Material for homebuilt cabinets?

Page 1 of 3  
Hello, all!
I've been lurking this group for a few weeks now, and many thanks for all the tips I've picked up so far. I'm a framing carpenter, and I've just dried in a house for myself. (to live in, not to sell) I've decided that I can get away with building my own set of cabinets, since SWMBO is both practical and thrifty almost beyond belief.
The set is to be face frame, and painted with brush and roller. I think I've got the construction pretty well worked out, but I've got one question that needs to be addressed pretty soon, namely, what material for the doors and drawer faces?
This set will be pretty plain, with just rounded over 3/4" thick overlaid doors and faces. The choices I seem to have locally are: 3/4" veneer cored birch ply, and 3/4" MDF cored birch panel.
My problem is that I don't have any real experience with finishing either of these. I'd expect that the ply will have some voids and grain structure on the rounded edge that will need filling and sanding, but will it be so much that the time involved will be ridiculous? Likewise, I'd expect that the MDF panel will have a fair amount of "fur" on the rounded edge that will need to be sanded down. Should the MDF be hit with something like sanding sealer and smoothed before painting?
I've never tried to paint the edges of either product, so I'd sure like to hear some of your experiences. Thanks!
Luke Kilpatrick.
"Well I've been to one Worlds Fair, a picnic and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones!" --Maj.Kong, "Dr Strangelove"
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 04 Mar 2007 02:45:39 GMT, James L Kilpatrick

You don't want to edge profile plywood, even painted you'll still see the laminations. Poplar is pretty much the standard cheap hardwood that takes paint well.
-Leuf
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Leuf wrote:

I plan to use poplar for the face frames, but since I don't have a jointer, I don't think I can glue up panels of poplar for the doors. That leaves sheet goods of some kind. I've seen both plywood and MDF core used in cabinets, so I know it "can" be done, even if it's not the preferred material. I'm basically just trying to minimize the amount of work to finish the edges of whatever I end up using.
Thanks!
Luke
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You can borrow mine (6" Jet) if you're in driving distance of Bowie MD USA. I'm working on some software projects & haven't made significant sawdust for a couple months.
-- Mark
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mark Jerde wrote:

Awfully nice of you to offer! Unfortunately, I live way down in Alabama, so no can do.
Thanks! Luke
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I would think that a frame and panel arrangement would be better. MDF will be heavy and will require some type of hinge stronger than a regular cabinet hinge. The doors on these bookcases are made from Poplar frames (1 5/8") with 1/4" plywood panels. http://tinyurl.com/3372z7
The small sink here is MDF. http://tinyurl.com/27jeak
Max
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Max wrote:

Hmmm..
SWMBO has given me one mandate. The doors MUST be flat and featureless. It's a cleaning issue. I'm starting to wonder about flush framing 1/2" ply with Poplar now, as the consensus is to avoid the edge problems of ply.
Can that be done without a biscuit joiner, or should I bite the bullet and get one? The gaps I can fill, as long as I get the faces flush.
Thanks! Luke
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

this is the way to go. you don't need a biscuit jointer for this at all. rip up the solid stock for edging to about 1/4" wider than the ply is thick, by about 1/2" thick. spread both mating surfaces with glue, center it on the edge and "clamp" it with strips of masking tape about every 3" or so. when the glue dries, trim the edges flush with a router, block plane, belt sander, scraper or whatever tool you prefer for such tasks. don't bother trying to miter the corners. they will be hidden under the paint. do 2 sides with the panel a bit oversize, trim and do the other 2.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

OK, I'm getting onboard with the framed doors, but RIGHT NOW, I should disclose my toolset.
As I said, I'm a framer. I have a good circular saw, a good router, a good miter saw, and a good drill. I have a framing square, straight edges, tape measures, and chalk lines. I carry a sharp chisel on me at all times. With the tools I've just listed, I'm quite good. I plan to do all my sawing with the handheld circular saw, except that I'll be using a straightedge or saw guide, instead of freehanding it, as I normally do.
The whole reason for building my own is to save money. I can spend a little, say $300 for tooling, without screwing the budget. I've considered a cheap table saw, but haven't convinced myself yet. (I HATE cheap tools) I have already allocated money ( $150), for clamps.
I know it's crazy to try building cabinets with these tools, but I'm crazy. Just ask anyone who knows me! I'm not looking to put cabinet shops out of business, just to get my cabinets to look half decent.
As long as they're small accent lines, I can probably talk SWMBO into a v-groove at the joint of ply and poplar.
With all that in mind, here's another question. Cheap table saw? Yes or no. I can hold 1/16" tolerance freehand for 8' with my trusty Milwaukee, so take that into account.
This is fun, by the way. Thanks!
Luke
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
James L Kilpatrick wrote:

IMO, even a cheap table saw will outperform a circular saw with guides, unless you want to spring for the fancy Festool one. Look for a refurbished DeWalt, Porter-Cable, or Bosch benchtop table saw - or a good used one if you're lucky.
-- It's turtles, all the way down
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

