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smarje1
Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
smarje1

Hello all. I have enjoyed reading a lot of posts on the site and I am glad to see there are so many people out there with so much knowledge willing to share it with everyone. I am in the process of buying my first home (closing April 9th). It is an old victorian that was turned into a two unit. My wife and I are converting it back to a single family and are also updating quite a bit. We are going to do all the work ourselves. My dad was a carpenter for over 30 years and built plenty of houses so we will look to him for quite a bit of advice. One area where I am looking to save some money (and have a little fun too) is the kitchen cabinets. I have built several things over the last few years but never taken on something this big. Its exciting and a little scary as well since the cabinets are usually the focus of the kitchen. Here is my plan. we want white cabinets so I am looking for a hardwood that looks good painted for the face frames. I was thinking of completing all of the face frames before moving on to the box construction so i have more room. for the boxes i would like to use 3/4" pre finished maple plywood unless there are better suggestions. I will build each box separately and then attach the frames with a biscuit joiner (norms idea). havent gotten to the door and drawer style yet. let me know what you think so far.

A. Spruce
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
A. Spruce

You're going about it backwards, you want to build the carcass first, then the face frame to fit it. To do it the other way around will increase your difficulty level by a factor of 10, something you do not need to do when tackling a project for the first time.

Take a look at this thread.
http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=1162

Unfortunately, the thread was started on the old TOH forum and it was lost when it the new software was installed. Still, there's lots of good info and ideas in it.

Specific to your cabinets. I am not personally a fan of painted cabinets. IMHO, paint doesn't hold up well in the high traffic, wet environment of the kitchen. I'd recommend a laminate over paint if you want a plain white cabinet, though again, IMHO a laminate isn't the best thing for a kitchen either.

If you do go with paint, all you need is a paint grade material, such as birch. You can use just about anything, though for paint I'd use whatever is most readily available and least expensive. Plywood is better than particle board or MDF material for the construction of the cabinets. It is more stable, stronger, and less prone to damage when introduced to a little moisture. Face frames should also be whatever is readily available and inexpensive, usually birch or poplar. I'd stay away from pine because of the sap content, and again, MDF isn't the best thing either for high use/wet locations.

Rather than biscuit joining the face frames together or to the carcasses you may want to look at pocket screws. They're a little easier to use and don't require clamping while glue dries.

Jack
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
Jack

I agree with Sprucey, build the boxes first then the face frame. It is much easier to fit the face frame to the box than the box to the face frame. A very easy system you might want to check out is by Sommerfeld Tools. It may be well worth while to order their cabinetmaking DVD. Refinished plywood is a good choice for the boxes. Poplar is a good and inexpensive paint grade wood for the face frames.
Jack

smarje1
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
smarje1

thanks for the quick responses.

Spruce - I enjoyed reading most of the "build your own cabinets" thread. there is some good stuff in there and I feel like I know you guys a little bit. Seems like a good place to get info on just about anything. I tried to open up the thread from the old software but not sure if its my work computer that wont let me or if I just wont be able to get to it. To be honest, I would prefer a darker wood finish than painting but I only have 49% of the vote. I agree with you on the plywood carcasses. I will have to get a pocket hole kit which would be cheaper than buying all the clamps I need.
JLM - I was thinking about ordering some books on cabinets, now i'll have to look into some dvds as well.

Another question. What other kind of tools will I need? I have the basics for the most part. I have a delta contractors table saw that I have used on other projects that seems to cut fairly straight. Are the expensive blades worth it or can I get by with 1 or 2 $40 blades?

A. Spruce
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
A. Spruce
smarje1 wrote:

I tried to open up the thread from the old software but not sure if its my work computer that wont let me or if I just wont be able to get to it.

That link was lost long ago when TOH quit hosting it. We tried to get them to transfer that particular thread here, but they either couldn't or wouldn't. It really was a step by step how-to on cabinet building. With any luck, Walt's pictures are still available.

smarje1 wrote:

JLM - I was thinking about ordering some books on cabinets, now i'll have to look into some dvds as well.

Books and DVDs are a good thing, but don't forget about using the plain old internet. I find it easier and faster to find info online than buried in some book or video.

smarje1 wrote:

Another question. What other kind of tools will I need? I have the basics for the most part.

Other tools, tough call, it will depend on your abilities and the tools you have at hand. I've built garage cabinets with nothing more than a Skilsaw, nail gun, and sander and I've built book cases on a Shopsmith (don't recommend that one ... ). I now have a proper, professional grade shop, so there are few things that I can't do in there. But sticking with the basics, you'll need a table saw with a good, accurate fence. A Skilsaw, jigsaw, or handsaw for cutting toe-kick notches. A joiner will make life much easier for edging boards, though a hand plane will do. And finally a chopsaw or at least a miterbox with a good handsaw.

