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Remodel Woodworking - Cabinets, Built-ins, Doors

by rossn
posted 12-28-2018 12:10 AM


20 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1457 posts in 3354 days


#1 posted 12-28-2018 03:19 AM

There is no way to answer this question without knowing how well you’re equipped with tools to complete these jobs. A simple deciding question would be do you have a TS, jointer, planer and at least 3 routers with matched rail & stile sets for cabinet & entry doors? If you’re well equipped then the next question I would have is do you have an CAD or sketchup experience to completely draw out the project prior to starting? Lastly what is your timeline for completion, how do you measure time consumption?

From my experience, I just completed redoing all of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts for the kitchen and 3 bathrooms, a bit over 40 pieces. I did full layout drawings in Sketchup to generate cut lists and cut diagrams for sheet goods. Of those 40 pieces, I screwed up two door measurements and had to remake, 1 door twisted a bit in glue up, re did that one two. All in all, woodworking from rough stock to assembled pieces took 3 full days in the shop. Applying the painted finish, (had to match existing cabinets) took a bit over two weeks start to finish before I could install the new doors & drawers.

I do not claim expert status, but I’m very familiar with my tools and set ups for the doors. My reason for doing the build myself was that it would be a bit more than $3k to have the doors made and delivered ready to install vs. $350 for materials and some tools to do the work myself.

With good attention to detail, strong skills in measuring and layout, PLUS the patience to do multiple practice set ups yes you can do this and you’re the only one who can decide whether or not it’s crazy. For me if I had to do this again, I would be strongly considering writing a $3k check.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5733 posts in 2998 days


#2 posted 12-28-2018 11:32 AM

I have to agree with ChefHDAN’s assessment, it’s very hard to provide input with the limited information. With a reasonably equipped place to work, it wouldn’t be that hard….but that effort would be on top of everything you’re doing. So the balancing of time amongst the various jobs would be very tough.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Carvendive's profile

Carvendive

21 posts in 299 days


#3 posted 12-28-2018 02:19 PM

Like already said, it depends. But not just on tools.

Psych / social
Because it’s a large project involving (I think) your residence, you and possibly others will have to live through it. Can you survive that? Even if you’re living off site, expectations vs reality can cause problems. Also, your time will now be with your tools and shop, not with your family and friends (unless they participate). My wife was great. As long as there was steady progress she was fine. I know others who’ve ended up divorced over small remodel projects. We designed and built a Victorian complete with all the moldings and carvings. It took us 5 years of all our days off and all our vacation. We enjoyed it and had TREMENDOUS pride once it was completed. OUR CO-WORKER THOUGHT, AND TOLD US THAT WE WERE NUTS! But for us it worked.

Tools.
Some are must have and others are a waste DEPENDING ON your knowledge and experience. I don’t own (never have) a joiner. I use the table saw. I don’t use a shaper. My molder handles that plus moldings plus planning (but I do own a planner as well). Doing Shaker design will reduce your need for router profile bits. And, if you do mortice and tendon
or have a dowel boring tool you may not even need them.

Design
I do all mine on paper. I do my parts list and cutout maps by hand. (I use it be the shop foreman at a large commercial cabinet / fixture shop where part of my job was to generate cut / layout lists along with production process layouts. After a while you can turn out cut lists just as fast as a computer plus you end up “seeing” the piece in your head making assembly a breeze.)

-- Life without labor is guilt. Labor without art is brutality.

View rossn's profile

rossn

29 posts in 298 days


#4 posted 12-28-2018 03:09 PM

Hi All,

Thanks taking the time to provide your feedback – which is really helpful in thinking this through!

Yes, yes – good point on the impacts of living through it, time away from family, and endurance/social/etc. This project is already moving very slow, as we’re a year in. The upstairs of the home is already fully partitioned off from the rest of the home. Some of my thoughts about this included being able to finish the actual construction work and come back later to finish the doors, vanities, etc which I could do at a more leisurely pace (hopefully not multiple years). I.e. I don’t have to have interior doors on my daughter’s room to have her living in it (though it would be nice :)

While there would definitely be both satisfaction and cursing myself going on with the process, the real driver for the work would be to save $ (since my remodel is way over budget) and learn the skills such that with a future remodel of the upstairs I could do the same (since that’s a few years out, I could start building the full kitchen cabinets, doors, etc in advance.

I do have AutoCAD and basic experience with it, as I drew up the house plans, though haven’t done much 3D… it’s been a few decades since I used ProE for solid modeling, though I don’t think it will be that hard in AutoCAD.

