Building cabinets for 1920s kitchen

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Forum topic by bdresch posted 11-18-2015 04:44 AM 980 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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148 posts in 1783 days

11-18-2015 04:44 AM

I’m looking at buying an old house from the 1920s. I was hoping from the listing pictures for good antique cabinets, but upon viewing the house I find junk replacement drawers and doors. I can build cabinets but I’m trying to figure out how far to go. What do you guys think of using modern drawer slides and hinges in an otherwise antique style kitchen? Should I go all out and build new boxes or if the boxes are find should I just leave them?

8 replies so far

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 1326 days

#1 posted 11-18-2015 06:36 AM

I would go with modern hinges and glides if not exposed to detract from the era.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View oldnovice's profile


7273 posts in 3543 days

#2 posted 11-18-2015 07:17 AM

+1 with conifur
No reason to make the most used drawers and doors work hader than they or you have to!

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

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 1326 days

#3 posted 11-18-2015 07:30 AM

Trust me and get the drawer guides that after pushed in a bit are self closing, and hinges if in your $ range. I am a cook so spent as much time in the kitchen as the shop some days, but if it is just the wife in there, it will come back in spades AFTER YOU SUGGEST IT!!!!!!!

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View rwe2156's profile


3134 posts in 1656 days

#4 posted 11-18-2015 12:52 PM

I would do a thorough check on the boxes before installing any hardware.
Often cabinets that old were built on site with finishing nails and no glue.
If you want to keep the charm of the original cabs, it will be a labor of love.

OTOH, you can built modern cabs with a retro feel or copy the design of the existing cabs.

Either way, you should be able to find hinges that will match the style.
I would not use Euro type concealed hinges.

An undermount slide would be a good choice if you don’t want hardware showing.

I get almost all my cabinet hardware from woodworkers supply.

They have about every kind/style of hinge imaginable.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Pezking7p's profile


3217 posts in 1826 days

#5 posted 11-18-2015 01:26 PM

Use modern hardware as others have said. Inspect boxes, but replace doors and drawers.

Keep in mind that no one really had kitchen cabinets in the 20’s. They didn’t become a thing until mid 20th century. In my experience older cabinets are rarely charming, just cheap and covered in a thousands coats of paint.

-- -Dan

View CharleyL's profile


223 posts in 3539 days

#6 posted 11-18-2015 01:40 PM

New cabinets that look old is the way to go. Refurbishing old cabinets will take you longer and cost more in time than they will be worth. Nobody had built-in cabinets in the 20’s, so you likely have something post WWII in there. In the 20’s they had kitchen sinks with legs, maybe a Hoosier cabinet, and a combination coal, wood, gas stove with significant space left between them. If there was a table, it was a porcelain coated metal topped multi purpose table.


View BobLang's profile


160 posts in 3575 days

#7 posted 11-18-2015 09:45 PM

Built in kitchen cabinets began to appear in many houses in the late 19th and early 20th century, but the sizes didn’t become standardized until the 1940s and 50s. If it were me (unless the original cabinets were in really good shape) I would build new cabinets and use up-to-date hardware, but keep the outsides in a period look. My book ””Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors””: discusses this in detail.

-- Bob Lang,

View DanMax's profile


5 posts in 1102 days

#8 posted 11-19-2015 02:33 AM

Mark me up as another vote for modern hardware.

I was going to say “no one cares what’s in your drawers,” but I was afraid people would take it the wrong way.

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