We are planning to redo our kitchen in a year or two. We'll be doing
most of it ourselves, including building the cabinets. I have been
building my skills and my tool collection and think I am just about
ready for this task. We have remodeled another kitchen in the past
using ready made cabinets.
I have one big question though. I'm not sure if it's cost effective to
build my own cabinets or to go out and buy some decent quality ready
made ones. As far as tools go I would have to buy a big router to
handle panel raising and either build or buy a "real" router table (I
am now using the Porter Cable entry level "table" with a PC 691).
Then, there is the cost of materials. My wife wants cherry and I know
it's not cheap. The cost of hardware is obscene and all the other wood
for drawers, shelves and carcasses will add up to a small fortune.
I know I will really enjoy the challenge and feel a major sense of
accomplishment but I'm not sure if it's worth it if I can buy ready
mades for half the price. Has anyone here done a serious cost
Also, any advice about ways to save money would be appreciated. I am
planning on building face frame cabinets with raised panel doors and
LOTS of drawers. I can get cherry at my local lumber yard but it costs
a fortune (finished on all 4 sides). I have a jointer and planer but
no source for unfinished kiln dried cherry (I live in NY's Hudson
Thanks in advance,
I really don't think building your own would cost more than buying good
quality ready-made cabinets, even if you have to purchase a few tools to
do it. On the other hand, you probably won't save a tremendous amount by
doing it yourself either. If I were you. I would base the decision on
whether or not it was something I Really wanted to do.
I've remodelled a couple of kitchens myself. What you get from doing the
cabinets yourself are custom sizes, custom materials
and you can do unusual stuff. If you contract out for custom cabinets they
will be much more expensive than if you do them yourself.
Comparing the cost to "off the shelf home depot cabinets" .. you probably
are'nt saving much. It might even cost more for your
own depnding on what sort of materials you decide to use.
It sure can be. 5 years ago I did my kitchen in Maple, 17 doors and 13
drawers for a sense of scale.
I used plywood carcases and solid wood doors drawers and face frames
Rough costs: $800 plywood ($65/sheet) $800 solids ($3.25/bf rough cut) $600
in hardware. Oh yeah, $2500 for granite :-(.
Even if you count the $1800 cabinet saw (was going to buy it anyway) and a
new planer. I'm sure that I am well ahead
What kind of table saw do you have? You *Need* a table saw for this project.
You can find reasonable cost hardware if you shop around. I was able to find
knobs that I really liked for close to a buck a piece.
You are just not looking hard enough; it's out there. Search for "hardwood".
As other have said, you really have to enjoy the process to make it
worthwhile. One other consideration: Do you have adequate shop space to pull
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
Maybe it's just me.
I have what I call the "Significant Other" factor. The love of my
life can be sweet and wonderful most of the time, but she can also be
impatient, demanding, and very unpleasant when something is disturbing
the karma of the castle.
If the project is outside, she can be very patient. If it is inside,
we need a strong, realistic timetable that I am willing to commit to
without offering any excuses.
I say screw the cost. If the queen ain't happy, the king doesn't
stand a chance. Misery ensues.
Don't underestimate the size of the task. It isn't brain surgery or
piano building, but it certainly can have its challenges. Even when I
go to a homeowner's home and they show me homebuilt cabinets (some
quite good) they don't have the finishing skills to compliment their
woodworking skills, and some build great cabinets and don't know the
little tricks to hang or set them properly. End result: not so good.
I would take on a smaller cabinet first, and time myself. Rip out
that old vanity in the bathroom, rebuild one to your mutual liking,
and keep careful costs and an honest record of your time, including
rounding up all materials, waste (all those off cuts really add up for
certain sizes), cost of finish materials, and the time spent
finishing. And I would hate to think that you would spend a lot of
time getting your cabinets just right, then go out there with a brush
and swab finish on them.
And an excellent point brought up by Steve above, do you have the shop
space to accomodate all the cabinets, and then all the cabinets when
Personally speaking, even as a contractor, unless I was going to die
in the house I would probably buy the cabinets. That doesn't
necessarily mean going to HD or Lowe's, but maybe to a cabinet man in
your town. He can supply you with samples of his work, and you can
talk to his customers. I have a guy here in town that made me give up
building any kind of cabinet for clients, as this is all he does all
day long. He has an enormous shop, has a few old timers that have
been with him for a while and he pays them by the piece. He is fast,
too. Quality, excellent. (As a sidebar, he is getting old himself,
and may be out of the biz soon... crap.... )
If I were to build anything, I think I would build carcasses, then buy
the doors somewhere. They are all over on the net. When you buy a
door online (or locally if you have a shop there) you will most likely
get a quality product at a reasonable price. Carcasses are fast to
build. Building your own doors means that not only do you have to have
the correct machinery to build it, but you must deal with the
challenges that the materials you obtain locally present.
