Reality check needed. Custom guy is not an 'artist', am I picky?

deedlesDecember 18, 2013

Please, I do need a GW reality check. Either I'm obsessing on minutiae that doesn't matter or there are things I have to address with the guy. Losing my objectivity and getting emotional will not be helpful or good for anyone, starting with me.

Here's the thing:

I have come to the conclusion that my custom cabinet guy is not an 'artist' by any stretch. He is a builder of solid, non-fancy things with a nice catalyzed finish. No paint, no glazed nor hand-rubbed nothin'. Fine with me. He is also a very decent person that has been more than accommodating to my requests to tweak this or that. DH says he is confident that the guy knows what he is doing so we want to work with him still on the kitchen, but...

I wanted him to do the bedroom wardrobe before the kitchen cabs so I could learn any issues with his methods BEFORE I let him loose on our white oak planks for the kitchen. Glad I did.

So, he installed the bedroom wardrobe drawers and doors a few days ago. They look lovely, however, I have a couple things that I'm not sure about and I may be nuts or maybe not?

Here are the things I question:

1. The drawer boxes are 1/2" 9 ply plywood sides and bottom. They are unfinished but sanded smooth. Is that weird? It kind of bugs me but he says he doesn't finish his drawer boxes. I have checked drawers around the house and have some on various things that are both finished and unfinished. It never occurred to me to ask.

Is this normal that they are raw unfinished wood? Does one want that in the kitchen with moisture/grease/etc?

2. Drawer construction is glued and stapled (not nails, staples) butt joints. Even the bottom. No dado or rabbet for the drawer bottom.

I've read about this since 5 am and understand that people do this and the glue is what holds the wood together... the staples, or nails just hold it until the glue sets.

This construction worries me for my kitchen drawers and my question is, should it? Or is how he does this just fine?

What is worth demanding on drawers for structural integrity?

3. He used the economy (less than 10 bucks a pair) KV full extension glides and I hate them like poison. Now, these are 24" deep, 26" and 35" wide drawers so do glides that long on drawers that big just slide 'harder'? Honestly there is very little 'slide' to them, I pull out and push in. If you try to slam them shut you can't... they stop about 4" from closing and you have to push them shut. You could probably kick them shut... maybe I'll try that...

Could it be that they aren't installed correctly somehow that is causing them to bind or something or are they just crappy or? The cabinet guy says they'll 'break in' with use? I don't get that answer either... it's metal. How does that 'break in'?
It's starting to drive me to distraction how much I hate these things. I might be making them worse in my head than they are but I was so disappointed when I pulled on them and they didn't roll smoothly.

Does anyone have KV glides that love them? (The reviews aren't terrible and no one seems to hate them like I do... most feel they are a good value for the money.)

I have no handles on yet, would that matter to how they pull?

Feeling the rumblings of an inner child temper tantrum based on what I think I know, but maybe I'm wrong. Really need some objective info and advice here. Thank you!

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The plywood drawers are possibly his standard construction, did he say in his quote what his construction method was?

And they may possibly be blind mortise and tenon, not simply butted and stapled?

How are the drawer bottoms secured, just nailed from the bottom and not trapped in any type of dado?

If they are applied then I assume the KV slides are side mounted? I have found that as you put weight in any drawer with a side mounted slide it will slide a little better..certainly not like a undermount slide, but you do get what you pay for

Again what was in the quote for drawer hardware?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:33AM
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Nope, glued and stapled. No blind anything.

His quote. Well, he doesn't write detailed quotes and we didn't ask him to. We got an overall, general quote for the $$ of the whole thing. It's like a hundred bucks a foot, give or take, depending. He's reasonable and I do feel we got a good bedroom wardrobe for what we paid him... not a killer deal but fair.

His integrity is not suspect with us, just the way he generally does things might not be what I want.

We've spoken at length and he answers honestly and will do whatever you want, my problem here is coming upon things I didn't know I wanted til now so I want to make sure I get this straight before he starts building the kitchen cabinets.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You already "knew" all of this from the other red flags you had with dealing with him. Move on to someone else.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Hi Deedles, I think drawers need to be made very well to stand up to the rigors or kitchen use. I can't speak to the KV slides but I would not be happy with glued and stapled butt joints and I would not be happy with unfinished interiors.
I want to be able to take everything out of my drawer vacuum out the dust and crumbs and wipe it down. I have kids, they throw silverware into the drawer when it is still a little drippy sometimes. I want to know that the drawer is protected. I have unfinished drawers in my living room cabinet, that's fine, it just holds remotes and maps, but it is not what I want in my kitchen.
Glued and stapled drawer bottom is not going to hold up to a set or two of heavy flatware for years. I think the bottom should be set in a groove- but that's just me.
What does your DH say about these construction details- he's handy, he has an opinion, is this really how he thinks the drawers should be constructed? I know you both like the guy and I am avid about using local people but these details do seem worrisome. I am eager to see how others weigh in.
Hope you are having a snowy, happy holiday!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Well, how expensive is he? My guy was not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I got very acceptable cabinets configured just the way I wanted for the same or less than IKEA. So that's a factor. If you're paying a fortune and won't be thrilled, I'd find someone else.

