Building kitchen cabinets.


Weenis
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Hi all.

This is my plan and would like your thoughts. After watching many videos and alot of research, i've decided that building my own custon kitchen cabinetry is something i can tackle. I was quoted $15,000 3-4 years ago for cabinets, counter top and installation. My thought here is by doing it myself, i can buy all of the tools i need to do this and have the tools pay for themselves and maybe even save money on top of that.

I plan on spending $2000-$3000 on power tools. Table saw,router table and router,planer,jointer,and misc. stuff like clamps jigs and such. I have a miter saw and some other tools already.

Thoughts and suggestions greatly appreciated.

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Very ambitious. Not sure how practical.  A few questions to ask yourself, do you have the space to store while in the construction phase?  Do you have any finishing experience?  Do you have a deadline?  There are a lot of people even on sites like this that have the skills, but still buy cabinets.  

Let's examine your budget for tools, which is probably getting close to not being sufficient. Let's add it up for contractor grade tools.  Contractor table saw $400-600, jointer $600-800, planer $500-600, router $150-200, router table $200, dust extractor $100, clamps you will need a lot and that will eat up a good portion of your budget. 

I don't want to shoot your idea down, because I like saving money and think people should do want they want, but give it some real serious thought.

 

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Thanks for the reply. I have a full basement for doing the work and for storage and there is no deadline. I don't have finishing experience but with a fair amount of practice, i'm sure i can handle that as well. This project won't start until next year sometime, i'm hoping to get some deals on tools during holiday sales. 

My budget for tools isn't set in stone. I could spend more if i had to. There's more to it than saving money. I hope i didn't come across that way. The satisfaction of doing it myself would be a nice feeling. And at the end of it, i'd have a nice foundation of tools to delve into woodworking. I could also just sell the tools.

Please don't feel you are shooting my idea down. Actually, I welcome replies telling me why maybe i shouldn't do this. :) Food for thought is what i'm looking for.

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Just another thought..  You buy all the tools and pieces you need, you do the cabinets and hopefully they come out great, then what?  You have all these tools, what do you plan to do with them?

Finishing - Planning on buying HVLP unit as well?

This is not a project to be taken lightly!  It's very ambitious.

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As much as I would like to design my kitchen, I am going to have to add my caution with Woodenskye.  A kitchen is a big project to tackle for a first major project.  A trap that we like to fall into is our labor is free and it is really is not.  Think about the time it is going to take and factor that into the cost of the project.

If you have the time build some cabinets first and experiment, book shelves and chest of drawers are always a fun place to start. 

Don't get me wrong I am all about buying the tools, just bite off some smaller projects first.  This truly is a fun a rewarding hobby.

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The only way I can see you coming out ahead financially is if you wanted full-blown custom cabinets...AND you have the ability to build cabinets on par with the quality of the cabinets you were quoted for.  The most likely scenario is you spend way more than you expect and end up with cabinets of lower quality than you expect.  I'm making that assumption since because you don't have an existing shop, you likely don't have that much experience woodworking.  But I've seen greenhorns produce some pretty impressive pieces so it's not a foregone conclusion.

I have a decked out and fully functioning shop...and I just got done buying a set of cabinets for my basement.  They weren't high-end custom and they weren't pre-fab junk either.  Hardwood doors, plywood boxes, dovetailed drawers, soft-close hardware.  Very decent.  I paid just under 4K for all of them.  Uppers, lowers, bar island.  A full kitchen basically.

By the time you buy all your tools, materials and hardware, you will surely be well beyond that price point...unless you buy very cheap tools, which ultimately you won't want to keep anyway.

So if you're going into this for the challenge and the intention of getting a shop together and becoming a hobbyist...it's a decent plan.  But if you think you're gonna save a bunch of money, you may have a big surprise coming.

Either way, good luck and don't hesitate to ask questions here along the way.

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It's possible to come out ahead financially, if you purchase tools and equipment wisely, do your homework and plan thoroughly. There are also options like buying parts of the job (carcases, doors, drawer boxes) and assembling. Best advise I can give is build a few cabinets for the garage for practice and don't rip out the old kitchen until the new one is ready to install. You might want to pick up a good book before you dive in.

Bob Lang

 

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Do it.  Cabinets are not that hard to build.  In 1974, just out of college and jobs were hard to come by.  I decided I'd build a house to see if I could sell it and make enough profit to live on.  I did that for a living until 2007 when it looked like all the other builders had gotten smarter than me.  After selling the house that year, I started working on old ones full time.

I never bought cabinets, or prehung doors.  I had no experience to start with, no time in shop at school, and had never heard of a woodworking class until a couple of years ago.

To me, building kitchen cabinets are no big deal.  Start at the first step, and keep going until you get finished.  Making mistakes along the way is normal operating procedure.

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An undertaking of a cabinet is ok, but a full kitchen's worth is a big job. A job I'll be undertaking for myself and for my parents. Will it be easy? Sure, I've got all the tools already, but it will be very time consuming. I'll have my dad helping me, so having someone to do sanding and finishing will be a nice little bonus while I build.  The feeling of "I built this" is a great feeling and one I very much enjoy. Keep in mind, building cabinets can be pretty boring. Big square box, next, big square box, next, big square box, next, you get the point. I do find fun in building doors (though raised panel can be a bit of a pain due to sanding)

As for advice? Build a couple for your shop, you may decide you want to buy cases already done and you just do the doors and drawers, or vice versa. 

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Where do you guys get cases already built?  I'm looking to redo a kitchen pretty soon and could use some resources.  Still trying to decide if I want prefab stuff or build my own, it's a 11' sq. kitchen with cabinets on 2 walls with a peninsula.  

I'm also interested in unfinished cabinets, but other than going to the local box store I'm a bit lost on the subject.  Seems most unfinished stuff looks like it came out of 1992, I'm not a big fan of oak cabinets.  I'd really like something simple like a shaker style in a medium colored wood. 

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Weenis, good tools to accomplish this task will be very close to your cabinet budget of 15k. You cannot break down sheet goods with a contractors saw efficiently. Add track saw or a good hybird TS with outfeed. Gotta drill out those euro hinges- need a good drill press and make a jig...Thats more money and more time just for that alone. Will your drawer boxes be dovetailed and cut by hand- that would be very time consuming. Or, more money and time invested on a dovetail jig that has a huge learning curve? See where this is going?

If you are starting out with bare bones as your OP suggests (talent aside) You will need a large budget for tools, quality lumber and sheet goods, hardware which cannot be under estimated (good hardware is not cheap) and finishing supplies. 

I don't care how many videos you watch, the chances of you not making a few beginner mistakes that cost you money like ripping a 60 dollar sheet in the wrong spot (it's why I built cabinets for my shop first) are very slim. That said, if you are doing this to save money, I'm betting in the end it will cost you more than hiring it out

On the other hand, if time is of no factor, and woodworking in general is what you would like to do as a hobby, then jump in, spend the money, make some mistakes on shop furniture and then make yourself a killer kitchen. Know that by the time you are done with the kitchen you'll likely have been able to have hired out 2 kitchen installs while you watch and drink beer, and had it all done in 1/5th the time.

The last thing I want to sound like is a debbie downer and make it sound like this is impossible. I'm trying to paint a realistic picture, so you know going in, this is a journey and there are really no shortcuts.

Edited by Janello
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Personally, after buying my first house I decided I wanted to re-do the kitchen and bathroom. I looked at pre-made cabinets, and was looking at roughly $2,500 for cabinets - the joys of a galley kitchen.. not many actual cabinets. I wasn't really too impressed with the construction of them.. particle board, veneers, plastic corner braces. Custom cabinets were in the $4,000-6,000 area. There was no way I was going to pay that, and I knew I had wanted a wood shop anyway so it was a no-brainer for me to buy tools and build them myself. I had never built cabinets before, but grew up in my grandfather's wood shop and built quite a few things.

