slightly OT: looking for recommendations for kitchen cabinet procurement
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  1. #1
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    Default slightly OT: looking for recommendations for kitchen cabinet procurement

    My house was built inexpensively in one of the Arizona "git'r'done" home-building boom cycles in the early 80's. There wasn't a lot spent on kitchen cabinetry, either in the cabinets themselves or the labor attaching them to the walls. The cabinets are beginning to detach themselves from the walls, due to inadequate mounting and warping of the cabinet structures from the loads imposed. We've lived in the house since 1992, so the changes have been gradual and more or less unnoticed until recently. Long story short -- we need to get some new cabinets, and mount them properly.

    Any recommendations for off-the shelf (no pun intended), moderately high-quality, well-built stuff? I have perused the Lowes/Home Depot offerings in the past, and I saw some Craftsman-style cabinets at a Home Depot that looked nice, but the materials are mostly all particle-board or MDF, with what looks like iron-on veneer (or something). I think they might have been branded Kraft-Maid or some similar name.

    I have zero time and room to build my own, much as I would like, so this has to be a well-considered expenditure. If I engage a cabinet company, what should I look for with respect to gotchas?

    Any insights welcome --

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    I've always had best of luck finding good contractors via local word of mouth. If you know any remodelers, or neighbors who know which end of a screwdriver to hold and had recent kitchen work done, they can tell you the good and bad. The local non-big-box lumberyard could probably give you some leads. I found Yelp was too full of shilling. The cabinets for my last kitchen remodel were built by a guy recommended by our contractor. Turned out to be a good recommendation.

  3. #3
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    My father (long gone) used to make custom kitchen cabinets in the early 1960's
    and we used to have his original Formica samples around.

    Custom cabinets are just that, custom.

    Say you have an 11'6" long wall to fill.
    And you want (6) cabinets, the cabinet is one large frame,
    and the doors are 11'6"/6 each, or whatever else sizes you wanted.

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    I recommend looking into RTA cabinets (ready to assemble) for a good combination of quality and price. There's lots of styles, options and price points from domestically made to imports. They're shipped prefinished in flat pack boxes so there is some assembly, but it's simply gluing and clamping the plywood carcass and the face frames. These aren't high end custom, but a good compromise to the big box junk if you want to spend a little time putting them together.

    There's no excuse for cabinets to start falling off the wall outside of incompetence. Make sure the stud center points are clearly marked on the wall when installing, add blocking if necessary and you're good... **unless you invite the local sumo club over for a game of "let's all climb on the kitchen cabinets together". Another option is to use a french cleat style system to hang them.

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    Making cabinets from scratch is expensive. Spending 20k to 50k on cabinets is not unusual at all these days, and they cost that much because, as we all know, materials have gone up a LOT, and shop overhead is such that you cant make a living unless you are tooled and efficient. In my little town, there is a ten man shop that makes cabinets, and they have a CNC router, the whole setup of 32mm gang drills and equipment, edge banding machines, and lots more. In my area, it takes a couple hundred thousand dollars of equipment to be competitive in building new kitchens.
    The prices are based on real costs. Everybody demands german made drawer slides and fancy pullouts and lazy susans, and that stuff is all quite expensive.
    We just did a pretty small kitchen about 3 years ago. Its not that fancy, no granite or solid wood- and it still cost 2020's prices, not 1960s prices like I wanted it to.

    Cheap, I think Ikea is actually pretty decent. You cant move it- its not well made enough to de-install and re-install, as its all particle board, but its not bad for the price.

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    A couple of options for you, first, my daughter works for a remodeling company... they could get you cabinets and do the install. They aren't the best quality cabinets in my opinion, but they are plywood instead of particle board and solid wood doors.

    If you want to do more of a custom aspect, I used a local place called Cutting Edge Components on one of my last remodels and while I ran into problems with them because I wanted things different than their normal build style, I think they are capable of building some nice carcasses. They have a website and are down around 7th Street and the I-10 if I remember correctly.

    I recently found a CNC router but I'm not anywhere close to being ready to cut stuff out for others, still trying to get the vacuum table set up and finish up some remodeling around my own place.

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    If there are any nearby I would check Habitat for Humanity Restores. I have seen quite a few nice cabinet sets in them. Brand new from high end tract homes, that people have had removed and replaced with custom ones.

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    I bought Kraftmaid cabinets for my office. They are relatively good quality. I also bought American Craftsman, or something like that from HD. Lowes sells the same cabinets under the Shenandoah name. They are manufactured in Virginia. I'm not sure if the same is true out west or whether they have more local manufacturers. They are decent. You can upgrade the cabinets to plywood, which you definitely want to do. I think dovetail drawers were standard with all three companies. They have held up well.

    I'm not fond of European style cabinet hardware because the screws tend to loosen over time, but it had not been much of a problem, and the hardware has held up fine.

    Regarding the finish, get painted or stained wood, or perhaps a good laminate. The cheap white finish that many builders use is Thermofoil. It peels and melts from heat.

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    We bought IKEA kitchen cabinets and drawers. 15 years later everything works and finish is still good. They have an online CAD setup so that you can arrange the cabinetry in your space. The big thing was that all the cabinets hung on a steel railing that you screw to the wall first. Once hung you can adjust slightly up and down and horizontally along the rail.
    Drawers all have formed steel sides. They stand up very well. We chose a plastic finish which my wife loves. My son-in-law helped me and we just followed the diagrams.

  10. #10
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    Thanks to all who offered insights up to now. Lots of interesting options to consider, some of which I hadn't even thought of. I'll take a deeper look at some of the off-the-shelf and RTA stuff, and may end up talking to a cabinet shop just as a sanity check.


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