Shopwise, the tools I have that could be considered wood working are:
- Makita LS1013 10” sliding compound miter saw
- Dewalt 7491RS Jobsite table saw
- Bosch 1617EVSPK Router
- Festool TS55 Tracksaw with 3 tracks
- Belt and orbital hand sanders
- Good quality Moisture Meter

I’d probably plan on acquiring from Craigslist or new:
- Free standing drill press
- 14” band saw
- Dust collection
- Planer

If truly needed, add a jointer and other sanders. If a joinery setup for doweling/domino is needed or to speed things up, that is possible (though still trying to maintain a budget).

I’d also look to make something like the Paulk total station for a compact shop area (I basically have a dedicated 10×13.5 space that connects to another 20×10 flex bay of the garage where I can roll tools, etc).

Hopefully this helps paint a little better picture.

Thanks!

View skatefriday's profile

skatefriday

452 posts in 1987 days


#5 posted 12-28-2018 06:31 PM

This is funny. You sound like me about 5 years ago.

I decided to build my own cabinets because I didn’t feel like I could find anyone I could trust to build them for me. It wasn’t a money issue as much as a “I got a different story from every cabinet maker I called” story. I had dabbled in woodworking but nothing ever serious. I naively thought it would take me 6 to 9 months to finish.

It took 3 years.

My first big purchase was a Grizzly 1023RLW. My second was a 6” jointer. IMHO a good table saw, jointer and planer are necessary. I tried to get by without a jointer at the start, then went cheap with a benchtop jointer, then threw it all away and bought a decent Grizzly jointer with a spiral cutting head. (Tearout was a problem (actually continues to be a problem with my planer)). I want a good planer. Anyone got one to sell in Southern California?

I built two bathroom vanities as practice cabinets before starting on the kitchen cabinets. I designed each cabinet in Autodesk Inventor (crucial for getting dimensions and cut lists correct), and then built the cabinets one at a time and staged them in my living room until they were all finished and we were ready for the kitchen demo.

Photo of one of the cabinets during the install is here…

http://lumberjocks.com/replies/4016753

It can be done, but expect it to take longer than you think.

View skatefriday's profile

skatefriday

452 posts in 1987 days


#6 posted 12-28-2018 06:42 PM

I see your example uses inset face frames. While I love the way mine came out, the first time I set a drawer front it took 8 hours to get where I wanted it to be. I probably would have done full overlay had I known inset was going to be as difficult and time consuming as it turned out to be.

I also tried to do tongue and groove joinery for the fronts on the table saw at the start. Made lots of firewood then bought a nice tongue and groove router bit set to go in the router extension of my table saw. Made that job much easier.

Also used 3/4” classic core prefinished plywood and pocket screw joinery for all carcasses. The prefinished stuff at my supplier was about $10 a sheet more than the unfinished stuff and saved a huge amount of time. Pocket screws get a bad rap but are perfectly adequate for this purpose. Also used pocket screws (gasp!) for face frames.

Drawers use blind rabbets (no fasteners). And all doors and drawer fronts are tongue and groove.

View Jared_S's profile

Jared_S

219 posts in 464 days


#7 posted 12-29-2018 09:19 PM

If you have a few years to work on it.. sure it can be done.

I would consider more tooling (planer, joiner, cabinet or hybrid table saw, a couple festool or Mirka sanders (Dynabrades if you have enough air) two more routers (one cope, one sticking and a 3+hp for panels (assuming reverse raised like a proper shaker panel)

Then finishing, you will need some sort of spray setup something along the lines of a fuji 4 stage.

Then space for storage (and finishing)

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1457 posts in 3354 days


#8 posted 12-30-2018 02:07 PM


Then finishing, you will need some sort of spray setup something along the lines of a fuji 4 stage.
Then space for storage (and finishing)
- Jared_S

I actually good good results with a roller using Joey's advice here on his channel The majority of the time for the finish was the sanding between coats. I’ve got an HLVP set up, but at the time it was very hot & humid here in Southern MD and the product I was using was very expensive. I was able to set up a large work station in my basement so all of the items could be laid out at one time, and I could get a coat on all of the surfaces in about 30 minutes, followed by at least 6 hours of drying and then hours of sanding

The island and end panels are still in progress

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View OldCharlie's profile

OldCharlie

13 posts in 287 days


#9 posted 12-31-2018 02:16 AM

I would suggest you learn the difference between commercial cabinet construction and furniture grade cabinet construction first then make the design decision. For me (not really an expert tho I did have a cabinet shop for several years) the difference is that the furniture grade cabinetry is a time multiplier of about 5.
You have detailed a considerable amount of work and if you are working full time as well you can plan on not having a life for quite a while or stretching it out over several years.
Do try to have fun with it. If I were starting a project like this I would definitely consider the pocket hole system for some of the work.

-- Oldcharlie

View skatefriday's profile

skatefriday

452 posts in 1987 days


#10 posted 12-31-2018 02:28 AM



If you have a few years to work on it.. sure it can be done.

