cabinet re-facing question.

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Next month will mark 3 years since my wife and I bought our first house. We have dumped a lot of money and work into it and love the house. One thing we both definitely do not love is the 1986 model red oak cabinet doors and faces with the lovely dark cathedral grain.

I have thought a few times about redoing the cabinets but never gotten further than, "I would love those to be cherry, man that's going to be a lot of work".

I got tO actual looking around today and it seems I have two options.

1) build new face frames, doors and drawer fronts. Replace the the side panels that are oak covered ply with cherry ply

2 vaneer the face frames and side panels with cherry, re build doors and drawer fronts

I like the way our cabinets currently sit orientation wise. I have no issue re using existing boxes.

For those who have re faces a kitchen, is it really this simple or am I dumbing it down a lot?

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We have lived in our house for 45 years and at one point had the kitchen cabinets re-done the way you described in option "#2" and have been very happy with it.

I think that he used "door skin" material at the time to veneer the face frames and sides and re made the doors and drawer fronts to match. 

The contractor told us that just because the cabinets were built in the 1950's didn't mean they were bad or weak and probably built better than any we could buy or have built now (then).

If you are going to re-arrange or change the layout then, that is a whole different thing.



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I did refacing for quite a few years then grew a conscience. Look at your cabinets, are they stock boxes are the "custom"? Stock boxes will have multiple boxes screwed together all dimensions will be divisible by 3.  What material are the boxes and drawer boxes. If the drawer boxes were made right the fronts will be glued if they are planted fronts and will need to be rebuilt anyways. How are the cabinets hung? Can they be removed without damaging the walls?

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I think you should consider the option of building new boxes.  If the old cabinets can be removed with little or no damage to the walls, then you have some additional options, like making the upper cabinets taller, or even extending them to the ceiling.  I'm sure your wife would like having more kitchen cabinet space.


Regarding the face frame option...can all of the face frames be removed without damage to the boxes?

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I am in the same boat. I have really well made oak cabinets that my wife and I just don't care for. 


I've looked a ton of options to try and reface them, but I keep coming back to just making / buying new cabinets. It's partly because I want to extend the uppers to the ceiling, and partly because I haven't found a technique that I was comfortable with producing good results over the oak grain without a ton of effort.

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Removing face frames on a properly made cabinet is not going to happen without destroying the boxes. Thin veneer is and option but looks like crap. Thick 1/8-1/4" thick cut prefinished refacing stock looks much better but is not cost effective compared to making new face frames. Drawer boxes will likely need to be rebuilt. Prefinished 12mm birch boxes cost on average $8.50 per LF even if you have to pay some crazy full retail price for prefinish birch ply maybe $17 per LF. You can save some on building customs This saves you one panel per box compared to stock boxes. For your lowers if you leave off the toe kick and use levelers or ladder frames you will save more on sheet goods. To keep the price down use common sense and avoid marketing hype. 3/4" boxes are no better than 1/2" boxes. Prefinished ply is cheaper than buying unfinished and cans of finish, and its a better UV finish.

Doors and drawers are going to be your biggest expense. You can likely reuse the hardware and that will save quite abit assuming yours is still in good shape. There is a bunch of waste in doors and drawers unless you have a source for good clear lumber. Cabinet shops buy presorted and color matched lumber your not going to have that option unless you have an in with a shop.

One nice thing is going to be no down time. Most homes today the cabinets can be easily removed without damage to the drywall. This means the wife will stay happy. Once the cabinets are built its just a weekend job to get the old cabinets out and the new ones installed.

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Several years ago I modified, added trim & refinished our kitchen cabinets & they look great.  But it was a ton of work & we still have the same crappy cabinets.  They look like a silk purse, but are still just a sow's ear underneath.  I'd rebuild from scratch if/when I do it again.

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We had our kitchen refaced many years ago which involved application of PSA veneer to face frames and new doors and drawers. It was very acceptable and a lot less than a new kitchen. It is an option if you don't want to re layout the kitchen. This was done before I took up wood working and I eventually did a refacing job to two different bathrooms and realized how simple it is and how much I could have saved on the original kitchen refacing had I done it myself.

However, after 14 years, the kitchen really did need to be replaced. At that point, I ripped out the old and built a new kitchen using the WW skills acquired over the years.

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I can't put them on hold, I've barely started thinking them through yet. I've got a solid month of procrastinating till I do something and batch them out in a few hours according to KCooper.

I already have a work bench or should I say a bench that works. It's too small and too light but it is there.

Before I dump a grand into this bench build, there are some things that severely need upgrading first. See craftsman 38" total length jointer. .I can barely joint stiles long enough for a picture frame on that thing. Decent long 8" jointer will come before bench. Can you imagine trying to joint your top lamination pieces on a jointer just over 3 feet? Me either




I decided to respond in your thread, instead of overtaking Josh's journal.


"procrastinating" is the wrong word...designing, planning, and decision making, drawing...  Planning is the most important phase. Perfect execution won't overcome a bad plan.


"craftsman 38" total length jointer"  Hopefully you can get the 8" jointer before starting your kitchen.


"dump a grand into this bench"  More like 2 grand...and it's an investment that should a lifetime.


Please start a journal of your kitchen...




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