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View Mike Gilbert's profile

Best Material for Kitchen Cabinet Cases

by Mike Gilbert
posted 682 days ago


33 replies so far

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2136 posts in 2130 days


#1 posted 682 days ago

We use a pre finished plywood core. A melamine product would work with typical wood screws.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View thedude50's profile

thedude50

3503 posts in 1061 days


#2 posted 682 days ago

Mike I recommend Baltic birch plywood and I can choose any veneer to face the box this is great stuff. I would like to ask why you would bother to make your own cabinets from production materials like the stuff your thinking of using. I only make cabinets that I cant buy so I make the Baltic birch and the solid wood cabinets for discriminating customers otherwise if you make things that a production shop makes you may save a little but it wont pay to do it. And in reality of the job is time is money cheep materials and man made products are cheep and it just makes no since to me. Also if you build in Baltic birch you will get a nice box using 1/2 inch plywood which makes for a light strong box.

-- when I am not on Lumberjocks I am on @ http://thisoldworkshop.com where we allow free speech

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

887 posts in 1274 days


#3 posted 682 days ago

3/4” prefinished birch plywood

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1016 posts in 870 days


#4 posted 682 days ago

+1 on Baltic birch. I love that stuff.

-- John, BC, Canada

View JAGWAH's profile

JAGWAH

929 posts in 1668 days


#5 posted 682 days ago

3/4” x 4’ x 8’ UV Prefinished Birch Plywood sold here in Tulsa for about $50 coated 1 side and about $65 2 sides. Considering the painting cost later this is a bargain.

The best way to go. All of my kitchen cabinetry is built this way. I also build my face frames off cabinet to allow for prefinishing. I attach with either biscuits and clamps or pocket screws. Don’t worry to fill the pocket screws, they look fine.

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

View Mike Gilbert's profile

Mike Gilbert

26 posts in 685 days


#6 posted 682 days ago

Thanks for the replies so far guys, this was my first post on LJs and I am amazed at how quickly everyone has responded. not really sure how(Rookie mistake) but I managed to post this question twice so I have even more comments on the other thread!
@ thedude 50 – I think you bring up a good point sometimes I can get caught up in material prices at the beginning of a project and I forget how much of my time I will be pouring into it, I definitely want a finished product I can be proud of at the end of the job. I also like the idea of a 1/2” sheet. I never would have considered that. what do you use for the backs? I have really been considering any options at this point but based on the responses so far it sounds like plywood is the way to go. my main concern is with the time spent finishing the cabinets but I see you can get Baltic birch in prefinished sheets. is this what you typically do? if so are there anything’s to look out for when building using a prefinished product. I would plan to build the case and face frame separate so that the frames can be finished before I attach them to the case.

View thedude50's profile

thedude50

3503 posts in 1061 days


#7 posted 682 days ago

Mike pm me your phone number Ill be happy to go over some tips I have on mistakes. I used to use 3/4 all the time then I took a class and found that 1/2 inch is fine and is even preferred for upper cabinets. I don’t use prefinished because I use a veneer on the box. I like birch just fine but I prefer cherry so I buy the Rolls of veneer and use it with solid cherry face frames and doors. I have also done lots of black walnut work. Some where here I have the video that the teacher put out a few years ago about using 1/2 inch. I know most of us would have used 3/4 on all our cabinets. But there really is no great reason top do that. The box is like a drum. On the back I use 1/2 inch on all my cabinets even the base cabinets they have never failed once.

-- when I am not on Lumberjocks I am on @ http://thisoldworkshop.com where we allow free speech

View Loren's profile

Loren

7153 posts in 2231 days


#8 posted 682 days ago

I’d like to know who the teacher is advocating 1/2” uppers. I’ve
considered developing a method using 1/2” material myself.

Some years ago I acquired the jigs for the Donnmar-Weising
method. I believe the old cabinetmakers who developed
it were putting cabinets in high-rises or perhaps tract
apartment remodels in the city, so the weight mattered
to them more than it might in other jobs. It uses 1/2”
ply all-round, even for the face frames I think. I never
found complete documentation on how it was done
so I’m in the dark in some respects.

I often use prefinished “shop” maple, which has mostly blonde
on one side and more brown on the other. It looks nice,
machines well, stays reasonably flat and is not too heavy.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1553 days


#9 posted 682 days ago

I’m really curious about the thermoplastic melamine with a maple veneer on both sides. Is this a particle core board, melamine coated and then veneered? Or a particle board with a maple effect melamine coating?
Sorry to get away from your thread a little, but the first description is something that I wasn’t aware existed.
The key to cutting any melamine material is surely to use a panel saw with prescoring attachment.

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5202 posts in 1182 days


#10 posted 682 days ago

1/2” uppers…really? I would not have thunk it. Interesting. For the most part, I like a pre-finished ply for the insdes. I typically use 1/2” for the backs.

