My first attempt at kitchen cabinets

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Project by Mike Robinson posted 12-27-2007 09:36 PM 7661 views 11 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife has been wanting a new kitchen since we bought the house a year and a half ago. My wife is tall at 6 feet even, her two daughters are also tall, and when the 4 of us gathered in the 12×10 kitchen it was elbow to elbow. We priced cabinets from the major box stores, plus online, and for the amount of cabinets we needed we were looking at over 15 thousand just for cabinets. Having perhaps less common sense than I should have, I decided to investigate the possibility of making my own. I bought references, books, and did my homework, and decided that I just might be able to pull it off. With the help of Cabinet Cruncher software, my wife’s willingness to let me invest in a few tools I needed, the results you see here. I used cherry for the face frames, doors and drawer fronts, maple for the drawers, and Baltic Birch for the cabinet boxes. At first I was going to use a red dye to even out the tone of the cherry, but when I applied my first coat of dewaxxed shellac as a sealer, the look of the natural cherry made me change my mind. I used Mohawk finishes, which I’ve found are about as idiot prrof as it can get. 2 coats of dewaxxed shellac for a sealer, followed by one coat of vinyl sealer, followed by 4 coats of pre-catalyzed clear lacquer. The wall between the kitchen and dining area was removed, I added the drop ceiling, re-routed wiring and added outlets. All old drywall was removed and the kitchen was reinsulated, new drywall installed and renovations began. I added the spotlightsin the soffit, as well as undercabinet lighting, all on dimmers. The countertops are black granite, new appliances and a new sink and my wife thinks I’m a hero. Best of all I was able to complete the entire project for about a little less than half of what we were quoted just for the cabinets. It also greatly increased my confidence in what I can build, as I’ve never done a project of this scope and magnitude before. The last picture is a “before” shot, and the other two show the changeover. When I snapped these I had a few items of trim to install yet, as well as finish the slide outs for the upper half of the Pantry, but it is all complete now and my wife really enjoys her time in the kitchen, an added plus.

Thanks for looking, and any comments or questions are welcome.


40 comments so far

View SPalm's profile


5325 posts in 4079 days

#1 posted 12-27-2007 09:56 PM

And cheers back to you Mike. Yow. That is some fine job. Good for you. Love that cherry.

Welcome to LJs. Looks like you are going to be a nice asset.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View alholstein's profile


222 posts in 4239 days

#2 posted 12-27-2007 10:04 PM

Mike, That is a very fine looking kitchen. You both should be proud. I bet that in addition to saving money you got getter storage and convience than you would have gotten from commerical cabinets.

Way to go.

-- Al Holstein "I wood do it"

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4274 days

#3 posted 12-27-2007 10:04 PM

wow..this is amazing!!! beautiful job—-when you added everything up—-did you save money—-? I am assuming that you spent more but got a lot more since the cabinets alone were $15K…amazing…how much wood working experience did you have before you tackled this job>>>?

great result…I bet you feel like you can do anything!!!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View TomFran's profile


2959 posts in 4191 days

#4 posted 12-27-2007 10:40 PM

Outstanding job! You just cannot beat that – saved half on the job, and they turned out great. That’s when this “woodworking hobby” turns into a serious money saver for the household budget. Congratulations!

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View relic's profile


343 posts in 4134 days

#5 posted 12-27-2007 11:06 PM

Beautiful cabinets Mike. How long did this project take, even with the home work?

-- Andy Stark

View Grumpy's profile


24613 posts in 4048 days

#6 posted 12-27-2007 11:11 PM

Very nice job Mike. Nothing will stop you now. Besides you have all those new tools to work with.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4512 days

#7 posted 12-27-2007 11:37 PM

Good job. I like the black toe kick.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4185 days

#8 posted 12-28-2007 12:00 AM

Looks good to me. I have some on my list also.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View CharlieM1958's profile


16280 posts in 4415 days

#9 posted 12-28-2007 12:09 AM

I dumbfounded. These look like the work of a pro who has been building cabinets his entire life.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View olddutchman's profile


187 posts in 4132 days

#10 posted 12-28-2007 12:23 AM

Congrats on a beautiful job. They look great. You must be one of the guys that can do it perfectly the first time. Looks to me that thats what you have done all of your life. They are GREAT!!!