So the tablesaw suggestions I sent will not work. So much for my assumptions!
No jointer means needing to clean up the joints with a handplane. A #5, or better, a #6, sharpened, would be nice. That's $175 for one nice enough for a tradesman to use, unless you've already scrounged and tuned an old one. Then it's maybe half for a pre=WWII Stanley.
Your router screwed down to a piece of 3/4 plywood, with a straight fence will be useful, portable and storable. And removeable for when you need it for framing work. You coud still do the splines.
Doing your own cabinets makes a lot of sense, and not just financially. It's a pride thing, and an extension of skills. I'm going to guess that there are a lot more cabinet makers still working their full hours into their sixties than there are framers. The more you can do, the longer you can do it, and for more people.
I'll tell you one other thing, from personal experience: It's great, after 35 years, to be doing something other than the work I did in my early twenties. Really, really great. Nothing wrong with the old stuff, but learning something new, pretty regularly helps drive boredom away. That's important to some of us.
Have fun with your project, and much success to you, both.
Patriarch
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
James L Kilpatrick wrote:
> As I said, I'm a framer. I have a good circular saw, a good > router, > a good miter saw, and a good drill. <snip>
A good circular saw and a simple jig is all you need to make cuts suitable for glue ups.
Start with a piece of 1/4 ply, say 12 x 48.
Glue on a piece of 1/2 ply, say 4 x 48 that is centered on the 1/4 ply.
Now run you saw down one side of the of the 1/2 using the narrow side of the plate, then run saw down the other side of the 1/2 using the wide side of the plate.
Add a couple of 3" C-Clamps and you now have a cutting jig that will give dead nuts results.
Have fun.
Lew
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Lew Hodgett wrote:

Now, that right there is a MUCH better design than the setup I was planning. Easier to clamp and more flexible, too. Thanks!
Luke
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
James L Kilpatrick wrote:
> > Now, that right there is a MUCH better design than the setup I was > planning. Easier to clamp and more flexible, too. Thanks!
Thank Tom Silva of This Old House fame.
His idea, not mine.
Lew
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Patriarch wrote:

The homemade router table is almost ready now, and I think I know where I can get my hands on a decent plane. At least, I think it's in good shape, but I'm not knowledgeable on planes (yet).
As for having a diversity of skills, I couldn't agree more! My main problem is that the skills I've developed "on the side" aren't necessarily great money makers. I'm a pretty decent potter, for instance, but unless you live in a tourist mecca, that's a ticket to the poorhouse. Same for my bladesmithing abilities.
On the other hand, the broad range of skills and knowledge comes in handy in almost everything I try to do, so I'm far from depressed over these "unused" skills.
Thanks for your kind words!
Luke
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<snip>

You can do it with a biscuit jointer, and spend a huindred and a half, or with a router table, and spend $30 on the slot cutting bit, and use splines. Or your full kerf table saw blade, and use splines there, too.
But I'd use something. I think I'd plan on an 'interest groove' there, too, but just slight. Much easier than trying to disguise it, but not enough to cause a cleaning problems, when painted.
Patriarch, doing a kitchen for my daughter-in-law that is taking a lot of time...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 04 Mar 2007 05:43:11 GMT, James L Kilpatrick

Melamine with iron-on edge banding. Or have melamine doors and drawer fronts made by one of the many mail-order shops.
Go to a local Home Depot or Lowes and look at the white "Thermofoil" doors. You'll see what I mean.
If you're worried about weight, use a third hinge.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You will burn a lot of time getting edge grain plywood to look even half decent. I wouldn't trust the MDF cored plywood to handle dings and scrapes--they do happen in a kitchen.
I'd go for the solid wood poplar for my choice.
Or--is there a cabinet shop that owes you a favor? Ask them to build the doors and drawer faces, to your dimensions, and you install and finish them. They can probably build them for what you will have to pay for material.
Good luck--even a small kitchen is a big project, especially in your spare time.
Old Guy With sore hands from removing all of 90SF of tile from his kitchen floor.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Old guy wrote:

Five years ago, I'd have had a great guy to go to. A real old-time craftsman made cabinets for us for years, and he's just the best fellow you could ever want to meet. He just retired last year, though. Long past time for it, too. He crewed a tank destroyer in WWII!
It's a big project for sure. I was happy to find, though, as I planned it out, that the cabinets naturally divided into relatively small units. I originally had this vision of me trying to wrestle 12' stretches around as I tried to get them assembled, painted, etc.
Speaking of tiles, I'm planning to tile the counters. 1/2" ply underlayment with backer board on top of the cabinets, followed by ceramic tile. any special advice on sealing, anyone?
Thanks for the input!
Luke
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"James L Kilpatrick" wrote

I tiled this countertop 20 years ago. I used silicone grout sealer to seal the grout. The underlayment is 3/4" MDO.
http://tinyurl.com/yw78bd
Max
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.