Craftsman Style Kitchen Cabinets #1: The Leap

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Blog entry by Douglas posted 07-03-2012 11:04 PM 2353 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Craftsman Style Kitchen Cabinets series Part 2: Not Even Cabinets Yet »

First, I have to apologize for this multi-part series not being posted as I went along. I am starting posting this series now that I am 97% done with the whole thing. As a two year long lurker on LJs, I know that if I’d been posting these as I went along, I would have had lots of helpful, timely feedback al the way. I probably would have avoided some mistakes and been more efficient as well. But I didn’t. So why am I posting now? I’m doing so as way to give back to this community. Hopefully, someone else will find my experiences helpful to their projects and plans, and after all the help I’ve received from everyone else’s posts, I owe you!


I call this first “episode” “The Leap”, because it was the mega project that really propelled me into woodworking. I’d always been handy with wood and tools, but never took the leap into setting up a shop. But when the wife and I were talking about our plans for our house, she gave me the green light to take over most of the garage, set up a shop, and build our own stuff. I married well.

We love our house: it’s nothing fancy, just a little 1903 frame house in NW Chicago. We bought it from the grandchildren of the original builders; the grandfather was a modest woodworker, and all his original craftsman details survived. All the woodwork from 1903 to 1920 is original and never had been painted, and beautiful wall cabinet he made stayed with the house. I love that style, learned all about it, and when it was kitchen time, I knew I wanted to make it in a style that would have been appropriate to the era.

The kitchen had been “remodeled” sometime in the 80s, with generic cheap MDF-laminte cabinets. There was a “modern” ceramic 12”sq tile floor, but it had been laid wrong. The tiles were moving, cracking, kicking up dust. Also, the kitchen has 7 double-hung sash windows that were once pine with shellac, but the shellac had super alligatored, and been painted over.

So the plan was:

- lay down hardwood oak floors
- strip and rebuild the windows
- build all new kitchen cabinets

I figured about 3 months of solid work in the evening and weekend should do it (start laughing now).

Step 1 was to re-do the windows. As I was new to the mechanics and such of re-conditioning sash windows, I had the help of a local window ship do the work on the sashes themselves: paint stripping, re-glazing, and then re-installing with the weatherstripping and weight/chain hanging. But I did the rest: all the stripping of the frames, rebuilding all the old partially rotted pine casing, sill, and stool with red oak; all the staining/finishing (inside) and painting (outside).


after a LOT of work, here is after…

and the stained glass over the transom:

(it is HARD to take a good picture of windows with all that light coming in)

Obviously, the back door will be changed from the current big-box pre-hung metal shell door to a nice craftsman style oak door.

That project alone took a few months. Next up: moving a doorway, restoring an old oak door, and laying the floor.

-- Douglas in Chicago -

2 comments so far

View twoblacklabs's profile


258 posts in 2747 days

#1 posted 07-04-2012 12:19 AM

Uh oh. I can’t show this to the wife. Looks great so far.

-- If You Haven't Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over?

View sras's profile


4827 posts in 3185 days

#2 posted 07-04-2012 04:20 AM

This should be a fun blog to follow. I’m already looking forward to your next post.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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