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Building Your Own Kitchen Cabinets ?

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jedmc571

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Hello All

I'm thinking of building my own kitchen, can anyone point me in the right direction for plans or books that could help ?
Regards

Jed[/img]
 

johnelliott

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Are you looking to make something different (in style) to conventional kitchen cabinets. If so then you may need to design something yourself in order to get what you are looking for
If you want to keep the conventional style but improve the quality of construction or materials, then a copy of the MFI catalogue and a good look at their cabinets in one of their showrooms would be a good start. The catalogue will give you the main dimensions

John
 

Jokerman

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I've got a few magazine articles on building these that I've used in the past. If interested let me know and I'll either get them copied or send them to you for a loan and read.
Good luck.
hh
 

Aragorn

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Hi Jed
There's not much to it really. A kitchen cabinet is just a box with either a door hinged to the sides or a faceframe applied and a door hinged to that.
I'd second John's ideas - get a load of catalogues, magazines etc, like MFI, Interior design, Mark Wilkinson and so on: take your inspiration from the things you like!
Some places offer a free design service. Why not take advantage of that for a basic layout?

As for the carcasses - you could take the basic measurements from your existing kitchen. One of the great things about building your own is that you are not restricted to standard unit widths, so you can really make the best use of the space you've got.

If you do decide to make your own and use birch ply for the carcasses, my best tip is to pre-varnish the ply both sides before cutting it up, or at least before assembly.

Good luck
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Aragorn

Aragorn":1g6zs1hb said:
If you do decide to make your own and use birch ply for the carcasses, my best tip is to pre-varnish the ply both sides before cutting it up, or at least before assembly.
Will you please explain to me why you recommend to pre-varnish? Is it just a single coat?

Cheers
Neil
 

Aragorn

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Yeah sure Neil - also be interested what John E thinks of this idea.

I found when making the kitchen I posted a short while ago that the most tedious bit for me was getting 4 coats of varnish onto the cabinets in situ.
I found it harder to get to everything well (e.g. limited access corner unit) and harder to sand back between coats (can't get the sander into corners!)

Fortunately for me I made the kitchen in two parts, so when it came to the wall units and utility room, I pre-varnished the birch ply with 3 coats water-based varnish after cutting to size. As the parts are flat it is easy to varnish them and sand them in between coats.
Next time I think I would varnish the 8x4 sheets before cutting just because it would be more efficient in my smallish workshop.

Once the units are assembled, everything's already varnished (bliss!) and it only leaves exposed edges to touch up.

Doing it this way worked really well for me, and I'd recommend it.
 

Chris Knight

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Adding to Aragorn's comments, they are especially true if you spray finishes. Spraying the inside corners of closed boxes is very difficult to do well - it is a thousand times easier to spray a nice big flat surface!

Also - don't ever finish just one side of birch ply unless it is already part of a rigid framework. Differential moisture exchange will ensure it bows and winds otherwise.
 

Alf

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I did a similar thing - giving a couple of coats on the parts for the coffee table before even cutting them to length - and it worked very well.

Cheers, Alf
 

Jokerman

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It cuts down time and effort when assembling the units in place if all exposed surfaces are already sealed. Kitchens can be steamy damp areas and the notion of sealing both surfaces is to minimise any moisture ingress which may cause bowing or warping. Plus helps to keep them clean and hygienic for future cleaning. Try thinning down the varnish a bit to ease penetration of the surface. If using the face frame method do the same with those.
Good luck.
hh
 

jedmc571

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Hi Fellas,
Thanks for the reply's I bought 2 books from Amazon last night just for something to get the inspiration flowing.
I imagine this is a project lots of us have thought about ? I also came accross a website last night called www.kitchen-secrets.com It's frightening what they get up to, and with that it in mind I would be more willing to tackle such a task.
Aragorn...........I am certainly impressed by the beatifull kitchen you constructed, could you tell me how you made up the carcasses ?
Also with regards to pre finishing the ply, will it not create scratching on it when it's being run across the saw/router tables ?

Regards

Jed
 

tim

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Three things:

I agree with John and Aragorn about mags and catalogues etc. Nothing beats wandering around showrooms and also your mates' kitchens - always quite difficult to explain why you've got your head stuck in the back of someone's undersink cupboard though.

Be careful when buying books on the subject - most are American and they mainly use the face frame style which while attractive (my pref actually) doesn't necessarily match the standard, more easily obtainable hardware available here.

Thirdly, I firmly agree with finishing things as big as you can - full sheets if poss. Chris is right about spraying but also you can get a way with a roller with most finishes on a flat surface. However, be very careful with curing times. While most finishes are touch dry very quickly, they don't cure for quite a while longer. If as is inevitable with making a kitchen you have lots of sheets, if you stack them together or lean them against each other then they may well become welded together! WHich can make them impossible to get apart or damage both finishes. This is the only reason that I sometimes finish completed pieces rather than components.

As an aside re my second point, am I alone in thinking that sellers of these books esp Amazon, Stobarts, Axminster, Rutlands etc should clearly indicate which books are from the US so that less experienced purchasers can make an informed choice rather than get a book which uses different machinery, styles, imperial measurements and terms?

Cheers

Tim
 

Aragorn

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jedmc571":vpec0soo said:
Aragorn...........I am certainly impressed by the beatifull kitchen you constructed, could you tell me how you made up the carcasses ?
Thanks Jed.
The carcass construction is embarrassingly simple :oops: :
Birch ply cut to size with a circular saw (Festool in this case, so the edges are excellent and ready for use).
All pieces grooved about 2" in from the back to accept a 6mm ply backing piece.
Sides fixed to base with glued butt joints, screwed roughly every 6-8" from the outside.

(This sort of thing:)


Backing piece slotted in to the grooves.
Top fixed to sides in the same way as above

Hey presto! One box! When the glue dries, they are very strong.

jedmc571":vpec0soo said:
Also with regards to pre finishing the ply, will it not create scratching on it when it's being run across the saw/router tables ?
I didn't find this to be a problem The tops of my machines are very smooth! :wink:
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Alf

Alf":1twu2tfk said:
Hmm, I agree. You're not posting nearly enough, Neil. [-X :wink: Congrats =D> =D> =D>
Thanks Alf. When I looked at your number of posts, and I'm glad I was sitting down at the time, I noticed that you've been demoted from a Master Cabinetmaker to a lowly mod. :shock:

Cheers
Neil
 

johnelliott

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Some interesting stuff here, especially the kitchen secrets website.

We (actually it's my wife, who works full time in the business) finish the birch ply cabinets we make with danish oil after the cabinet is assembled. Just one coat. It brings out the grain and tends to emphasise any patches which is why I am careful to put the best sides where they will be most visible.

My cabinet assembly method is similar to Aragorn's only I use pocket screws, which I find to be more easily hidden and which, for me anyway, seem to be more accurate

We don't sand any of our finishes, oil, water based varnish or paint. Instead we draw a stanley knife blade (held almost vertically, like a scraper) gently over the entire surface, lawnmower fashion. This takes off all the little bubbles and knibs. You can hear it when the surface becomes smooth.

On the horizontal surfaces, bottoms of cabinets and shelves, we apply a couple of coats of water-based matt varnish. We prefer the Ronseal make.

Front edges of cabinets we paint to match the doors (all our doors are painted). This is a good move because the edges often have voids which need to be filled, and the paint covers the filler.

I second Tim's comments regarding American books and kitchen plans. Avoid them unless you are interested in old fashioned and awkward stuff. Oh, and don't bother with a table saw and dado blades either (very popular with kitchen makers in the States)

John
 

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