Kitchen cabents using Mills Pride boxes and custom made doors / drawer fronts

I am remodeling a 50 year old house and installing new kitchen cabinetry, among other things.
I am always trying to figure out a more cost effective way to acheive a certain result and that has my mind at work in regards to acquiring cabinets.
I came up with the possibility of buying the Mills Pride brand of white cabinet boxes from home depot. These are the kind that you have to assemble yourself out of a box. Because Mill's Pride doesn't have a door style that I like, I thought I could go to one of the online sites that sell cabinet doors (do a search on Google for "wood cabinet doors" or just "cabinet doors") and have them make doors that would exactly work with the Home Depot boxes. I'm looking for a wood door (non thermofoil) that would be painted or stained very close to white.
After all, it seems that 80% of what separates a cheap cabinet from an expensive one is the doors. I know, plywood boxes are better than the melamine covered particle board, but I'm not planning on soaking them in water. . . I've used the Mills Pride cabinets before (box and doors) and they are really not that bad. It's the doors (and drawers) that matter most. They just don't have the door look that my wife desires.
It seems like if I could get the door maker to cut in the holes for the fancy hidden hinges that Mills Pride uses so that they line up with the predrilled holes in the boxes, it would look all right in that respect too.
I honestly haven't really priced it out carefully to see if you are really saving that much money by trying this, but I suspect that it could save some. It would have to be pretty good savings to be worth the hassle.
What do you think? Good idea, bad idea, any other ideas? Is there any place on line that sells kitchen cabinets at significantly better prices (lower markups) than the local shops or Lowes or Home Depot?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
David
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I'm in the process of doing this right now.The difference is I've built my own uppers and doors because I wanted a custom height and didn't want to deal with a custom order with H.D. I did get the lowers by Mills Pride from H.D. and am making a few drawer fronts and doors to match the uppers I designed.(I figured if I wanted a custom cabinet it would be good for a few tools from SWIUI) If the lower cabinets require doors, the hinges come with the base cabinets. Since you are going with a paintgrade door the cost may be less expensive than M.P. prices. If you are thinking of ordering them through the net do a Google search on kitchen cabinet doors and you'll find plenty of sites that will quote from the square footage. If you have a local cabinet maker available check his pricing,shipping isn't cheap. I do have a question.Since you are posting this question here have you considered making the doors yourself?No it probably won't be cheaper,but you have control over the finished product. One more thing about M.P. cabinets.If you go with their lowers,make sure to check out the type of drawer that comes with the unit. They use a "wire side drawer " in some of the lowers.This may come into consideration if you have someone else make the drawer fronts.I believe full drawers are available as an option.Another route to take is get the base cabinets without any hardware and build the drawers yourself. One word about the Blue box store.I originally bought some of their ready made cabinets that were similar to M.P.(melamine with wood doors) both units were broken in the box and returned them.I wasn't crazy about the RTA cabinets at first,but found them to be decent value for the money.No they are not the same quality as a build in place cabinet,but the Euro style system has been around for a while and a lot of cabinet shops are switching to that system.

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I'd be willing to entertain the idea of building the doors myself if there were enough hours in my day. I'm not sure that I can even justify the time of messing with everything I'm talking about here, as opposed to just turning it over to a cabinet shop or buying from H.D. or similar. I don't yet have the tools necessary to build any doors in an efficient manner.
On the Mills Pride base cabinets where you made the doors for them, did you have any trouble working with the hinges. Specifically, how did you drill out the hole in the door to accomodate the hinge? There must be a special tool just for that. Secondly, since the holes for the hinges are predrilled in the base cabinets, did you find it at all difficult to drill the holes in the doors so that the spacing would exactly correspond to that of the base cabinet? I imagine that there is consistency from one MP cabinet to another with respect to this.
Good luck with your project. It is interesting to see that someone else has tried this concept.

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David,
File this in the "for what its worth" department but last year I made 40, raised panel cabinet doors for SIL. Used ash for the frames and poplar for the panels (paint grade) and Euro hinges. Cost of raw materials was approx $300 for lumber, $100 for hinges, $50 misc (primer, paint, etc.). $450 Total
Did a comparison of buying unfinished, raised panel doors from HD. Cost came to just under $3K and still needed to buy the hinges and do the finishing.
So if you can make your own doors - you can save money but its a sweat equity trade-off.
Bob S.
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Looks like a pretty good trade off to me!

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What about faceframes ?? ?? ?? Usually, they match the doors/drawers !!
Ask your local cabinetmakers if they'll consider making you some unfinished cabinets .. .. .. most of them will, and at a substantially reduced price .. .. ..
David Jensen wrote:

-- I AM NOT PARANOID .. .. .. but EVERYONE thinks I am !! !! !!
<<<__ Bob __>>>
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The Mills Pride ready to assemble cabinets are the European style, and without face frames.

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Good approach. I have used MP cabinets for 3-5 FL oceanfront condo remods in the last 3 yrs. I buy, fix up and resell these condos at prices up to $510K. All of the kitchens have been with MP. The key to the approach is to have a good design. After that, the buyer doesn't care what the boxes are built out of. I have made over $500K in the last 3 yrs with this approach. The Depot folks don't like it when you do it this way since they want to sell their other cabinet lines.
MP is stronger than their American Woodmark line and has more useable inside space. If you can get by without the dovetailed drawers then your approach works. Then load the boxes with pull out trash cans, lazy susans, pantry inserts from Hafele or Feeny for the true custom look. This stuff will cost more than the boxes and doors but will make your project look better than a custom cabinet maker. These are the same internals they use. Don't use Rev-a-shelf plastic stuff. Then your rehab will look cheap.
You are on the right track with your question. Remember the kitchen design is the key...Purists and cabinet shops will bad mouth your idea but in the end you will laugh all the way to the bank.
One of my other rehab buddies did the same thing with MP boxes and WoodMode custom doors he bought in a closeout. You have to be creative with the MP product line sometimes (use dishwasher panels for custom sizes or cut down larger versions. Also buy a euro hinge jig which will allow you to match both cup holes to the MP sides. Only $40-50 from Woodworker Supply plus the 35mm bit.
Right now I am redoing my home kitchen using the MP maple boxes and having custom doors made (walnut rails and stiles and raised maple panel) from one of the internet door makers. Cost savings will be huge. I built my own doors as a test and found the glue up time/effort to be non productive. BTW I am also custom sizing the 42" wall cabinets to 39 for ceiling and moulding clearance issues. Just use a biscuit joiner to join the mystery wood.
Another benefit is you can do the remodel without attracting much attention. The boxes can be wheeled in and stored in a small amount of space without curious neighbors and inspectors showing up to check on work.
Stick with your approach. It works.
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You're probably right ... I completely forgot that the whole idea in this day and age is to do it on the cheap, make it look otherwise, while making as much profit as you can from the unsuspecting buyer. Sounds like one of the f*cking hamburger franchises.
No doubt that's why most of us here got into woodworking.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 7/28/03
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My thoughts exactly. This guy must've done the original cabinets in my kitchen. House isn't even 10 years old and the cabinets need to be replaced because the cheesy 3/8 particle board casework is coming apart. Doors look pretty though.
Truly the era of caveat emptor ...
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