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Building Cabinets

Updated on June 6, 2009

Building Cabinets


Did you ever wonder why kitchen cabinets cost so much money? Or why if you go to buy an entertainment center or a hutch why they are just as pricey too?

Cabinet making was a serious art in the early part of the industrial age. Now that we are firmly in a global economy, we have taken the art form and elevated it.


Before automation a cabinet maker would lay out the standard measurements for kitchen cabinets and would cut all the materials on the table saw to size. This would most likely have been cabinet grade plywood. Then they would prepare the solid wood stock that needed to be cut for drawers for example and get that all ready. After all the wood was ready they would assemble the case units and make sure all the sizes were correct. The builders would then go to work cutting and assembling the face frames for the cabinets. Lastly they would make the raised panel doors on either a shaper or a large industrial router table. Sometimes the doors could be cut on the table saw as well. They would then assemble the doors and finish the product to the right color for the customer. Cabinet installers would take the finished product to the job and install them into the kitchen of choice.


Today most cabinets are cut on CNC machines which highly automate the process. Standard sizes and even odd sizes are all stored in the computer and can be selected as needed. The cabinet shop now simply loads the cabinet grade ply into the CNC machine and it begins cutting the stock automatically. Mistakes are usually a rarity with this level of automation and considerable amounts of time is saved. Construction is fairly straight forward and the custom job can take less than half the time. This allows cabinet makers to focus on much more "bling" that today's savy shoppers are looking for. Details such as rich moldings and ornate doors are now more common then ever. The automation has paved the way to quality. Instead of having a shop full of experienced craftsman, you can get away with one craftsman and five laborers. The key is having the files.

If you are thinking about saving some cash by making your own cabinets you don't have to have a CNC machine to get the job done. In fact there are several shortcut ideas that today's hobbyist can use to save some time. You can buy pre made raised panel doors which can help you make the job faster. You can also buy pre made drawers of any size and color. Hardware availability and more wood varieties can help you save a lot in your kitchen cabinet budget. Just be ready for a snag, even though carcass assembly is fairly straightforward. Always give yourself extra time if you are going to take on this ambitious project. Another good thought if you are attempting to save some time is by using Router Table Depots cabinet posts. Basically these are hardwood stock shaped on the shaper to make a perfect ninety degree corner with a touch of class. The best part about them is that you do not have to make anything besides a straight cut to utilize them

Several good sites exist for attaining these parts. Rockler has a great selection of hardware to choose from. Woodworkers source carries a nice selection of exotic hardwoods. Router Table Depot has some excellent supplies of full size router tables. And Adams Wood Products carries a very nice selection of furniture componenets.

Cabinet Building Basics


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      Steve Austin 10 years ago

      A nice alternative to traditional cabinets