the nail holes in areas of grain. This usually hides the nail holes and when filled they just sort of blend in. Usually in a light species, a lighter color filler is more difficult to see than a darker one. If I'm making shop cabinets I don't bother to fill the nail holes at all.

In this problem you have two potential allies on your side. I'm not sure who chose the general contractor but go to the contractor and say that you're not happy. If you get any poop, just come back with "He's your guy and I expect you to beat him into shape."

Your second ally is the insurance company, maybe. If they gave you the check and you engaged the contractor it is your problem. However if the contractor is being paid by the insurance company they will assist.
There will absolutely be no lawsuit over this. The contractor knows of the issues and I don't think even he has much confidence in the cabinet builder at this point. He'll do what I want even if that means bringing in someone to correct the issues. He is very closely associated with my insurance company and values the relationship.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm curious as to why it is your responsibility to make the cabinet subcontractor get things right? As a general rule I do like to talk directly to the person(s) doing work in my house or on my car, because I'm a control freak. But if they are not getting the job done to your satisfaction it seems the responsibility shifts to the prime contractor, and ultimately to the insurance company. I guess it depends on the fine print of your policy and settlement.

To the point about roughness of finish, does it also look rough, or does it just feel rough? If you can't tell the difference visually you might consider saving your powder for other skirmishes with the contractor/subcontractor. Just my opinion, and here's why...

Thanks to advice from the fine folks on this forum, I was recently able to build and install light rails on our kitchen cabinets. They run along the bottom edge of the upper cabinets, their purpose being to conceal the under-cabinet lights. I'm thrilled with the outcome. I was terrified that I would not be able to get a color or finish match. But visually it is quite good. Alas, I was impatient with the finishing, so if you rub the surface with any sensitive part of your body you can feel a difference between my work and the factory work. My wife and I are too old to have sex on the countertops anymore, so it really doesn't matter.
I don't think I should be dealing with this either but the project manager keeps trying to get my approval every step of the way. I keep telling him I'm not a carpenter but he keeps calling :blink:. Nice guy but he isnt stern with his subs and wants me to be. At this rate I feel like I'm the project manager.
 

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rup0705 said:
Hi all,

I'm new here. I had Maple custom kitchen cabinets installed. They were just cleared to have a natural appearance. The cabinet maker is one used by my contractor. I didn't choose him but agreed because he was associated with my contractor who is working with my insurance company (this is part of a water damage claim).

I've been having some issues with him regarding the quality of the work. First, the boxes and faces of the cabinets are very rough when running my hand over them. The doors are smooth (he outsourced them). Is this normal? Why would they be rough after being stained? He is saying its normal.

Also, the nail holes were filled but are very visible everywhere. He said they used a 'maple filler' but it doesnt match anywhere. Since the cabinets were just cleared and not really stained the wood varies greatly in shade (which I'm fine with) but the hole filler doesnt seem to match anywhere. Now he wants me to pick one piece of wood that will be the basis of the filler used to correct this problem. Isn't there a way to shade the filler properly so they blend better? I'm sure not looking for perfection but I can see these holes from 5ft away.

Any insight would be appreciated. By the way I'm in the DFW area is anyone knows a good cabinet guy who would be able to advise me and correct the problem if my guy won't. The contractor seems to know the work is not great but he's really leaving it up to me to deal with. I think he'll be fine with me bringing in someone to correct the issues.

Thanks for any info.

John
Hey John, for the first question, if the the cabinets were stained but not sealed then the grain will of most likely raised on all the face frames and boxes leaving a rough texture to them to the touch. Normally what you do is apply your stain, then spray a sanding sealer... And since its maple you normally have to use a toner sanding sealer of similar color to even out the blotching of the maple to ensure a consistent color through and through. Then scuff sand to knock down the fibers that raise , then spray your finish. So to answer your question, your cabinets should feel smooth if the finisher did the job right.

For the second question. I'm assuming that the nail holes that are visible are for the face frame of the cabinets? If so, it's technically not wrong to use brad nails to attach a face frame, but it's definitely not the best way. Normally you want to cut dados into your face frame, and do a strong glue up with clamps, this helps with squaring the cabinets as well, you shouldn't have to ever use brad nails on the face frames if the job had been done this way.

As far as the filler for the nail holes... Filler doesn't stain the same as wood grain does, despite what the filler "species" is, even if its for a natural finish. Also depending on the quality of the nailer used to drive the nails through will make a noticeable difference, for example, if they used harbor freight nailer, those normally leave a pretty good sized rectangular hole where the nail was driven in at.

There is a good saying for what your going through, filler and paint make what carpenters ain't.
I would personally consult with another contractor and see if maybe this can be salvaged before continuing to work with this guy.
Sorry to hear you are going through this mess.
 
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Unfortunately, I'm sure the insurance co. gave you the money and not the contractor, so they are out of the picture, That's something most insurance companies started doing well over 30 years ago.
Usually there is not much you can do to get any satisfaction. More than likely, the guy that messed up the job is not capable of doing a good job in the first place or patching it up. You could let the prime contractor know on a regular basis how unhappy you are. That probably wouldn't help any, but will make you feel better.
I just got fed up waiting for the guy that did an expensive job on my boat and screwed it up, to make good. After 5 months, it doesn't seem likely to happen. I made a web page on my website of his work using his name and location so that others will be ware of what to expect. Hopefully, I will be the last person that he screws.
 

