Re-Finishing Kitchen Cabinets

Good morning, I have questions about re-finishing kitchen cabinets. I have looked over a Black & Decker home repair-type book, and, after further study, I think I'll be able to get the basic steps down. I'm going to put all new hardware on the cabinets after refinishing.
I have a bit of a fear that it will take FOREVER, then the improvement won't be that great. I do have a hope, however: Several years ago, my wife bought a little Fiero. It's exterior looked TERRIBLE -- fading paint, large patches of paint gone. We took it to Maaco and you would not believe the transformation this little car made. It was turned into a VERY, VERY sharp looking car (it was not cheap to have Maaco fix it up, I might add). Anyway, here are a couple of details on the cabinets:
* Structurally, these cabinets appear to be in OK condition. * I can't say for sure, but it looks like the cabinets have been painted more than once, one coat(s) on top of the other. I say this because they kind of have the appearance of paint-build-up. The overall effect of this is that they look cheap and dull.
If anyone has worked with a similar experience, please tell me what you did, how much time it took, how happy you were with the results, and whether I'd be better off paying someone else to do it. Thanks!
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I went through this 50 years ago. Had finished the bare cabinets with oil based paint then ex wanted natural looking pine instead of paint. Took doors & drawers to garage to sand to bare wood and sanded cases in place. Used gloss varnish to let grain show. Found sanding dust in back corner of clothes closet diagonally across the floorplan 6 months later. Get sheet plastic to close off kitchen as much as possible, will merely slow the migration of sanding dust. Block all doors with the plastic.
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Keep in mind that most of the "look" of the cabints are in the doors and drawer fronts. You can refinish these yourself, or you can buy new doors, and in most kitchen drawers, replace the old drawer front with new. This is something a reasonably handy person can normally do with few tools and some OJT finishing experience.
I you don't feel comfortable doing it, just about any town of any size has someone who does nothing but veneer visible cabinet ends and refinish drawer fronts and doors. Unless you've done it before, folks who specialize in this can usually do it faster, better, and often cheaper, than you can yourself.
Also keep in mind that almost every project involving wood has a "showstopper" or two that only experience can get you through easily.
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Last update: 2/13/04
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Did something similar several years ago. OK but old cabinets. Original finish with many years of kitchen grime build up, etc. Did lots of sanding , scraping, and the like just to get it to a paintable surface. Would never do it again. I would rather install new unfinished cabinets and finish them as I would like. Ours is a small inexspensive house and I was trying to avoid spending $$$ while the kids were in college.

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