Need advice on cabinet issues

waxymaxMay 11, 2013

We had custom Amish cabinets made for our bathroom. I am concerned/upset about two issues.

The first is the drawer in the second photo. I knew there was an issue with the cabinets when the contractor was installing them. He had someone from the furniture company come out to the house to look at them. When I inquired, he gave me a vague answer about needing different screws.

None of my other dovetailed drawers have screws in the corners. Not only does this look terrible, but I assume the drawer wasnâÂÂt constructed properly. Should I request new drawers?

The second photo is my painted piece. It looks like they drilled holes in the wrong place on the top and then filled with wood putty/paint. It was a custom color.

Does this look acceptable to you? I would love any advice you can provide. I am really disappointed....

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1. Depends what you paid for. ( Hope it wasnt very much )
2. No, its a screw up. Its should have been striped and filled with body filler and refinished.

1. Those drawer boxes are not dovetailed. They are also unfinished red maple. Only a clown would build them like that.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 10:58AM
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I can't even imagine what those screws could be doing. They have almost no grab on the right board.

It could be a blind dovetail, can't tell by the picture. But then the screws would be really unnecessary. Also curious is that strip apparently glued to the top on the right. Which part of the drawer are we looking at?

A cabinet shop usually uses a pocket-hole jig quite often and should be able to put screws at an angle like this without the ugly tear-out you see. This looks like a field-repair to me. Like something I would do. And I'm not a professional cabinetmaker or carpenter.

If it's indeed not dovetailed, what you have is a glue joint with almost no glue surface (too much end-grain) held with screws with almost nothing to grip.

We've gotten quotes from a couple of Amish cabinetmakers for our kitchen. I'd like to know what company this is. And you could mention, when you call them, that you've posted pictures on this site, and that other potential customers are interested in how this is explained/resolved.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:18PM
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My custom Amish made cabinets with dovetail drawers do not have screws in the corners like your picture shows. Also both the inside and the outside of the drawer boxes have a very nice finish on them. If the inside of the drawer box is not finished as cabmanct suspects, I think you should ask for them to be finished. A nice finish on the wood makes it easier to wipe the drawers off when the need to be cleaned.
I agree with you that the patched hole in the painted piece does not look right. I hope you can get everything finished to your satisfaction.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:38PM
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That screw looks to be holding the drawer face on- likely had to do that to get into enough material. There are other solutions that could have been used but not all that unusual, just not the best and should be cleaned up a bit.
To me it looks to be dovetail from the angle of the joint at the top (the view is from inside the drawer) but the op can tell if they are dovetailed.

The patch is poorly done. I disagree about body filler though- it could be what was used actually. It shrinks down over time and shows, should have been plugged.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:43PM
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Did you actually see their cabinets before purchasing?
If yours don't like like the samples then you have a case.

Some think the work "amish" always means quality but that is not always true.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Ah, if that large brown shadow is actually the front of the door, then it makes sense. You have to have some screws somewhere to hold a false front on.

The front may have been installed at the site to make sure it lined up correctly - this is normal. Or maybe the front was attached but didn't line up, so the installer moved it.

Check your other drawers again. If they have a two-piece front (i.e. a false or overlay front) they most likely have some screws holding it on (but probably not in the corners).

Insides of drawers don't have to be finished, but in a bathroom you might want them to be, with something waterproof. If you have them finished, or if you do it yourself, give them plenty of time to dry before you put anything in them. Newly applied finishes can smell for quite a while. You don't want your bathroom towels smelling like polyurethane!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Polyester body filler does NOT shrink pal.
I make my living making custom cabinetry day in day out.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 2:14PM
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Thank you all so much for your help. I really appreciate it. I am running around with the kids today but will respond more specifically later.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 2:20PM
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cabmanct-Disagree. Poly by itself is as high as 7%, filled gets down toward 1, never reaches "nil" despite the advertised claims that say "no shrinkage".
May be a better option than many fillers but still a poor choice in my experience. If:\over catalyzed,too hot, poorly homogenized catalyst...the shrinkage goes up. Paint it too soon or with too many solvents and it swells and then shrinks back. Sand it before fully cured (24-48 hrs) and the seam can show. ...wood expands and contracts more than poly.

It is likely you know more about wood than I do, and likely I know more about thermoplastics and mixing materials, unless you had a different career before cabinets.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Its never filled in one coat, always several built up coats.
In architectural shops, poly filler is the go to guy.
People don't have the time for West Systems.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 5:34PM
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Thanks again for your comments.

Eric--Your comments were very helpful. Yes, it is a two piece front with a blind dovetail. The issues were only with the two largest drawers. As you suggested, the other 7 drawers have small screws holding the door fronts in place. (Photo attached) But, these two were clearly done in the field/here at the house. I think the fronts of these two drawers are sloppy and the contractor should have discussed it with me.

The cabinets were from an Amish Company in Arthur, Illinois called Kenrose Kabinets. The company is several hours away and doesnâÂÂt have a showroom. I only saw samples of the paints and wood, not the finished cabinets. Communication was difficult and handled through the contractor. Both my contractor and decorator assured me that they were of the highest quality and used in lots of âÂÂhigh endâ houses in our area. It made me nervous, but in the end I trusted the professionals with whom I was working and their description of what type of product I would be receiving. I guess I should have figured out a way to see them, but I am not sure these issues are related to the quality of the cabinet company. Debrak--I recognize that Amish doesnâÂÂt mean they are made well.

The insides of the cabinets are finished with polyurethane. They just are not stained the same color as the outside of the cabinets which doesn't bother me... but perhaps it should. :)

I am not sure how the painted piece was damaged, but it happened on Friday while one of the workers was putting it together. It definitely was not the cabinet company's fault. The hole looks larger in the photo (which was magnified) than it actually is. It will be covered by the glass doors on the hutch. But, I do want the contactor and/or cabinet company to make it right.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 6:53PM
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It'd bother you a lot if the drawers were painted to match inside. They'd look like dark black holes and you'd have trouble finding things. A clear polyurethane finish should be great.

If the door fronts are on straight on your two big drawers, I'd ignore the ugly screw holes, or fill them with putty, and move on.

If they aren't straight but they look like they are the right size and shape, I'd have your contractor out to try again (if you trust him still) or a trusted woodworker or cabinetmaker, maybe even a skilled hobby woodworker, to remount them. I suspect that this would require four new screw holes, leaving the old ones to be filled. Or, it's not too hard if you're handy and like living dangerously.

If they have to be remade you risk the finish being slightly different.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 7:18PM
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