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Anyone ever built their own kitchen cabinets.
Old 09-19-2012, 01:09 PM   #1
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Anyone ever built their own kitchen cabinets.

I'm just over 2 weeks away from finishing my present project so my mind is already planning the next one.

My dw has an idea of what she wants in her kitchen reno and the estimate came in at around $40k. I figured if I built the cabinets and drawers myself and had the doors made professionally, I could do the cabinet installation, electrical, plumbing etc., I'd say around $25K.

Question;

For those that build their own kitchen cabinets where is the best source in finding the best way to build the cabinets? I have all the tools and the time, so why not utilize them?
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:28 PM   #2
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Unless you have a well equipped woodworking shop (or access to one) and some experience in making furniture and cabinets, I would buy rather than build and focus savings on installation, electrical, plumbing, etc.

Not sure how big a kitchen you have or how high end you are looking at but we redid our home last year and some very nice cabinets were about $10k IIRC.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:38 PM   #3
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Visit a few big box stores and looking at what is available for decent price. When a consultant comes to the house with estimate, it is usually a very high number.

If you act as the general contractor and find craftsmen to put in your material, you can save a bundle.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:48 PM   #4
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We did completely for our granny flat.
Well - my husband did - and I helped paint/stain.
It was a small kitchen run and the granny flat is small with limited storage. We wanted to take advantage of every square inch of storage space - so the cabinets and drawers are deeper than typical. No special woodworking shop... My husband has a circular saw mounted in such a way it can act as a table saw. And he's an architect so he's good at drawing up plans, then putting it in place. He insisted on good quality products (marine grade plywood, better screws, better hardware.)

For our kitchen remodel we were working with the original, built in place cabinets - most were plywood boxes with dimensioned lumber shelves... So what we could we salvaged - sanding, painting (white kitchen). And he built extensions that match. On the other section of the kitchen we were reconfiguring so he tore the old stuff out and built from scratch.

This shows the part he built from scratch mid-way through the project


And here's when it was further along (but still hadn't finished the part to the left of the stove. Which still isn't done. LOL)


The advantage of building in place is you can choose materials (avoid particle board for example) and be your own quality control.

I'm VERY happy with the results.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:41 PM   #5
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I know a lot of people are in love with granite. But, if you are thinking about cabinets, the countertop is even easier. It takes some patience, and some learning (lots of good youtubes), but laminating formica/wilsonart to a countertop is rewarding, and only a fraction of the price of granite.

I did my own faux granite using some of the new formica patterns that have laser etched faceting. It totally fools the eye. There is also some special edging that you can buy that really seals the deal. There's a lot of sweat equity involved, but if you manage to do cabinets, you can do countertops.

We kept our old cabinets (they were custom built-in, hate to see that go to the dump). Did some touch up, washed them, changed hardware, and they look great. The 1980 color is ironically kind of back in style. Then we did our own countertops. With new appliances, our original $40k kitchen redo (very similar estimate as yours) came in well under $10k, with a lot of sweat equity, of course.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:18 PM   #6
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There are a lot of books on cabinet construction. I built my garage cabinets, some furniture, etc. I've considered building my own kitchen cabinets, but I may just put on new countertops. I'm probably going to do my own vanities for the bathrooms.

For me, the 2 toughest things are getting everything square, and then the finish. I suggest a panel saw to get square plywood cuts. Then a professional looking finish - usually involves spraying. There are sources that supply doors and drawers. You can do it if you have the time, tools and skills.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:59 PM   #7
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I'm a hobbiest woodworker and have built three sets of k cabinets; one for rehab and two for new homes. If I do say so, they turned out very well and allowed me to put touches in that were my own ideas. As for tools/skill level, lets assume you are good with a table saw. The other thing imo is to have a good router and router table setup. With that you can do raised panel doors, rail and stile. I've even done raised panel "panels" at the ends in lieu of veneer plywood, and used a lot of full extension slide out cabinet trays that you see advertised a lot now. Those are all bottomed with formica, all are finger joint as are the drawers.

My last (retrofit) 8 years ago included granite and I regret it. It's very dark and if you want it to look good a wet swipe won't get it...gotta use the windex. If ever to do again I'd go back to Corian; we had the countertop bonded to the sink, no seam.