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2136 posts in 2130 days


#11 posted 682 days ago

We prefer 3/4”. I have looked into using 1/2” but the cost difference is only about 4.00. We dado everything in our cabinets and the dado is really what becomes the ultimate holding power on our cabinets. We cut our dado so the fit is snug/tight and our cabinet goes together very snug and looks seamless when looking inside the cabinet. Everyone will have a preference.

A month ago, I did a job just down the road from our shop. I got lazy and did not strap my load as good as I should have. So one of my cabinets did fall off of the truck when turning. It hit the ground from a height of 6’ and did not sustain any damage. I believe that is in large part due to our dado methods. We also only utilize 15g and glue. We do have 2” wood screws to use in areas where the plywood might have a mild cup and so a screw is required to pull a joint together.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1553 days


#12 posted 682 days ago

Thanks for clearing that up Jonathan. That material goes by a different name here – Acreplast or Contiboard, depending on manufacturer.

View Mike Gilbert's profile

Mike Gilbert

26 posts in 685 days


#13 posted 682 days ago

Renners – I did mean thermofused particle board core with a maple looking melamine surface not a maple veneer.

View thedude50's profile

thedude50

3503 posts in 1061 days


#14 posted 681 days ago

Ok I scoured through my videos and receipt book and the class and the video was at Marc Adams school and the instructor was Marc himself Loren if you send me an address to email to you I can try to zip it up in a compressed file and email it to you

-- when I am not on Lumberjocks I am on @ http://thisoldworkshop.com where we allow free speech

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1553 days


#15 posted 681 days ago

In my opinion, you won’t find a better carcase screw for particle board than SPAX.

For your job with 3/4” material, a 4×50mm part threaded would be my screw of choice. (I think that’s a 10 gauge x 2”).

Spax screws are self countersinking, bore a pilot hole the size of the shank to prevent the piece you’re screwing into pillowing at the screw. If you never want your cabinets to come apart, use contact adhesive as well.

You could use confirmat screws as well, but you’d need to buy a stepped drill bit.

View loybrian's profile

loybrian

1 post in 595 days


#16 posted 595 days ago

Hey thedude50, i would love to see that video, here is my email: russel4reeves@yahoo.co.uk
I have installed maple kitchen cabinets so just wanted to check that out.

View Dahnke66's profile

Dahnke66

8 posts in 517 days


#17 posted 517 days ago

Very informative post! Thanks!

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile

TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 938 days


#18 posted 517 days ago

ok, melamine has it’s weaknesses, not only is it heavy, have sharp edges that cut you, but the core…. the core is typically an mdf type material, and while as long as the core never gets what you will not have problems, if it ever does, well it’s not that good of a material.

I typically use 3/4 plywood on ever carcass I design and build, simply because I have seen cabinets I’ve belt survive multiple plumbing leaks, only needing light sanding. Now the stuff behind those cabinets is another story, but just the same….

As for the uppers, the difference in a cabinet built with 3/4 verses 1/2 is really negligible, at least to me, so I’d rather be more comfortable glueing, stapling and screwing them with the 3/4 than worrying about it with the 1/2.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View Kelby's profile

Kelby

133 posts in 994 days


#19 posted 517 days ago

Confirmat screws are very nice for MDF or melamine.

If finishing is the concern, check with your lumber supplier for pre-finished plywood. Most will carry a pre-finished maple that is a much better material than the melamine, and has a real maple veneer that is much more attractive than the melamine as well.

As for the 1/2” discussion, I believe AWS calls for 3/4” tops, bottoms, and sides of cabinets (although 1/2” is permitted for sides only on economy grade cabinets with face frames). AWS allows for 1/4” backs, provided you also add nailers. I would be curious to hear about thedude50’s class in which an instructor said that 1/2” is preferred, because I don’t think that’s AWS compliant. That doesn’t mean it will fall apart, of course, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say it is “preferred” when it does not meet the AWS minimum. Perhaps I’m missing something?

-- Kelby

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile

TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 938 days


#20 posted 517 days ago

There are a couple of different architectural woodworking groups, and some of their standards are different, but most people haven’t worked in shops that adhered to those standards. I did however work for a company that adhered to Architectural Woodworking Institute… Was a good job til the credit crunch hit the bond markets…

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7153 posts in 2231 days


#21 posted 517 days ago

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1004 days


#22 posted 517 days ago

I’ve made cabinets with the Maple Thermofused Melamine material. It is a very clean look and the TFM is water resistent and cleans up well. Standing water will eventually damage the cabinets, but that is with most anything.

For joinery, I use a blind dado and screws method. With the dados, 1 5/8” course thread screws are sufficient.
Exposed ends are scuffed up and veneered with real wood veneers to match the wood doors.

If, by “best” you mean the most value, the Maple TFM is really good. If, by “best” you be the highest quality regardless of cost, then I’d go with the UV prefinished Birch plywood mentioned above.

