Advice request from a newbie


I am not a "real" woodworker. Mostly I just fiddle around with old tools I picked up at a garage sale. I know how to cut straight lines and I have learned how to do mortise and tenon joints which I think look really good. I don't know any woodworkers but I read a fair bit and I am intrigued about making my own cabinets. I have read some discusssions on this list about making your own kitchen cabinets and I have looked at some books which make it look like cabinet making is really just box making. I know this is a bit much for a beginner, but I recently came into some cash and want to get some power tools.
Here are my questions:
How realistic is it for me to want to make my own cabinets for my kitchen?
I have seen lots of examples of work done by experts, where can I see some examples of stuff made by beginners?
I am looking at the Grizzly line of machinery. It looks like I can pick up a good tablesaw and jointer for a couple thousand. If there is anyone here who uses the Grizzly machines, can you chime in with how happy you are with them? It seems like I have read some criticism about Grizzly but I really doubt that I would ever know the difference.
If you have done your own kitchen cabinets and you are just an average person (not grown up in a family of craftsmen) can you show an example of your work? I'm asking because this group is full of false modesty--masters who make spectacular stuff are modest about it. I want a real idea of what I could be capable of. Also, if anyone has a figure they spent for their project, that would be good too.
Thanks very much for your advice. I'm not looking to become master woodworker or change my career. I just want to know in plain facts if this is doable by a beginner or not.
Happy Holidays, G.V.
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Very.
Beginners tend to keep their stuff to themselves.

Not a single member was born knowing how to do woodwork. What it does take is lots of practice. Jim

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Gino Ventimiglia wrote:

We had our mountain home built about three years ago and contemplated building the kitchen cabinets. Now I have been fiddling around with woodworking for 50 some years and have a shop full of equipment. We decided to hit the Orange Borg for the cabinets mainly due to the time factor. It would have taken quite a while for me to finish the cabinets (I'm lazy), during which we would not have had the use of the kitchen (except the stove and fridge). Plus, the cost was probably a push. I built all the stereo and bookcases instead where there was less of a time problem.
If you want to get into woodworking, just do it without the pressure of having to complete some large project in a finite time period. As to Grizzly, I have a pad sander and the G0500 jointer. Quite happy with both. Lots of others here on the wRECk have Griz stuff.
    mahalo,     jo4hn
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wrote:

Are you on your own in the place or are there wife/kids? The kitchen is the center of the house and everyone has to use it. From the time you start till you are done that is disrupted. The added pressure of everyone getting grumpy about it when you don't know what you're doing to begin with is something to think about. Once upon a time my dad took all the doors in the kitchen off to refinish them. A year later new doors got purchased and the old ones tossed (and I had done 1/2 of the work on them, one day they just all disappeared, grrrr....) We all had to adjust to having doors on the cabinets again, not being able to just see everything out in the open.
If you're going to do this I'd suggest you make some cabinets for your shop first. Figure out what you're doing without any pressure, and if it aint perfect it doesn't matter. You'll have a pretty good idea of what goes into it and what you are capable of.
The cabinets are one thing, the doors are another. Unless you have a very specific design in mind for the doors I'd price out ordering them before doing anything.

For cutting sheet goods you are really better off with a circular saw, good blade and straight edge rather than trying to muscle full sheets on a table saw by yourself, now matter how good of a saw it is.
-Leuf
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I completley disagree. I find a sliding table saw with scoring blade to be a much better solution than circular saw, even the Festool plunge saw with guide rails.
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Gino Ventimiglia wrote:

choice, however: I believe that it is not a wise choice for a beginning project.
If you can cut a streight line and do mortice and tenon joints then you are ahead of many with years of experience. Still: I recommend doing one or two smaller projects to prepare for the cabinets. Best of luck with whatever you decide to do, and let us know how it works out. Fred
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Answers and annotations below.
J.
Gino Ventimiglia wrote:

Choose your tools carefully. Practice on something that won't cost you a lot of money and that you can tackle at your leisure until you're satisfied in your own mind that you can handle a larger project. IOW while the kitchen is a work zone you're going to be eating out a lot. Plan your time and your project accordingly.

