Custom cabinetry question

I am having my kitchen completely redone and now going back and forth with a cabinet maker on the final design and layout. He is going to build all the cabinets and drawers with 3/4" plywood, and the doors would be solid wood which he would order from somewhere. I will go pick out any hardware and he would install them and basically I can call out any size cabinet (width-wise) to fit my space so this is the custom aspect of it.
However he has a limited number of door styles. The one I like is shaker style, however I would like a wide rail (say like 5 to 6")
standard shaker rail:
http://www.pennvillecabinetry.com/Doors/4112lg.jpg
wide shaker rail: http://www.pennvillecabinetry.com/Doors/door453html.htm
In fact I want it to be even thicker than that. He told me he does not have a supplier for it, but I see it everywhere even at Lowes and Home Depot. My thought is if this is custom, shouldn't the door style be cusotm too? I cannot imagine a simple door like that is hard to make.
Second, I wanted all drawers to be a flat panel - no rail. Whether it is a 4" deep drawer or 14" deep drawer - all drawers no rail. He said the deep drawers comes with rails, so here is another issue.
I think there must be quite a few cabinet makers here, if you cater to custom cabinetry, to what degree do you customize?
Second question is, how would a customer be able to see the final color, texture, construction etc...of a cabinet? Do you do a sample? Do you take them to a previous client's home to visit? How do you do it (if there is not a show room).
Third, how do you structure payment? What is the usual, customary and fair payment, percentage wise how much you pay upon contract signing etc...and how much more at what milestone?
Thanks in advance,
MC
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It sounds to me like you're getting semi-custom cabinets. There's nothing wrong with that, if that's what you want. Your cabinet guy has apparently made the decision that he farms out the doors (and drawer fronts?) and concentrates on making carcases. It could be that he just doesn't like dealing with solid wood, because if you don't make the doors or drawer fronts (and you're making the drawers from ply), that only leaves sheet goods. There are only so many places that make doors/drawer fronts, so you're stuck with what they offer as far as choice of style goes. Is it hard to build doors? No, but it can be time-consuming, which is why your guy may have chosen to farm it out.
Honestly, I imagine you're paying a pretty penny for these cabinets. If you don't like what this guy is telling you, I'm sure you can find another who will make exactly what you want to spec. Of course, you might be paying more than you're paying now.
As far as samples go, I'd probably arrange a visit to a former client, because I doubt a small shop (which I'm guessing this is) has a lot of room to be storing samples. When I have made stuff for other people, I take a sample of the wood I'll be using, sand it down, and apply a test finish for approval.
I'm not in the business, and I've never ordered custom cabinets, so I don't know that is usual and customary as payment goes.
todd
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Thank Todd. I think you are right that he farms out the doors. He told me I can spec any width cabinets so I asked him if it's ok to make a cabinet width of 34-3/4" and he said sure, any width is fine. However that also changes the door width he farms out so this means whoever he works with can make any width door. If that's the case they should be able to make any width rail.
As far as samples I would like to see a sample of the door with the wood species and color applied just so there is no misunderstanding. I don't even mind paying for it. I also need to know if the drawers are constructed dove tailed, nailed or stapled, what the drawer bottom is made of, how far out the door swings (hinges) etc...so just a door is not really sufficient.
I went to Lowes and chose the top of the line cabinet and asked for the most premium options with solid wood drawers, and still he is more than twice the $ of the Lowes estimate. So I think I should be able to get a more custom door.
MC
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Not really. Places that make the doors mass-produce the rails and stiles for the doors. Yes, they can cut them to any length, but doing a different width is a whole different ballgame. These door places make their money by being efficient, and setting up to cut a special rail and stile width doesn't fall along those lines.

After reading your comments, I would suggest one of two things. Either a) find yourself a *big* custom cabinet shop. They will likely have all kinds of samples so you can look at their work to your heart's content. Be prepared to pay 150-200% of the custom number you have now. Or b) go back to Lowes. If you're dead set on getting cabinets that are not in 3-inch increments, ask Lowes if you can order a custom width cabinet. I don't know your kitchen layout, but if you were just going in between two wall, for example, you would only need one custom base and one custom wall cabinet...the rest could be standard. If you can get a custom width from Lowes, it will obviously be more expensive, but it will be much less expensive than your current quote.
todd
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me
That's an incorrect assumption. He may be ablt to buy doors in 1" increments and makes up the differnce in the face frame.

