Building a custom kitchen for myself.
My Dad, trying not to get bored in retirement has been
bugging me to give him some work. He has agreed to build
cabinet doors and drawer fronts out of maple or hickory.
I am looking for a source for cabinet & drawer base bodies. In
some cases, I am not even looking for the shelves.. just the body.
My Dad has been using Craftmade (he recently did his own kitchen)
and I know I can get Millpride from Home Despot.
Been checking around the various manufacturer websites, but they don't
have much into on just getting the cabinet bodies.
I am specifically looking for:
1. Opinions on manufacturers like Kraftmade and Mill's Pride.
Or any other manufacturers you can recommend (or let me know I should
2. Any sources for dealers that sell online (busy guy.. love it when
stuff comes to me by common carrier or UPS).
3. SOurces for kitchen cabinet catalogs in PDF format. I have designed
a bunch of kitchens (I do renovations/landlording on the side).
I just need the cabinet fronts to look good. I am trying to control
costs by eliminating solid wood interiors. The interiors I am just
looking for durability and surfaces that are easy to clean (i.e. synthetic).
Thanks in advance
Question: why doesn't your dad build the boxes as well? It isn't hard
(hell of a lot easier than making raised panel doors), and it has the
capacity to reduce his boredome even farther. Besides, you will get nice
sturdy plywood cabinets.
He did the cost / benefit anaylsis on his own. The boxes can be built
via mass production much cheaper than he can do on his own. The doors,
which use the expensive materials (solid maple) are where the savings
are to be made.
I built 30' of upper and lower cabinets using 3/4" maple ply and the ply
only cost $360. If you want melamine it's about half. I doubt (unless you'r
a dealer) you could buy more than one cabinet for that price. Yes the boxes
are the cheap part but they are also the easy part.
"Shut up and keep diggen"
Oh, you're paying him. That's different. I build a lot of cabinets, mostly
for fun (like Habitat projects) and 3/4 lauan costs me $24/sheet and makes
nice stuff. My material cost for a complete set of kitchen cabinets runs in
the neighborhood of $250. I know all about boredom. But yeah, if I wanted
to make money per hour, I would buy the doors and make the boxes.
In any case, I don't know who makes cabinet carcasses. I have never heard
of it. Lots of places make doors and drawer fronts. The real savings in
mass production is in the manufacture of these fancy millwork pieces,
especially if you are buying the hardwood at retail (i.e., not having your
own tree sawed or something equivalent). Lots of people make the boxes and
buy the doors, or use the doors on existing cabinets.
Incidentally, are these cabinets to be faced? Putting your own hardwood
facing on some kind of particle board cabinet sounds like a trick.
I hate to say this, but it sounds as if you are asking others to do your
homework. You might have to pick up a phone or send off some emails at the
least and ask these questions directly.
Personally I would be leary of buying cabinets, unseen, online. I have
heard that you can buy carcasses from Lowes, HD.
I prefer a 3rd party opinions. I figure someone here has built their
Right now, my only local source for Kraftmaid or Mill's Pride is Home
Depot. Here they are pretty horrid. They hire kids who dropped out of
high school and know nothing of the products they are in charge of.
As for sending off emails... I usually get some poor girl in marketing
who can't send me a detailed catalog of producs, but can refer me to the
local dealer (who happens to be Home Depot). The building industry is
not the most user friendly industry out there.
big deal. It's just a reinforced plywood (or MDF or whatever) box. A <real>
lumberyard can order sheets of the melamine or whatever finish. If your Dad
doesn't have the big table saw, or access to one, you could find a local
cabinetmaker to make the boxes, and perhaps even provide the raw stock for
the fronts. If he is building the fronts, you don't necessarily even have to
use box-based cabinets. Build the whole thing in place out of
melamine-finish plywood like a huge custom bookshelf. A screwed'n'glued 2x2
frame to outline it, and just skin the exposed surfaces with pretty wood,
and add whatever interior shelves you want, and whatever size and location
of drawers are appropriate. They used to sell pre-made plastic drawer kits,
with all the glides and stuff- just add a front. Then just add the pretty
hardwood stiles and rails, and the doors and drawer fronts. Site-built
kitchens were quite common until the postwar tract house era. Site-built
lets you make the cabinets whatever dimensions you want to exactly fit the
kitchen, and you don't lose 2+ inches for the double walls between each
BTW, more power to your Dad for wanting to keep his hands in sawdust. My
father is the same way, and just acted as GC/finish carpenter on a remodel
of the house he rents from me. The busier they are, the longer they last.
Cabinets are the last frontier for do-it-yourselfers. Most cabinets
are sold through design centers that specialize in selling whole
kitchens. The stuff that Home Depot stocks is overpriced junk.
There are a gazillion places that sell stock cabinets over the
internet. Just do a Google search.
Two places that sell ready-to-assemble custom cabinets over the
I've ordered cabinets, drawers and doors from Scherr's, and I've been
happy with the quality. But I have to warn you they're not cheap.
And getting cabinets shipped to a residence is expensive and kind of a
pain as you have to use truck freight.
If you are determined not to build them yourself I would look for
someone small and local who supplies contractors. The hard part is
finding such a guy. But you should reconsider building them yourself.
I built some cabinets for my basement workshop, and I would call it
an advanced beginner woodworking project. Basically, if you can cut a
sheet of plywood to accurate dimensions, you can build a cabinet --
it's just a box.
Some other things to keep in mind:
You didn't mention drawers. I found that making drawers was more work
than making the cabinets they go in. I also bought some drawers from
Scherr's and it came to about $90/drawer including assembly, finishing
Unless you have a good source for hardware it is very easy to spend
more on pulls, hinges and slides than on the wood for your cabinets.
This is the biggest pitfall of building cabinets yourself. If you buy
carcasses, try to buy hardware at the same place. The volume
discounts on hardware are substantial.
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