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Discussion Starter #1
I am building a home and one area I wanted to save money yet retain a custom look is the kitchen - we plan to use Ikea boxes and have the fronts custom.

To save even more, I have a lot of tools and was planning to make the drawer fronts (not doors) from solid walnut using the table saw and sander. We have a couple of great sources of wood here in Chicago and I can do this myself easily for very little additional cost.

I would outsource the doors to be laminated on MDF.

I am curious as I have googled for a couple hours to find a definitive answer to this (to no avail), are solid wood drawer fronts prone to warp? The maximum drawer front size would be 36" wide by 12" tall. The drawer fronts are attached at four points with screws. It also appears from the installation instructions there is a 90deg clip that is screwed to the bottom of the drawerbottom as well as the bottombackside of the drawer front for further rigidity. I also plan to use the "blankett" hardware which is a long bent metal drawer pull which might provide a bit more stability.

Chicago area. New construction. High energy efficiency home (heat pump, +R20 wall with 1.5" of rigid exterior insulation) so the humidity fluctuations should be minimized.

I would appreciate any guidance on this. This would save me a lot of money. Thanks for your consideration.
 

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Finish all sides equally, and over size the holes on the drawer box to allow for movement. ( the holes for your hardware as well if they into the drawer box )you should be fine.
 

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If you mean the grain of the wood is running vertical 36" wide and 12" tall you very well could experience some warping. You would have better luck making the fronts out of plywood. If the grain is running horizontal 12" wide by 36" long solid wood would work alright as long as it was finished on both sides.

A drawer front that is 12"x 36" needs more screws than 4 on the corners. It should also have two in the center. If then the grain is running vertical you should elongate the mounting holes to allow for wood movement so the mounting screws don't cause the front to split.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Oversize the holes? You mean to drill deeper or make them larger than the screw? How would they hold the drawer face on if they were the latter (oversized dia)?

If you look at steps 4 and 7 of the 36" cabinet (small download)

http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/customer_service/assembly/R/R80107083.pdf

it looks like there are two screws on each side on a "clip" then a third screw for the bar at the top of the side (these are metal Blum slides).

Not sure how well the screws in step #7 will hold...but they will certainly allow movement.

There really isn't a place to put two screws in center. In step #10, there is a clip at the center/bottom of the drawer as well. I can probably add a couple more of those?

I was planning to use a horizontal grain run, not vertical.
 

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If you want to replace the drawer face you will have to use their hardware and it MUST be in the same and EXACT locations as the existing brackets! That is harder than it looks. IKEA uses very precise tolerances!
 

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When I did the fronts on my recently completed kitchen, I drilled the holes through the drawer box just slightly oversized to the shank of the screw, not much but a little for the sake of movement. When I screwed the fronts to the boxes I tightened them just snug, not too tight. When wood moves it has a lot of force so it will shift in the hole ok I figured.

On my two larger fronts, 9" and 12" I used six screws, the rest got only four screws as you described.

I think the bracket you described at the bottom edge of the front is likely to hold the front in position and the screws are likely slack for movement.

Overall I don't sweat the movement of solid wood as much as others might but I did take it into consideration. The humidity where I live on the prairies is fairly stable to dry with exception of a few rainy weeks in the summer. But then again I don't have the experience that many here do.

Keep us posted on what you do with pics of the project. I'm curious how the purchased doors will look along side the personally built drawer fronts. I considered that for my kitchen but went for the build myself and am glad I did, they all have the same look and finish.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Future, I am 99.9% sure there is a drilling template, and I am of the habit of measuring thrice, cutting once.

I do have a drill press as well that I failed to mention.

Carvel, I have two walls of cabinets in an L shape separated by a hallway. I wanted to do custom fronts on one wall to lessen the Ikea look and add a custom touch. I added an attached rendering...hope it works.
 

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One common wood carving trick (if you can) is to hide a half dozen pocket relief cuts on the back side.
Say on a 1" slab, the cuts are 1/4" to 3/8" deep. My $100 Ryobi table saw can do it.

Walnut, huh? Just wiped the drool off the keyboard.
Can you imagine if the dark wood will make your kitchen gloomy?
 

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My suggestion would be to make your own drawer box, and use ¾" Walnut plywood for the drawer front. With the hardware you listed, you would benefit from a separate drawer box, and drawer front, and use full extension side mount slides.