Before you embark on a kitchen, you might want to do a bath vanity for practice and to try out your techniques. Good luck.
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:13 PM   #8
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Echoing the idea to look for stuff other than granite.

Granite is going to look dated soon enough.

We did a nice formica in our granny flat and custom stainless steel and butcher block in our house. I love-love-love the stainless steel and it's about as timeless as you get. The butcher block next to the stove is gorgeous, functional, and really warms up the kitchen. For us it was about function and ease of maintenance... I didn't want to worry about putting hot stuff on the counter (granite can crack) or sealing stones...
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:19 PM   #9
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And I'll echo H2ODude's idea about practicing on a vanity or something.

The countertop in the kitchen was big, and L-shaped. Fortunately, I had an old beat up workbench that needed a new top. Hey, how about laminate? So I did it. Learned the ins and outs of squaring, scribing, bonding laminate, making a laminate seam, etc.

Some friends joked that I should quit my job and do this instead. (If only they knew.) I would, but I don't think my back could take this kind of labor, even part time.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:13 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Unless you have a well-equipped woodworking shop (or access to one)
I have two routers, a 12" Dewalt double bevel sliding compound miter saw, Dewalt 10" chop saw, 10" radial arm saw, 10" table saw, Dewalt Biscuit Joiner, 14 drills, router table, 5 cuircular saws and the list goes on.

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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Not sure how big a kitchen you have or how high end you are looking at but we redid our home last year and some very nice cabinets were about $10k IIRC.
Its 30 linear feet and out of the 10 places we went to the estimate came in between $40k and 50k.

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Originally Posted by target2019 View Post
Visit a few big box stores and looking at what is available for decent price. When a consultant comes to the house with estimate, it is usually a very high number.
Quote:
Originally Posted by target2019 View Post

If you act as the general contractor and find craftsmen to put in your material, you can save a bundle.
That route would cost us around $34K
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Originally Posted by rodi View Post
He insisted on good quality products (marine grade plywood, better screws, better hardware.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by rodi View Post
The advantage of building in place is you can choose materials (avoid particle board for example) and be your own quality control.
Thanks for sharing your experience and pictures, any idea where you received the information on proper cabinet building?
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Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
I did my own faux granite using some of the new formica patterns that have laser etched faceting.
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Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
With new appliances, our original $40k kitchen redo (very similar estimate as yours) came in well under $10k, with a lot of sweat equity, of course.
Counter top with either be granite or quartz. Price we received was without appliances.
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There are a lot of books on cabinet construction. I built my garage cabinets, some furniture, etc. I'm probably going to do my own vanities for the bathrooms.
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Originally Posted by Ronstar View Post

For me, the 2 toughest things are getting everything square, and then the finish. I suggest a panel saw to get square plywood cuts. Then a professional looking finish - usually involves spraying. There are sources that supply doors and drawers. You can do it if you have the time, tools and skills.
Thanks for the suggestions; I'll have to stick with the tools I have since I don't have any more room for more tools.
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Originally Posted by H2ODude View Post
I'm a hobbiest woodworker and have built three sets of k cabinets. As for tools/skill level, lets assume you are good with a table saw. The other thing imo is to have a good router and router table setup. With that you can do raised panel doors, rail and stile. I've even done raised panel "panels" at the ends in lieu of veneer plywood, and used a lot of full extension slide out cabinet trays that you see advertised a lot now. Those are all bottomed with formica, all are finger joint as are the drawers.
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Originally Posted by H2ODude View Post
If ever to do again I'd go back to Corian; we had the countertop bonded to the sink, no seam.

