Tagpocket hole

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.

Wainscot Frame Construction

This morning I rabbeted out the back of the wainscot frame to accept 1/4″ birch plywood. The frame is made from borax treated radiata pine, suitable for wet locations, and very resistant to Formosan termites.  

The inside of the frame corners needed to be cut square to fit the plywood (alternately you can round the corners of the panels), using either a chisel or an oscillating tool. Once the corners are cleaned up, the panels can be cut to size and fitted from the back.

Since contraction and expansion of plywood panels is not an issue, I glued the panels in with waterproof glue, and pin nailed them to hold until the glue is dry.

 

Wainscot Frame

Frames for wainscot – rabbetted and pocket hole screwed.

Panels - pinned and glued.

Panels – pinned and glued.

Pin Nailer

Pin Nailer

Wainscot – Pocket Hole Joinery

Gary Striegler’s 10 minute video, demonstrates the approach I think I’d like to use for the kitchen wainscot, which uses pocket hole joinery and offers and attractive set of options.  The technique is simple and straightforward. I also have most of the Kreg equipment needed for the pocket hole joinery setup. Note that the actual wainscot is held above the floor, so we do not have to demolish the tile flooring until we are ready to install baseboard. 

Stile and rails for the wainscot would be poplar, paint grade. The cap rail for the wainscot I’ll mill using a router to match the line of the handrail on the entry wall. It will be stained to complement the countertop and stair handrail.  For now, I can simply install the wainscot stile and rail and leave the cap until we have picked the wood and finish for the bar top, and integrate it at that time.

We have discussed three panel ideas-

1. board on board to match existing hallway

2. beadboard to match small bath and window seat

3. bamboo veneer finished with polyurethane and paint finish to incorporate a tropical element

My quick thoughts

1. Board on board can’t be used in the small bath because of its thickness.  It also is tough to scale for the planned window seat area.

2. Beadboard is available in several different modes – MDF, single board, plywood, and PVC.  

3. Bamboo veneer is the thinest and probably not durable enough for the bath or the window seat