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Barker cabinet box concerns

Posted by suburbanjuls (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 17, 13 at 17:31

Hi all,

I was hoping to place my order for Barker cabinets today. Now I'm not sure. I don't know if I have unrealistic expectations or not. Perhaps I should preface this post with this statement. Hello, my name is Julia and I have been obsessively planning and researching every last detail of this kitchen remodel for close to two years. I have interviewed no less than a dozen contractors and been in contact with almost as many KD's. My KD doesn't get me but has happily helped put on paper and plan out all my ideas for the kitchen. I am very happy with my contractor as he seems almost as picky about the details as I am.

I settled on Barker for the cabinets since I was blown away with the quality of the doors. The materials they use are top of the line and what I wanted anyhow. I almost didn't choose them due to the fact that the whitest white they offer isn't white enough for me. I wanted the factory finish they offer since I'm in CA and have spoken to several folks who have has issues with paint we can get here not holding up. So painting locally is not really a viable choice for me. The price point also enabled me to be able to budget in the high end appliances I wanted.

I ordered a sample cabinet and my contractor put it together over the weekend. He felt that it was not easy to get things to line up and that he would need extensive clamping to get things tight and even then there were some other issues. I also realize that he put these together without looking at their website, but he has assembled (Chinese) cabinets before so assembly is not a foreign concept to him.

I have emailed Barker about all this and another main area of concern is the edgebanding. It is not painted, but rather PVC edgebanding. I was totally under the impression that it would be painted wood veneer since there is no mention of PVC anywhere. When I saw it I immediately thought it was melamine. Barker says it is color matched, but to my eye it is noticeably lighter. When I asked about it, he said it was a durability issue, which I do get.

Aside from the difference in material from the door, there is a small lip where the panels to not fit perfectly flush to each other. I am worried about it catching dirt and chipping. Because its not flush, there is a shadow line that makes it appear even darker and therefore drawing my attention even more. This is apparently within the normal tolerances of 1/32".

Basically, the feedback I got from Barker has been very helpful all along and it seems like the issue is partly with my contractors overzealous tightening and partly with my noticing the tiny details that everyone else happily accepts as normal. If I've simply gone stark raving mad it won't surprise me, and I won't fault you for saying so. If I have a valid concern, please let me know as well as if you have any tips for me.

Does anyone have close up pics of the corners where the panels meet so I can see what everyone else is dealing with? Here are my corners.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

That's normal cabinet construction. If you want a flush end, you have to specify it or buy a skin.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

I think you may have gone a little mad... ;)

If you want perfectly flush everything, I think you're going to have to choose built in place custom cabinets with frames. Because, even when they attach cabinet to cabinet, there will be little variations in "flushness" so to speak.

Remember too, that you will have doors on as well as countertops...

And, the white might be making it more noticeable (than, say, wood stain).

But, yes, I think you need pictures from people with closeups, and then 3ft away... Because, only you will be looking at them from 6 inches away. And, only when you are first inspecting them. (what do your current cabinets look like from 6 inches away?)


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

since that is a frameless cabinet I do not think the OP is incorrect- however since it is an RTA that is likely what you will get.
You can get tighter tolerance on a factory assembled frameless box, of course not all and you will be paying more.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Which areas of the box are these? My frameless factory cabinets are installed, but no counter yet so I might be able to get similar pictures to compare for you.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Thanks all,

I feel as if I have started climbing down the 'Cliffs of Insanity'. I do think that this is just what I'm going to have to accept as normal with these RTA cabinets. It's kinda a bummer since the doors are just so loverly. It's like they are the not so pretty sibling. Perhaps I can grow to love them in time due to their excellent composition.

Okay enough hyperbole, I will talk to my GC about the assembly because now he wants to charge a lot more since he thinks it was such a PITA. I'm going to take it apart and reassemble myself so I can see how tight I can get it without clamping.

