Tagcabinets

Kitchen Cabinet Construction Sitrep – Assembly, Fitting, and Sanding

This week’s work was about building the face frame for the upper cabinet; getting material; cutting out all the parts; and, assembling all of the raised panel doors, drawers, and finish panels for both base and upper cabinets.

Learned that Baltic birch 1/4″ ply is just a little thicker than your big box birch ply, so easing or tapering the edges was needed to fit into the slot made by the Whiteside Shaker Raised Panel Bit set.

Tapering Panel Edge

With panel edges prepped, glue-up began with the rail assemblies.  Next was fitting the stiles and clamping it all together. This is a 36″ tall door, so midline clamps were needed for maintaining consistent door width, checked with a metal straight edge.

Glued and clamped

Panel Fitting

Now, the “fun” begins – sanding and finishing. Nice and easy, huh?  Oh, remember the paint takes 8-10 hours to dry before recoating. That is three days!  Just to get color on these pieces – and oh, they are two sided…..work ahead.
Oh, I do catch a break – the end panels for the upper cabinet only need paint one side.
Yes, the stiles are deliberately made just a little long to give just a little fudging room to fit the panels. Because of the flex of plywood, fitting the long stiles can be a bit of a challenge. The extra length leaves room for error, and can easily be cut or sanded off when finishing.

Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet Design

There are probably many different variations in design and construction that could be taken for the base cabinets for our outdoor kitchen (a kitchenette installed to the porch, or ‘lanai’).  Both cabinets need to be designed to support the fixture that will eventually be installed in the cutout – one will accommodate a cooktop, the other a sink.  Despite similarities in terms of fully supporting a permanently installed appliance, such as framing the cabinet top to accommodate a cutout, along with proper layout for doors and drawers, there are some big differences.  One of the cabinets has to support a sink and the other has to support a cooktop.  For our installation, which will be traditional, face frame cabinets homebuilt with a Kreg jig, here is the design/build approach

  • Sinks can be top mounted, or bottom mounted, but there is also a hybrid option when using a solid surface top and a stainless steel sink.  Typically our granite installer simply prefers to drop the sink into the cutout and have the framing support the sink rim, essentially sandwiching the sink rim between the sub-top and the bottom of the finished granite top. Since that is the installation we’ll be using for the lanai kitchen, the sink base has been framed to allow the sub-top to be cut out, and at the same time provide max support to the sink rim while allowing firm attachment of the sub-top at the perimeter of the sink.
  • For the sink base cabinet, there will be a face frame and drawer blank on the front. In this case, the a small stretcher is installed horizontally across the top, and larger one below the drawer space. There is a tilt-out kit that can be installed in front of a sink base, so this base cabinet has been designed and built with that option in mind. The rear stretcher pieces are wider, with the vertical stretcher also designed to accept cabinet mounting screws. All pieces are screwed and glued with water proof glue.

    Sink Base Cabinet

  • Cooktops take a lot more of the cabinet top area than a sink, and are supported typically by being top-mounted on the finished counter top. In this case, The Bosch cooktop will be supported at the finished top, and the granite will be protected by an insulated, cushioned tape. There are also required safety set backs to each side of the base cabinet due to the heat produced by the burners, and those have been considered in design of this cabinet.
  • Because the opening is so much larger, and the set back from the front to the counter top is only 2 1/2 inches, the front stretcher here is installed vertically, with a cross-brace stretcher below it, with the two pieces glued and screwed together. A face frame and false drawer front will cover this stretcher hiding the pocket screws.

    Cooktop Sink Base

Lanai Kitchen: Base Cabinet Box

I had to back off this week, and sit down and work thru the various details before I started box assembly for cabinets that will be installed in an outside kitchen on our lanai (what some people call a porch).  I needed to know exactly how the face frame was going to work; exactly what drawer box hardware was to be used and how it installed (Blum 563H slides with side adjusting catches); exactly how the hinges will be installed; what sink/faucet will be installed, so I knew how to frame the top of the sink cabinet (deck matters – faucet max deck thickness is 1.5 inches, so that drives stretcher placement); and, how the end panels, top panel/trim, backsplash, etc will be installed.  I did another four pages of drawings in addition to the rough sketches and computer printout I did for the original cutting diagram.  So, finally yesterday and today, after running out of screws and scrambling to find more, I finally got the first base cabinet box built, 47 pocket screws later.  I’m using the Kreg Blue Kote exterior screws, which are oddly enough for our marine environment, difficult to find.