My guy also used the KV side-mount slides, and I made him take them off and remake all the drawers to use Blum undermount. I hated them just like you, and the price difference was very, very worth it. We had a tense evening when I came home and found the wrong slides! If I were you, I might also ask him to finish the insides of the drawers. We did our own, and it was a pain (and not as good as professional, I'm sure).

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:59AM
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I am really glad you are not my customer, if that tells you anything.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:59AM
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Based on the $100 a ft, you got a killer deal and exactly what you paid for...and based on your comments, I am with Trebruchet thank goodness you are not one of my customers

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:02AM
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Sophie Wheeler

$100 a foot? I wouldn't expect anything for that but the most builder grade unfinished particle board product. Start doubling that for decent quality. Triple that if you want some features. 10x that if you want the typical Houzz to the ceiling stacked molding, glass doors, elaborate this and that and stuffed to the gills kitchen. And then expect to pay a finisher another 25% to finish them.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:18AM
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local: Yes, I already told him that I wanted the drawer boxes finished inside. He said "okay, no problem". It helps to know that you have some that are unfinished in your furniture.

Still up in the air about the drawer construction. DH says when he makes drawers he glues and nails them. He says (and I've read) that the modern glue is stronger than all get out and holds like iron. He has no problem with the glued butt joint but would use nails (or even screws for his big workshop drawers) only because he doesn't have one of those fancy staplers. DH also thinks the bottom would be better in a dadoe (sp?). Frankly, he's not all that worried about it.

Holly: that's not really an option at this point and I don't think it has to be over something that can be rectified before the fact. As I said, he'll do whatever I want, this is just his default construction. I just want to know what to tell him that I want. Do you have any thoughts on what I could tell him to do, drawer construction-wise?

I want solid, structurally sound drawers that look reasonable esthetically. I don't care that much about dovetail or not looks-wise. I just want them to stand up to being in a kitchen.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:30AM
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Jeez Trebruchet and AJC71, you guys don't have to be nasty. I guess I'm glad I'm not your customer, either if asking some questions is a big problem for you both. FWIW, he's very nice and so am I and we get along just fine.

It's a hundred-ish a foot because we supplied all the white oak for the project, if that helps. Ya, I know it's a good price and I'm confident that I'll get probably better cabinets than I'm paying for, all I want is to make sure I'm getting good drawers and I'm willing to pay more to him for that. Why is that such a problem?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Sophie Wheeler

It's not just about the drawers. If he's not up to snuff on them, he's not up to snuff on the rest of the box's construction either. That's the tip of the iceberg that shows there are problems elsewhere. He's simply not capable of producing modern kitchen cabinets to the standards that are acceptable for an actual custom cabinet maker. And that's why he doesn't charge like an actual custom cabinet maker. He's not one.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:43AM
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Agree with hollysprings....

You should have asked, and he should have given you how the cabinets were to be constructed. I knew EXACTLY what I wanted and what type of construction I wanted. I gave that to my cabinet guy and he gave me the price. I didn't guess how how the drawer boxes were going to be made, nor whether the insides were laminated etc.FYI I paid about $225 a foot for my cabinets and they are considered medium grade, custom built.

Sorry you feel you got ripped off, but as always....buyer beware

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:56AM
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Holly: point taken. Are you saying then that glue and staples is not up to snuff? Is glue and nailing better? Are butt joints no good at all or fine and dandy? This is what I'm looking for.

It isn't a kitchen cabinet shop, it's a woodworking shop and he does build cabinets and freestanding things and knick-e knack-y things, etc. He's quite busy, has repeat customers and has a big shop with expensive big equipment and has been doing it for 25 years or so. He's one guy that builds things the way he builds them but he'll build them different if you want him to. He has one woman that does the finishing and his elderly mother takes care of the storefront. Rural. He doesn't advertise other than the sign out front, it's all word of mouth which is how I found him. My friend at work bought a recycling cabinet from him 10 years ago and is still happy with it.

