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WARNING Do Not Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets

December 3rd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Rather than trying to build a set of custom made kitchen cabinets, consider getting cupboards from Home Depot instead. Why would I say that? Well, I’ve been fabricating kitchens for many years and unless you really know what you are doing, heed my WARNING, this is not a cakewalk of a job to undertake.

Visual Details for Building Plate Cabinet

Plate Display Cabinet

There are tricks in every trade and this industry is full of them. For instance, you are going to need to account for many things in your design. What kind of floor will you have? How thick is the flooring going to be? How big is a dishwasher opening size supposed to be? Can you align the sink dead center with the window. How big should walkways be around island base cabinets? What’s the standard height that uppers get installed? How much room is required for an over the range microwave?

The list of specifications goes on and on.

In the video below you can get an idea of the amount of space you will need and some of the tools required for making cupboards. At minimum, you are going to need all of the space that a two car garage will provide for fabricating the parts you are going to need.

If your mind is really set on building your own cabinets, I would suggest hiring a professional cabinet maker to at least help you with the design.

Now the keyword was “hire.”

Do not go out and cause someone to share all of their ideas and knowledge with you for nothing. People give FREE estimates in hopes of getting work. I don’t really care what you think about this. If you are just using a professional for their ideas, then you’re taking advantage of them and that’s JUST not right. It’s not “just the cost of doing business” either. It’s morally not right.

If you’re going to fabricate your own kitchen cabinets, only do so if you have plenty of finish carpentry skills. Just so you have an idea of what you will be getting into, it normally takes one to three hundred hours of work to complete a custom set of cabinets.

Those estimated cupboard manufacturing times are based on being a professional in the trade. It will take you a lot longer because you will be figuring things out as you go along.

Making cabinets can be so precise that even one sixty forth of an inch can make or break you at times. One mistake could cost you hundreds of dollars, especially if you are custom ordering doors.

There’s more to it than just building boxes. For instance, do you know how to account for floors, walls and ceilings being out of level? If you don’t there’s a possibility that your dishwasher, range or refrigerator will not fit right when you are finished with the installation.

If you do decide to build your own cupboards, follow these steps:

  1. Always double and triple check everything you are doing
  2. Make a complete set of drawings before ordering or cutting any materials
  3. Make detailed cut lists of all the parts needed per cabinet
  4. Cut everything at once
  5. Assemble everything at the same time
  6. Apply the laminate or finish work in an individual stage
  7. Hang doors and install special hardware in the final stages
  8. Hire someone to help you install them who knows the ropes

It’s important to maximize time by focusing on one task at a time until that phase is complete. If you don’t, you will be flipping back and forth and wasting a ton of time. I guess what I am saying is when you are building cabinets, don’t cut the parts for one box and then build it. Cut all the cabinet parts first and then assemble everything at the same time.

Building your own kitchen can be fun and rewarding or frustrating and disappointing. Just remember that cabinet making is a profession, just like being a physician. The only difference is that we are not practicing in the cabinet industry. Everything is done with specific purpose to achieve a desired, calculated outcome.

I really meant what I said about heeding my WARNING. The path of least resistance for you is going to be having professionals supply the cupboards you need. Making them yourself is just going to be one headache after another. Trust me on this one. We professional cabinet makers get frustrated with every kitchen cabinet set we build. There’s just no way to avoid the many obstacles that accompany building your own cabinets.

Categories: Cabinet Making
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