-- Saved, and so grateful, consider who Created it ALL!!!

View TreeBones's profile


1827 posts in 4220 days

#11 posted 12-28-2007 01:17 AM

Mike, looks first class, you’ve done yourself proud. Your wife should see you as her hero. Now if only I could finish my own kitchen. I’m lucky she doesn’t read my posts.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

View Mike Robinson's profile

Mike Robinson

19 posts in 4000 days

#12 posted 12-28-2007 01:28 AM

Wow thanks for the comments everyone. I really appreciate them. I’ll try to answer you all individually.

Steve thanks for the welcome. I hope you’re right about the One of the reasons I joined was to learn. I’ve fiddled with woodworking for a long time, but until the last 2 years I never got into it as deep as I would have liked. My wife is very supportive, and she’s the main reason why I’ve taken the plunge so to speak.

Al yes you are right. The pantry alone has more space than the entire set of previous cabinets. Some of the new ones we haven’t even got stuff in yet.

Hi Matt, thanks for posting. As stated above I’ve been making quality sawdust for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until recently SWMBO encouraged me to really take the plunge and get what I need so I could actually make things, not just We had several quotes from various places to have the job done professionally. They ranged from 21k to 39k complete. I managed to do the whole job for a smidge over 8 thousand, and that included the purchase of a Dewalt 13” planer and a Jet 6” joiner, a CMT Dado set and Freud Biscuit joiner. I’m lucky to have such an understanding

  • = She Who Must Be Obeyed

Hi Tom. Thanks for the comments and yes you are right about the household budget. The other side of the coin is my “honey-do” list has suddenly tripled in size.

Hi Andy. Thanks for posting. I started collecting material in April, but I didn’t cut any wood until the end of August. We researched cabinets, hardware, designs of one company over another and had a pretty good idea of what we wanted before I made any cuts. Actual cabinet work took about 350 hours. It might have taken less, but I spent a lot of extra time checking and rechecking. I didn;t want to waste lumber because of errors. ( I still managed to

Hi Grumpy. Yes I do, and it’s GREAT! My next project is a hall table for a Friend of my wife. I may just have to get the Mortising set I’ve been eying. nudge nudge wink wink

Hi Dennis, thanks for the comments. Actually it’s not black, but the same color dark maroon the walls of the dining area and the trim around the ceiling recess is painted. The lighting of the photo doesn’t show it very well though.

Hi Gary, and thanks for the comments.

Hi Charlie. Thank you so much for the comments. I have to admit I was a bit reserved when I started, but I think doing my homework and planning ahead made it easier. There were still some pratfalls, but as far as the cabinets went, there were no major issues. The actual kitchen demolition and remodeling however… well we won’t go there.

Mr Dutchman, thank you for the comments. I wish what you said was true…lol. There was one minor setback when I was making the rails and stiles for the doors. My Cabinet Cruncher was a super tool for planning the cabinets, however it failed to account for the depth of the stick cuts in the stiles for the rails, so when it came time to fit the door frames together, they all came up 1 1/2 inch too short because of the 3/4 deep stick cuts. My wife learned some new language that evening. It wasn’t too bad, as I only had to make 4 new rails, the others I just moved to the next smaller door and cut them to length.

Thanks for the comments guys. So far I am really enjoying this site. I can see the wealth of information here will help me to become a better woodworker.


View slaphitter's profile


50 posts in 4123 days

#13 posted 12-28-2007 02:14 AM

That’s frigging awesome. Don’t let me wife get wind of this thread….

View Critterman's profile


600 posts in 4007 days

#14 posted 12-28-2007 02:36 PM

Wow, Mike great kitchen, hope my wife doesn’t see this post though or I’ll be in big trouble…LOL The cabinets and everything else looks awesome, you must have one of those “good for a year doghouse passes” for that project. What an outstanding job.

-- Jim Hallada, Chesterfield, VA

View 7Kcraftsman's profile


26 posts in 4131 days

#15 posted 12-29-2007 07:45 PM

good job Mike, I make cabinets for a living ans so could you!!!!

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