Reply by Mike_D_S

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Posted on Remodel Woodworking - Cabinets, Built-ins, Doors

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596 posts in 2722 days

#1 posted 01-05-2019 02:40 PM

I’ll echo OldCharlie’s comments about figuring out whether you are after (A) furniture grade, labor of love, show off to your woodworking buddies, be the envy of your neighbors cabinets OR (B) do you want to have solid reliable cabinets that you built yourself and will take pride in that will still impress your neighbors simply because you did it yourself?

One of those is a multi-year journey averaging 10 hours a week for a relatively novice cabinet maker and the other is a manageable project in under a year at the same 10 hours a week.

Inset doors and drawers put you into A due to the need to be very disciplined for squareness and the fitting required. Overlay doors and drawers can be B as they are slightly more forgiving.

For tools it depends a lot on where you live and what available supply houses you have. Here in Houston, there are several places that cater to cabinet makers and I can buy S3S or even S4S material for face frames already jointed and planed. But the wood types are the common stuff, so once again type B cabinets. I can also get pre-finished plywood and drawer side stock that minimizes the need to spray the cab and drawer boxes to finish.

If you can get those materials, then you have most of the tools you need except for a router table for making the doors and a dead flat assembly table for putting things together.

Plan on spending a fair amount of time building jigs and setup aids. For example instead of trying to dado on the table saw, use your router. But instead of using a straight edge and a tape measure on each piece, put together a plywood guide with some fences on two sides. Then you slide the piece you want to dado so it registers against two sides and cut the slot. You want this process to be a ‘measure once very very carefully and then cut a bunch of times exactly the same’. And you’ll need one guide setup for each dado you are going to make, but it’ll really help with repeatability.

For layout software, I recommend you try cabinet planner. It’s inexpensive ($99 I think), takes a little time to learn, but can produce very competent cut lists and material layouts. It’s pretty flexible as well in terms of configuring the cabinets.

One additional piece of advice is building good cabinets takes practice. So if you think you want to build kitchen cabinets, then build a run of 3 or 4 different cabinets for your garage, shed, or for a neighbor’s garage. Use Poplar for the face frames and doors and less expensive ply. This step will tell you whether you are really up to the DIY path or not in your house. And it will give you a relative idea of how long it will take.

Last comment is to watch the series of videos from Kris Reynolds. He has a good mix of details and talking through the process to build an inset door cabinet that I think you’d find useful to help your thought process.


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