DIY (Do It Yourself) Cabinets

Phone - 770 704 4566

 
Introduction
How Does This Work?
Advantages of DIY Cabinets
Is This Right For You?
Services Available
Brief Cabinetry Tutorial
 
 
Contact Info
 
 
All photos and text contained
herein are copyright 2011 by
Heirloom Woodcrafting LLC,
All rights reserved.

 

Introduction

We live in a world of ever-increasing specialization and "niche manufacturing".  The cabinet-making industry is no exception - there are full-service cabinet manufacturers and custom builders that will construct and install complete cabinet systems.  But there are also a large number of specialty companies that focus on producing the various components that make up a cabinet - cabinet doors, drawer boxes, functional hardware (drawer slides, door hinges), etc.

As a custom cabinet builder for the last decade (you can see my work at Heirloom Woodcrafting), and one who now exploits the benefits of CNC manufacturing for many of these cabinet components, I've come to realize that there is a portion of the market that is not adequately served.  Namely, there are many woodworkers, building contractors, and competent handymen/homeowners that have sufficient skills and tools to assemble and install their own cabinetry, but they lack the specialized machinery (CNC routers, edgebanders, etc.) to cost-effectively produce those cabinet components themselves.  While there are plenty of mass-produced, "flat-pack" cabinets on the market today that can be assembled by the do-it-yourselfer, the quality and variety of these products leaves much to be desired.  Using my capabilities to fabricate all the interior cabinet panels/components, and then by providing you with the information to purchase, or build yourself if you prefer, the other cabinetry components (doors, drawers, hardware, etc), you can create high-quality cabinetry for your home and save hundreds or thousands of dollars in the process.  Full details of the options and benefits of this approach are presented in the sections below.

Though the potential list is almost endless, the types of cabinet projects this approach can be used for range from the very simple to the highly complex:

Traditional face-frame cabinets as well as the increasingly popular frameless cabinetry are possible with the methods described below.  If you are not familiar with these construction styles, or any other terminology mentioned on this website, there is a Brief Cabinetry Tutorial found at the bottom of this page.

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How Does This Work?

I was a woodworking hobbyist and long-time homeowner long before I became I full-time cabinetmaker.  So I'm intimately familiar with the challenges of building high-quality cabinetry with a limited collection of tools.  It can be done, but with the price of plywood and solid lumber, mistakes can be costly and very frustrating.  Once I acquired the CNC machinery and cabinet design software, and realized it's full benefits and cost savings, the value in offering these services to others like myself became obvious.

Here's how this process works:

  1. You first need to develop a reasonably detailed drawing, including dimensions, for the cabinet project you have in mind.  I don't offer free design work or free estimates on large cabinet projects, though I can give you some ballpark estimates at no cost.  If you need help creating a design for a large cabinet project, a number of clients have initially made use of the "free" cabinet design services at their local home improvement warehouse (the large orange or blue stores.....).  Those designs will usually give you a fully dimensioned layout (if you can't create one yourself) and a price estimate from that supplier.  The Brief Cabinet Tutorial included on this website also has some references for good books on this topic.

  2. Working from your initial plans/designs, and for a fee which typically ranges from $30 for a small cabinet job to over $150 for a large job, the project is redrawn in the CNC cabinet design software.  You can customize individual cabinet materials if needed and specify any type of hardware (door hinges, drawer slides, etc) needed for any particular cabinet.  You also have the option to specify melamine-coated panels or prefinished plywood for the cabinet boxes, which eliminates any need for finishing and thus is a great time and money saver.

  3. The design process above also allows the experienced woodworker to decide if they are going to build any of the cabinetry components themselves.  Raised panel doors and drawer fronts are a popular choice, as are solid wood face-frames and drawer boxes.  If you lack the experience, equipment, or merely the time to build these items yourself, a list of suppliers from whom you can order these components will be provided.  While the component ordering process can initially seem daunting, the cabinet design software produces a detailed, fully-dimensioned list of doors, drawer fronts, and drawer boxes, along with all functional hardware such as drawer slides, door hinges, etc.