The pics are of the top and bottom corners of the cabinet, what you would see when the door is opened. I didn't add pics of the corners where it is hinged but they all look the same.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Well, I think these would be similar areas on my cabinets.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I think your sample looks pretty good. I'd bet you can get things a little more flush with better assembly technique. Sounds like there was quite a process going on there, and my experience has generally been a good deal less complicated with RTA stuff.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Hey Julia,

I just received my Sapele sample from Barker today and thought I would show you some additional pictures. I talked to my GC earlier this morning regarding my idea to use RTA cabinets and the first thing he said was that "they are never flush but take a look when the sample comes". I'm not sure if this is the flush he is referring to but assuming it is, I guess he is right.

I found the cabinet to be very easy to come together but my tolerances may have been a little lower than what my GC is going to want.

Let me know if you want any additional pictures. I did these with my iPhone but I could take some more with a macro on a real camera.

PS: Not sure what ended up happening here with the end banding trim, I didn't notice this rough cut until I took these pictures. I don't think my assembly caused this but I can't be sure.



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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Is your GC trying to assemble them by himself? If yes, he's right, it will be a PITA and need a lot of clamps. Or that's my experience.

In the assembly video, Chad breezes through one all by himself, but i don't think he's really trying to get it all flush.

OTOH, my 80 year old parents stayed with us the week the cabs arrived and my dad and I assembled a lot of them by ourselves and DH and I did the rest later.

If you work out a good technique and one holds and one uses the drill it's not hard. Good tools are a must, we used an impact driver. That 3/4" plywood is sturdy and regular electric screw driver will not give you the power you need.

I wouldn't say every surface I have is 100% flush with every other surface but I'd say they are within very tight tolerances.

As others have said, you'll never look at it that close in real life.

Search for the anatomy of Barker cabs post, it has lots of shots of my fillers etc.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

lucas_tx, your post has some great pictures. for others: lucas_tx anatomy of barker cabinets

when I assembled, I just let the wood come together naturally with the pull of the screw, I didn't attempt to keep it flush.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

That wouldn't pass my quality control for frameless. Frameless needs much more accuracy than that if you want a good install. There's no face frame to "hide" the fact that something isn't square or has lippage. Frameless is also much less forgiving of poor assembly technique. A LOT of the structural integrity of the cabinet is resting on the shoulders of the homeowner for a RTA cabinet. I've seen RTA frameless that were falling off the walls because of poor assembly and installation. Framed cabinets are much more forgiving of novices than frameless are.

There will be a new player on the frameless front next year, that I'm sure will pass even the nit pickiest of QC inspectors. However, the price point won't be as cheap as Barkers. But, I think that getting quality frameless is very much a case of you get what you pay for, and part of what I'd be happy to pay for is the assurance of the structural integrity of the cabinet because it was assembled by professionals in a plant. (Ikea is about the only exception to my rule on that, as they've made DIY assembly into something that even kids can do.)


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

live_wire_oak, tell us more about this new frameless player. Do they need some lab rats? :)


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

They want to officially announce at KBIS in February, but let's just say that they are WELL known for producing quality custom cabinets.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

I'm following this thread with interest and concern... having still not pulled the plug on which cabinets to go with.

live_wire_oak, are you saying that IKEA (at something like $3500 and partical board boxes) has MORE structural integrity than Barkers (at something like $11 with plywood and real wood doors)? Because the next step up for me, even keeping fairly low end, starts sneaking very close to 18-20K (Bellmont 1900). Probably a few thousand less if we went with mostly Bellmont 1600 with a few 1900 cabs where we need custom. What do you recommend for someone like me, thousand of miles away from my nearest IKEA and in a modest house, with a modest budget?


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

It's hard for me to believe that these Barker cabinets might have structural integrity issues. They may not be as clean as another maker on close inspection but after holding the cabinet in my hand, I'd be surprised if this thing ever falls apart.

