Several years ago, I was interviewed on a woodworking podcast. A common question with such interviews is “What are you working on?” There is also the very similar, “What’s on your bench?” The natural follow-up then is “what do you plan to do next?” At the time, I had contemplated my next project being building new cabinets for our kitchen. Upon telling them this, both of the guys interviewing me let out a collective sigh; it was more like a groan really. I made a mental note of this and asked them about their response. It seems that building kitchen cabinets is viewed by some as a dreaded chore. If you consider the demolition which normally comes with replacing kitchen cabinets, I suspect it could be just that, a dreaded chore. This was not an encouraging moment.
Our house was built in the early 1980s. It is a modest home, a whole lot larger than our starter house, but not as big as others. I think of it as a cottage which is a good name for a house our size. Many years ago, we went through a slight kitchen renovation after a stove top fire. The cabinets were painted and new hardware installed. But the existing door profile is original and this design greatly, greatly dates our kitchen (greatly, greatly, greatly). We have become used to the look, and we seem to always have a good reason to put off this renovation. But, I have continued to think of ways to make this project as simple as possible and a way to keep the kitchen functional during the renovation. I always knew a kitchen reno was coming.
The time for a change
As my wife and I get older, we have felt the need to move to a home better suited to our lifestyle as we age. I am 61 years old, so it is not like I am becoming frail, but we would like a one-level house with a full basement so I can do woodworking and so we have somewhere to hide from tornado warnings. The housing market has been hot and we know this is something we need to do, so a decision was made to sell our house. In advance of putting our home on the market, it is time to update the kitchen and do something about the cabinets.
I contemplated the many options for a renovation:
- A total replacement of cabinets which I would build and install. This would require demolition of the existing cabinets.
- Ordering custom cabinets which I could assemble and install. Plus demolition.
- Leaving the existing cabinet boxes in place and doing something like a re-face of the face frame and order custom doors and drawers.
- Build custom doors and drawers; paint them and paint the existing cabinets.
After much thought, the last option is the route I went. Since we are going to sell our house, I did not think a whole cabinet tear out and a remodel as a wise option. Same for re-facing our cabinets. A coat of paint will suffice for the cabinet boxes/face frames. I will be making 29 new doors and 5 drawers. And with this option, I hope to avoid this being a dreaded chore (but possibly a chore).
Why so many doors?
Twenty-nine doors sounds like a lot and it is. Part of the renovation will be pulling off the plywood soffit which extends above the upper cabinet doors all the way to the ceiling. The soffit is a piece of plywood which simply encloses the space above the upper doors. I will remove the plywood and build a new face frame turning this area into newly found storage space. There are three sets of upper cabinets and three sets of base cabinets. See the images below…
I’ll discuss my plan for this project in my next post. I’ll go over the new door design which is simple but I’ll add a little style. Also coming up will be the construction method which will involve what I am calling reinforced pocket screws.
Another decision is also what kind of lumber to use. Can I get away with pine or will I need to step it up in quality. The design and materials used will also be impacted by the need to keep the construction method as simple and fast as possible, and since we will be selling the house, high-end (or even moderate) materials will be out.
I’ll get into more details soon.