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!
"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"
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.
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
The doors on these bookcases are made from Poplar frames (1 5/8") with 1/4"
The small sink here is MDF.
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.
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.
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!
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
It's turtles, all the way down
So the tablesaw suggestions I sent will not work. So much for my
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.
James L Kilpatrick wrote:
> As I said, I'm a framer. I have a good circular saw, a good
> a good miter saw, and a good drill.
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.
James L Kilpatrick wrote:
> Now, that right there is a MUCH better design than the setup
> planning. Easier to clamp and more flexible, too. Thanks!
Thank Tom Silva of This Old House fame.
His idea, not mine.
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
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!
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.
doing a kitchen for my daughter-in-law that is taking a lot of time...
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.
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
With sore hands from removing all of 90SF of tile from his kitchen floor.
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!
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