With a shop built/purchased door, you are dealing with a product that
is finish ready, sanded, without major defects, square, and hopefully
built with the wood at the correct moisture level and stored
accordingly. Homebulilt finished wood doors stacked in a garage can
do some really squirelly things over just a month or two.
Whatever you do, good luck. There are guys here that build there own
and it works for them quite well. And a quick search of this newgroup
will give you the proper books to get you on your way (don't forget
the ones on finishing). This topic comes up frequently, so there is
an evening's reading here on this group.
My 2 cents!!!!!
If your just removing and replacing with the same sizes, styles and
buy them. However, you now have the opportunity to create spaces for
sized items. For instance, I built a cabinet for a card table a 4
chairs that is in the kitchen
It's skinny and the side of it is also the back of a desk. If I where
to fill that area with
store bought cabinets, I would only have a desk. On the side of one
cabinet I had 3" to
play with, so I built a door with shelve that now hold all the spices.
I can't tell you how much
space that saves. If you build, don't be common.
Unless you have a "secret" cache of free wood and hardware, it would
be impossible to duplicate a plant build cabinet and come close to
The finishing is the real killer in my opinion.
I think most of the average woodworkers can build a nice wall cabinet
with basic tools.
The doors present another problem.
A nice raised panel door while not difficult to build requires
some very accurate machined materials. These materials are not
easy to come by and not easy to produce in large numbers.
My kitchen is a fairly modest affair and it contains 53 raised
panel doors of various sizes. I could not imagine building 53
doors in a reasonable amount of time or where I would put them
when I was finished. Most pro's farm that step out completely.
That brings up another point, where do you put an entire seperate
kitchen in your shop ?
This has been beat to death on this list many times, but at the
end of the day it comes down to "I want to do this" compared to
"this makes no sense at all".
I have all the tools and a 1500 sqft shop.
I will be buying premium cabinets and doing the install
Another thing to consider is what a wide range of prices ready-made
cabinets come in. About a year and a half ago, when we remodeled thanks
to Hurricane Katrina, we went with fairly high-end Kemper cabinets
(plywood sides, dovetailed drawers)in maple. A kitchen and den setup
that consists of 33 raised panel doors and 17 drawer fronts, ran well
over $20K just for cabinets (no countertops or installation). A set that
would be perfectly acceptable to most people could probably be had for
1/2 that, if you don't mind skimping on some of the details. So it
really depends on what you want to end up with.
It depends how you value your time. If you put any kind of
realistic price on an hour of your labor it's exceedingly
unlikely that you can save any money compared to simply
buying some good quality cabinets.
Although cabinets are a major item, that only one of many
items to be addressed when completely remodeling a kitchen.
Personally, I would take the view that my time and skills
would be better invested in other aspects of the overall
project. Items that you can't buy ready-made, off-the-shelf.
And even in the case of the cabinets, you might consider
buying some more basic cabinets and enhancing them. For
example, my own home came with some very solid cabinets
with really crappy interiors. I've recently had some fun
lining them with laminate to provide easy-to-clean inside
Of course, if you REALLY want to make the things, go ahead
and do it. But also consider what you might be able to
accomplish with all that time to create an even nicer
kitchen. Trust me, if you're going the gut the existing
kitchen there will be plenty of scope to deploy your
energy and craftsmanship even if you buy ready made
| Malcolm Hoar "The more I practice, the luckier I get". |
I built our cabinets and saved quite bit, even after the purchase of some
tools (mostly bits and blades).
Since I didn't have a lot of work room, I did the upper cabinets first and
installed them, then the base cabinets.
The finish I used (and continue to use on most projects) is: a coat of Watco
Danish oil, two coats of poly (I prefer satin finish)
That finish is easy to maintain and repair (IMO) It's also easy to apply.
There were several reasons for my decision to do my own.
1. I don't like the finish on ready mades (too thin, and usually lacquer)
2. Most aren't sturdy enough for me. (material too thin, drawers slides not
strong enough, etc)
3. Save money (on the quality I wanted)
4. I enjoy wood working
Go for it and good luck.
