July, 19, 2000

Well, the World's Slowest Woodworker finally finished his kitchen. I told Deb I could do it in six months, and with accounting for optimism, she should count on nine months to a year: nine months it was. This was a big job for me.

This was a cabinet reface job. The originals were 1950's birch plywood, owner made (which is to say almost nothing was straight). I veneered the cabinets in cherry, finished with Minwax oil based semi-gloss poly (rubbed out of course). I made the doors and drawer fronts from solid cherry. It would have been a one month job or less if I had bought prefinished veneer, doors, and drawer fronts. But, by doing it myself, the whole thing including adding a dishwasher and disposal, which we were lacking, was about $1200, not counting the Dewalt planer. I was concerned about the fact that cherry darkens with age; the newer doors would be lighter than the first ones. But, by sun tanning the new ones to match the older ones, this was not a problem.

The only modification to the top cabinets was the removal of the center stile between pairs of doors This really opened up the cabinets and makes getting dishes in and out of the cabinet much easier.

The bottom cabinets are a single built-in-place unit, and was completely gutted and rearranged. First I had to make an opening for the dishwasher. Next to this went a slide out trash can holder. Then came a pair of doors centered under the sink. The pair of doors is actually somewhat narrower than the sink to make room for the trash can on the right. Last along the front is a nice wide pair of doors. Above the doors are drawers. There was a only a small space between the dishwasher and sink, so I put in a pair of  shallow narrow drawers to hold knives, but put off-center full width fronts on the drawers so they match up with the "door front" below. I've never seen this done, but it seemed a waste not to use all the space since we don't have a lot of cabinets, and they have proven to be very handy. The drawer on the left of the sink is also a little narrower than the door below, so it got the off-center front treatment too. Next to the fridge, there was a single drawer and door, but we decided to go with all drawers. Tucked into the corner, unseen, is a Lazy Susan. The "drawer fronts" in front of the sink tilt out to reveal a tray for sponges and such.

One of the nice things about making the doors and fronts is that commercial ones are always made up of little pieces glued up, and little attention is paid to matching grain and such. I was able to make the small doors with single board panels, such as the two above the stove. And the door frames and panels were chosen to match, and match the third, unseen, door to the left. Panels in larger doors are made from two matched boards.

Here is the base cabinet, where all the doors have similar cathedral grain in the doors, and the drawer fronts run along one after the other as cut from a single board. The drawer fronts next to the fridge are also cut from a single board.

All in all a successful, if time consuming job. I read Herrick Kimble's book on refacing cabinets before starting, and can't say enough about how helpful it was and how well written it was; the final product as well as the ease with which it all went together owes a lot to this book.

On to the next honey-do project!

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