Building Kitchen Cabinets

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I have decided to bite the bullet and attempt to build my kitchen cabinets myself. The wife isn't so happy about the idea because she thinks I don't know enough to actually make them and have them look anything near good.
She has a small point in that I do not have a lot of experience but the doggone things look so simple to build. Maybe I am underestimating the complexity of them or overestimating my abilities but they are nothing but a box with a door.
Well, maybe that WAS a little on the oversimplification side.
In aby event, I seem to recall a recommendation for a book that is short and sweet and only sold online. I saw it in a thread here a couple months ago when I was pushing around the idea of simply refacing the exisiting cabinets and go the bug to actaully build them once I read the website.
Can anybody remember the site I am talking about?
Thanks
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John Paquay's "Building Your Own Kitchen Cabinets" and Jim Toplin's "Building Traditional Kitchen Cabinets".
The following is from an old post of mine.
<quote>
"I personally like John's basic kitchen cabinet construction method, which focuses on hardwood face frames, routed to accept the cabinet sides and floors. IME, once you build one cabinet using John's method, the light goes on and no cabinet is then too tough. John still posts here occasionally and the last time I looked his booklet could be ordered at:
http://home.insightbb.com/~jpaquay/shop.html
While John's little book is geared to the construction of the basic wall and base cabinet, Toplin's book is a fairly good reference for different types of cabinet construction, drawers and, in particular, installation.
If I had to do with just one, and had never built a kitchen cabinet before, I would go with John's self-published booklet... but both of them together will give you what you need, and the confidence, to get the job done.
Strictly my .02 based on my hands on experience of what you are anticipating"
</quote>
If you have any question about this undertaking , just fire away.
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Swingman,
As Lucy van Pelt used to say in the old "Peanuts" comincs: "THAT'S IT!!!!!"
John Paquay's manual is exactly what I was referring to. However, the material mentioned by others looked very good as well. I guess I was just looking for the old cut-to-the-chase sort of manual and this is it. Nothing fancy.
Thanks also to the others who responded and gave a few hints (like watch out for the inside corners). It was sort of a good feeling to be told that building kitchen cabinets is easier than making a cardboard box. It certainly seemed that way to me but if all you guys think the same thing, it makes me feel a lot better.
I also liked the ideas about the lazy susans and the advice to think things out. I am going to take some real time to brainstorm to see what I can come up with but I am basically limited in what I can do. The kitchen is a rectangle and there is not enough room for an island in the middle (unless the wife wants to get rid of the kitchen table and eat in the dining room). I see spots where I can hang some additional cabinets like on the wall above the microwave, above the fridge, and above the sink (maybe). Other than that, I am more-or-less going to mimic what is already in place as far as dimensions are concerned. The only big thing I could maybe do is knock out a wall but (a) it is a load-bearing wall and I do not have enough experience messing with that sort of stuff although a 2x12 spanning across the opening should hold it and (b) that would actually take away from the space that I have because that is where the kitchen sink is currently.
I am getting WAY ahead of myself. I need to get a manual and a few hundred pieces of paper and draw something.
Thanks a lot!!

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snipped-for-privacy@thesafety.net (Ray Kinzler) writes:
[...]

Be careful not to obstruct the cooling vents of the microwave and the airflow behinde the fridge, just remember that the microwave produces as much "unwanted" heat which has to be blown away as it produces heat in the food, and that the fridges efficiency drops to nothing if the backside has no cooling airflow.
--
Dr. Juergen Hannappel http://lisa2.physik.uni-bonn.de/~hannappe
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
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Juergen,
I am just planning on the 'normal' distance between the countertop and the bottom of the upper cabinets to place my microwave. Is that not enough space?
Also, I never really thunk aboutit but how much space DOES there need to be between the bottom of the cabinets and the top of the fridge?

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"Ray Kinzler" wrote in message

Normal distance is 16 - 18", on the higher side if you plan on having undercounter lighting ... that usually allows plenty of room for most countertop microwaves.