Other things that will ease your work would be a surface planer or surface sander, both have their place, IMHO, a surface sander has more uses. You can never have too many clamps. A good router with a good selection of bits will put profiles on the edge of things, flush trim things, and will make beautiful raised panels. Nail guns and staple guns, avoid the urge to purchase cheap guns, stick with name brands, though more expensive, they are accurate and safer than the gray market garbage from Harbor Freight. There's probably more, just depends on your needs and your budget and how much you'll be using them in the long run.

smarje1 wrote:

I have a delta contractors table saw that I have used on other projects that seems to cut fairly straight. Are the expensive blades worth it or can I get by with 1 or 2 $40 blades?

I used to have a portable Delta that wasn't worth poop - too wimpy. That being said, a crappy saw with a good blade will give you decent results. Better blades will cut easier and leave a better cut behind than cheap ones. Also, do a little research on blade design and tooth counts and purchase the proper blade for what you're doing. For instance, if you're cutting laminates, you want a negative rake on the tooth which will help prevent chipping. For general work, the more teeth per inch, the finer the cut will be, however there is a trade off that you when ripping lumber that fine blades will bind and burn, whereas a more coarse blade will not.

bp21901
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
bp21901

I don't think you have to go crazy on paying huge $ for a blade. You can get some good ones for under $75 (Freud) or spend around $100 for a Forrest. As mentioned use a blade that is designed for the material being cut. You will find a lot of personal opinions and favorites regarding blades!

I think tuning the saw set-up and having a very good fence system (with some jigs for the project) is at least as important as the blade. Without having the fence trued up and strong enough to hold itself square you will be very frustrated very quickly.

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
Sombreuil_mongrel

Hi,
I recommend continuous face frames wherever possible, and building the boxes in place. Since you're using pre-finished plywood, the worst part is done. There needn't be a partition between each "cabinet" unit, and that approach really uses a lot of unnecessary sheet goods, and is only used , really, because that's the way that lends itself to production line methods. You make a lot of different but standard sizes(in 3" increments), and combine them with filler strips to make up the needed runs of cabinets. This is great from a production standpoint, but why settle for that when you are building your own?
I have built several sets of built-ins in my (limited) cabinet career, and this built-in=place option is very quick to erect, very strong, perfectly level and true from the beginning, and yields a true "custom" result.
I buy doors from Conestoga, BTW; the design options are limitless, and they usually get them to me (unfinished) in two weeks.
S_M

A. Spruce
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
A. Spruce
jkirk wrote:

and pay attention to what sprucey says. id hire him in a minute.

Boy, that could be dangerous on both accounts ... ;):p Thanks for the kudo's J, much appreciated.

jkirk wrote:

speaking of which sprucy want to hang some cedar at my place.:D just found out i have bursitis and have to limit movement in the leg for a couple weeks

Ya know, I would, but you're way up there where it's cold, and I'm way down here where it's warm, so I'm thinking it's not gonna happen. :D Bummer on the bursitis. I injured my left shoulder a few years ago and it's not been the same since, so I can certainly sympathize with limited movement and pain. It sucks when the years start catching up to you, ain't it? :rolleyes:

A. Spruce
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
A. Spruce

I've got a couple of years on ya then (about half a score and a few odd extras ). Probably the thing I notice most is that I don't bounce up off the floor like I used to. :eek::D

Jack
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
Jack

I agree with jkirk, build units and try to stay with as close to standard sizes as you can . That way if down the road you decide to replace a cabinet with and under counter wine cooler, dishwasher, etc you won't have to do a complete rip-out.

I think I have one of the [COLOR=black]Sommerfeld [/COLOR] DVDs I linked you to, if you PM me with your address I'll send it to you.

I would suggest a router table as a must have.

Stay away from the cheap blades. A cheap saw with a good blade is better than an expensive saw with a cheap blade IMHO.I use Freud and with their finish cut blade and a proper table saw setup you wouldn't need a joiner. As sprucey mentioned do a little research on the different type of blades and their uses.

I wouldn't hire sprucey, my beer budget isn't large enough.:D
Jack

Jack
Re: Making my own Kitchen Cabinets
Jack
jkirk wrote:

sad thing is im only 30!

A. Spruce wrote:

I've got a couple of years on ya then (about half a score and a few odd extras ). Probably the thing I notice most is that I don't bounce up off the floor like I used to. :eek::D

You weennies, wait to you get to my age!:eek:

Jack

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