Kitchen Cabinets and Bathroom Vanity
During renovation of our daughter’s former house I decided to build the new kitchen and bathroom vanity cabinets in my home workshop to keep the costs as low as possible. This became a project within a project as I knew we would be selling the renovated house and it would have to appeal to many prospective buyers. Below are photos and a brief description of the cabinet construction stages and the installation and completion in the renovated house.
I started with 13 full sheets of 5/8” (16 mm) melamine coated particle board cutting them, using a special blade on my table saw, into a total of 107 pieces to make the cabinet “boxes”, refrigerator enclosure and shelves. I also cut 12 more pieces from the same material for closet shelves.
Each piece was numbered for identification according to a cutting list and set of diagrams I prepared using a free version of a program called “Cutlist” downloaded from the internet. I applied iron-on edging to those edges of cabinet boxes and shelves that would be facing outwards in the completed cabinets, trimming the edging flush with a trim-cutter and smoothing with a file. For those cabinets that have adjustable shelves, I drilled a series of shelf-pin holes in the side panels using a shop-made jig for repeat-ability and alignment. I pre-installed full-extension drawer slides in the drawer cabinets using temporary spacers to ensure alignment.
Assembly of the “boxes” followed using #8 x 2” particle board screws in pre-drilled holes. Because of the limited space in my home workshop I had to transfer the assembled boxes to the renovation house a few at a time as I completed them. The largest “lazy-susan” corner cabinet was assembled at the renovation house as it was too large and heavy to transport in one piece in my vehicle. Adjustable legs were fitted and the process of installing the cabinet boxes began. The boxes were adjusted to a level line drawn around the kitchen walls and screwed to the wall at stud locations. Adjacent cabinet boxes were connected together with screws to achieve face alignment and added rigidity.
The drawer boxes, drawer fronts and doors were begun almost as a separate project because of my workshop space constraints. The drawer boxes, door panels and the deeper drawer front panels were cut from ½” (12 mm) melamine coated particle board, 97 pieces I recall. The upper drawer fronts and the stiles and rails for the doors and deeper drawer fronts were cut from solid aspen/poplar. The stiles and rails (3/4” x 2 ½” finished) were joined with stub tenon and groove joinery cut at the table saw. The door and drawer front panels were rabbeted along the edges to fit the same grooves and to finish flush with the inside of the rails and stiles, giving a “Shaker” appearance to the outsides.
After door assembly, they were pre-drilled for the “cups” of Euro-style hinges and the solid drawer fronts, the paneled doors and drawer fronts were painted before delivery to the renovation house.
Next began the manufacturing of the counter tops. A quality veneer plywood was selected as the construction material and I was able to purchase a sheet long and wide enough to cut the “L” shaped corner section from one piece. The remaining kitchen counter tops and the bathroom vanity top were cut from the same piece along with edging strips to thicken up the outsides. These edging strips were glued and pinned into place and clamps were added until the glue set up.
Heat resistant sheet laminate with a granite appearance was selected for the visible counter-top surfaces. A 5 foot x 10 foot laminate sheet was cut into slightly oversize pieces to allow for final trimming when in position. The edging strips were applied first using contact cement and then trimmed flush to the plywood top and lower face of the edge using a flush cut router bit and hand-held palm router. Then the tops were applied in place following the same process of gluing and trimming. To disguise the thin dark edges of the top laminate, I used artist’s acrylic paint of different colour mixes to dab on to these edges randomly and blend them so they essentially appear to be solid material.
The counter-tops were secured to the cabinet boxes using angle brackets and screws on the underside. Then an opening was located and cut into the applicable sections to accommodate the kitchen sink and bathroom sink. The drawer boxes, drawer fronts, doors and shelves were installed into their respective cabinet boxes.
I made some custom crown moulding and under cabinet valances for the upper cabinets and installed them for a finished professional look. The valances conceal the junction boxes and some wiring for the under-cabinet LED light fittings that are switched from a standard wall switch. Exposed gable ends of the cabinets were framed around their perimeter to match the “Shaker” look of the cabinet doors. These frames also hide some of the screws used during assembly. After tiling the back-splash areas, the cabinet doors, drawer fronts and their respective hardware were installed to complete the cabinets. It was a lot of planning and work but I am very happy with the final result.