Anyway, enough of the back-story. I spent roughly $1,200 on tools, and $400 of that budget was for an air compressor that I didn't really need but it was a good deal. I had no other power tools previously minus cordless drills, a random orbital sander, and a $120 table saw that was dead on accurate but only had a 12" fence (has since been replaced with a Ridgid R4512). I didn't buy a jointer or planer, because I knew I was buying all S4S wood. As for the cabinets themselves, I spent around $900 total for the kitchen, reusing the old counter tops until I make a nice butcher block top. Obviously, they're not made out of oak but all the trim in this house is pine (minus the oak hardwood floors) so I kept with the theme.  The 3/4 bitch sanded plywood was $45/sheet, and it was about $200 for 30 euro-hinges and 24 handles. Drawer slides were reused from the old cabinets. It was a great learning experience, and I definitely could tell the difference in my ability between the first prototype shaker door I built and the last batch I made.

Keep in mind it took me maybe a week to do the whole thing, but I had 6 weeks of vacation at the time so I was able to put in 12 hour days. I don't factor my labor into the costs because for one, I was getting paid the entire time.. and two it was a labor of love.

I'd say if you're going to use the tools to do more projects (and even if you don't resale should be good), and want the experience then go for it. I learned a lot in doing my project, but also spent hours watching videos and reading guides and the like before attempting it. I guess the best question to ask yourself is what do you really want to get out of the whole thing? Just to save a few bucks? Might not happen, unless you're in a situation such as myself where you had ample time to work through things and were doing it out of pride and satisfaction.

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That is exactly how I got started. I am building my kitchen cabinets. I have had to buy the tools and develop the skills. I had no idea how many different details had to work together to make a run of cabinets. It has been a challenging and enjoyable journey. I won't hijack your thread by telling how it came about. Suffice it to say, if that is what you want to do then go for it. At least here you can get all sorts of great advice and direction. Nice thing is, if something doesn't turn out quite right, it can become shop cabinets or firewood! 

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Welcome to all the first time posters!!!!! 

I took a cabinet making class and the instructor brought up a great point if you're married. Will your spouse be as patient as you through this endeavor? Don't rip everything out at once so the Mrs. will still be able to function in there.

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Maybe what you might think about is take you budget and work backward.  Do an estimate of all you lumber, sheet goods and hardware.  Jenello is right good hardware isn't cheap.  I did my kitchen back in 1995 and hinges, drawer pulls and pins for adjustable shelves came to about half of what I spent on lumber.  It was a shock.  Any way after you see about what that is going to cost you will have a better idea of a tool budget.  You want to try and get the best of each tool you can, it will make a difference.

 My kitchen took me about a year to build the cabinet, doors and drawers but I enjoyed.  If I had it to do over again I would build the cabinets and have the doors made.

Edited by Chet K.
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If you decide you want to build and design your own cabinets, you might want to check out Cabinet Planners. It is a very easy to use program that you can design your cabinets with. It provides cut lists for the boxes, drawers, doors and everything else associated with building cabinets. You can do 3d rendering to see what your kitchen would look like. I taught myself to use it in just a short while, very easy to use for most kitchen applications. It costs a few dollars but support is great and it was worth it to me.

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Where do you guys get cases already built?  I'm looking to redo a kitchen pretty soon and could use some resources.  Still trying to decide if I want prefab stuff or build my own, it's a 11' sq. kitchen with cabinets on 2 walls with a peninsula.  

I'm also interested in unfinished cabinets, but other than going to the local box store I'm a bit lost on the subject.  Seems most unfinished stuff looks like it came out of 1992, I'm not a big fan of oak cabinets.  I'd really like something simple like a shaker style in a medium colored wood. 