I would consider more tooling (planer, joiner, cabinet or hybrid table saw, a couple festool or Mirka sanders (Dynabrades if you have enough air) two more routers (one cope, one sticking and a 3+hp for panels (assuming reverse raised like a proper shaker panel)

Then finishing, you will need some sort of spray setup something along the lines of a fuji 4 stage.

Then space for storage (and finishing)

- Jared_S

I ended up buying an Earlex HVLP sprayer after having to remake 4 drawer fronts due to a bad finish job. The Earlex did a satisfactory job.

View rossn's profile

rossn

29 posts in 298 days


#11 posted 01-05-2019 01:50 PM

All, Happy New Year! Thanks for all the comments, feedback, and tips.

Skatefriday and Chefdan—those cabinets look great!!

OldCharlie—yes, your comment highlights how little I know about cabinets, and since I’ve now been trying to educate myself, I can start to see how many construction differences there are. I’m not 100% clear yet on commercial cabinet construction, but can say that I would only want to use solid wood on the doors & drawer fronts and visible surfaces, I would be OK using nice plywood for the not visible carcass and for the rest of the drawers (and don’t mind the drawer front being mounted to a rough drawer that already has a ‘front’). Would definitely be looking for cabinets that have the continuous look, without face framing showing. I’m sure this only makes it more complicated :) Based on this, am I in the 5x effort camp of furniture grade?

Finishing—yes, that is one area that is daunting to me. I don’t mind buying some equipment to do the job right, since I could probably make good use of it otherwise.

I’m still trying to conceptualize what is meant by ‘years’. Is this ‘years’ at 6, 2, or 40 hours per week? I fully expect it will take me 3-5x as long to build something the first time as a pro would take, if I expect quality results. Roughly how many hours of working time would a professional take to build a 5’ wide hanging vanity that has say 2 smaller drawers and 4 cabinet doors?

Speaking of doors… no one touched that topic! How much time can one invest in building a high quality interior 3-panel shaker door?

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

596 posts in 2719 days


#12 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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3uOkMK4UqM

Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View skatefriday's profile

skatefriday

452 posts in 1987 days


#13 posted 01-05-2019 05:08 PM

Mike has excellent advice that mirrors a lot of what I went through when building my cabinets.

However I found that S3S lumber I could get from my supplier(s) was not true enough to satisfy my quality requirements. I still had to joint and plane it to get it within the tolerances for square and flat (it mostly had a tendency to cup and twist). So I have a 2004 era Ridgid planer and a newish Grizzly 6” jointer.

I spent probably 40% of total time either building something to help build the cabinets, assembly table, many, many various jigs, or cleaning organizing my shop because I can’t do quality work in a disorganized and dirty shop.

My 3 years was in weekends and holidays. Sept through April a little less as Saturdays were typically taken. I’d estimate about 150 days though total would be about right.

I did two practice cabinets for a bathroom before starting on kitchen cabinets. That was invaluable. In retrospect I can’t imagine the kitchen cabinets coming out like they did if I had not done the practice cabinets. The practice cabinets look ok, but I learned so much while doing them that I applied to the kitchen cabinets. Very, very good advice by Mike there.

View skatefriday's profile

skatefriday

452 posts in 1987 days


#14 posted 01-05-2019 05:13 PM

Addendum: Before buying the jointer I wasted a massive amount of time trying to joint acceptably with various other methods. None worked well, and all too serious sinks of time. Should have bought the jointer much earlier.

I’d recommend frame and panel doors and drawer fronts. Solid wood will warp. If you want a sleek look you can do a really good quality plywood with edge banding. If you did that your build would be much, much faster as you are just cutting rectangles for all the fronts.

And I’m fortunate to live in an area with three plywood suppliers that serve the professional cabinet making trade within 15 minute drives. Find one near you and make friends with one of the sales people. Be nice. Don’t destroy their lumber stacks. Let them know what you are doing and they will likely treat you well.

View Jared_S's profile

Jared_S

219 posts in 464 days


#15 posted 01-05-2019 05:29 PM



Speaking of doors… no one touched that topic! How much time can one invest in building a high quality interior 3-panel shaker door?

- rossn

3 panel?

You mean two mid rails?

Overlay on inset? If inset Euro or butt hinges?

Ply, mdf of reverse raised solid wood panels?

Cope and stick, mortise and tenon, domino, pocket screws?

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

596 posts in 2719 days


#16 posted 01-05-2019 06:06 PM

I can usually get stock of good enough quality from the local suppliers that I really don’t need to use a jointer or planer, but I go into it accepting that I’m throwing out some of the wood. Even a piece that has a cup or warp can be cut down for smaller door or cabinet rails so you can usually find a way to use most of it. But it does require looking through all the stock and planning ahead.