I'm sure all RTA aren't created equal but the Barker cabinet is the first one I have seen in person and it feels very solid to me and others that I have shown it to.

live_wire_oak, based on the pictures that we have shown you, do you believe there is an issue with these specific cabinets standing the test of time?


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

If they aren't supplying the correct assembly hardware, and the end user isn't also using glue in the assembly, then yes, I'd be concerned about their longevity. Even cam lock assemblies can wriggle their way loose when stressed. Gaps and lippage create stress in frameless. Framed cabinets have the face frame to create strength. Frameless rely on precision cutting for exact fits and the correct hardware and assembly. It's an integrated whole.

Does anyone have one that's not put together, together with a pic of the hardware? Did everyone use glue during the assembly as well as the supplied hardware?


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

I just put together a sample cabinet yesterday and, having used IKEA for my last kitchen, I would say the Barker cabinet is far sturdier. No cam locks, just really thick screws. The IKEA cabinets (which I loved) did not seem totally sturdy until they were installed and screwed to one another, whereas the single Barker cabinet sitting in my dining room would be very difficult to knock over. I don't think the very, very slight lippage in the corner of mine is going to affect the integrity at all.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

One pre-assembly picture:

Confirmat screws, uses for assembly:

This post was edited by n123 on Wed, Jun 19, 13 at 14:16


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Reading this discussion has been so helpful to me, it is great hearing the responses about what is normal with this type of cabinet. I just need to decide if I'm okay with it. I think I am because the kitchen needs done now but it isn't my dream kitchen. We plan on being in this house for another 5-10 yrs and need to make it function for us as our kids are growing. It really should have been done a few years ago and I really can't wait for this new cabinet line although I will be I interested to see it.

I don't doubt the structural integrity of these cabinets but I will have to see if I'm really saving any money after paying more than expected for assembly and install. Trouble is, I dont have a runner up. The next closest was Ultracraft at around 50% more at least just for the kitchen as well as not including any of the banquette area.

I should be able to take apart and reassemble this afternoon,
I'll post pics when I'm done.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

There is a youtube video you can find of Chad throwing one of his cabs off the top of his factory. If you think those screws won't hold the thing together, you might want to find that and watch. :-)


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Julia, I wonder if you couldn't take on the assembly yourself? Maybe invite your friends over to help in exchange for pizza & beer (when finished, of course!). It doesn't sound that difficult (says the woman who isn't going to do it).

I don't know of any frameless cabinets that come assembled -- anyone?

There are framed cabinets that are budget friendly and have gotten good mentions here that come assembled.

I just get irritated to hear that your GC wants to increase his price because it is "too hard" when other GW's have managed it. YMMV.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

For $200ish we got a really nice set, a Makita impact driver and the regular drill, two batteries, etc.

Tell your GC to stuff it, get your friends as suggested and put them together yourself. ;-)

Installing them is a little more challenging sinceboth flat and level are important but there is nothing stopping you putting them together and letting him install them.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

At HD, they have several sets like the one lucas_tx mentioned. There was much debate between the Makita compact set and the Milwaukee set when I went last week. In the end the free third battery promotion plus the metal chuck and heftier weight swayed me toward the Milwaukee. I like the way it clicks when the bit is in tight too. Very tough choice though! Took me over an hour to decide, they were great sets. Especially if you toss another brand or two in the mix.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

There are many many frameless lines that come assembled from the factory. Most, in fact. Flat pack assemble yourself cabinetry is more the rarity than ordering already assembled cabinets.

And no, having that amount of inexactitude and rather lackluster quality control doesn't bode well for longevity, even if it is a budget price point. I wouldn't personally accept that.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Response From Barker Cabinets:

I do not normally post to the GW forums as I enjoy watching our previous customers sharing their real world experiences with our cabinet line. That said, any sort of lip, or inconsistent joint with the sample cabinet construction is not common. Small parts like the top and the bottom may have shifted slightly on our CNC equipment resulting in an anomaly not be expected in normal sized cabinets.