Dave, I've used http://www.barkercabinets.com/ to buy custom unfinished RTA cabinets - you can go pretty custom on the cabinets (almost any height, width, depth) and they're really nice quality.  I just did a built-in desk in the home office that I'm really happy with.

When I do cabinets in the shop I'm going with ikea - that's the most affordable cabinet I've found - doesn't need to be fancy.

 

 

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Hi all.

This is my plan and would like your thoughts. After watching many videos and alot of research, i've decided that building my own custon kitchen cabinetry is something i can tackle. I was quoted $15,000 3-4 years ago for cabinets, counter top and installation. My thought here is by doing it myself, i can buy all of the tools i need to do this and have the tools pay for themselves and maybe even save money on top of that.

I plan on spending $2000-$3000 on power tools. Table saw,router table and router,planer,jointer,and misc. stuff like clamps jigs and such. I have a miter saw and some other tools already.

Thoughts and suggestions greatly appreciated.

The other thing to remember is all of the prep work that needs to be done before the new cabinets get installed.  Walls, floors, plumbing, wiring, maybe gas, etc...I went through this a couple of years ago and figured I could save a bunch of money by building the cabinets.  I already had the tools and experience making cabinets.  I calculated the wood cost and then added my time.  It worked out to be wash, when compared to ordering the cabinets and then install them myself.  I did save money by doing all of the work, and I was really glad that I had someone else build the boxes..

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I've seen a few comments about adding your time into the equation. I have no deadline whatsoever. I look at it this way. I work a 40 hr/week job so i'll be working on them in the evenings and weekends. The money i'm saving in labor is essentially being paid to me in a sense. Granted, the $/hr will end up being way less than minimum wage but still, i consider it making money. I would be losing money let's say, if i turned down overtime or something else that i could be making money on the side. I'm single, so there's nobody else that would have to deal with it. And on top of it all, i'm adding value to my home. As long as i can do a quality job of course. :)

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I've seen a few comments about adding your time into the equation. I have no deadline whatsoever. I look at it this way. I work a 40 hr/week job so i'll be working on them in the evenings and weekends. The money i'm saving in labor is essentially being paid to me in a sense. Granted, the $/hr will end up being way less than minimum wage but still, i consider it making money. I would be losing money let's say, if i turned down overtime or something else that i could be making money on the side. I'm single, so there's nobody else that would have to deal with it. And on top of it all, i'm adding value to my home. As long as i can do a quality job of course. :)

I agree, and I am not trying to talk you out of it.  I would have loved to make my own cabinets, but I have a boss and she knows how long these projects take me. 

When she looked at the numbers she said buy em, and when it comes to her I always do what I am told.

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I built cabinets for several years building houses with no table saw-only a good circular saw with a good blade.  I did have a RAS, but I never ripped on it.  I still have, and use, that saw.  It would of course be great to have had a table saw, but I'd rather do without than have one of the little jobsite saws.  If you build the cabinets in place, it's plenty easy enough to make them strong enough not to worry about dados, or anything complicated to make the boxes.  All anyone who buys the house will care about is how the drawers work, and what the cabinets look like.

If they're going to be painted, I'd buy doors and drawer fronts.

 

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If you are a carpenter Id say go for it...But for a first time there is no way I would have wanted to make my start with a full kitchen myself....From start to finish this is alot of work even after you have done this a long time. To set up a shop to build  cabinets cost me  a lot of money..

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While I might get some flak for this, I do like the approach and method used for building the case, and attaching it to the faceframe. Face frame joinery can be done with dominoes, pocket screws, dowels, mortise and tenon, and any other joint you can think of. Marc Sommerfeld is a bit of a goober, but I have built a fairly large cabinet using this method, and while it can be time consuming to route all those pieces, it does make for a really strong cabinet. Don't need too much in the way of tools either. Router table, some bits for tongue and groove, and door profiles, a decent table saw (a hybrid table saw will do the job) clamps, and tracksaw preferably to break down the ply. Then basics like a sander, a couple of chisels for cleaning up things. 

 

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