A while door in the species and finish is unreasonable... A sample hunk of wood sanded and finished is very reasonable. Seeing a same of the draware and case construction is very reasonable.

most
the
Have you priced any other custom guys?
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MiamiCuse wrote:

And what - if anything - will cover the raw plywood edges? Some people don't mind them but I can't abide them. ____________

Are the cases to be boxes or will they have face frames? That can make some difference in hardware as can the style of door (overlay, inset, partially inset). ________________

It depends solely on how much you are willing to spend. I'm sure you/he could find someone to make custom doors...buy wood, glue up to width, mill, assemble, finish.

Same answer ______________
--

dadiOH
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"MiamiCuse" wrote in message

a
the
a
First things first: Have you seen any of his work? DO NOT proceed unless you do ... pictures will do as long as you can verify them, but hands-on is better, particularly if you can talk to the owners at the same time. And make sure you have references and actually talk to them.
An OPTION (which will indeed give you a "custom job", which you are NOT getting in your original description):
Have him build and install the cabinet boxes to the agreed upon design (what size and grade of plywood, face frame or Euro?)
_You_ order the drawers, doors and drawer fronts from a third/fourth party, either on your own after getting the opening sizes, or with the advice and counsel of the cabinet maker ... preferably the latter.
There are many companies (the Internet shrinks the world for you) that do drawer boxes of solid wood, dovetailed like you want, if you would like to get away from plywood drawers.
You may have to go with another company for the doors and drawer fronts, maybe not. DAGS.
Here's one that does custon drawers to your spec and you can check on the prices online for the drawer sizes you need ... I am not recommending this company, just illustrating some of your online options:
http://www.udb.cc/CustomDrawerQuoteForm.aspx
VERY IMPORTANT: Consult with your cabinet maker beforehand and decide upon door HINGES and drawer SLIDES, _BEFORE_ you order doors, drawers and drawer fronts and make sure they are availabe ...THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT!.
VERY IMPORTANT: The SIZE (!!width, height and depth as well as the THICKNESS of the drawer material!!) of your drawer boxes are VERY dependent upon which DRAWER SLIDES you use ...THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT!
VERY IMPORTANT: the size (width and height) of the doors is dependent upon which DOOR HINGE you use and the OVERLAY you want ...THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT!

Work out something with him ... he probably has a preferred payment schedule.
Not unreasonable for a "turn key" project is 1/3rd down, 1/3rd upon installation of the boxes, final payment upon installation of the drawer's, doors, drawer fronts, associated hardware, FINISHING, and your TOTAL satisfaction ... but it's not a hard and fast rule. You want something you both can live with that will be comfortable for you and will give him incentive to finish the next step, including completing the job.
If he doesn't do the finishing, be sure to obtain some scrap from the cabinet maker, and door/drawer front vendor, to use for finish testing.
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On Sat, 13 Oct 2007 22:22:34 -0400, "MiamiCuse"

It sounds to me as though you've already found that your guy can not or will not customize to your specs. My suggestion would be to keep looking. If you still want the guy to do the carcasses, look for a door company on your own. Honestly, for the right price, someone will build those doors for you. Depending on your location you might also find a specialty shop that will build and finish the cabinets to your specs. We have a couple specialty kitchen shops in this area and we're not a large city. Both are known for their high prices but also have a good reputation for quality. I'm sure you could also find a cabinet shop that would build the boxes and doors for you but might not finish or do the installation. If you want to be your own contractor, these shops should save you money.

We have painters follow us so I don't really have to deal with the finish end. Normally they will pick up samples of the material we use and work out color and finish style for approval by the customer.
As far as looking at the type of construction of the boxes, we would take (or send) a customer to any number of jobs to see our product. Any company should be able to do the same and give you references.
Mike O.
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