 This base cabinet has a part of the plumbing vent stack running behind it on the wall,  so the back top is notched to accommodate the area needed. This cabinet will have a small top drawer and shelf. Opening is for a single door. Cabinet is 18″ wide. All cabinets will be installed on a common base that will incorporate the toe kick. Face frame cabinet construction is hybrid, meaning that the face frame will not extend into the cabinet interior on the sides, allowing regular installation of hidden self-closing hinges, and soft close drawer slides without needing to block out or purchase special face frame hardware.  But, it does not embrace the complete 32mm system with its consistent rows of shelf pin holes that also become the connection points for the hardware. This will give a more traditional Craftsman look to the cabinet area, with 1/2″ door overlays and reveals, while still allowing use of Euro-style hardware.
Base Cabinet

Base Cabinet Carcass – Complete

Face frame construction will be as one complete unit, fastening on the top and end cabinets by pocket screws, and glue and biscuits in other areas to help align and hold it in place.

Clamps – Never Enough!

Thought I’d pass along a some lessons learned and what clamps I choose to use.  This isn’t an end-all, be-all list, but what rather my experience with household carpentry work, cabinetry, edge banding, and other projects on this site.  Your requirements/results may vary.

  1. Quick-Grip Clamps.  Quick-grip clamps come in a dazzling array of sizes and since they operate one-handed are really useful for lots of tasks.  They don’t have enough clamping pressure and are poorly built. When I first started buying clamps at Haiku, I made the mistake of picking up Irwin One-hand Quick-Grips with the yellow markings (SL300), thinking they looked pretty decent.  Turns out they only have a clamping pressure of about 250 lbs after allowing that you probably aren’t going to get full pressure all of the time.  Sounds like a lot, but it’s not.  I’ve since sold them on Craigslist, and standardized on the Irwin SL600 for general purpose clamping like clamping my jigs or work material to the bench. They are soft jawed, won’t mar, and reliably hold well and quickly.  I’ve seldom seen them available in any stores here, and ordered them online after discovering a couple lonely ones in HD, and have never seen them since.  I use 6″ regularly for all kinds of quick clamping tasks.
  2. Clamps for Case Work.  For glue-up case work, I now have a good set of Bessey K Body Revo Clamps.  They are the go-to for cabinet assembly. Again, I made the mistake previously of trying to save money and bought Brand X, but quickly learned that better precision in manufacturing results in a tool that is easier to use, and more reliable. They are widely available now, too.  At the time I needed them, Woodcraft was the only distributor here on island, and they were pricey. Now HD has added them to their line. Amazon has great pricing.  I understand that JET and Jorgensen may have similar, but they are not available locally, so I can’t comment.
  3. Edge Banding. My go-to for edge banding where you need a LOT of clamps are the Bessey H-style pipe clamps.  What I like about the Bessey H-Style pipe clamps is that they have wide “feet” and can be set in place to position the workpiece, and they tightened. The 1/2″ pipe clamps are all I think I’ve needed, but they are available to fit either 1/2″ or 3/4″ black pipe.   (I use galvanized pipe here to avoid rust, and they don’t move quite as smoothly as they would on black pipe). I use 30″ pipe to make up 24″ clamps that work well for the type of work I do. They supplement the K-Body clamps.
  4. For light duty, supplemental clamping I use several Jorgensen HD 3700 series bar clamps, mainly because I like the rubberized handles better than the Bessey handles, but I think they are out of business.  They used to have a really good cabinet assembly clamp, but I can’t find it any more, either. If you can find the HD 3700 series on close-out, they are handy for a lot of situations.  The old wood, parallel jaw clamps were in a class by their own, and what I first learned to use in 6th grade shop.
  5. Face-frames and Edge Clamping.  Sometimes you have to be able to clamp in two different directions, as when you install a face-frame. I only had that need once or twice and picked up a pair of the least inexpensive 3-way edge clamps, and they worked okay, but I had to put blocks under all clamping points to avoid marring the workpieces. A better solution is one of the other padded edge clamping solutions, either from Bessey or Rockler. Kreg distributes a wide range of special application clamps. I find, for my work, I’ve only needed the face clamp that came with my K3 master kit, and the right angle clamp, which is indispensable for case assembly. 
There are more clamps out there in the clamping universe. I still think good old Norm’s collection in New Yankee Workshop is the largest I’ve ever seen. I can’t come close!  But, I now sorta have what I need.