I leave about 4" ... just enough room for SWMBO room to stack her TV and coffee trays, and not enough room to put anything on top of the refrigerator that would block the cabinet doors. Check your refrigerator manufacturer's recommendation for clearance for your particular model.
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In California, the "code" is 18" from the top of your countertop surface to the underside of your upper cabinet...
Alain
Ray Kinzler wrote:

--
MZ


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On Wed, 12 Nov 2003 07:05:55 -0800, "A.Pismo Clam"

18" is indeed the typical distance between countertop and bottom edge of the upper cabinets. It's 18" because the countertop is at a 36" height. Wall cabinets are typically installed with their tops at 84", and the 'standard' wall cabinet height is 30"... so 84-36-30.
There's nothing that says you HAVE to maintain that distance, and shortening it slightly (2") won't have an enormous impact on usability. There's also nothing that says you can't mount your wall cabinets higher (say 90") and have a nice 24" vertical clear space... or stick with 18" and build 36" tall wall cabinets instead of 30"... or go to 20" clear and... well, you get the idea. These are all considerations and options which become available to you when you choose to build your own cabinetry.
The 36" countertop height is a defacto standard, however, and shouldn't be messed with in general, or you may end up not being able to install things like dishwashers, trash compactors, garbage disposers, etc. In the other hand, there's no reason you can't have *some portion* of your countertop and base cabinetry somewhat higher or lower than 36". A section of slightly lower countertop can create a much more pleasant and comfortable work surface for short people, and likewise a taller countertop for tall people.
With the tops mounted at 84", wall cabinets above ranges and refrigerators are typically 15" or 12" tall. 15" above a range works perfectly for range hoods, and pretty well even for large built-in over-the-range microwaves. 12" is a bit nicer. 15" wall cabinets will be fine for the vast majority of refrigerators, but there are a few that will require a little extra clearance. It's wise when laying out out your new cabinets to shop around for refrigerators and check the dimensions of your next likely model. But with 12" uppers, you'll be covered. Again, there is nothing to say you can't have 14" cabinets above your range or refrigerator. Just be sure you have considered the present and all likely future ramifications. Also be sure to leave exactly 30" or 36" of clear width for a slide-in range, and at least 36" for a refrigerator. There are quite a number of refrigerators measuring 35-1/2"+/- w, which is a pretty darned tight fit. You can do it, but it's not easy to slide the fridge in and out.
As a side note, modern refrigerators need very little clear space. In fact if you look at the bottom front of your fridge, you'll see that the air louver typically only provides about 40-50% free (open) area. Almost all modern refrigerators include fans to drive the air through the mechanical compartment, so leaving a couple inches clear along the top is generally plenty. Do check with the fridge manufacturer to see if they have a recommendation. Many no longer do, since they assume you can't possibly have a fit tight enough to starve their compressor of ventilation. At least that's what the manufacturer's reps say.
John

John Paquay snipped-for-privacy@insightbb.com
"Building Your Own Kitchen Cabinets" http://home.insightbb.com/~jpaquay/shop.html ------------------------------------------------------------------ With Glory and Passion No Longer in Fashion The Hero Breaks His Blade. -- Kansas, The Pinnacle, 1975 ------------------------------------------------------------------
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Got a BORG close by? Measure your space and get them design one for you using their software and one of their showroom models that you/SWMBO like. They do it for free here.
All you need is one design to get the idea of what they are up to. That will help you with your own planning.
Break a leg ...
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Holy cow. I actually DID think of this. I thought it might be 'cheating' though. Part of me is scared to do that because they will simply suck SWMBO in and make her think she wants that junk. She is a tough sell in the first place.
And since she is such a tough sell, I was wondering if I should maybe start with something that the entire world doesn't see but she will. Another room that needs spruced up is the master bathroom. I could start out by making a vanity, a medicine chest, and a cabinet above the toilet. That may be a good starting point for this project.
Of course, I need to do it around me getting my Master's degree, activities the two kids partake in, and just, well, life. Luckily, the relatively high cost of remodeling a kitchen and a bathroom makes both of us slow down and really think about what we want.
Any thoughts as to practicing on the bathroom cabinetry before attempting to build the kitchen cabinets?

