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Old 11-29-2008, 10:03 AM   #1
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diy built-in kitchen cabinets


My smallish kitchen is in need of a complete redo and I'd like to do it myself. I'm considering building in the cabinets (a few upper cabinets, but mostly base cabinets). The way I envision doing this is by constructing framing using, say, 2 x 2s and 2 x 4s. Then I will put plywood over the exposed ends and countertop. Next, I will do the face framing and, finally, I might wimp out and purchase the cabinet doors.

I see several advantages to this approach.

1) Cost. I believe I can get high-quality unfinished doors for less $1k and everything else (except, perhaps, the counter top) is going to be cheap.
2) Maximum utilization of space. We have very limited space, and boxes would waste several cubic feet of storage.
3) Once the framing is up and the countertop is done, the kitchen would be usable. I think I could get to this point in a matter of days. Of course, the cabinets would be "open air" until the finish work was done, but at least it would be usable while I was doing the detail work---which is bound to take some time.
3) I can probably recycle the drawers from the current cabinets (of course, I'd get new fronts to match the cabinet doors). Everything else in the current kitchen would go.
4) I own a quality mitre saw and router (with table). I think this approach will make good use of my tools and abilities.

I don't see any real disadvantages to my approach. However, I don't see any talk of this sort of thing on the DIY sites, which seems kind of strange.

So, I'm wondering if any of you have any thoughts. Is this a brilliant idea, totally bonkers, or somewhere in between? Thanks.

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Old 11-29-2008, 10:39 AM   #2
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loads of options for you, for sure! if you have the time and ability, go for it, if you want a cheaper, easier way, try habitat for humanity ReStore if there is one in your area. they usually have nice cabinets that usually just need 'cleanup' to be ready to install. auctions are great too. i paid $30 apiece for ten oak door/framed cabinets and just did a light sand and revarnish. good as new! play safe and have fun!

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Old 11-29-2008, 10:44 AM   #3
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I wouldn't use 2x's, use plywood or particle board. You can build boxes that could maximize space. If you're building it in place, you could use one 3/4" wall that would separate two cabinet spaces. You could then make a jig to drill holes for adjustable shelf heights, and use shelf pins. Using a jig, the shelf holes will be consistent from cabinet to cabinet.

If/when you go to sell the house, this would have a much more professional look to it, instead of looking like a DIY project to potential home buyers. Translation: better return on investment $.

Face frames aren't all that difficult to build, but outsourcing doors will save a lot of time, and really aren't that expensive if you order them unfinished.
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Old 11-29-2008, 01:43 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jeeper1970 View Post
I wouldn't use 2x's, use plywood or particle board. You can build boxes that could maximize space. If you're building it in place, you could use one 3/4" wall that would separate two cabinet spaces. You could then make a jig to drill holes for adjustable shelf heights, and use shelf pins. Using a jig, the shelf holes will be consistent from cabinet to cabinet.

If/when you go to sell the house, this would have a much more professional look to it, instead of looking like a DIY project to potential home buyers. Translation: better return on investment $.

Face frames aren't all that difficult to build, but outsourcing doors will save a lot of time, and really aren't that expensive if you order them unfinished.
I was thinking that the only visible parts (face frames and doors) would look professional, and, even inside, the 2x stuff would mostly be covered up, so it wouldn't matter too much. But that's something to think about.
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Old 11-29-2008, 06:44 PM   #5
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diy built-in kitchen cabinets


I'd suggest that you buy a book on cabinetmaking. I build a lot of cabinets, and I assure you that there is no place for 2x dimension lumber in cabinetry. That doesn't mean that it won't work, but it will be a less than desirable addition to your home. You can properly build great cabinets with a circular saw (with a fine tooth blade), miter saw, and a router with a few different bits.

I'd suggest learning to do it correctly, which will be fun and educational. In the end, you'll have cabinets that add value to your home.

As for doors, if you don't wish to build them yourself (your router table is good for door making), buying them off the shelf at a box store is hard to beat. Honestly, I can buy doors cheaper than I can make them...But for some odd reason I still make my own!
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Old 11-29-2008, 10:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
I'd suggest that you buy a book on cabinetmaking. I build a lot of cabinets, and I assure you that there is no place for 2x dimension lumber in cabinetry. That doesn't mean that it won't work, but it will be a less than desirable addition to your home. You can properly build great cabinets with a circular saw (with a fine tooth blade), miter saw, and a router with a few different bits.

I'd suggest learning to do it correctly, which will be fun and educational. In the end, you'll have cabinets that add value to your home.

As for doors, if you don't wish to build them yourself (your router table is good for door making), buying them off the shelf at a box store is hard to beat. Honestly, I can buy doors cheaper than I can make them...But for some odd reason I still make my own!
Is there any particular book that you would recommend? Are the techniques the same for built-in cabinets? Thanks.
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Old 11-29-2008, 11:46 PM   #7
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Taunton has a cabinetmaking book or two that has tons of pictures and pretty plain descriptions of construction methods. Most big bookstores or amazon have the Taunton series of books in the carpentry/home improvement section.

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