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This is all really very simple. Somebody has the job to complete the work. I'm just guessing it's the contractor. If you aren't haqppy with the work, just tell him that, and don't pay him until he makes it right.

There should be no other rendition to this sequence. If it's followed, the job gets fixed to your liking, and everybody gets paid.:yes:






.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey John, for the first question, if the the cabinets were stained but not sealed then the grain will of most likely raised on all the face frames and boxes leaving a rough texture to them to the touch. Normally what you do is apply your stain, then spray a sanding sealer... And since its maple you normally have to use a toner sanding sealer of similar color to even out the blotching of the maple to ensure a consistent color through and through. Then scuff sand to knock down the fibers that raise , then spray your finish. So to answer your question, your cabinets should feel smooth if the finisher did the job right.

For the second question. I'm assuming that the nail holes that are visible are for the face frame of the cabinets? If so, it's technically not wrong to use brad nails to attach a face frame, but it's definitely not the best way. Normally you want to cut dados into your face frame, and do a strong glue up with clamps, this helps with squaring the cabinets as well, you shouldn't have to ever use brad nails on the face frames if the job had been done this way.

As far as the filler for the nail holes... Filler doesn't stain the same as wood grain does, despite what the filler "species" is, even if its for a natural finish. Also depending on the quality of the nailer used to drive the nails through will make a noticeable difference, for example, if they used harbor freight nailer, those normally leave a pretty good sized rectangular hole where the nail was driven in at.

There is a good saying for what your going through, filler and paint make what carpenters ain't.
I would personally consult with another contractor and see if maybe this can be salvaged before continuing to work with this guy.
Sorry to hear you are going through this mess.
I believe they already sealed them but they may not have used the correct sealer for maple. That could explain some of the blotchiness. Is there a finish spray that would be best for the maple?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Unfortunately, I'm sure the insurance co. gave you the money and not the contractor, so they are out of the picture, That's something most insurance companies started doing well over 30 years ago.
Usually there is not much you can do to get any satisfaction. More than likely, the guy that messed up the job is not capable of doing a good job in the first place or patching it up. You could let the prime contractor know on a regular basis how unhappy you are. That probably wouldn't help any, but will make you feel better.
I just got fed up waiting for the guy that did an expensive job on my boat and screwed it up, to make good. After 5 months, it doesn't seem likely to happen. I made a web page on my website of his work using his name and location so that others will be ware of what to expect. Hopefully, I will be the last person that he screws.
He's a small company that has been in business for nearly 30 years so I thought I was safe. That was a good idea you had of setting up a website. I'm hoping that he just needs to be pushed to do quality work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This is all really very simple. Somebody has the job to complete the work. I'm just guessing it's the contractor. If you aren't haqppy with the work, just tell him that, and don't pay him until he makes it right.

There should be no other rendition to this sequence. If it's followed, the job gets fixed to your liking, and everybody gets paid.:yes:






.
I wish is was that simple. I'm not living in the house at the moment and will be required to leave my temporary housing in a few weeks. So time is getting critical. The GC wants to help but I don't know if he has the ability or connections to do it. That's why I'm preparing myself for needing to have someone finish the job. The cabinet maker is fighting corrections each step of the way. I want the cabinets completely done before counters and back splash go in. He already left overspray stain on newly painted walls do I don't want to deal with that on the granite or grout.
 

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rup0705 said:
I believe they already sealed them but they may not have used the correct sealer for maple. That could explain some of the blotchiness. Is there a finish spray that would be best for the maple?
If it was sealed then they didn't scuff sand between coats which would explain the rough texture... Which is kind of a must do for any species wood.
As far as a best finish? Not really, any finish is fine as long as it gets applied properly.
 
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I wish is was that simple.
It is that simple. Your responses are sidestepping the chain of responsibility for the job. Someone is supposed to do the work to your satisfaction. The person in charge of all that is responsible to get it done.

I'm familiar with this sequence, because I'm usually the one that gets called to fix all the problems.






.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If it was sealed then they didn't scuff sand between coats which would explain the rough texture... Which is kind of a must do for any species wood.
As far as a best finish? Not really, any finish is fine as long as it gets applied properly.
What would be the proper way to fix the failure to scuff sand between coats? Should they sand, recoat then reseal and finish?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It is that simple. Your responses are sidestepping the chain of responsibility for the job. Someone is supposed to do the work to your satisfaction. The person in charge of all that is responsible to get it done.

I'm familiar with this sequence, because I'm usually the one that gets called to fix all the problems.






.
There's definitely a chain and I'm dealing with my GC. I'm trying to learn what should be done so that I can confirm they intend to do it but if they don't do the required work I need to move on to someone who will.
 

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rup0705 said:
What would be the proper way to fix the failure to scuff sand between coats? Should they sand, recoat then reseal and finish?
Normally the process is stain, then use a sanding sealer, then scuff and then apply your finish.
If the wood is being left natural then you skip the staining and move straight to sanding sealer, scuff, and then finish.
If the finish is already on there, scuff that, and you should be able to tone it still, then scuff it, then finish.
Hope that makes sense.
 
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