Totally not up to date on 'modern' kitchen... still does 3/8 inset doors, which is fine with me.

Can anyone tell me how a structurally sound drawer is constructed?

rmiriam: thanks for the pertinent input on the KV. Glad to know it isn't just me. I'm going to use something else.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:58AM
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If I recall, you wanted a lot of drawers in the kitchen. I would put a lot of heavy things from the kitchen into a wardrobe drawer and see what happens.

I'm having visions of the friends of mine (now divorced) who kept saying on their wedding day that everything was going to work out great, even though the "signs of trouble" were everywhere.

You can't divorce your kitchen, but you can divorce your kitchen contractor!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:01AM
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cblanco: I know how the cabinets are constructed and they are fine.

Yes, I should have asked about the drawer boxes. But I didn't think to.

No, I don't feel ripped off. They aren't even built yet.

I'm starting to regret this thread. :(

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:02AM
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Yes, you're being too picky for the price level that you paid. You got what you paid for, at the level you paid for it. You're shopping at McDonalds and talking prime rib. The two do NOT go together, and it's futile to try to do a makeover of your carpenter. He's NOT a "cabinet maker".

There's really no way to "upgrade" a dinosaur into the modern age or into quality production procedures or materials that he's not used to doing. You're not dealing with someone who can do what you want if you have to ask him piece by piece for the absolute simplest standard methods and materials.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:06AM
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I am sorry if I came across as nasty, was not my intention...

As for the drawers, a joint that is butted and nailed/staples/screwed/glued will all work and is considered economy grade...obviously not as good as a dovetail or box joint

I would be much more concerned with how the bottom is attached, there is no way that a large drawer with an applied bottom is going to hold up to daily use....should be dadoed onto the front and two sides, approx .5" up from the bottom of the drawer

I am curious how you think the cabinets are constructed are fine, but you didn't know how the drawers were constructed?

How are the cabinets manufactured?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:13AM
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Deedles, I'd ask him to make a sample drawer box using the quality construction you were expecting. Sounds like you're very happy with the door and drawer fronts and the finish. What about the boxes?

And I'm with you about the tone of some of these posts! Don't see why any of that was necessary!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:33AM
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"You should have asked, and he should have given you how the cabinets were to be constructed. "

I can't recall a contractor I've met who thinks it makes sense for some woman to be involved in the details of how they do things. They get uptight or pat you on the head and do what they want anyway. How do people here actually manage to accomplish this aspect of things? "I want dovetailed drawers" would probably fly but some of the other stuff we run into ...

On the woodworker, since you are familiar with construction and he will do things how you want, it sounds like you will have to spec it all out first and adjust the price accordingly for the additional details or work that's involved.

I have furniture drawers that seem unsealed but would not want that for a kitchen or bathroom.

Deedles, keep your chin up. Don't understand what some of those comments above were all about or why necessary.

P.S. Did you get multiple quotes to know that $100 a foot, materials included, was dirt cheap? See his work? It sounds like a lot of money to me as a layperson who would have no idea the base costs involved in their production.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Dec 18, 13 at 13:36

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:36AM
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deedles, I only know you through GW, but I can tell you're a nice person, and probably a hell of a lot of fun.

I feel for you and I feel for your carpenter guy. I want him to be able to deliver what you want, but I suspect he can't. You were smart to have him make the wardrobe as a trial piece. Hopefully you can live with it and regard it as a cautionary tale, that you came *this* close to having major heartache with your kitchen.

I realize how much you attend to detail. Your kitchen is a big deal to you, as it should be. Like me, your money needs to be well-spent.

Do you have a Plan B? Do you have the time and funds to consider it?

Don't fret over the negative comments. It's just people on the internet. :)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:37AM
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Deedles, don't regret the thread. The drawer glides can be easily resolved by upgrading to better glides. I can't help with "how tos" of drawer construction but someone here will. Then you can talk to him & find out if he can make them to your specifications. The low budget price may be for the low budget option. He may be totally capable of using a better method to make your drawers. If he can't, then you & DH make your decision about whether to use him or find someone else. Many consumers aren't as well informed as GWers. There's lots of things I've learned here that I just didn't know to ask about in the planning phase. Don't beat yourself up (or let others beat you up). Not sure why some feel the need to just post nasty comments - without also contributing helpful advice.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:38AM
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You don't say if he's built any kitchens. I would hesitate if he hasn't. If he has, I would ask to see one. We used a custom shop and were able to see a recently completed kitchen and get a feel of what the remodel would entail. The recommendation is to see a kitchen that is several years old too to see how it's holding up.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:50AM
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How the box is built and assembled, as well as how the doors are constructed is just as important as the drawer construction.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Cope and stick (faster)
vs. Mortise and Tenon (stronger)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 12:01PM
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It was you who asked if you were being too fussy and I answered in a way that I hoped would grab your attention.