Before you embark on a kitchen, you might want to do a bath vanity for practice and to try out your techniques. Good luck.
I’ve got the tools covered, it's the knowledge I'm looking for. As for the solid surface, in your case you prefer Corian; I find although it's sleek, seamless and has many other advantages, I find it scratches easily. Sure it can be sanded out but I prefer not to deal with that.
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Granite is going to look dated soon enough.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rodi View Post

We did a nice formica in our granny flat and custom stainless steel and butcher block in our house. I love-love-love the stainless steel and it's about as timeless as you get. The butcher block next to the stove is gorgeous, functional, and really warms up the kitchen. For us it was about function and ease of maintenance... I didn't want to worry about putting hot stuff on the counter (granite can crack) or sealing stones...
Most likely we'll go with Quartz, Stainless although vary sanitary and durable, it scratches easily, sure I can buff it out with a polisher but why?
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And I'll echo H2ODude's idea about practicing on a vanity or something.
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The countertop in the kitchen was big, and L-shaped. Fortunately, I had an old beat up workbench that needed a new top. Hey, how about laminate? So I did it. Learned the ins and outs of squaring, scribing, bonding laminate, making a laminate seam, etc.

Some friends joked that I should quit my job and do this instead. (If only they knew.) I would, but I don't think my back could take this kind of labor, even part time.
Thanks for everyone's advice although I haven't even build the cabinets let alone countertops.

At this point I just want to find a good source to learn about the best way to build kitchen cabinets somewhere online. Whether it is reading material or on You Tube. Yes I've checked and seen about 20 different ways, I'm just not sure which one is the best way.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:28 PM   #11
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For countertops, I actually bought a book. Hard to find, specialized. Not many people are doing this right now, as it isn't the current popular thing. There's one book out there and it was the obvious choice. Very good investment.

Problem with cabinets is that there are so many books out there. You'll have to find the right one. Still, I found having that bound information to be invaluable. I read it front to back, then watched about 10 youtubes. Then I re-read the book. Then I did my practice project.

After all that, I was ready to tackle the real project, and the preparation paid off.

Sounds like you have the tools. You didn't list clamps and jigs, but I'm sure they must e part of your "on and on."

I'm not up to cabinets. Biscuits and joinery are not my thing. You need to be able to handle rails, stiles, dovetails, etc. Not my thing. Sounds like you might be able to go there though. Learn and practice. Make a birdhouse or a little box or something to start.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:30 PM   #12
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Sounds like you have the tools that you would need. If you can't find anything on cabinet building, try furniture as I suspect the principles are the same. Do you watch the New Yankee Workshop? Check out New Yankee Workshop - Featuring the Craftsmanship of Master Carpenter Norm Abram
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:14 PM   #13
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We did our Kitchen over this summer and saved by sub contracting it out. We bought the flooring at Lumber Liquidators, the cabinets from Lowes, and a stone counter called "Cambria" It's like Granite, but never needs sealing or maintenance.

The price was about 17k not including the Plumber and Electrician..

I removed my old cabinets carefully and sold them on Craigslist along with my stove and microwave oven
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Old 09-20-2012, 07:40 AM   #14
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For countertops, I actually bought a book. Hard to find, specialized. There's one book out there and it was the obvious choice.

Problem with cabinets is that there are so many books out there. You'll have to find the right one. I read it front to back, then watched about 10 youtubes.

Sounds like you have the tools. You didn't list clamps and jigs, but I'm sure they must e part of your "on and on."
I find countertops to be the easiest to tackle since it's the smallest part of the job so I'm not concerned about them.

I found the same thing that there are too many books, care to share which one you recomend?

Yup, I have the joiners, jigs etc, so tools aren't a problem, as mentioned I need to find the best knowledge on how to build them.
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If you can't find anything on cabinet building, try furniture as I suspect the principles are the same. Do you watch the New Yankee Workshop? Check out New Yankee Workshop - Featuring the Craftsmanship of Master Carpenter Norm Abram
I've found lots on Cabinet building, my problem is one contradicts the other in some cases and state, "this is the best way" when other say it's not.

I watch the New Yankee Workshop on occasion and thanks for the link, I'll check it out tonight.
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We did our Kitchen over this summer and saved by sub contracting it out. We bought the flooring at Lumber Liquidators, the cabinets from Lowes, and a stone counter called "Cambria" It's like Granite, but never needs sealing or maintenance.

The price was about 17k not including the Plumber and Electrician..
Lowes wants about $32k for the counters, $3700.00 for the counter tops, and about another $10k for installation, cover moulding, under counter lighting, tile backsplash, sink, faucet, etc.........I found them to be one of the higher priced estimates along with Home Depot.

