building your own cabinets?

new-beginningJuly 4, 2014

if so, have you purchased any of the components from Rockler? I just got their catalog yesterday and they certainly do have lots of things for woodworkers.

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Trebruchet

new-beginning:

I've assembled quite a few RTA cabinets in my day. Yesterday I assembled two of the cheapest from Lowe's for DW's laundry room. Maybe half an hour apiece, excluding unloading, unboxing, and dragging out all the tools and putting them away.

Unless you too sleep with a licensed general contractor, I'd suggest calculating the value of your time in any RTA project evaluation.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 7:49PM
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gabbythecat

I love Rockler. I've never built cabinets - that would be far beyond my level of woodworking! But if you enjoy that kind of thing and are good at it, why not? If you calculated the value of your time, it might not be worth it, but on the other hand, if you enjoy the work, you'd wind up with a kitchen that would be uniquely yours, that you could be proud of.

This post was edited by gladys1924 on Fri, Jul 4, 14 at 21:13

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 9:11PM
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thepeppermintleaf

We had an Amish cabinetmaker make our cabinet doors, drawer fronts, face frames, and drawer boxes. We made the cabinet boxes and assembled everything. It took us a lot of time but saved us thousands and thousands of dollars...we didn't get anything from the supplier you mentioned though...it definitely helps to have a contractor in the family when undertaking something like that!!!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 12:13AM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

Rockler is a hobbyist supplier, not an actual cabinetry supplier. It comes under the heading of if you already knew where to get better supplies much cheaper, and already owned the massive tool collection needed to do this, then you would just do the job. You wouldn't ask. You'd already know you had the skill set and would have done other similar projects.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 11:03AM
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lazy_gardens

and already owned the massive tool collection needed to do this,

What "massive tool collection" does it take? And what is the cost of that massive collection (home-owner grade, because it only has to do one kitchen, not a kitchen a week for the next 5 years) versus buying ready-made cabinets?

Bottom-of-the-barrel Home depot cabinets are $200 for a 36" sink base and $250 for an 18" drawer base. Buy the tools, make the cabinets, resell the tools.

Here's plans ... (even more than this, including drawer bases)

http://ana-white.com/2012/01/plans/kitchen-cabinet-sink-base-36-full-overlay-face-frame

http://ana-white.com/2012/01/plans/36quot-corner-base-easy-reach-kitchen-cabinet-basic-model

http://ana-white.com/2012/01/plans/18quot-kitchen-base-cabinet-trash-pull-out-or-storage-cupboard-door

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 11:21AM
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ajc71

"What "massive tool collection" does it take? And what is the cost of that massive collection (home-owner grade, because it only has to do one kitchen, not a kitchen a week for the next 5 years) versus buying ready-made cabinets?"

It does not take a "massive" tool collection, but it certainly does require a tool collection and a skill level to get this work doneâ¦

"Bottom-of-the-barrel Home depot cabinets are $200 for a 36" sink base and $250 for an 18" drawer base. Buy the tools, make the cabinets, resell the tools."

Good luck with that, no way you can make the cabinets cheaperâ¦.and if you look at CL there are numerous repeat posts everyday where people are trying to sell off their cheap throw away tools

Sorry but based on your posts, I think you would be much better off purchasing the cabinets

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 11:47AM
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chiefneil

Until very recently I had the "massive tool collection". Despite that, I chose not to build my own cabs for our den; I got RTA from Scherr's instead. Whether or not it's a project you want to tackle really depends on how much you value your time.

Building the boxes doesn't require much in the way of tools. You could probably make do with a circular saw, straightedge, clamps, and basic handtools. Making the doors is where it gets hard. To properly prep raw lumber you need a planer, tablesaw, jointer, dust collector, sander, and some decent quality clamps. If you want to do floating panels, then add a router or router table.

It's not really worth acquiring all those tools for a one-off project. If you're into woodworking and intend to get many years use out of the tools, then that's a different story.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 3:08PM
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feisty68

I love my new European Blum tandembox full extension soft close drawers from IKEA. And the price is right! I just don't know how a hobbyist could even purchase the hardware affordably because we don't have the buying power that a company like IKEA does. And the building materials are not so simple either. The structural particleboard that IKEA uses for cabinets is not the same as what you would buy in sheets from a big box store. It's far denser and lower in VOCs. 25 year warranty!