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The reason I suggest the BORG for ideas is that they sell kitchen cabinets sized to industry standard widths and it is a good place to see, touch and feel.
However, I guarantee that if you do a reasonable job on your own kitchen, when you walk back through the BORG after you're finished with yours, their cabinets will ALL look cheap, no matter how good they look now.
Since you are doing this for the first time, grab a copy of a cabinet company catalog like KraftMaid, etc. ... they generally have pages that show box sizes and shapes for different.situations and will give you some more ideas.
Tip: Since you remarked that you may buy the doors and drawer fronts, you will usually find it easier/cheaper to do the doors by dimensioning your cabinets to respect the standard widths, or multiples thereof:
The production kitchen cabinets you buy are generally sized in 3" increments as to width, i.e., 12", 15", 18", 21", 24", 27", etc.
Get a copy of John Paquay's book for your basic boxes ... forget all the others, except for ideas and installation tips.
Stand on the backs of those who have gone before you and you won't go wrong, despite any inexperience. By the time you make your second cabinet, you'll likely be "experienced" enough to do the entire job without further worry.
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The Kraftmaid catalog is a really neat idea. We have walked through the kitchen area in our local stores and I have shaken my head for years at their ware.
I already ordered John Paquay's book--yesterday. Heck, I even had the pipe dream that it may be in the mail when I got home! I have also been out to his site and read a bunch of stuff several different times. I tried out his suggestions in the "How to achieve an incredible hand-rubbed oil finish." link and got an old cherry dresser to come out smoother than a piece of glass. I must touch part of that durn thing 10 times a day. It's just a shame that others don't appreciate that and I have no idea why. Everybody in my life looks at it, touches it, makes a face, and says, "Yeah. That is smooth, huh?" Yoi!!!
I think I am going to more-or-less limited, however, in how the kitchen will end up looking. I may be able to do some things like make the top and bottom cabinet openings on a 45-degree angle (if you know what I mean). I may be able to make the wall units either be somewhat higher or put smallish one above. There is opportunuity to put two new ones over the fridge, like I said. And the old dresser I was talking about is being used "temporarily" (for 14 years) as a microwave cart. It is great for storage but it is not deep enough. It fits the entire width of the wall between the entry way and the corner but there needs to be cabinets there. Also above it. I see the opportunity to add two small cabinets, two or three floor cabinets to replace the dresser, and two or three wall units above them. Other than that, I am guessing I can simply measure what I already have. My wife likes the combination of drawers and cabinets. I may see fit to add another set of drawers someplace when replacing the dresser.
All in all, the Kraftmaid catalog will come in real handy. As will a before and after visit to the Borg. A little cheating with their kitchen designers. And a LOT of time.
My guess is that there will be more than enough suggestions in the book I ordered as well as the others mentioned that I will know what to use on the inside. But I think I have another question. Should I use that, what's it called, melemaine or somehting like that? How does it hold screws? I would be afraid that it would be very easy to strip the hole. Would it maybe be a decent idea to use 3/4" plywood and cover the inside with something like white formica? Sort of make my own stuff but not use the stupid particle board? Maybe use MDF covered with formica? Maybe simply do a little more research before I start??

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Ray,
Many specialty lumber dealers even in small towns now stock ( or can order) pre-finished hardwood plywood. I am going to use pre-finished (one side only) 3/4 birch plywood for all of my cabinets. (finished side in, unfinished sides all covered up by end panels and cabinet next to it)
The result will be sturdy, no hassle finishing an inside box, and will save a lot of time and fumes.
Good luck!
Dennis Slabaugh, Hobbyist Woodworker www.woodworkinghobby.com

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On 11 Nov 2003 11:02:09 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@thesafety.net (Ray Kinzler) wrote:

Coupla more suggestions, Ray...
1. Put slides on all the shelves in the base cabinet. Makes it real convenient to get at things at the back.
2. Build 'baskets' to mount to the insides of the base cabinet doors...for things that you'll wanna git to very often...like wax paper and other wrapping rolls, Windex, sponges, etc.
3. Don't forget to install a kick plate.
4. Think about building a coupla pull-out cutting boards.
If yer gonna BUY the doors, buy them first...then build your shell size and openings around the doors.

Definitely use plywood. The inside can be lined with all manner of thing...contact paper, etc.
Good luck...you'll have fun.
P.S. Consider building a separate cabinet for the microwave. That's what I did...a 2 tier. Micro on the top...under it a counter top and pull-out cutting board...big drawer under that...2 sliding shelves behind doors under that. Sits next to the stove. Micro is eye level.
Have a nice week...
Trent
Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity!
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(Ray Kinzler)

i put it behind a tambour door, with a countertop space level with the bottom of the microwave just next to it. that makes it easy to set something down when putting things in or taking things out, and you can hide it easily. make the cabinet above it be the full depth of the counter, and then make the tambour door flush with the cabinet doors above and below.

regards, charlie cave creek, az
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On Fri, 14 Nov 2003 12:09:54 -0700, "Charles Spitzer"