  4. Once the design is finalized and approved, then fabrication can begin.  You'll have a dimensioned list of all items you need to order or construct yourself.  We'll also have a set of "nested panel layouts", which show how all the various cabinet panels/parts that are to be cut on the CNC machine are laid out.  This determines how many sheets of material need to be ordered.  You have the option of purchasing this material yourself and delivering it to my shop at a scheduled time, or I can take care of that myself using my wholesale suppliers, if you prefer.  After the sheet goods are on-hand, they will be machined using the CNC equipment.  If you are creating frameless cabinetry, these panels will also be edgebanded.  The net result is a set of cabinet panels that are now ready for you to pickup from my shop (they can be delivered to your location for an added fee).  Labels produced by the cabinet design software are affixed to every single cabinet part, so you'll be able to easily tell what cabinet they belong to and what the part actually is - this makes final assembly a breeze.  The labels are easily removed once the cabinets are assembled and installed.

  5. If you are using cabinet materials that require finishing (such as hardwood-veneered plywood), and don't the equipment or time to this yourself, I have a fully equipped spray booth and can perform this step on all necessary cabinet panels.  I spray two-part catalyzed finishes (conversion varnishes) that are both beautiful and incredibly durable.

  6. Once all your other cabinet components have been ordered (or you've built them yourself), you are ready to assemble the cabinets yourself.  This process is very straight-forward and can be done using basic hand tools.  Like many home improvement tasks, once you've assembled one or two cabinets, the rest are much faster.

  7. Following assembly, the cabinets can then be set in place, leveled, and attached to the walls if needed - many cabinet types like bookshelves or entertainment centers may be constructed as free-standing units that are not secured in place.  Various information resources are available which fully explain the assembly and installation process on more complicated cabinet projects.

I'm happy to discuss any potential cabinet project with you at no cost, so if the process described above, and the benefits outlined in more detail below, sound interesting to you, feel free to contact me.  I've taught many woodworking topics (sawmilling, wood drying, cabinetmaking, spray finishing, and CNC woodworking) to Atlanta area woodworkers, so helping you better understand the scope of what you are considering, and deciding what portions of the job you may want to construct yourself, is a comfortable concept for me.

However, I'm not a "cabinetry philanthropist", so there are usually some design or consulting fees associated with this process after the initial phone call has been completed.  To be honest, charging a modest fee at that point helps me separate the "tire kickers" from those customers who are ready to tackle this kind of DIY project.  However, these fees are easily recouped (many times over) from the overall cost savings you'll achieve with this approach, plus the satisfaction of knowing that you participated in the creation of a quality set of cabinets for your home.

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Advantages of DIY Cabinets

There are many benefits to building and installing custom cabinets in this manner, some of which were mentioned above.  Here's a more complete list of the improvements in quality, selection, or cost savings that can be achieved versus the more traditional alternatives:

In addition to the benefits achieved by following this unique cabinet-making approach, there are also a number of useful benefits which come from using the CNC design and machining process:

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Is This Right For You?

Who is this method of cabinet making best suited for?  

Who is this approach not suited for?   Keep these questions in mind as you consider a do-it-yourself cabinet project:

Like any endeavor in life, you tend to get better with practice....  So don't immediately tackle a large set of kitchen cabinets if you've never completed a simple cabinet assembly and installation job before.  Start with some utility cabinets, laundry room cabinets, closet cabinets, or a bathroom vanity - something small enough in scope that you can get the hang of things, before moving on to a more challenging project.

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Services Available

I offer the following services for you to select from - not every task will be required in any given cabinet project.  In most cases, you can select individual services that are shown, if your needs are highly specific.

In addition to the services above that are primarily intended for cabinet production, I can also provide a wide range of general-purpose CNC machining services, which may be applicable to cabinetry as well as many other types of woodworking projects:

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Brief Cabinetry Tutorial

Dozens of books have been written on how to design, construct, assemble, and install cabinets.  The intent of this section is to provide some simple definitions and explanations for the most common cabinet components mentioned on this page.  For further information, see the list of recommended books and website links at the bottom of this section.

The following list describes the typical collection of parts that make up a cabinet - since there are numerous applications for cabinetry, not every cabinet will contain every component described below:

Recommended Books and Online Resources

    Coming soon....

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Contact Info

If you have any other questions which are not answered in the sections above, please feel free to contact us for more information:

Name:    John (JC) Ming

Phone:    770 704 4566   or   404 401 9796 (Cell)

Email:    diycabinets@aol.com

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