Assembling the IKEA cabinets was ridiculously easy. But there is plenty of carpentry to do if you are going to customize the installation - that's a great place to put that kind of energy. Also, customizing the cabinet fronts is a great way to upgrade and save money.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 5:14PM
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cookncarpenter

How about meeting half way with building your own? I'm a woodworker, and for years I would build the boxes and face frames which is basic 8th grade wood shop skills.
I would then order doors and drawer boxes from local suppliers, and assemble in my garage. It's a nice way to save some money and also feel like you have done something yourself. In fact, I know several custom cabinet shops that do the same thing, because it is not cost productive (and too time consuming) for them to build their own doors and drawer boxes.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 7:24PM
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susanlynn2012

Thank you Feisty68 for letting us know that you felt it was well worth it to get the IKEA European Blum tandembox full extension soft close drawers. I am still not sure what I am going to do with my kitchen but I need to decide soon. I have had some major emergency dental and electrical expenses and had to also buy a new car, so I want to save money where I can.

Thank you Chiefneil for letting us know that you got RTA from Scherr's instead of building them yourself.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 7:50PM
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oldbat2be

DH, incredibly handy with carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing, made our custom shaped bathroom cabinet as well as 4 recessed in wall cabinets (doors, everything). It took FOREVER!!

Just saying. DIY projects go on and on....

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 7:56PM
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new-beginning

first off, I redid one wall of my kitchen 3 yrs ago with IKEA, and still need one more cabinet (drawers) to complete - don't plan to build only one item;

second I got the catalog because I plan to re-veneer an oak table that I know for a fact is more than 50 yrs old - my FIL decided to STAPLE down the veneer that was coming unglued - Rockler has a nice selection of veneer (wonder if one could reface cabinets with veneer?)

Incidentally, my Dad is a carpenter (retired) who has built a fair amount of tables, bookcases, etc and he has taught my brother well - brother has most of Dad's extensive carpentry collection.

Was simply curious if anyone had ordered from Rockler; next project after table is to repair a wicker bassinet that is 75 yrs old.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 8:59PM
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rmtdoug

I've bought lots of stuff from Rockler but never cabinet hardware. It's much cheaper elsewhere. I also have a full woodworking shop, but when it comes to cabinets I will gladly pay someone else to build the boxes. I may build the door and drawer fronts but there is no way I can justify my time to build the boxes. As above, the Ikea Blum tandembox's with custom fronts are probably the best deal anyone could possibly find in cabinets.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 12:46AM
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lazy_gardens

I would then order doors and drawer boxes from local suppliers, and assemble in my garage.

If you read the links I posted, that's what Ana did ... built the boxes and the drawers (Blum's Meta-Box is really cool and easy!) and bought the doors.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 7:34AM
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CEFreeman

Ironically, I have a massive tool collection,
I've taught myself 1) what they are and 2) how to use most of them.
I've built my own cabinets, but quit when I used up the materials I already had, and discovered I can get "orphan" cabinets at the reuse centers for (uppers) $5.00 and (base) $10.00.
Time + money +MATERIALS +quality +compared to me teaching myself on the job? No brainer. Buy the cabinets somehow. I'm partial to the reuse centers because plywood cabinets are almost always custom and interesting.
Some, when I could save the money, I buy from The Cabinet Joint.com and assemble myself.

That said, I've picked up quite a few cool toys from Rockler, Van Dyke's, House of Antique Hardware, A.H. Turf, DH Lawless, etc. You need to shop, though because prices vary widely.

Now I'm almost done with miles of cabinetry am down to making frames and doors with my fabulous Kreg Pocket Hole jig and my little beading tool someone made for me. I'm facing built-in bookshelves and some frameless cabinets I got at H4H. This is easy, inexpensive, and actually kinda fun. Making the cabinets while not knowing my ears from my elbows? Not really so much.

Screw that "feeling of accomplishment" and go with easier, even if you have to pay for it. Buying the stuff to make your cabinets cost you far more in the long run.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 10:08AM
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jakuvall

Rocker is "ok" for tools, prefer woodcraft and Highland hardware. Several better sources for hardware.
Build em yourself only for fun, I didn't and I used to built em for others. Lousy way to save money. If I wanted inset, mortise and tenon framed maybe.

Boxes are the least fun, finishing is a challenge. Drawers can be funny, a few doors can but it's a Lot more fun to make a table, hutch, chair.. need a bit more skill, use less or no sheet goods, have more finish options and mostly can be done with hand tools.

Look for " old tools", get good power tools, and get a few Fine Woodworking books, practice.