It sounds to me like the guy knows what he is doing and you are getting what you've paid for. Use some wipe-on finish in your drawers if it makes you feel better and communicate calmly with your cabinetmaker. Everything will be fine.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 12:10PM
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I did the same thing when I used a custom cabinet maker back in 2005. I just "assumed" a lot of things. I ended up with nice cabinets, but the bottom "floor" of my wall cabinets was 1/4" and the screws for my Xenon undercab lights went right through them. It never occurred to me to ask how thick the bottom of the cabinets would be. I work in cabinet sales now, and I've never seen a cabinet with such a thin bottom. Those are the little things that would occur to me now to ask. (and I am surprised at the questions people do ask when picking out cabinets).

These things happen, and don't beat yourself up or let anyone else do that. If you want higher quality, you will have to pay for it, and I wouldn't trust anyone who doesn't automatically build (and charge) for the better quality materials and workmanship. You may have dodged a bullet.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 12:19PM
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ajc: okay, no offense taken. Thank you for the info on the drawers. That is helpful info, thanks.

Well, when DH and I went to his shop DH asked about his construction and he uses pocket screws for the cabinet boxes, which I understand is fine? I looked at the stuff in his shop but for some reason the drawer construction escaped my attention, I was looking more at finish, overlay, inset vs. framed, etc and relying on DH to discuss the nuts and bolts. DH was satisfied that the guy knew what he was doing and so was I and I still am other than the drawer thing.

Not sure what you mean by how are they manufactured? It's one guy building stuff in his quite large shop. He's not a "fine furniture" builder and doesn't purport to be, but he's not a crappy fly-by-night guy either.

I agree with the dadoed drawers in the kitchen.

may flowers: those are both good ideas. I will do that for the boxes for sure. Thank you. He has built kitchens many times and has a lot of freestanding cupboards and gun cabinets and such in his store that he builds, too.

snookums: your comment "On the woodworker, since you are familiar with construction and he will do things how you want, it sounds like you will have to spec it all out first and adjust the price accordingly for the additional details or work that's involved. " Yes, that's right, that's exactly what I'm thinking. I'm probably a bit fussier than most of his customers and I will have to spec it all out and adjust the price. I'm just trying to make sure of what I'm "spec-ing". Thank you. I thought it was a good price, but as I said we supplied the wood for the project which helped the price about 20%.

linelle: Thank you :) It's kind of late in the game to change horses mid-stream, budget and logistics-wise. We need to get this done as we've been running two homes and all the remodeling expenses and it's getting to be burden-some both financially and personally as DH and I spend so much time in separate places for the last 2+ years. I'm going to have to hand-hold this cabinet process and am willing to do so. I already told him when it gets to the drawers and doors I'd like a sample made up before the real wood gets started and he was fine with that. There is also the option of getting drawer boxes made at a local company that does only that... the cabinet guy said he's used them before and they do dovetail, etc. Lawd, I hope you are wrong. I know he's not Michelangelo but he does simple and I only want simple so I'm just gonna make a stand on the box construction and glides and keep an eagle eye on the rest as it goes along. I will throw up if this doesn't work out but we have to get this over with and sell our current home so we can have a life and some money again.

Live Wire: thanks for the pics. I'll be printing them out for our next meeting.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 12:41PM
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Oh. Here is a pic of the drawer in question.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 12:47PM
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Looks like a fine drawer to me. I'd be extremely surprised if you experienced any kind of structural failures with those drawer boxes. Regarding the unfinished plywood, I think that's fine, even prefereable, for a bedroom, but sub-optimial for a kitchen. I'd follow trebuchant's recommendation to hit them with a little danish oil or something if the cabinet maker won't apply something for you.

The only thing that stands out to me from this entire thread is that you aren't comfortable with the quality of the hardware - that's the one part of the system that I'd focus the most attention and resources on because that's where you're most likely to have issues.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Deedles, based on my layperson's eye, the drawer you posted here would not hold up well in a kitchen.

However, if you are comfortable outlining what you want, then do that. He's probably the type of carpenter who gets requests for pieces of furniture or other items without specifics. So, he builds them as he builds them, as you note. That's apparently worked well for him for 25 years, right?

