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Where can I find reference material (books, plans, etc.) for building old style cabinets?

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Forum topic by brian310207 posted 682 days ago 1595 views 1 time favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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brian310207

16 posts in 1095 days


682 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question resource

I’m looking to build some new base cabinets for my kitchen and I’d like to know how they were constructed back before these modular pieces of junk that Lowes and Home Depot sell became so popular. Here’s a picture with a couple of cabinets that I like the design of: http://www.longleyoldhall.co.uk/RB%2016%20Main%20kitchen.jpg

If it makes a difference, I don’t have any power tools. I’ll be doing it all by hand.

-- Brian, Maine, http://digital-traffic.net


31 replies so far

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schroeder

667 posts in 2751 days


#1 posted 682 days ago

Hi Brian,
The cabinets your looking to build are actually stand alone pieces of furniture. Lumberjacks is a great place for techniques, design and advice. Anyone here would be glad to help. Any woodworking store or Amazon will have reference books. I suggest you look at “stckley” or craftsman designs and methods. Sketchup, YouTube and the video forums here are great references as well.

Hope this helps.
Schroeder

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

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huff

2795 posts in 1910 days


#2 posted 682 days ago

Brian,

Check out shaker style furniture also. Schroeder is right, these cabinets were designed to look like a base to a hutch or dry sink, but with all the modern accessories. The base cabinets have more of a furniture base instead of the regular toe kick that we see with regular kitchen cabinets. The doors and drawers are inset and it looked like they used regular mortised butt hinges. I would venture to guess that instead of using wood on wood drawer slides like in that time period of furniture, I’m sure they are using a more modern mechanical slide. How you actually construct the cabinets would be up to you with your level of building experience and tools. As you can tell, the big difference from this type cabinet/furniture compared to a lot of todays cabinets is: WOOD! If you build your cabinets like the originals, then the sides, bottoms, backs, shelves and everything would be made of wood, where in todays construction, plywood or melamine would be used for the interior construction and only use wood for the face frames, doors and drawer fronts. It will be up to you how much you want to blend the old with the new. Just like if you look at the kitchen in the picture. Even though the cabinets look old as far as style, hardware and finish, it’s hard to say what the interiors are made with. Electric coffee maker, track lighting, modern plumbing, marble/granite countertops and a slew of other modern conveinences show how you can blend old with new. Good luck and let us know how you make out.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1595 days


#3 posted 682 days ago

I really like that old farmhouse kitchen. You can tell it’s English by the jar of Nescafé and the Fairy Liquid at the sink.
Probably constructed using wide planks, but essentially a face frame construction – the face frame will all be mortice and tenon (you can see where it’s pegged), and although you may think it was lovingly crafted, I’d put money on it that there are a whole load of triangular blocks holding it together with slotted steel screws.
If you are going all wood, you can buy 8×4 sheets of laminated pine to make the carcases, which would speed it up a great deal.
If you are looking for authentic ways of working, try George Ellis, Modern Practical Joinery – though there are only a few pages devoted to cabinet construction – it’s all rabbet joints.

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brian310207

16 posts in 1095 days


#4 posted 682 days ago

Thanks for the input everyone. Renners, I’m curious as to what other methods exist besides face frame construction for cabinet making.

I found a couple of books which look like they might be helpful, one of which I bought and one which I found in the local library’s “card catalog” :

Four Centuries of American Furniture

The Encyclopedia of Furniture

-- Brian, Maine, http://digital-traffic.net

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Loren

7389 posts in 2273 days


#5 posted 682 days ago

Those are face frame cabinets. The frames are mortised and pegged.

Lacking machinery you’ll want to look at hand tool furniture construction
methods. You’ll need a solid and flat bench to do the dimensioning
of parts.

Books on reproducing Shaker casework would be a good place to
start. Books published before the 1960s won’t assume you
have access to machinery.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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Moron

4666 posts in 2519 days


#6 posted 682 days ago

You might consider going to an antique flea market, and adapting oldies to fit as you can most often buy something for less then the price of materials ? Even if if you buy something smaller, at least you have a reference for building what you want.

That said, the local library will have countless books on making face framed cabinets and early american furniture, as will U tube and google

Albeit HD and Lowes sells what most can afford, doesnt mean that modular cabinetry is junk, as melamines, plywoods, hardware, and methodology are not created equally in that you can build functional, high quality boxes with flawless hardware and make the “fronts” look as old as Noahs Ark

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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huff

2795 posts in 1910 days


#7 posted 682 days ago

Brian,

To answer your question about what other type cabinet construction other than face frame cabinets. Euro style cabinets don’t use a face frame on the cabinet. The doors and drawer fronts totally overlay the front of the cabinets. This usually gives a more contemporary look.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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Moron

4666 posts in 2519 days


#8 posted 682 days ago

Yo Huff, thats not entirely true as it is absolutely possible to make old world cabinets with euro technology, you just have to apply thinking that is slightly out of the “Box”

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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JJohnston

1577 posts in 1917 days


#9 posted 682 days ago

Anybody know what those copper discs with handles are, hanging over the sink?

-- "Sorry I'm late. Somebody tampered with my brakes." "You should have been early, then."

View huff's profile

huff

2795 posts in 1910 days


#10 posted 682 days ago

Moron, you’re right. I’ve seen a few antique pieces of furniture that the doors and drawer fronts were actually inset with nothing other than the sides and top and bottom stringers exposed, but I guess I was thinking more down the line of todays cabinetry that we see more often. Anyway; Brian, if you like the style of the cabinets in the picture, then you will be building cabinets with face frames.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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Moron

4666 posts in 2519 days


#11 posted 682 days ago

lids ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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CessnaPilotBarry

885 posts in 735 days


#12 posted 682 days ago

Read up on inset drawers and doors, and mortised hinges, in solid wood face frames.

Unless you’re shooting for historical reproduction accuracy, and in the wrong home, this can actually HURT the value…

As far as boxes go, the plywood boxes used today are actually a preferable way to go, unless you enjoy spending lots of time for no gain. Once upon a time, cabinets were built in place, of solid wood. While that sounds romantic, glue and fastener technology has progressed to a point where composite boxes with solid wood face frames and doors are a better choice, performance-wise.

In the case of cabinetry, it’s usually better to use modern material in the boxes, like prefinished plywood, and to make the exterior LOOK old, than to truly duplicate old construction. There is lots of nice, reproduction hardware available today , from places like Horton Brasses, that Euro hardware is not a must.

Furniture is a different story, but you asked about cabinets.

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

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Moron

4666 posts in 2519 days


#13 posted 682 days ago

it would have been of no consequence to build this vanity using beat up barn board to create a face frame with drawer fronts and doors that looked like it was really old, while still incorporating hardware that is flawless, comes with out the aggravation of fighting old fashioned “wood on wood” drawer slides and hinges that are unforgiving, while still maintaining “units” of cabinetry that go beyond that of most fine furniture and leave behind an interior that is not only functional but easy to keep clean.

that said, for some weird reason, I find comfort in antiques where only experience can close a drawer and my soul feels at home : ))

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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CessnaPilotBarry

885 posts in 735 days


#14 posted 682 days ago

Moron,

I would have built that vanity exactly the same, except with mortised leaf hinges on the doors. I really like Blum undermount slides.

My main beef with adjustable cup hinges is how often I see maladjusted doors a year or two later. I’ve seen inset doors on mortise hinges that still have even gaps 90-100 years later.

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1595 days


#15 posted 682 days ago

Anybody know what those copper discs with handles are, hanging over the sink?

They could be bed warmers.

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