If your drawer front is planned to be a slab front...just flat, it will only need to be edge banded. If you plan for some type of panel, or profiling, there are ways to incorporate solid wood and plywood so there won't be any movement issues.









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Discussion Starter #10
One common wood carving trick (if you can) is to hide a half dozen pocket relief cuts on the back side.
Say on a 1" slab, the cuts are 1/4" to 3/8" deep. My $100 Ryobi table saw can do it.


Bear with me here I'm not sure what this means...pocket relief cuts? Do you mean to pocket out squares of material leaving ribs? Like a "waffle" on the back side?

My suggestion would be to make your own drawer box, and use ¾" Walnut plywood for the drawer front.

If your drawer front is planned to be a slab front...just flat, it will only need to be edge banded.


I think I'm getting into too much work if I adopt this method. I am already doing all the finish work on this home myself (new construction) so I want to minimize the work. I have done some woodwork before (see below the 1x12 guitar speaker cab I fingerjointed, came out nice) but it is a time issue for me. Enjoy the pics - I'm sure this is nothing compared to your guys' work...

http://chicagocadcam.com/ChrisHahn/1x12cab/DSC_0001s.jpg
http://chicagocadcam.com/ChrisHahn/1x12cab/DSC_0002s.jpg

and a mitred guitar head cabinet (wood is padauk):

http://chicagocadcam.com/ChrisHahn/1x12cab/Full.jpg
 

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The pocket relief cuts are a parallel series of cuts, parallel to the grain, with blind ends so they can't be seen. This relieves a lot of the radial and tangential stress in the piece with changing humidity. We do that up here with 2x6 SPF for picnic tables and deck railing caps = keeps the boards flat.

Large log carvings are normally done this way to stabilize the fronts. Things such as totem poles, mortuary poles and story poles are planned to be viewed from one side only. As much as 1/4 to 1/3 of the log is cut out of the back = one gigantic relief cut! I'm a big fan of the 1/3 cutaway.

For kitchen service, several coats of clear finish will slow down the rate of moisture changes.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Interesting. Thanks. I can certainly do that...

Would it be appropriate to "fill" it back in with a mixture of sawdust and glue to fill it back in but still provide the relief?

or maybe I can cap the back side with a piece of veneer?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Also, could these back relief cuts be machined using a dado blade for a nice wide cut? I've never used a dado blade to not cut through the piece. Or must they be done with a standard tablesaw blade?
 

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Also, could these back relief cuts be machined using a dado blade for a nice wide cut? I've never used a dado blade to not cut through the piece. Or must they be done with a standard tablesaw blade?
The relief cuts could be done with a dado set however it is extremely dangerous. You would have to clamp a starting block to the top of the saw and raise the blade up into the drawer front. Then you would have to mark a stopping point on your fence and lower the blade to be able to pick up the front. It would be a lot easier and safer to use a router to mill the back out. I don't think it is necessary anyway. As long as you seal the back side of the drawer front you are unlikely to have a problem. Unless it is a really bad board screwing it to the drawer box should prevent it from cupping.
 

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I assume the Ikea boxes are made with some type of plywood? If so, you must be sure to use a method of affixing the solid wood fronts in a manner that will allow them to expand and contract with changes in their moisture content. In other words you can't just screw solid wood fronts onto the front of the drawer box. You will need to use slotted holes in some places and round holes in others. You can solidly fix the solid wood fronts in the center and have slotted holes for the screws that will be nearer the box sides.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The Ikea frames are MDF 3/4" and the drawers are Blum (metal) hardware. The drawer front affixes to the drawer using a clip system as per the PDF instructions I posted a few posts back. There are 3 screws at each end and a single screw at the bottom center.

Thanks everyone for their information. I will certainly weigh the amount of work to do vs the cost and decide what to do. I feel I can do this work, it is a time issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well, it's a year later and the drywall and painting is up and done, and I am installing the wood flooring in another week or 10 days. Need to let it acclimate more.

Ikea also changed their whole line of cabinets so I needed to wait until today. If you click the link and "downloads"

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S29045116/#/S09037565

you can then click on Maximera drawer and look at page 7, there are either 4 or 6 holes drilled into each end of each drawer to mount to the frame of the drawer itself. There is a single additional screw for the drawer stop (pg 10).

So I'm getting ready to do this soon, and wanted to see if the updated drawer produced any additional comments from you guys. What do you think? Will a solid wood slab (3/4 walnut) sealed on all 6 sides work without much worry?
 
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