Deciding on the various aspects of a kitchen requires forethought, knowledge, & lots of looking. Let me explain a few things in deciding upon the kind of work you want. These are questions that any good cabinetmaker will ask, and for estimate purposes, it's hard to figure a price without answers to the following questions. So the better prepared you are to answer them, the better understanding the cabinetmaker will have of your ideas, concepts & needs in a kitchen. A kitchen that you can easily spend the next decade or two usng.
I should also mention here that these guidelines pertain to my shop methods & prices alone, although some, if not most, undoubtably fit other cabinet shops.
Anyway, let's continue...The first question you should ask yourself is...
In my shop, the exterior wood itself is not a major factor in the overall price of, say a kitchen full of cabinets. More so the labor involved and the size of the project. Given this, the wood you choose should be based upon other factors besides your wallet. Red Oak is the most popular cabinet wood in use today for a simple reason; it's most people's favorite. Maybe you're trying to match existing furniture, which more or less makes the decision for you. You might need durability (read "kids") from nicks & scratches. Or possibly you're trying to set a tone. There are many, many available woods out there to the average cabinetmaker, and you should consider them all. Ask any cabinetmaker for samples, or go here (Higgins Lumber Co.) to check some photos of wood online.
This is the practical side of cabinets/furniture. You might see the outside (exterior) of your cabinets frequently, but you'll use the inside of them far more often. Plywoods with a finish on them, and coated Particle Board products are the 2 main catagories. Don't be afraid of particle board products; if assembled correctly, PB can have several distinct advantages, cost being the largest. A $25 sheet of Melamine particle board (PB), an epoxy-coated chip board, is very cost-effective, considering the fact that the lacquer finish on an equivalent sheet of plywood, which costs more to start with, will at least double the price of that sheet. Melamine requires no finish. And you can get it in several differnt colors & grains.
Now, before you start
to think that I'm sellin' particle board, here, let me say that plywood is
a bit stronger than PB, especially where it counts. A fully-loaded adjustable
shelf will sag much quicker than plywood if the span was wider than considered
in the design of the bay it resides in. Easily enough remedied with some forethought.
Particle board is also notorious for not taking to standing water for long,
but the epoxy coating of Melamine took care of most of that problem, since
water will not permeate through the face of it givin it's coating. Particle
board isn't very good at holding fasteners screwed or nailed through it's
ends, but that's only if an end-fastened joint is the only strength the case
joint uses, i.e., nailing a shelf to the side right through the side
into the end of the shelf. Not a good idea regardless of the material. Much
better to use a better joint in the first place (wafers, dowels, dadoes, etc.),
as I do.
Want to save yourself from ever having to line your cabinets again with cabinet paper? Choose an interior with lining already on it. Have a hard time seeing in the deep recesses of your existing cabinets? Choose something bright.
Another major cost factor, doors can be simple or complex both in looks & labor. Doors, on average, make up 25-33% of the job cost, both in materials & labor. And in my case, another factor is involved-time.It takes me approximately a week to make MDF Slab doors for a kitchen, but 3-5 weeks for the same amount of Inset Panel doors.
Of the three basic types (Slab, Inset Panel, & Raised Panel), Inset Panel doors are the most common. If a high-grade plywood is used for the panel, it can stand out more than any other aesthetic factor (the grain of rotary-sawn plywood is usually much more figured than the lumber panel of a Raised Panel door). Raised Panel hails as the most wished-for, it's also the most detailed, with broad mitres and several shoulders to create shadow lines. It's also the most labor intensive, although material cost is not much over Inset Panel door prices. Slab doors are very plain, but with an extremely grainy wood (Oak, Ash, etc.), can be the needed touch in a busy kitchen. Much easier to keep clean, Slab doors can be made from an MDF (a fine-grained PB) core with a hardwood veneer for less than a third of the labor cost of an equivalent solid lumber Slab door, but again, the grain of lumber is far different in many cases than plywood.
In most of my jobs, there are two or more door styles used, usually the higher grade used in the kitchen (& sometimes the master bath) and a lesser grade in baths, laundry rooms & offices. Sometimes the same style is used throughout, but different door edges are used for segregation.
Armed with these three choices, most cabinetmakers can give an on-the-spot estimate, which can be a strong guide in further decisions. If there are any questions I can answer, please don't hesitate to ask.
Maybe, if this page proves interesting enough, I'll pour some more of my ramblings onto the page. In all honesty, these ideas & concepts are things that don't really coalesce in my mind until I have to put them down on paper, which always tickles me, and furthers my knowledge at the same time. I'd love to hear from you.
O.K., at this point, you can go back to the Home page, back to the top of this one, or you can leave (you have my permission). Let me assist...