So, if he's receptive to your requirements, and you have a good working relationship with him, it will be fine, as long as you are clear and specific. Based on my experiences with any type of remodeling project (kitchen, basement, bath), communicating what you want is 90% of the process.

As an added note, can you see the kitchens he's built, just for your own reassurance?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 1:26PM
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Woodworkers and (kitchen) cabinetmakers are not the same thing. Neither is better or worse-just different. There are very few people/companies who can do both well-and those ones are typically at the very top of the market.

Someone who builds freestanding furniture has a different skill set than someone who builds long runs of boxes.

Cabinetmakers (kitchen) are closer to machinists than furniture makers. Tolerances are much tighter and construction methods are often quite different.

And of course, price plays a role in all forms of construction.

This post was edited by hortonbrass on Wed, Dec 18, 13 at 13:48

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Deedles- First....hug, hug, hug!!! You've had a rough time with this and a rocky beginning to this thread. You post anything you want to and if people don't like it, they don't have to respond :)

That being said, I think you're now getting some very helpful responses. I do NOT think you're being too picky, because drawers that hold up to basic use have nothing to do with price point. The overall type of construction..yes, but not whether they're going to work properly.

In our current home, we have drawers that have never fallen apart and they are stapled. They also aren't very wide and I don't have a lot in them. We have mice (and lots of kitties inside and out) but we still get mice in the drawers every once in a while...mostly in winter. So, nothing that isn't used daily goes in the drawers, since lack of use seems to make them think it's available space!

Anyway, drawers are fine, but hardware is starting to break (kind of ornate and edges haven't held up). This is all what we inherited on farm, so I really can't be too picky (LOL) but I hope that helps. Slides are under drawer, but I think they're actually plastic...but again, still working.

What if you find slides you prefer and see how much more he'll charge for the dovetail construction. Maybe that's already what you're planning to do, but whatever you decide....take a deep breath, have a nice cup of tea and don't worry about it quite so much. Believe me, there are worse things to worry about and you will get through this and have a lovely kitchen. You just need a little space for a few hours to think about what a wonderful year this really is, how everyone is hopefully doing very well and you are in the position to be putting together your dream home...even if on a budget.

Now..........go have a nice afternoon and don't worry too much. It's going to be fine, you have your info and you'll figure it all out at the meeting. Take the afternoon off, if at all possible! :)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 1:57PM
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Let me just chime in: I'm always awed by people in any trade or business who know so much about their field. It would not occur to me to challenge them, or to even make suggestions, except for decorative decisions. On the other hand, just because we assume the tradesman knows every corner of his business doesn't make it so. If we see something that doesn't look right, we have to ask the questions and it may indeed be that we have chosen the wrong worker. But even the educated person doesn't know what questions to ask in advance: we can only react after the fact. We MUST assume a lot--we don't have lifetimes to spend learning every detail of every trade on the planet.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 2:27PM
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I learned a ton of stuff during my kitchen remodel, and way more than that afterwards, just by continuing to hang around GW. It continues to be a place of sharing ideas and expertise that I find very valuable as a single woman dealing with a house on my own.

I had an iffy relationship with my GC. It started out okay but he didn't like me questioning anything he did. He would become defensive, huffy and not speak to me. We got through it, but I would never hire him again, esp. now that I know enough to totally drive him nuts.

Deedles, at least you're at the front end of your cabinets, when hard questions do need to be asked and see if there are alternatives/upgrades that satisfy you and make you comfortable with your guy.

I can say that my kitchen cabinet boxes are the original builder's grade installed when my house was built 23 years ago. The construction of the drawers would bring gales of derisive laughter from experts, but they are still very serviceable and cause me no heartache.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 3:12PM
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I think that many folks on this forum underestimate the bonding strength of modern wood adhesives...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 3:21PM
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Boy, does this sound familiar!
My reno started in early June, with the contractor we hired (eliminated one because he has a reputation for slowness) claiming he'd be finished by late August. We did the design with a cabinet outfit that also could do the whole reno. They balked at pulling permits, so the plan was to buy cabinets from them and have the contractor install.

Then the cab maker disappeared. Despite the time he had sunk into the project. (This is an owner and, eyeballing in a factory visit, maybe a dozen employees.) Not returning calls or answering email.

So the contractor we hired (a GREAT finish carpenter) was just as happy -- he wanted to build them anyway. We went with him, rather than a quick quote from an Amish guy, because he said he could get it all done in the time frame.

Off by about 5 weeks.