Note that carpentry skills and tools only slightly overlap cabinetmaking skills and tools.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 11:58AM
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new-beginning

Jakuval - you have no idea what a tool collection my Dad had - just so you know, we finally took away all of his power hand-tools in April - he turns 101 yrs old on Saturday.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 7:35PM
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chiefneil

Besides the other sources mentioned, you might also want to check out Lee Valley for woodworking equipment.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 9:30PM
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CEFreeman

Oh! I forgot about Lee Valley and I love them for many, many things. :)

new_beginnings, did your dad happen to teach you or your siblings how to use those tools? Not being snotty, but it would sure facilitate building cabinets if you decide to go that route.

The tools I didn't have, which were very few, I got from a friend's dad who was breaking down his decades-old workshop. He was thrilled someone was going to use them. My planer, jointer, another router, dust collection system, scroll saw, and a few other things plus many, many accessories came from him. I use them a lot.
So my point is that your dad's tool collection could be a godsend, can't it?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 9:57AM
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live_wire_oak

It's the skills of the cabinet maker using the tools that is more important than the tools. After all, plenty of olden days furniture was built using a hand plane to get straight flat boards. Not that anyone in their right mind would want to go back to that.....so, some tooling is indispensable. It's the experience level using those tools that makes the difference between this being a fun project, and one that makes you tear your hair out.

And it's VERY telling that all of the pros, and most of the skilled amateurs have responded in the negative about making their own. Count me in that camp as well. It's not a money saving proposition at all if you put even minimum wage value on your time. You do it for "fun" as a hobby, not to save money. If you keep count of the hours, you spend far more on DIYing that you would to buy a really good already built brand. So, the labor intensive process becomes more important than the actual end product in a situation like that. If the end product is more important to you than the process, it's time to rethink doing the job.

Either way, we'd enjoy seeing pics of your shop setup and your efforts along the way. One of my favorite kitchens that was DIY was Pharoah's, with the built in fish tank. So, if you are committed to DIY, you can get some really personalized results. And, if you count your labor as "hobby time" only, and only count the dollars spent on materials, DIYing can let you buy better quality materials than you could if you were paying the labor of someone else to produce the cabinets for you.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 10:27AM
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mateo21

Maybe I'll be a voice of dissent here, although I would echo the sentiment of a lot of people here - yes, if you value your time as listed above and compare it to bottom barrel home center cabinets, the math does not work out.

I built two cabinets in my shop with a table saw, circular saw, router, and a drill; as part of a warm-up/skills learning for a half-kitchen cabinet building session. You really don't even need the table saw - good setup with a circular saw (or better yet, a track saw) will yield great results.

Face frame was assembled and attached with a precision doweling kit (... here come the woodworking purists with their pitchforks!!!). The boxes come together fast -- screws act as clamps, undersized plywood router bits make dado's that keep everything square.

The same doweling jig was used for door construction using poplar (they were painted cabinets), using s4s lumber from a local yard, sanded flush, etc.

Buy high quality plywood - no voids, almost no thickness variance. Layout your parts carefully - this way you can cut your dado's before you cut the individual parts to size (or use a table saw and a dado stack w/ fence, but the router works fine with a good straight edge).

The point is - for about $150 in materials you can get 3/4" plywood boxes with hardwood face frames and doors... which, IMO, is pretty cheap - and (most importantly) fun to do.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 1:25PM
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ajc71

"The point is - for about $150 in materials you can get 3/4" plywood boxes with hardwood face frames and doors... which, IMO, is pretty cheap - and (most importantly) fun to do."

No doubt you can build a couple boxes for $150 in material, but even in your list of steps if you add up that tools required it starts to not make sense pretty quick

If I were to start from scratch and purchase what was need to perform the tasks on your list it would look like this:

Saw horse $50
Table saw $400....bare bones, homeowners saw with no Dado capabilities
Router $150
Router Bit $25
Chop saw (cut face frames/door pieces) $450
Dowel jig $50
Bit for dowel jig $10
Orbital sander $120
Sandpaper $20
Screwgun $150
Drill bits.drivers $20
Clamps $75
Putty/paint/brushes etc $50

If you can the table saw and go circular and track you are looking at $300 (that is not the festool that is in my truck, that set up was $1500)...for $300 you get a low end saw and very low end track

So for approx $1600 you can build your couple cabinets, add in $150 for material and you hopefully have a truck you can bring them home with...plus that 20 hours or so that it will take to figure out how to do whatever it is your doing...those HD cabinets for $200 are sounding pretty good to me

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 2:01PM
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CEFreeman

"Putty/Paint/Brushes etc."

"And don't forget those special, square tipped screws," she whispered, "I hope they're in the 'etc.'"

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 2:35PM
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ajc71

""And don't forget those special, square tipped screws," she whispered, "I hope they're in the 'etc."