By the way, thanks for sharing your photo's you kitchen looks really nice.
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:10 AM   #15
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We had to gut our whole kitchen and used Home Depot for the granite counter and cabinets...it came to $4000 (we installed cabinets ourselves), used the 10% coupon plus a sale.
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:37 AM   #16
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Iíve got the tools covered, it's the knowledge I'm looking for.
Check with your local community college. They often offer classes for the various trades. The college near me offers 3 cabinet making courses. Sounds like you're well equipped with the necessary tools. I also do woodworking as a hobby and would do as others suggested, make some garage cabinets first to test your skills. Make sure your table saw and fence are all calibrated and square. For me the hard part would be getting the quality finish that you would get with factory cabinets.
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:44 AM   #17
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Check with your local community college. They often offer classes for the various trades. The college near me offers 3 cabinet making courses. Sounds like you're well equipped with the necessary tools. I also do woodworking as a hobby and would do as others suggested, make some garage cabinets first to test your skills. Make sure your table saw and fence are all calibrated and square. For me the hard part would be getting the quality finish that you would get with factory cabinets.
I signed up for a Cabinet making course at the local community college many years ago. It was a night class and the only purpose was to allow"students" to use the shop equipment, there was no instruction or structure to the class at all.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:09 AM   #18
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I signed up for a Cabinet making course at the local community college many years ago. It was a night class and the only purpose was to allow"students" to use the shop equipment, there was no instruction or structure to the class at all.
Seems like that school would be taking on some liability issues by just letting the students go at it without some basic instruction. Anyone who has used woodworking tools knows how dangerous they can be. Did the course description state that it was use of tools only? I would have walked out and asked for my money back if there was no instruction provided.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:11 AM   #19
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Years ago I occasionally helped at local one man cabinet shop and was then able to use his shop (and help when needed) to build vanities and kitchen cabinets for my first owner built house. Before building that house I would have been hard pressed to build a square box, now recently retire and going to build one more house over the next year or so. The method I learned for cabinet construction was to build individual cabinets utilizing a face frame construction and after 30+ years these cabinets are still holding up well. We would first mark out a story pole of heights in the kitchen and then make measurements of the layout. We didn't use plywood in the construction of the cabinet boxes, we would glue up poplar panels for the sides, bottom, base and use masonite for the back. For the tenon-ed face frame we would use the desired wood(I used butternut for the kitchen and redwood for the bath) and would make the face frame ~1/4" wider than the cabinet to allow for adjustment planing(rarely ever planed cabinets) during installation. We would use glue, screws and nails during the cabinet shell construction but never used nails on or in the face frame construction, only clamps and glue. When we would attach the face frame to the cabinet we would put the cabinet on its back on saw horses and attach it to the cabinet shell with only glue and clamps(had lots of pipe and parallel clamps in the shop). I have watched Norm over the years and have learned a lot but I cringe every time he nails a face frame to a cabinet. Although we did not use plywood in the construction then today I would/will use it for the cabinet shell construction, maybe a melamine or finished faced plywood for a dressier/less maintenance cabinet interior. We also built all drawers and doors(had great morticing/tenon machines, etc in the shop) and used mainly wood slides with nylon inserts, now I will probably use soft closing slides for the drawers. It also seemed that we built drawer cabinets and door cabinets separately and hardly ever a combination cabinet(sometimes vanity versions). The top cabinet would be the same width of the corresponding base. The top cabinets would be installed first to allow easier access during installation, after the base cabinet were installed we would then use a continuous toe kick to visually tie the base together. Then cabinets were also owner finished in place(I hate finishing/painting,etc).

To answer your question, maybe back issues of Fine Woodworking. Fine Home Building had sent me a DVD of all their back issues that is easy to search, maybe Fine Woodworking has a similar DVD.
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:19 PM   #20
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May be you need to give Norm a call (eg New Yankee Workshop). He is an excellent carpenter and cabinet maker and I'll be some of the episodes may have dealt with making such cabinets.

I sold off my workshop when we moved from CT to TX since no basement down here. Sounds like a fun project if the you have the shop, skills and maybe more so, time.
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