In a strict economic sense, you're going to be making very expensive cabinets simply because you're going to be investing in the tooling required to make them, and unless you have ready access to quality raw lumber or plywood you're going to be paying retail for your materials. Therefore it is highly unlikely that there will be an economic basis for justifying this to yourself or your family.
Consider also that the best quality cabinets on the planet are likely not going to add much if any value to your home should you decide to sell it in the future. Real estate is all about location. Worse, I have seen new owners discard all sorts of expensive furnishings simply on the basis of taste (or the lack of it).
Consequently we build our own home furnishings because:
a) We simply enjoy it.
b) We want the personal satisfaction of DIY.
c) It takes our minds off the mindlessness of our day jobs.
d) We don't like the looks or the quality of the premanufactured home center stuff.
e) We think we can't afford professionally made or "architectural" items and justify DIY via various accounting practices that would land us in jail if we were working for publicly held companies, or would quickly drive us to bankruptcy if we were competing against professional woodworkers.

The 'net is full of vanity sites.

I do not own Grizz personally but I understand that they require more effort at tuning than other brands of machinery. That said, you will have to tune any item of machinery that you buy. I guess you'll just spend more time fiddling with the Grizz if what others say is true.

What you describe is not false modesty, but pride and satisfaction. Look at the newsgroup, alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking for starters.
Anything you see on display in the typical woodworking mag is going to differ from what the retail-paying, home hobbyist is going to produce primarily because the mags use high quality, custom milled materials that are not commonly available to, or affordable by, the home craftsman unless, as I mentioned previously, you happen to have access to good lumber, even if its a big old tree that fell in your yard after a rainstorm.

It is absolutely doable. We are all living proof of that.
And we have *very* understanding wives!
Don't quit your day job until you realize that you're some kind of woodworking Mozart or something.

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Ding ding ding... we have a winner...
That's me, guity as charged.. :-)
Well said.
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"Gino Ventimiglia" wrote in message

The hard parts are not letting yourself be misguided/mislead/discouraged by what others tell you about "doing-it-yourself" (particularly from those who have nothing to offer/show but opinion on which to base their advice); having the desire to accomplish the job (which could encompass a multitude of reasons); and the fortitude/work ethic to finish what you start.
The easy part is building the kitchen cabinets.
You have come to a good place to get advice. So, if you're really serious, keep asking questions.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 11/06/05
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Yes, do it. As one who started out ww with a total kitchen redo, floor, new appliances, walls/cabinet gutted to the studs, new tin ceiling. We priced cabinets, started at $2500. NO way. At $8500, nope, still cheaply made. My wife said I could do it. I am a machinist, so that helped a great deal w/ dimensioning and tolerance stack ups. No shop at all, save a circular saw, cordless drill, a small, old router. I used Udo Schmidt"s book "Building Kitchen Cabinets." I found pocket screws and biscuits are a good combination. I spent about $10,000. Tools, appliances, (no refrig.) material for cabinets. Paint grade wood. She wanted white. It took almost two years for every thing. Opps ceiling isn't done yet. Wish I had spent a bit more on table saw & band saw. Looking at Grizzly for the upgrades. Yes, you can do it.
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Gino Ventimiglia wrote:

I have built a few cabinets. Nothing fancy...
Have a look at the books by Danny Proulx -- I find they could have saved me a lot of time -- and will -- on the next kitchen. He has 4 books on the Lee Valley Site.
This one in particular... http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p=48525&cat=1,46096,46108
You can see some on my Web site...
-- Will R. Jewel Boxes and Wood Art http://woodwork.pmccl.com The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. George Bernard Shaw
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I did my first set of cabinets under the watchful eye of my boss, who ran the remodeling business where I worked.
But it is true they are basically boxes with doors and drawers. The doors and drawers can be as fancy or simple as you desire or your skills and tools dictate.
If you are replacing a set of cabinets: Have you considered refacing the frames and then just building new doors and drawer fronts as needed. I have seen this done fairly inexpensively.
I built my first "all alone" set of cabinets for my own house using a $500 Sears table saw, a circular saw, and a molding head set. The molding set allowed me to put patterns on the doors of the cabinets which dressed them up a bit. I priced having cabinets built and I saved a huge amount by doing them myself. The only thing I had done was the glass in the glass cabinet doors and the formica on the counter tops. If I had known more about counter tops I probably would have done them also.
The advice about building a shop set of cabinets is a really good idea. It gets you some hands on experience.
I have a Grizzly table saw and really like it. You can also pick up good values on used saws if you don't mind hauling it home and hefting it around a bit.
Go for it my man. You will gain knowledge, self confidence, and some great experience. Good luck and keep us posted.
RonT
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I found the second and third build of the same item were ALWAYS better and faster.
On Sun, 11 Dec 2005 16:54:40 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Ron Truitt) wrote:

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On 12/11/2005 1:10 PM Gino Ventimiglia mumbled something about the following:

Many of us are not "real" woodworkers. Myself, I'm actually a computer geek who grew up on a farm having to build (or help build) most of the outbuildings.

Very much so. You can want anything, and if you set your mind to it, you can pretty much do it.

Well, not a beginner, but definitely not an expert and no cabinetry in the photos yet. http://www.sloanclan.org/gallery/Landscaping I built the front porch and back deck as well as the barn shed (which is where my woodworking shop will EVENTUALLY be as soon as the kids move out and it is no longer a storage shed).

I'm looking at getting Grizzly stuff as well to replace my chintsy Delta wannabe contractor saw as well as few other toys that I want. I've heard more good stuff about them than against them.

I plan on redoing my kitchen soon (I have about 650 bd ft of red maple drying right now). Maybe you can show off you work so I can be inspired by it when I'm ready to do mine.
--
Odinn
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Gino Ventimiglia wrote:

It's certainly possible. With a bit of practice, you should have no insurmountable troubles. Make sure you work through a couple of prototype cabinets first, though.

I will post a pic of my work in the binaries group for you (alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking). Most of us beginners tend to feel a bit inadequate, so I really don't think you will find a lot of examples of stuff made by people who are just starting out. Jobs this big are usually undertaken by seasoned hobbyists or professionals.

I know this isn't saying much, but Grizzly's quality is than adequate for me. I have a Griz table saw, jointer and bandsaw, and I'm thrilled with the power and accuracy of them. The only complaint I have is that the jointer stand is not terribly sturdy.

My kitchen was a complete gut and remodel. I built the cabinets in advance from 3/4" baltic birch, and made doors and face frames from poplar and MDF. I finished them them with four coats of oil based primer sanded with 220 between coats, and five coats of white satin oil based, sanded with 220 between coats. Materials cost $1400 for the wood, paint, sandpaper and hvlp sprayer (I already had a 26 Gal compressor). Hardware added another $200, and I spent another $1400 on other tools. It took me about eight weekends to prototype and build the cabinets, and four weekends to finish. I made a big tent of 20mil poly so I could spray without bugs or dust causing problems. I took five days off to demo and install everything you see in the picture including mouldings and wood floor, both of which came from the hated borg. As a side note, the mouldings are not coped, they are all true miters cut with a home made jig and a 12" Craftsman miter saw. For all the people who sneer at Craftsman products, here's proof that some of them work pretty well.
Grand total was $6,800 for everything including some new tools and all of the new appliances. It was worth every bit of effort. As long as you fully understand what a project like this requires, I promise you will not be sorry for undertaking it.
-- -linux_lad To verify that this post isn't forged, click here: http://www.spoofproof.org/verify.php?sigm75b909384314fc2d891424f94a899e
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