building your own kitchen cabinets

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Forum topic by Pabs posted 07-15-2010 05:45 PM 14374 views 1 time favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Pabs's profile


307 posts in 4420 days

07-15-2010 05:45 PM

hey all

we are about to build an in-law suite for my wife’s parents. project will likely start in October.
I’m looking for ways to save money on the job… problem is we are trying to get them in there as fast as possible since they are paying rent every month the suite is not finished means about 1000$ gone to the landlord., I can’t do it all.. I would, would be fun to build the entire thing but it’s just not realistic..
that being said I’m trying to figure out where I can do things that will save me money . I’ll build the deck for instance since there’s no rush for it and the saving on labor is substantial.
another area I thought I could do are the kitchen cabinets/pantry and bathroom vanity. as soon as I have plans I can start on them basically..meaning I could have them all done before the house even starts…
I’m wondering if any of you have ever done that built all the cabinets for a kitchen and how much do you truly save? I’m not afraid of the project but if I only end up saving a 100$ then it’s not really worth my time…

just curious if anyone ever did the math


-- Pabs

28 replies so far

View rhett's profile


743 posts in 4633 days

#1 posted 07-15-2010 06:05 PM

You can buy an entire set of manufactured cabinets for the price of the materials needed to make a low/midgrade set of cabinets.

What’s your time worth?

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View PurpLev's profile


8642 posts in 4614 days

#2 posted 07-15-2010 06:09 PM

+1 to rhett…

if you have the time and materials at hand – it would save money, plus you could custemise many things your way, but if you don’t have either – it’ll actually be more expensive to build it

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Pabs's profile


307 posts in 4420 days

#3 posted 07-15-2010 06:17 PM

I have the tools and skills needed,,,, my time…well, i enjoy woodworking so I can’t factor it in…it’s a hobby…keeps me out of the bars :)

-- Pabs

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7084 posts in 4160 days

#4 posted 07-15-2010 06:21 PM

Greetings Pabs,

I agree with rhett and Purplev….. I would go to Lowes or Home Depot and purchase the kitchen cabinets.
By the time you buy all the material and chase down parts, etc., you could have a lot of the cabinets already
installed…You’ll greatly save a bundle by doing the labor yourself….you’ll just be out the cost of the cabinets.

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 4663 days

#5 posted 07-15-2010 06:42 PM

All depend on what you want, if you want real wood do it youself, if you don’t mine press wood “imitation” covered with a tin coat of plywood and melamine you can buy at a lower cost.

View Jim's profile


49 posts in 4734 days

#6 posted 07-15-2010 07:36 PM

I’m currently building a complete set of cabinets, and even though I thought I knew how much was involved, there’s more. For instance: finishing. Doing it right makes all the difference, but it’s as much time and hassle as any other stage of the build, if not all of them put together. Doors and drawers are also very labor intensive, and the hardware costs are significant.

I’m getting cabinets that will be much better than I would have bought, so I’m glad I’m doing it. But I’ll know a lot more before I decide to do it again!

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12284 posts in 4395 days

#7 posted 07-15-2010 07:52 PM

Buy them!
Then replace with your own built cabinets.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5184 days

#8 posted 07-15-2010 07:55 PM

I agree with everyone else… making your own kitchen cabinets is something you should do if you want the pride of having done it yourself, exactly the way you want it done. But doing it to save money?...Not a good plan.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View patron's profile


13716 posts in 4307 days

#9 posted 07-15-2010 08:02 PM


i use them exclusively ,
check it out
they make the boxes and ship
you can make the doors and drawer faces from their size sheet ,
i never waited for more than two weeks for the delivery .
they have every cab known to man .
just have to buy the catalog and get a dealer # and the order has a coupon for your money back too .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3976 days

#10 posted 07-15-2010 08:19 PM

To save money, use prefab cabinets. The melamine/particleboard cabinets (e.g. Ikea) are used more and more in higher end condos and renovations in large cities. Younger people especially don’t seem to mind them and pay a premium for those kitchens when they are well done. A lot of well-known designers whose work is featured on TV and in magazines use them as a base to build on top of. The trick is to hack them and dress them up to look custom.

Whether you should consider particle/melamine or solid wood depends on your locality and what is common there, but either way prefab is the way to save money and time.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3889 days

#11 posted 07-15-2010 10:40 PM

If you have a local Habitat for Humanity store check them out. Sometimes they have some real buys(sometimes not) Otherwise Menards has some pretty nice items(quality is better than HD/Lowes on prefabs) Shop around and you can save.

-- Life is good.

View RedOakRomance's profile


11 posts in 3838 days

#12 posted 07-16-2010 02:01 AM

I built the cabinets for our house and definitely saved money. We were able to pay for the drywall, tile install, and corian countertops, plus the cost of cabinet materials, for the cost of just the cabinets from HD or Lowes. If you want basic cabinets to fill a space, I think the others are right about buying prefab. Also, if it’s a in-law suite, your efforts won’t likely be a long-term investment or an equity builder for your house, so your time and energy might be better spent elsewhere. Finally, it was great to make the cabinets exactly as we wanted (i.e., roll outs, full extension dove-tailed drawers with solid maple boxes, drawer depths and configurations exactly to our choosing, etc), but after I finished the project, I didn’t go into my shop for months because I was so burned out. Three years later, we’re now selling the house and the kitchen was a selling-point, but when people ask me if I’m sad to move after all that work, I say “no.”

-- "Life is good..."

View jackass's profile


350 posts in 4679 days

#13 posted 07-16-2010 02:04 AM

I built kitchen cabinets for our cottage years ago. I prefabbed them and used knotty cedar plywood. They turned out very nice, I think the key is to choose nice wood, I would use solid wood if I had it to do over. Go and see Arnold London of London Lumber, in Dieppe he carries exotics at reasonable prices. As for pricing I think you can save a bundle.

-- Jack Keefe Shediac NB Canada

View Pabs's profile


307 posts in 4420 days

#14 posted 07-16-2010 02:40 PM

so the theme seems to be if you go mid range and below, go with store bought…otherwise go with custom..

I would likely do mid range and up…but not sure yet…I’ll go over to the local stores and check prices

one thing that helps me is that I have a buddy who builds cabinets for a living and he would help me..he can get the materials a little cheaper and has access to all the tools… he told me if I gave him the dimensions he could have all the parts cut for me…that would save some of hassle…and if I git with melamine he even has a fancy tape gun for doing edges…
not 100% sure yet… and jackass…. I know of London Lumber…love that place!!! that’s where I buy all my hardwood…

thanks for the feedback, much appreciated!

-- Pabs

View patron's profile


13716 posts in 4307 days

#15 posted 07-16-2010 03:01 PM

pabs ,
here is cabparts

they will work any level you like ,
all their work is ready to assemble when it comes flat pelleted ,
just place sides together , apply hinge plates and runners ,
and either clue or confirmate together (your choice) ,
while they make the boxes ,
you make your doors and end panels any way you like ,
(they send you a door , drawer face size sheet when you order) ,
i don’t make boxes any more , but can make doors to match the style we need .
never had a problem , their work is to 1/64 th every time .
all the parts are tagged , edges-banded and clean (your choice of banding) ,
line bored , clean .
make your kicks and you are ready !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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