Anyway, despite having the equipment he wasn't happy about dovetailing. So we agreed on rabbeted joints for the drawer boxes, understanding that modern glues are stronger than wood. He wanted to do 3/8 inset, carrying along the doorstyle of a hoosier cabinet.

So living now with a more or less finished job (more tasks including a couple of drawer and door issues are supposed to be cleaned up tomorrow) I can say that I'm not concerned about the drawer boxes falling apart. The fact that you can get cheap Chinese cabinets with dovetails tells me that it's become a standard, and a quality tell that no longer says much about quality.

The bigger frustration is the 3/8 inset. It sort of suits the old house here, but the limited selection of hinges, especially good hinges, is worth thinking about. There seemed to be some installation issues with drawer slides (accuride full extension soft close and non soft close here). Apparently the drawer lip makes for a bit of an installation adventure. That is among the fixes for tomorrow.

We're thinking that we have maybe 5 more years or so in this house. We wanted something functional that looked good enough and fit with the house style. The next owner will probably want to bust through the back for an addition, so Crown Point quality wasn't what we were after.

If you've stuck with the long story: rabbet joints probably won't cost you more and are fine. Watch for the inset! It's a pain!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 3:56PM
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I didn't mean to offend deedles. I was merely pointing out that a reno, especially in the kitchen or bathroom is a LOT of money and needs to last a LONG time. Its YOUR money and YOUR kitchen. You need to make sure what you are getting is what YOU want. Real life isn't like HGTV where you say I want x and people just go do it to perfection.

If a tradesman you are working with, especially your GC, would huff or scoff at you asking them how they build things, it would be time to get a new trades person.

I hope it all works out for you.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Dont regret the thread. Hugs.
LOL- there have been threads I have regretted BTW.
my bottom line- ask for the dado for the bottom, ask for the better blum hardware and pay the differential.
I am quite sure I am a customer that many people do not want, perhaps even my cabinet maker thought that. Though now we are best buds and he brings prospective clients to my house....You are helping your woodworker expand his portfolio and area of experience. Remember this. All the questions you are asking are things he will discuss with his next kitchen cabinet customer. You are helping his business grow. And that makes you the best kind of customer-period-end of story.
relax- smile- pour wine

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 6:36PM
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People with abrasive or confrontational attitudes both on the internet and in person often times serve to complicate the design/building process. Their attitudes can put others on the defensive and hinder the communication process which often times leads to important questions not being asked. I have never witnessed you be anything but cordial and the same respect should be given to you in return.

You have a tradesman who by all accounts is willing to have open dialogue and communicate effectively and that should not be over looked. With that said that does not mean he is or isn't the man for the job. One of the differences in old school vs. new school is that kitchen drawers are no longer used how they once were. There tends to be more drawers utilized in new school kitchen designs and those drawers are often larger and intended to hold heavier items than in old school kitchens. Certain building techniques used in drawer construction that may have worked with lighter loads and smaller drawer sizes may not suffice when the requirements of larger kitchen drawers are considered. AJC71 gave good advice when they stressed the necessity of dadoing the drawer bottoms. As for the other issue while a butt joint may be sufficient it is the most basic method of wood joinery. The next step up so to speak would be a box joint. My preference for drawer construction would be dovetail joints especially if you are going to be in this house for a long time and the way you plan to utilize the drawers is demanding.

I would finish both the inside and the outside of drawers intended for kitchen use. When you finish only one side of a piece of wood that creates an environment in which each side of the wood absorbs and or sheds moisture differently than the other side of the wood. These conditions can lead to warping of the drawer boxes.

This gentleman has offered to make you a sample. It would behoove you to get a sample from the company who strictly makes drawer boxes as well. Do a side by side comparison as well as a cost analysis and see what works best for you. It helps that the gentleman you are currently working with has worked with the drawer company in the past and is willing to work with them again. If you would like to post pictures of both drawer boxes I will help you look them over as best as possible from pictures.

Please don't let anybody fool you into thinking you are somehow at fault for asking questions or you are too fussy. Not every tradesman is right for every customer and not every customer is right for every tradesman. Anybody who thwarts your effort to make an informed educated decision on an important investment such as this is not worth your time or money.

This post was edited by SaltLife631 on Thu, Dec 19, 13 at 5:07

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 8:23PM
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Look at this wholesale supplier from La Crosse Wisconsin.
Your woodworker can order the boxes from them.
I'm sure he knows them.
This may be the best long run option.