We use an Italian Morbidelli CNC machine that is considered the highest quality cabinet part CNC on the planet. The cabinet parts are machined to the highest precision available to order to ensure the cabinets are perfectly square and extremely durable. Absolutely no parts are hand drilled by a human. Hand drilling would create a lot of issues with construction as it is not precise enough to pass our quality control. Computerized cutting and machining ensures accurate joints and easy assembly.

I have attached a picture of our CNC in action, taken earlier today! It is cutting the 45 degree angle for an adjustable shelf that goes into a wall 45 cabinet, enjoy!

I have also posted a link to the YouTube video where we test the strength by throwing an imported face frame cabinet (cabinet is from another online cabinet vendor) that used cam locks for assembly, and our standard cabinet off the roof. Enjoy!

Overall, we stand behind our product 100%. Ask any customer that has used our cabinets before, they will testify to the quality and the service.

Chad Barker
chad@barkercabinets.com

Here is a link that might be useful: Youtube video of us throwing a cabinet off the roof!


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

"There is a youtube video you can find of Chad throwing one of his cabs off the top of his factory. If you think those screws won't hold the thing together, you might want to find that and watch. :-)"

And I would be certain that that was not a random off the shelf cabinet but one built expressly for that purpose (I don't even need to watch the video to know that). Also if you really think a flat pack cabinet can be glued and screwed together and not have to be clamped well......


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Williamsem....

On the drills, we went with Makita because a guy who did some framing for us used them and we were impressed by the recharge time on the batteries....15 mins.

"Tiny" (who isn't) kept one on the charger and one in use and said "If you run out of charge doing that, you're just working too hard"

Millworkman...maybe you can get Chad to send you a sample, to assmemlbe in the standard manner, (screwed not glued) and you can conduct an independent 3rd roof tossing!


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Chad,

Both Julie and I have recent samples that both have visible lips and it sounds like this wouldn't normally be expected. Obviously when we show these cabinets to our GCs, they aren't very impressed with the visible lip.

From that, I have a few questions:
1) What would prevent a full run of full size cabinets from having the same issue and why is it that the smaller cabinets do have the issue? Is there a different QC process for the big cabinets?
2) Everyone is talking about clamping, would that be in any way part of your recommended assembly procedure? Can we expect a flush top without clamping? I stayed rather true to your youtube assembly technique for my results.

I think the problem with the sample cabinets arise when the product leaves the realm of DIY because we go to get assistance from professionals for assembly/installation and they end up not being impressed with the tolerances. if I was attempting to install these myself, I may not have noticed anything amiss until my FIL came over and yelled at me or the counter top guys complained about an uneven surface.

My GC actually hasn't seen my mini-cabinet yet but he pre-warned me about the flushness when I briefly mentioned what I was considering. I'm on the fence about showing him at all because we may end up with a local cabinet maker.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

n123,

1. Basically, due to the small width and depth of the sample cabinet at 12 1/2 " wide and 12 deep, the DECK and TOP parts end up being 11" x 12". Such small parts just barely hit the pins that reference the Y and X axis on our CNC equipment. In addition, these parts are only being held down by only two suction cups (normal parts are held by 4 or more suction pods) while they are being machined. We drill horizontal holes in the sides and a dado in the rear of the part. Any slipping of the part, even 1/32" can result in a small lip. Keep in mind the way the confirmat screw sets up in the wood will yield a very small variance (usually within 1/64") that can be adjusted by tapping the part into the correct position using a mallet or the palm of your hand.
I have adjusted the CNC with some new suction pods to eliminate this issue for future sample cabinets. If you have a sample with a lip, email me and I will have a new one shipped, no charge.

I don't want to rip other manufactures cabinet lines and construction as I am not here to slander the competition, but I have yet to see another cabinet company offer a sample cabinet for sale at all. Most will not supply a sample as it doesn't work well for their sales pitch to see their quality prior to delivery of the order. Just a thought, check around.