Can you shoot off a quick picture, Charlie. I'd be interested in seeing it.
Thanks.
Have a nice week...
Trent
Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity!
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Ray Kinzler wrote:

Like you said, it's awful hard to reply to all posts.
1)I have been cursed. As a child in the late '60s Mom dragged us to Williamsburg on most of our vacations. I figured there were better places to go. But it had it's effect. From childhood I've pretty much known what is and isn't junk.
2) Before building be very very careful, Think about it Man!! You say you have little experience and I'm guessing very little tooling. You are staring an addiction square in the face. Even if you get by with the minimum of tooling when the projects done you'll still have those tools. What are you going to do with them? Let them Rot? You'll probably start another project and need just one more tool, then another project and another tool, then another and another ....
3) My brother in law built some shelves in a closet. I went over to see, they looked fine. Then he starts pointing out stuff .... I told him!
What I told him was: When you build something you know where every breakout, every splinter and miss drilled hole is, you know every flaw. And you see them all. Your friends will be impressed, your wife will be ecstatic, you'll wonder how that splinter in the lower left corner doesn't scream to be seen.
It doesn't, get over it. Eventually you wont see it either.
4) a) My wife is 4' 11", standard countertop height is too tall for her to work comfortably. It hurt me to see her wash dishes while holding her elbows away from her sides.
b) I have never liked standard width countertops in the sink area. It has always crowded the sink too close to the wall making it difficult to clean behind.
c) I'm going to build a set of 'L' cabinets. One legs wall is 89 1/2" from the crotch to the doorway/ passage. I set up a temporary counter to live with to see if a counter close to the door will be a problem. After a year, it isn't (kitchen layout and traffic patterns).
Think the BORG will have something 88" long?
d) When we moved here the kitchen sucked, for real. I lived with it long enough I don't want to think about it. Suffice it to say it was not a work area. It was done with standard cabinets.
Conclusion: Standard kitchen cabinets don't always work. Fact they can be a hindrance. If your building them yourself you can make what you want.
5) Tools. Specifically the cost of tooling. Go to Borg, total what a set of cabinets you could get by with will set you back. Contact a cabinetmaker, see how much it will cost to get just what you want. Now price what tools and materials will cost for you to build them.
Guess will cost the least. Probably by a substantial amount.
6) Satisfaction. No matter how many splinters I see I still smile because it's my creation, I built these things.
Mayhaps I will write on this more later, SWMBO wants to go to BORG, put a few more pennies on the bill,
she just asked if I was going to get ready.
Later
--
Mark

N.E. Ohio
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Good for you Ray! Don't worry it's a challenge you can handle. How do I know? Well because I knew very little about woodworking and I was able to do it! I took a woodworking class to get the basics and I currently have all my base cabinets built, including a lazy Suzan, which I think is pretty cool. And they have inset doors, with may tell me are harder to build.
They Are basically a box with a door. But I urge you to think them out a bit. there are a lot of nice custom things you can do with them. There are several books out there, I got some off Amazon. You can even just make the box and order the doors pre made, but I'm enjoying making them myself.
Good luck.
Ben

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This is my first post to this newsgroup so I hope I'm on the right track with my information here. I dont know the website, but I have a book called ' Making Kitchen Cabinets ' by Paul Levine which is very good - full of practical stuff and hints with good illustrations and pictures. It is published by The Taunton Press of the USA. International Standard Book Number 0-918804-94-9 and Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 87-51674. My copy is the 1988 edition and I brought it in a bookshop here in Australia about a year ago, but being a fairly 'old ' book now, perhaps its only available through the web.
Hope this helps, Dean.
"Ray Kinzler"

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Ray building Kitchen cabinets is easier tham making a cardboard box, it is one of the biggest whoring of woodowrking that there is. Simple fundamentles 24" deep boxes, 36" high floor to worktop if you have a 1-1/2" top
Be carefull in your inside corners, upper cabs 12" deep 30" high is the standard but do not be afraid to go to 32 and 36 or higher if your ceilings allow, give's the wife a lot more storage room for the 50% of crap that women keep that they use once a year. (I should talk my wife is always giving me hell because i do cook and buy or have bought most everything out there<G>)
It all in the fronts good doors throw up a nice crown mldg on the top and a mldg on the bottom edge of the upper cabinets and make a door for your end panels,
You will end up with look that will have her apologizing for doubting you for a long time <G> Go For It Good Luck, George

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