Nah, gave up on those years ago...now the only screw we use is Zip Drivers, self drilling and self countersinking Recex square-philips combi recess in zinc finish....

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 2:40PM
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weedyacres

I built the cabinet boxes and drawers for our kitchen remodel myself. We went that route because we've challenged ourselves to maintain a $5K total budget for a complete kitchen gut job on a $60K house. It took about 4 months of Saturdays so yeah, way slower.

I did a mix of rehabbing boxes (converting door bases to drawer bases) and building new ones. I will buy doors and drawer fronts. I did luck out by getting a bunch of cabinet shop plywood blanks for $3 each off CL, and I recycled some 3/4" t&g paneling into drawer boxes, so total cost for the cabinets is around $1000 for the carcases and $1500 for the doors/drawer fronts. I bought 75-lb, full-extension drawer glides on Amazon for around $100 for 18 (9 pairs), so they don't have to be super pricey.

An identical kitchen from Lowes would have cost $9K just for cabinets. Savings=$7500. That'll build us a laundry room addition. :-)

I had all the tools:
table saw
router & router table
drill/driver
clamps
pocket hole jig
nail guns
big shop (at work) to build them in
big truck to bring them home in

I did them in production mode so I could router all the drawer box sides at the same time, etc.

So while it took a long time, I enjoyed figuring the whole thing out, and I've got the pride of craftsmanship and the pride of budgetwomanship. I also liked being able to completely customize the sizes to fit in my kitchen.

And, to the OP, who wasn't asking if it's worth it, I didn't order anything from Rockler. :-)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 2:40PM
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CEFreeman

"WHAT!?" she screamed.
Ok, 'nuff of that. I don't know these magical screws. Got a pic somewhere I can decide if I should get some? I'm about to hang 16' 10" of floor to ceiling cabs....

Thanks!
C.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 3:09PM
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juno_barks

Yea, I'd like to hear more about the screws, too.

I'm building my ikea kitchen boxes now, and am amazed at how perfectly everything has worked. Its like a dream! At least so far.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 3:15PM
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ajc71

Sorry, that is a different screw altogether...this is what all my guys use in the field during install, nothing else really like it in my opinion

Be careful on this website, lots of temptations on there...and I have fallen for pretty much all of them!

Some of the things they offer will give you the "DUH" why didn't I think of that....

Good luck with your install

Here is a link that might be useful: Fastcap

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 3:17PM
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ajc71

And we use Deerwood fasteners for all of our regular assembly, general purpose stuff....started buying these about 20 years ago and have never switched.

You can certainly find cheaper screws, but we feel these are the best quality

Here is a link that might be useful: Holy grail of wood screws

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 3:22PM
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mateo21

"Saw horse $50
Table saw $400....bare bones, homeowners saw with no Dado capabilities
Router $150
Router Bit $25
Chop saw (cut face frames/door pieces) $450
Dowel jig $50
Bit for dowel jig $10
Orbital sander $120
Sandpaper $20
Screwgun $150
Drill bits.drivers $20
Clamps $75
Putty/paint/brushes etc $50"

A $400 table saw should have no issues with Dado's, you can get an OK stack for $80, which deletes your router necessity.

$50 for a sawhorse???? How about 3 2x3 studs from HD for $2.15 each - hell, HD will cut them all for you - all you need are screws.

You do not need a chop saw. I redid my entire, small (1200 sq ft) home's baseboards and door trim with a miter box; considering cutting 1x stock for doors/face frames is not grueling by any stretch, it could be done.

Power sander? Isn't 100% required, try craigslist for $30.

I could go on - however, I doubt that anyone who is thinking about making their own cabinets has ZERO tools - which is your assumption. Most people own/have access to at least 75% of the tools on your list. I'm sure there are homeowners out there that have no tools, but how many of them would consider building cabinets? Very few I would wager.

Additionally, those $200 HD cabinets are most likely not high quality ply with hardwood face frames.

My 2c, however to OPs point, yes I have built some kitchen cabinets and I will build more! For me it's worth the cost, and my time because I think it's enjoyable.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 3:47PM
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new-beginning

I'll try to get a picture of the office desk Dad built; my brother has the majority of the tools (along with my BIL) - I'll try to get a pic of brother's shop along with a picture of the rocking chair brother built for his wife.

We have the basic tools, table saw, miter saw, circular saw, sawhorses, hand saw, drills, etc. - however, I still plan to do the last (pony) wall with IKEA. I'll probably use Rockler for the veneer for the 54" oak table.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 8:26PM
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