Here is a link that might be useful: Walzcraft

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:39PM
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Excellent post, SaltLife631!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:48PM
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I thought so too! Thanks for posting.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:02PM
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We are planning our kitchen now and looking at different drawer types/qualities. We will be building the cabinet boxes ourselves but ordering the drawer boxes and doors. The drawer boxes are 3/4 inch solid maple with dove-tailed construction and then sealed. You could possibly even order the drawers from somewhere else and have him install everything. I definitely wouldn't want unsealed drawers in my kitchen!

Once the work is finished, you are stuck with it! We had a beautiful door custom made at a very reasonable price, but when finished the ratio of the window to door was a little off. To everyone else, it looks amazing - and even to me it looks amazing, but the window still bugs me. Lesson learned- if you know what you want, make it VERY clear and have a record of it. If it is something that matters to you, and it clearly does, I would say find a way that you will be happy with the result :-)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 1:16AM
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Here is another Internet hug for you.
I feel your pain.
I wanted dovetail construction on our drawers and I do have that.
Silly me, I assumed dovetail construction meant solid wood.
I would follow the advice of the others above on your drawers.
I would definitely do the Blum glides.
Hang in there. Your kitchen is going to be awesome!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 5:17AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You need to double check all of the other specs. Pocket screws for the box construction can be OK, but that's only the actual fastener, not how those pocket screws are used. What's the corner bracing? Solid top? Is the back in a dadoe? (Maybe not since the drawers aren't.) Do the uppers have a solid load bearing back, or just a hanging rail? How is that rail installed, if that's what they use? What about the sides? What type of joint do they use there.

I'm sorry you have to micromanage things here, but that's IS what you're going to have to do if you go with this guy. Like I said, the poor drawer construction is just the tip of the iceberg. What good is installing the best Blum drawer hardware if the sides aren't attached well enough to be able to support the weight of the pots and pans you put in those drawers?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 9:23AM
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I may have missed it, but is it possible the drawers for this non-kitchen cabinet were constructed for lighter use?

I think the comment about male contractors patting women on the head and sending them on their way is a rather sweeping generalization, and sexist.

I think there are two general types of contractors, those who don't want any questioning or input on how they do things, and those who are more interactional.

I have gone as far as to transfer the drawing of a construction document right on the wall, to scale, only to still not have the contractor follow it because "they didn't think I understood what I was talking about". And I am not female, they are just the type of person who doesn't do things in any other way than how they do it and they don't want to be told.

The general contractors I like working with best are female. One of them, however is Extremely controlling, and I basically had to pass a sort muster that I could produce good shop drawings and construction documents. Also, it says right on their webpage that if they are allowed to control the entire project as a design/build and make specifications and selections that they will Charge you Less for the Job than if you are involved in the process. They will listen to you as much as you want, for a price. And it's not a male contractor vs. female client thing.

However, I think you need to know what you are talking about as a client in order to be listened to, and probably most clients do not. I have had clients who are absolutely clueless about details and for the most part, they are not all that interested. However, it is difficult when someone is clueless and still wants to be highly involved--and they want things that either can't be done (and don't understand why) or they want things done at the fraction of what it actually would cost.

I don't think this is just because a client is female--not in my experience.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 9:31AM
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Deedles, I think you will be fine, you've been here long enough to spot issues coming. Like the drawers.

I'd bet this guy priced what gets most people in the range they think they should pay. And it's probably fine for most people and perfectly acceptable.

You want something different, and are willing to pay the difference. He's willing to do whatever you want. Sounds like things are going well so far!

You might not get top of the line $120k cabinet quality, but it should be a far cry from bottom of the line super economy builder basic. And they will have the things important to you built in.

You can do this!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 10:21AM
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"Like I said, the poor drawer construction is just the tip of the iceberg. What good is installing the best Blum drawer hardware if the sides aren't attached well enough to be able to support the weight of the pots and pans you put in those drawers?"

hollysprings, with all due respect, you could place a block of lead inside that drawer with those slides and it would last . As was stated before, you are underestimating the strength of modern adhesives. Drawer bottoms of solid wood were originally dadoed to allow for expansion and contraction, long before the invention of dimensionally stable Baltic birch plywood. Like rodding countertops, some "old school" practices are made obsolete by modern technology, especially in light of consumers pressure for custom, yet less expensive, items.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Deedles, sorry for the OT, but I have to ask Trebuchet a question in reponse to his last post.

We are using Ceasarstone and will have an overhang. What is the largest overhang we can have without support? The entire countertop is 10' x 38", the overhang is about 55" long (a little less than half of one of the long sides).