Since you already have the track saw and track, then you can definitely do the required jointing with just the track saw guide rail and a router adapter (Festool router guide adapter for example). The various models run well under $100 and are useful for other things later.

You can use the normal trick and clamp the two pieces to be jointed face up and slightly less than the router bit’s width apart. Then when you set the track on top to joint, you’ll cut a perfectly matched side on both pieces at the same time. So even if the rail is curved or not perfectly square it doesn’t matter as both sides will have the same irregularity. Takes some extra organization to track which pieces butt up against which and what are the front faces, but you can easily prepare panels this way.

These aren’t traditional techniques, but the kind of thing I’ve picked doing on site repairs, etc where I don’t have access to the standard tools anyway.

Regarding the doors, there is essentially no difference building a 3 panel door than a single panel door except for two things:
1. You need two extra rails and both of those rails get slotted for the panels on both sides.
2. You absolutely need to rig up another jig to help assembly so that you get the additional rails installed square and at the same height for every door. You can be off 1/8 or 1/4” from even spacing if all the doors are the same. But if you install some of the middle rails 1/8” higher or lower than the next door, that’ll catch the eye every time.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

596 posts in 2719 days


#17 posted 01-05-2019 06:13 PM

I forgot to add one more thing. If I’m staining, I always stain the panels before assembling the doors so that if the panel shifts, it won’t expose bare wood.

If I’m painting, then I shoot a couple of short brads from the back of the door to lock the panel in place. Normally at the middle of the top and bottom since I pretty much always make my panels with vertical long grain. Then a little filler over the brad head and paint away.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Jared_S's profile

Jared_S

219 posts in 464 days


#18 posted 01-05-2019 07:17 PM

2. You absolutely need to rig up another jig to help assembly so that you get the additional rails installed square and at the same height for every door. You can be off 1/8 or 1/4” from even spacing if all the doors are the same. But if you install some of the middle rails 1/8” higher or lower than the next door, that ll catch the eye every time.

- MikeDS

layout marks work just as well In my opinion. Short of pantry cabinets how many multi panel cab doors do you see in a kitchen..

Ah.. just realized the op was talking about passage doors.

Don’t do it. It will be cheaper easier faster and less stressful to buy them. Unless you have a couple shapers and or a tenoner.

View Richard's profile

Richard

11307 posts in 3537 days


#19 posted 01-06-2019 10:27 PM



There is no way to answer this question without knowing how well you re equipped with tools to complete these jobs. A simple deciding question would be do you have a TS, jointer, planer and at least 3 routers with matched rail & stile sets for cabinet & entry doors? If you re well equipped then the next question I would have is do you have an CAD or sketchup experience to completely draw out the project prior to starting? Lastly what is your timeline for completion, how do you measure time consumption?

From my experience, I just completed redoing all of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts for the kitchen and 3 bathrooms, a bit over 40 pieces. I did full layout drawings in Sketchup to generate cut lists and cut diagrams for sheet goods. Of those 40 pieces, I screwed up two door measurements and had to remake, 1 door twisted a bit in glue up, re did that one two. All in all, woodworking from rough stock to assembled pieces took 3 full days in the shop. Applying the painted finish, (had to match existing cabinets) took a bit over two weeks start to finish before I could install the new doors & drawers.

I do not claim expert status, but I m very familiar with my tools and set ups for the doors. My reason for doing the build myself was that it would be a bit more than $3k to have the doors made and delivered ready to install vs. $350 for materials and some tools to do the work myself.

With good attention to detail, strong skills in measuring and layout, PLUS the patience to do multiple practice set ups yes you can do this and you re the only one who can decide whether or not it s crazy. For me if I had to do this again, I would be strongly considering writing a $3k check.

- ChefHDAN

I agree with this one!

Rick S

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View OldCharlie's profile

OldCharlie

13 posts in 287 days


#20 posted 01-12-2019 12:55 AM

Awesome! The wealth of experience and good advice in this thread is why I am excited to be part of this site. I have built a lot of cabinets and desks and such using plywood cases and solid wood face frames and doors. Most of them are still in use and still solid after 30+ years. I have installed hundreds of solid wood frame and panel cabinet doors and have replace three because of warping over the years. It is wood and it doesn’t always act as we expect, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

I have worked in Oak, Maple, Birch, Poplar, Cherry, Ash and a handful of exotics. I have manufactured the frame and panel doors myself and purchased them from a commercial cabinet shop. My experience is that it cost me less (if you count your own labor) to purchase them from a commercial shop, but I enjoy making them myself when profit is not part of the equation. Just my $.02.

-- Oldcharlie

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