Bora Guide Plate Review

I’d seen the Bora Guide Plate in Woodcraft some time ago, but wondered how a piece of plastic would actually manage to hold a heavy saw. I really wasn’t able to find anything else that I was willing to try, and, so since it is no longer in Woodcraft, I ordered it on Amazon.

I’m pleased to be able to report that the use of the Bora Saw Plate Guide with my tracks went off with no major issues.

Review of the Bora Saw Plate Guide Workshop Addict

Review of the Bora clamp-edge guide on Concord Carpenter

I didn’t expect much for $29. But, it did what needed doing without allowing the saw to tear-out or wander. Decent cuts with a 60 tooth Freud blade. It’s useful to remember which side of you blade gives you the tear-outs, and I was able to make use of that memory for a few of the cross cuts.  Rips would be no problem.

It isn’t going to replace a high-end track saw anytime soon, but with some finicky setup jiggling to get the saw squared up on the plate, it works well enough for infrequent use in breaking down plywood.  Key is to keep the plywood well supported.

I did not find the saw track guide pointer (little bitty piece of plastic with “pointers”) to be of any use. I could not get my Sawcat to offset the base enough to allow positioning of the pointer in any of the three alternate screw holes.

The key also is to remember your track-to-cut-line offset. It’s gonna be some weird number based on the size of your saw plate and the way it gets fastened to the Bora Guide.  I wound up using 1 11/32″.  My setup rule has a 1/32″ scale, so I was good each time, but really wanted to land on 1 3/8″ or 1 1/2″ for the offset. Your results may vary.

I have the Bora 100″ guide track.  I also have another manufacturer’s heavy duty 50″ guide track, and that is what I used for the cross-cuts using the Bora Saw Plate Guide. It worked fine, just as advertised! The Bora edge guides are excellent quality, and worth trying to find for your next time breaking down sheets of plywood.  At this point, having built “cabinets” for the master bedroom closet, the shoe shelf, and now the lanai, it has been more than useful to have the clamp-on edge guides that work well. Bora has introduced other companion tool plates to use with their WRX tracks that would be worth investigating.

Of course, you could buy a True Track track saw system for $169.

Removing Pencil Marks

 Well, you could sand away pencil marks, and hope you don’t gouge the wood or go through the thin veneer of expensive plywood. But, there is a better way! – Alcohol!  No, not that kind  – this kind – denatured alcohol.

the good stuff (for pencil marks)

the good stuff (for pencil marks)

Building cabinets, I try to minimize layout marks since the surface will be either clear-coated or stained, and marks can easily show through. Nonetheless, some marks are needed, such as these to layout a course of shelf pins.

Pencil Mark

Pencil Mark – Before

Soak a small rag in the denatured alcohol, and give the marks a good rub until they fade and disappear. It doesn’t take too much.

Wet

Allow the alcohol to dry

After

Pencil Mark – After

Take a good look – marks are gone!  There may still be some faint marks left, but they can easily be lightly hand sanded and they will be history. The denatured alcohol method works well also to remove most yard markings and small smudges from the surface of the wood, or fade them well enough to facilitate a light sanding.

Credit to Wood Magazine