Sorry deedles, but I have to add I thought williamsem's post was on the money.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:45AM
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Thanks everyone for the hugs and nice (and helpful) posts. I'm confident that I can find a satisfactory solution working with this guy. It feels silly, indulgent even, to get so wrapped up in this stuff when all you have to do is take a look around yourself for real world trouble. A man I worked with just lost his wife unexpectedly and tragically. Now he has an 11 y/o and 15 y/o with no Mother. Bet he'd like to be worried about if his drawers are sturdy or not instead of what he has to deal with.
Some one I know said, "I think if everyone on your block threw all their troubles out in the street you might take a look and run out to grab your own back."

Going to try to count my blessings and work this cabinet thing out in the level of importance that it belongs. But, the good info here helps me to know what to ask for NOW, before the die is cast, so thank you all for weighing in.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Deedles, you are so right. I'm going to remember the "run out & grab your own troubles back". Very sorry for your coworker's & his children's tragic loss.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 2:07PM
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Glad you seem to be making progress! Can I ask a dumb question? When people cite a cabinet cost "per foot," do you double that where you have both uppers and lowers? (My guy IS an artist, but I don't have the numbers back yet.)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 3:42PM
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If I may ask a related question to yours, Lori - how can cabinet people give a cost per foot when there are so many other variables involved? Or is that just the base price, then they start adding costs for doors, pullouts and drawers, etc. - ?

To be honest, I don't remember *how* our cabinets were priced. Our custom cabinet maker (in Monroe, WA - for any of you in Western WA!) just gave us a price that was better than Lowes. And we wound up with standard features that would have cost massively extra at Lowes. But I really don't remember how they were priced - how does the number of drawers factor into the cost? Maybe I should have figured this out before we ordered, rather than after the cabinets were installed..but I'm curious!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 3:53PM
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It depends on the thickness of your top. Without looking anything up, I can tell you that 3cm Zodiaq (DuPont's quartz brand) can be cantilevered 14" without support. Since all quartz tops are essentially the same, I doubt if the Caesarstone specification is different.

It sounds like you're going to need a custom steel frame reinforcement which can be mounted to the adjacent cabinet.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 4:09PM
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Gladys, I think it is, as you suggested, a base that reflects the boxes plus some other assumptions, then you add on the "extras" from there. (Our guy is in Seattle, so not too far away from you.) Sorry, Deedles, back to you!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 4:21PM
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sjhockeyfan: the CS install specs are linked below

Deedles: Glad to hear things are working out. I had some similar issues with my FR builtins... the drawers had a similar joint, although I knew the material would be different (melamine on plywood, not veneer). I consciously scaled back on some upgrades, but it was my choice.

Here is a link that might be useful: CS specs

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 4:29PM
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I don't think the per foot thing is standard pricing out there. This was a ballpark from our guy as I didn't yet have the cabs for him to estimate and that was I'm sure on his regular, non GW influenced cabinets, haha.

No doubt it'll be more than that at the end of it all.
(Hopefully he won't add on a 'naughty customer' fee like we got with our dog at the groomer one year.)

I would think the upper length would have to be counted in the per foot price if a person was actually going to price it that way.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 5:30PM
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Deedles - first...a virtual hug for you. I haven't read all of the posts here, but some seemed a bit harsh. I hope that you don't become discouraged from posting here. You know, most of us have NEVER done this before and have limited knowledge...most of us go into this going, "I'd like to get a new kitchen and I'd like to get one that will look nice and last." Most of us have no IDEA initially of what really makes for a good or bad cabinet. And really, why would we? Most of us land here because we Googled something about kitchens and low and find a group of TKO individuals. And you begin to look at your kitchen renovation with completely new eyes, hopes, and expectations.

There are many, many, many good things that I have gathered in my time here. But, I've also learned that in many cases some of the things we are obsessing over about cabinets often don't amount to too much when they are in place.

We just tore out a kitchen that was installed in the 1970-ish era. It was old time melamine(?) type cabinets with a faux-walnut color. They were simple cabinets. The doors stayed closed with a magnet. The drawers were side slides and were nothing even remotely close to dove-tailed. And you know what...the cabinets were still perfectly functional. Nothing was falling apart.

Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't endeavor to get the best quality possible. But, there might be a little bit higher concern over things than the average person has. And if our "crappy cabinets" that were in our previous kitchen could stand up to 40-50 years of service, I'm hoping that these new ones might do the same.

Hang in there. It sounds like your cabinet guy will work to provide you with what you just might need to become better versed in the overall construction aspects than you intended and you'll have to detail those things out. And it might be a little higher cost than you initially planned.

Good luck. Once again - hang in there. :)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:05PM
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