Kitchens #2: What have I done!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 03-25-2007 02:48 AM 1177 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Nose to the grind stone. Part 2 of Kitchens series Part 3: Finishing and Rambling and Rambling »

Haven’t been out in the shop much. The cabinets are built. Doors are done. Drawers about finished. It has been a nice and educational change of pace. This week I’ve been out installing prefabs.

Yesterday I peeked in the house that was being built next door. The American people are just getting ripped off. The craftsmanship was very bad…very, very bad! The painter was touching up and we chatted for a while. He was just sick and tired of being treated bad. (he used the appropriate construction lingo $##!#%) The developer had just been on every one’s back to get the job done fast and it showed. Mr. painter said there where doors hung so bad you couldn’t even close them. I saw plenty wrong with the cabinets. Not so much the install just the cheap crap they sales people pull.
These were “shaker” style cherry cabinets. Nice wood…except the sides were the phony oak. The cabinets where a full over lay with no knobs. You could not get your fingers between the drawers to open them. The had very flimsy drawers. All in all just shoddy work. I wish I was talking about a situation that was somehow unusual but at least in this area 2/3 of the large developers work this way.
I tend to work behind some quality craftsmen in houses that cost just the same if not less! It probably sounds like I’m whining again. If I had to work in those houses I would be whining. What I’m doing is bitching. Preaching to the choir. I know I can build cabinet at prefab prices with significantly improved quality.
If you are in a dead-end job and have a few tools, maybe a bit of experience, a love of wood…I know I enjoy working with my hands… I’ve always heard that custom cost more and I can’t compete with the prefabs…I guess they where wrong.

12 comments so far

View Drew1House's profile


425 posts in 4088 days

#1 posted 03-25-2007 03:22 AM

wish you were here…


-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4093 days

#2 posted 03-25-2007 03:49 AM

Sad state-of-affairs Dennis that goes far beyond just the construction industry. We live in a “I want it cheap and I want it yesterday” world. It is sickening.

Society is surrounded by disposible items. Eventually the mentality catches up to the big ticket items (heard of any US auto manufacturers having tough times lately?). As long as there are people out there like you and the rest of the Lumberjocks, tiny seeds of craftmanship planted all over the country and world, all is not lost.

It really makes me feel good when I look at Lumberjock profile pics and see the Lumberjocks with a child on their lap or knee and it gives me hope hearing the stories from everyone about building something with their kids. As long as those stories keep coming, so will the love for something handmade and pride in craftmanship.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4401 days

#3 posted 03-25-2007 04:20 AM

Dennis: Give a couple of builders your cards and see what happens. You never know.

-- 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 Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4237 days

#4 posted 03-25-2007 04:27 AM

I’ve just about gotten to the point where I don’t want to build “Anita” furniture.

I was talking to a young woman yesterday who was looking at my $1,200.00 coffee tqable and she said “Anita dresser.” Instantly I thought “If you can’t afford to buy a dresser from Wal-mart, then you surely can’t afford me.”

I want to build “Awana” Furniture. Not because they Nita something, but because they Wanna.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4315 days

#5 posted 03-25-2007 04:30 AM

No way Karson. I already have to beat them off with a stick. Next thing you know I’ll be working full time…ouch!

View rentman's profile


230 posts in 4095 days

#6 posted 03-25-2007 04:09 PM

obi I had to read that 2 times to understand what you where say.damn you are so right!!

-- Phil, Chattanooga,TN

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4237 days

#7 posted 03-25-2007 05:54 PM

The mental disposition of the world today has gone to the dogs. When I asked my older son why people today are so satisfied with buying cheap crap he told me “We’re consumers, Pops, that’s what we do… we consume.”

Lumberjocks are a breed apart. One step above (well most of us) and we are no longer satisfied with buying cheap crap. I’ll bet BIG money, that Dennis desides the same thing. He’s too good to continue this.

I won’t hold this against you, Dennis, because sometimes we just have to do what we have to do to make the payments.

And then there’s Sam… A great man, a greater artist, and the best inspiration…

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4315 days

#8 posted 03-25-2007 06:42 PM

Obi…the kitchen I’m building is not a cheap prefab. I’m giving people a significant upgrade at the cost of prefabs and I’m making more money than I do installing. The box is 3/4 construction, not 1/2 inch. I use a separate toe kick so the kitchen will be level. The drawers are solid wood, sanded, and finished. I would put this in my own house.

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4311 days

#9 posted 03-27-2007 05:36 AM

Sounds like we have a job to do. Keep quality in woodworking!

Everyone has to live within their means(or they should). What isn’t taught is that by the time you pay for several of the cheap items, you could have purchase one really well made ones and saved a bundle. All you have to do is look around on garbage day and see how much cheap furniture is heading to the landfills to know how waisteful this attitude of consuming cheap goods is.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4328 days

#10 posted 03-27-2007 05:51 AM

Well said, and commented!

Lumberjocks don’t buy into this disposable culture nonsense, not for ourselves. We make art. We appreciate good craftsmanship. We know that a society is judged by its art and culture, and thankfully we are doing something positive to effect that. We are creating things that will outlive ourselves. Lumberjocks (at least one of them) will lay to rest in a beautiful box of their own creation.

Who is going to fight over grandma’s microwave cart – the chipboard one with the oak contact paper on it? Nobody. Are friends and family going to treasure and hand down our boxes, chairs, tables, chests, lamps, musical instruments. You bet!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View BassBully's profile


261 posts in 4097 days

#11 posted 03-27-2007 06:00 AM

Thanks for the post Dennis. It made me laugh (in a good way) because at one of my local guild meetings we had a presenter from a nearby community college who talked about cabinet making. This guy teaches cabinetry at the school so he was demonstrating methods of building cabinets and stuff like that.

He said that he also uses 3/4” ply for sides in his classroom. Not for stability mind you, but because the students aren’t very good at using the finish nailer and it’s too hard for them to hit 1/2” plywood. That’s funny in itself (I guess you had to be there). Saying that, he also made the case for thick plywood by telling us that his behind fell through the base of one cabinet while trying to fix his sister’s sink. She lived in one of those new fancy homes no less.

Keep up the good work Dennis.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4161 days

#12 posted 03-27-2007 01:04 PM

this has been the topic of several of my articles that I write—to protect Mother Nature we need to stop buying/disposing/buying more.
Just think of all the energy, materials, and contaminates used to produce/reproduce/AND RECYCLE discarded items??

Buy once; buy quality; buy for life. 1 material / 1 production / 1 use of energy / 1 use of any contaminates needed to produce the item.
This goes for woodworking, food containers, shoes, etc etc etc etc

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics