Installing prefab blues

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Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 07-01-2007 03:23 AM 1101 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve come down with a bad case of the round two it’s. I’ve just been jammed with “kitchen” work. Last Friday my attitude took nose dive. I’ve always wondered why interior designers, salesmen, and contractors get to design the kitchens. Anyway I’m on a job at a very nice house. I got to start the day with a very unhappy homeowner. Seems he didn’t like the black glaze on the cabinets. He ordered knotty maple and pretty much got clear. The glaze on the door high lights every machine mark on the door. The sanding was a poor job. They didn’t fit….That is just a small portion. I’m stuck jury rigging and custom building a bunch of stuff. Why? Why don’t we do it right to start with.
Just talking with the guy I get the feeling he would have LOVED a quarter sawn craftsman style kitchen. I would have loved to build one. But I have quit fighting over the extra 10%. I also have to keep my mouth shut. That’s why I’m always dumping on you guys. It would do no one any good if I upset the homeowners. Some how they need to become happy in their kitchen. That is my true job. To find a way to let them be happy with their bad decisions.
A good thing about having a helper is I’ve found myself trying to be a good example. Well Friday i was all alone. I got to cuss, moan, throw tantrums. I got myself all riled up. Some days I need lumberjocks just to remind me to crawl out of the contractor mindset.
Note to self…this is suppose to be fun!

10 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4426 days

#1 posted 07-01-2007 03:31 AM

1) The customer is always right.

2) If the customer is wrong, read rule #1.

Have a good day Dennis. We love you.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4112 days

#2 posted 07-01-2007 04:44 AM

Are you a sub on the job Dennis…why can’t you talk to the guy? Is it just too late in the process?

I’m going to talk to my brother tomorrow about your furniture. His best friend is building a dream home/hunting lodge on 1000 acres (yes, thats 3 zeroes) on the Columbia River in Oregon. Almost 3 miles of river frontage. The connection came when I read this post…gotta get Dennis making more furniture for us to admire!

-- Bob

View Larry's profile


200 posts in 4237 days

#3 posted 07-01-2007 04:33 PM

Morning Dennis – I as a past life salesman for the old Volco store – always wondered the same thing. We used to build custom cabinets and also sold the prefabs. I was amazed at the folks that would purchase the prefabs – then complain about them….my comment was always the same…they are friggin prefabs. Now – lets looks at some custom build one. I could almost always make the sale on the custom built. I think the contractors sometimes – go the easy route – and that being prefab. I would rather see a satified customer – than make a quick sale – but then again – its always the same. “You get what you pay for”.

PS – lol hey – at least your staying busy and staying out of trouble – (I hope!!)

-- "Have you hugged your pet today?" ---------- Larry

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4340 days

#4 posted 07-01-2007 04:39 PM

Larry…out of trouble and off the river. I havn’t been fishing but once this year!
Karson…that is the truth.

View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 4111 days

#5 posted 07-01-2007 05:03 PM

This has been a problem for a very long time. I remember my Grandfather having to deal with the same attitude in his cusomters. He once had a customer bring in a dinning room table and wanted it “restored.” but the only problem there was nothing to restore. They had glued a slab of laminate on the top and had painted the mahogany base with white paint, after they had stripped the finish themselves. My grandfather took on the job reluctanly. It was long painfull process for him and I learned a lot watching him deal with the problems as they came up. He delaminated the top and applied a manogany vanier. He had the legs stripped and sealed then used a glase to cover what paint that would not come out of the open pores. The customer was not totally satisfied and to this day I remember my Granddad’s final response to her “Look Lady, you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. You messed this table up so badly, I personally would have burned it, but I did the best that anyone could do with it. You have a choice, pay me for the work or not. At this point I will be happy just to get you and that damn thing out of here.” She huffed and puffed, looked him in the eye and wrote him a chedk for the balance. I was shocked he got anything out of her, but he knew that she realized that she had made the mess, not him.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4273 days

#6 posted 07-02-2007 06:44 AM

Dennis, you’re an artist, everyone isn’t going to like what you do. Do your best, of what they want, and let them live with what they ordered and don’t take it personal. I’ve seen your work for a long time now, you don’t do shabby work. You know that. Do what they tell you to do and let them live with the consequences. It’s their choice, your’re just doing what you are told. Man, don’t let some A- hole give you fits. You have pride in your work, I’ve seen that, you know what you are doing. You can’t please everyone all the time, the only one you have to please is the man in the mirror. Your bud mike.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4187 days

#7 posted 07-02-2007 05:45 PM

Hang in there Dennis. Isn’t it amazing what people will complain about, even when they made the choices themselves. I wonder if we looked in the customer’s driveway would we find an older car, or the latest sports car? Funny how some people will try to save a few bucks on their furniture and cabinets, but expect it to look like it was custom built and finished to the Nth degree. But then they will go out and spend tons of money on the latest car, or video entertainment system, or something else.

As they say, the customer may not always be right, but they are the customer. Good luck with the install.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4337 days

#8 posted 07-02-2007 05:56 PM

It hurts me to hear of your daily struggle with these prefab cabinets. I tell my son all the time when in a store that sells furniture to look at the quality. He is not really worried about such things at 16 years old, but I’m trying to educate him on the difference in quality of construction, compared to what even someone with my limited talents can do. I know when I built my shop that I wasn’t happy with the attitudes of the contractor and sub contractor’s (it’s just a shop). I don’t agree in not doing the best work you can do. I told them that I use a square and ruler when building a dog house, so they should do at least that in building a house or shop.

You do excellent work and I can appreciate how hard it is for you to have to fix other’s sloppy work, when you could have spent less time building them a custom set of cabinets. Hang in there, buddy and feel free to vent here to keep your sanity.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4340 days

#9 posted 07-03-2007 12:59 AM

Thanks for the support everyone!
Bob…I’m a sub on the job, but I usually don’t even know about what is going on till I show up. I don’t even now how much work is scheduled for me. I just have to warn the contractor (who is a good freind and great guy) if I have other stuff coming up…like a hunting lodge on the Columbia. Wow that would be great!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4187 days

#10 posted 07-03-2007 06:57 PM

I love your attitude and view of your “job” —Some how they need to become happy in their kitchen. That is my true job. To find a way to let them be happy with their bad decisions.

Fishing: I haven’t been out yet…. too many things happening around here these days.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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