Chuck, I have done this on several occasions and helped to build original
YOU CAN SAVE A TON OF MONEY.
I estimate you can take your cost in materials and multiply that by "at
least" 5 and be on the cheap end of having the cabinets prebuilt and
I did my first kitchen about 19 years ago and to save on space and where to
store cabinets I built a section at a time and when that section was
finished I removed the old cabinets for that section and installed the new
ones. The kitchen was never unusable until I did the section with the sink,
which I was down for a day.
I'd buy them at HD or something and install them...
Unless you want something really different or special, you can't make them for
what you can buy them for..
Instant gratification isn't something a wood working person wants, but in this
case, I'd go for just that..
I don't know what your lady is like but if mine didn't have a functional kitchen
for a while, I damn sure wouldn't what that to be MY fault... YMWV
Like the song says, "If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy"
As you can see by the responses ... it depends.
What it boils down to is expertise, equipment, time, and fortitude.
That said, if you've ever done it once, you can categorically say that you
can indeed on sucessive ocassions; if you've not done it before, it's a
gamble ... particularly throwing in the "fortitude" factor. :)
Use the following 'real life example' drawings (each drawing is one leg of
an "L" shaped kitchen area) as a rough 'go by' for material cost (updated
today) for a "custom" build, in new construction, in this neck of the woods
You're looking at approximately 32' of upper and lower kitchen cabinets, and
a 3.5' x 7' island not shown.
Face frame cabinets - red oak cabinet grade plywood carcase, with red oak
rails and stiles; drawer/door fronts - raised panel solid red oak; drawers -
5/8" hard maple sides, 1/4" maple ply bottoms.
Material cost for boxes (16) and drawers (22): $2276.00
Door/drawer fronts w/slides & hinges: $2550.51
Factoring in the island as a 10' entity, that is roughly $115/LF for uppers
and lowers _BEFORE_ installation, finish, countertops, backsplash.
A trim carpenter "labor only" bid to fill the same space with 'site built'
cabinets, but a MUCH inferior product - $3700 +/-.
If you have the tools, expertise, time, and MOST importantly _FORTITUDE_, it
is not only doable, but can indeed save money.
If you're lacking any one of these, you will most likely come out ahead by
farming out all, or part, of the job.
And indeed, you may want to pick your poison, do those things you feel
comfortable doing, and outsource the remainder ... particularly the doors
and drawer fronts which will get you into all kinds of issues if they are
not done "straight, square and true". I've done it all, but I now outsource
the latter as a matter of "equipment" and "time" in the above equation.
... and, as far as the space issue, you can rent a high and dry,
unconditioned storage space in most areas of the country for way less than
$100/month ... and BTW, that's where the above cabinets, drawers, doors and
drawer fronts are residing, real time, at the moment ... as my shop is only
18' x 18'. :)
Wow, lots of input but I can't resist.
1. Build the boxes, buy the doors and drawer fronts and have the doors
pre-drilled for cup hinges.
2. Find a hardwood supplier that is selling to the cabinet industry to
get quality ply and and S21E hardwood stock for the face frames and
any other hardwood components. They will usually sell to the public
via will call if you check around. Make molding from this also or buy
3. If going with Cherry get the doors and drawer fronts unstained but
prefinished. After they arrive, practice finishing metods and
materials until you can match the finish for the boxes. Some door
companies will sell you matching finish materials.
4. Build and store all the cabinet boxes (face frames applied) and
drawer boxes built and installed before starting any demolition work
in the kitchen or ordering. Use a 32mm system for the shelf pins,
properly aligned so the door hinges can use the shelf pin holes. You
can get data from the door company about placement requirements.
5. Either build the drawer boxes from Baltic Birch (low cost) or
Maple. This can be a lot of fun, get a dovetail jig and do it up nice.
I'd suggest NOT doevtailing into the drawer front but rather apply
them to a 4 sided box, but if you are adventerous enough go ahead with
a real high-end drawer box setup.
Has anyone here done a serious cost
Fifteen years ago I built my own cabinets, solid oak faces and plywood
everywhere else. Wood and hardware run about $1600, and I bought
about six thousand dollars worth of tools, saw, shaper, jointer, etc.
My estimates for what my wife wanted ran from $11,000 to $$18,000.
By building ourselves we got exactly what we wanted, and way cheaper.
Of course we had our kitchen tore apart for almost seven months as I
had to do the work on weekends and at night. That's a big minus!
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