I’ve worked with both and the each have thier place. (In my kitchen I have the Maple TFM)

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3517 posts in 1951 days


#23 posted 517 days ago

I’m with those that said 3/4” Baltic Birch.

A friend of mine owned several apartment buildings and always had his cabinets custom made out of 3/4” plywood because of the wear and tear by the tenants. PB just doesn’t stand up as well!

There are more things to consider than just the material so check out the resources provided above and by what other LJ are offering!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

169 posts in 632 days


#24 posted 517 days ago

Ditto on the dado. Rock solid! And with a good cutter, you won’t see a seam. Why not dado?

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View thedude50's profile

thedude50

3503 posts in 1061 days


#25 posted 517 days ago

I have tried in vein to send the video to those that have asked but it is just too big for email

-- when I am not on Lumberjocks I am on @ http://thisoldworkshop.com where we allow free speech

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3517 posts in 1951 days


#26 posted 517 days ago

Lance, can you put on YouTube and provide a link?

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View AlaskaGuy's profile (online now)

AlaskaGuy

548 posts in 893 days


#27 posted 517 days ago

Mike,

Over the last 35 years I’ve built 12-14 kitchens. At least 5 of those were with the 3/4 thick melamine covered PB including the cabinet backs. The oldest one date back to almost 20 years ago. These cabinet were for my brother (he requested melamine). My brother lives 1/2 mile from me so I get to see these cabinets frequently. Those cabinet boxes appear to be as good as new with no failures. As you know from some of the other post there are different grades of melamine so stay away from the HD crap and don’t use dry wally screw of Gods sake.

The main cons to melamine are weight and water. Some people will make the sink cabinet from plywood and cover it with a matching HPL. Usually I just use silicone caulk in the sink cabinet. You have to let a leak in the sink cabinet go for a long time before it will damage the cabinet. Weight, I’m 69 now and I can still hang a melamine wall cabinet. You just need to get some help or rent a cabinet lift or prop it in place with something. Work smarter not harder. Cuts, yes the edges of melamine can cut you and so can myriad of other things in a shop, just have to take sensible precautions.

The way I construct a melamine cabinet box (see picture below) is with butt joints, Confirmat screws and no glue. The confirmat screws are pacifically designed for this application and work well with there large diameter and deep threads.

I cut the top and deck of the cabinet the thickness of the back narrower than the sides. Screw the back on from the backside on the top and bottom and screw from the sides into the edge. Makes a nice stout cabinet box that will last a long time.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View thedude50's profile

thedude50

3503 posts in 1061 days


#28 posted 516 days ago

no sorry it is for sale on the wood magazine site they would not like it being posted on you tube

-- when I am not on Lumberjocks I am on @ http://thisoldworkshop.com where we allow free speech

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

887 posts in 1274 days


#29 posted 514 days ago

3/4” prefinished birch plywood, 1/4” for the backs and drawer bottoms

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View thedude50's profile

thedude50

3503 posts in 1061 days


#30 posted 513 days ago

why would you buy prefinished when finish is the best part of the job ??

-- when I am not on Lumberjocks I am on @ http://thisoldworkshop.com where we allow free speech

View AlaskaGuy's profile (online now)

AlaskaGuy

548 posts in 893 days


#31 posted 513 days ago

Because it’s a time saver, not every one shares your view on finishing is fun. But the biggest thing is the average home or small shop can not apply a finish that near as durable and a factory applied finish.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

887 posts in 1274 days


#32 posted 513 days ago

AlaskaGuy, I wish there was a thumbs up emoticon. The number one complaint I hear from cabinetmakers about finishing is “How do I get a good finish on the interior of assembled cabinets?” I always give two explanations. Finish before assembly or buy prefinished or apply the finish gently, maybe that’s three.

thedude50, If you do a kitchen a month go ahead and do your own interior finishing, at some points in my career I was producing two kitchens a day. It really depends on your goals and production level. Also, you are the only person I have ever heard say that “finish is the best part of the job”, I am impressed.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

497 posts in 619 days


#33 posted 513 days ago

I’m not a fan of particle board in any situation. If indeed it is particle board you’re talking about. Some folks confuse MDF products with PB. They are NOT the same thing.

I’ll take MDF core products over PB products any day of the year. I hate, HATE PB. We make cabs out of it, but it chips out if you look at it funny. Screws make a one way trip into it. It swells if it gets water on it. But it’s cheaper than other products and we have to use it sometimes.

If you do use it, you should probably wear gloves when handling it. It will cut the crap out of you. Also treat it VERY gently when handling because it’ll break and chip in a heartbeat. Did I mention I hate this stuff?

If I had my choice, I’d use 3/4 prefinished birch plywood for interiors (1S for case, 2S for partitions and shelves), and a nice grade of 3/4 birch or maple ply for exteriors. And I’d use a domestic brand with a poplar core.

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