2. I am not sure how clamping will contribute to better assembly. We have used clamps back when we built face frame and flush inset cabinets. You use the clamps to hold the face frame on the case prior to nailing. The GC may be used to assembling face frame cabinets that require glue and clamps prior to assembly. Most other cabinet companies that provide assembled cabinets that are stapled and glued together in the factory. Staples and glue are both areas that are very prone to failure. Staples loosen and fall out, and glue can degrade over the years especially in humid/wet conditions like at the sink cabinets. We use metal screws and American made plywood to bond cabinet parts together, no glue. For our cabinets to fall apart after installation, one would have to unscrew the parts. This is not possible as the screw heads are always covered by another cabinet or a finished end panel preventing them from unscrewing. Another way would be to take a sledge hammer to the face of our cabinets, but the cabinet won't go down without a fight.

3. When sourcing cabinets, keep in mind that a lot of contractors will try to stick with their local cabinet maker as they are used to working with them on past projects. This works well for the contractor as they are able to stay within their comfort zone but they typically supply a sub standard cabinet for up to 50 to 60% more than the cost of ours. They will then find every excuse to try and tack on charges for things like assembly, and installation. When price is a concern, make sure you compare apples to apples with cabinet case materials, hardware, and overall quality. We include the very best of everything without special up-charges for things like PureBond plywood case (no formaldehyde), soft close slides and hinges (Blum), dovetailed drawer boxes, conversion varnish finish, all Made in USA components, etc.

I would recommend assembling the cabinets yourself rather than paying someone else to do it. Ask anyone else who has purchased our cabinets how fast they are to assemble. In addition, you will have the pride of knowing you had a hand in building your cabinets, and you might end up having some fun too! :)

Chad Barker

Here is a link that might be useful: Barker Cabinets


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Hey Chad,

Thanks for answering the questions. Understanding how this sample should be viewed is very beneficial to discussions with the GC. Even if we build them and supply them, I would still rely on the GC to do the install and take care of counter tops so I wouldn't want to give them any ammo to attempt to bad talk an alternate supplier. There is some risk the home owner takes in pursuing an alternate cabinet supplier that the GC may not be comfortable with and we should be as informed as possible.

You may want to put a note on the sample cabinets suggesting that they are intended to be used to understand finishing materials and general build methodology rather than a perfectly scaled example of a larger cabinet.

Thanks


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

but I have yet to see another cabinet company offer a sample cabinet for sale at all

You have to get out more. Scherr's will sell you a sample cabinet. Moreover, they will credit you the price of that cabinet if you order more cabs from them.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

Almost any reputable cabinet company will order a sample cabinet if the customer requests it. But, most have actual showrooms where people can view them in person themselves without having to order one to see it. And all cabinet companies that aren't' fly by night Chinese will order you a sample door at the drop of the hat, usually for around $50. Even some of the fly by night ones will order you a door. A sample isn't at all unusual. Except when it looks like third graders made it. At least the maker cares enough to apologize for the poor quality though. The Chinese crap ends up looking the same way with no apology. I guess the point is that you can get Chinese or American cheap cabinets, but you sacrifice quite a bit to do so. And that many people don't understand what they are sacrificing, and don't really care even if it's pointed out to them.


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

One thing that I have noticed, which may be relevant to this discussion , is in agreement with one point made above. The GC's that I spoke about my project with had suppliers that they wanted to steer me to (cabinets and flooring).
I found that some of these suppliers had the same brand name products as available elsewhere, but at much higher prices. This led me to question just why the GC preferred that supplier. For a "good working relationship"? I didn't think that I wanted to pay a premium for the GC's comfort zone if that was all it was, or for the kickback if that was what it really was...


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RE: Barker cabinet box concerns

I care. I am just terribly confused. This stuff is all way over my head...


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