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A cabinet drawer is quite simply, a box. There are numerous methods to construct a drawer with regards to materials and joint design. The joint design is important as each time a drawer is open or closed, the drawer front undergoes a significant amount of stress. The more a drawer is used, the better the construction needs to be to ensure it does not fail. In the case of a silverware drawer, this could easily be opened 5 to 10 times per day, or up to 3,650 times per year. Over ten years, the drawer would be opened more than 36,000 times!
The strength of the joint primarily comes from two factors ... 1) how the two pieces of wood are connected and 2) the size of the gluing area. In a dovetail joint, a series of "pins" are cut into the end of a piece of wood which interlocks with a series of "tails" cut in the end of another piece of wood. Once glued, a dovetail joint requires no additional mechanical fasteners. The picture below provides an example of a typical dovetail drawer joint.
The dovetail is one of the strongest joints used in cabinet construction. The pins and tails can only be joined together in one direction, similar to putting your hand in a glove. Once the glove is on, it will not come off except by sliding your hand back out. When the drawer is opened, the pressure actually makes the joint tighter. In addition to locking mechanically, the joint creates a very large surface area for gluing. The more glue in a joint, the stronger the joint will be.
The KitchenWright is a strong proponent of dovetail drawers as the strength of this joint will help ensure the cabinet drawer performs over a long period of time.
As you embark on updating kitchen or bathroom cabinets, there are numerous decisions to make ... including the cabinet finish/color. Regardless of the finish chosen, the process includes sanding the wood surfaces, applying the finish (stain, paint), sealing the finish, additional sanding, and the application of a topcoat to protect the finish from chemicals, scratches, and wear/tear.
Stain is the most common finishing option for cabinets. Stains come in an almost endless variety of colors and enhance the wood's color and pattern by penetrating into the grain or remaining on the surface. Stain is applied by spraying, wiping, or brushing the stain on the wood's surface. The stain's penetration is dependent on the wood's grain structure. For example, hard maple has a dense, tight grain structure, making it difficult for the stain to penetrate deeply. Conversely, soft maple's grain is less dense and more open, allowing the wood to be stained very easily. Stain color is also impacted by the length of time the stain remains on the wood surface.
A painted finish is also a very popular option. In many kitchen remodeling projects, clients are choosing stained cabinets for the perimeter of the room and painted cabinets for the island. Similar to stained finishes, there are numerous color choices for painted cabinets. When choosing a painted finish, it is important to use tight-grained wood ... birch or maple are preferred ... to prevent the grain from showing through the paint. Enamel is used to help ensure a strong, durable finish for the cabinets. A downside to paint is hairline cracks form along joints as the wood expands and contracts from humidity changes.
Glazes are transparent or semi-transparent stains applied late in the finishing process and are most often a complementary color to the base coat. Glazes are applied to both stained and painted finishes, providing character and depth to the finish. During the finishing process, a glaze is applied to the wood surface and then wiped off. While most of the glaze is removed, a portion remains in the cabinet grooves/molding details and in any natural wood imperfections. Alternatively, the glaze can be applied only in the grooves or corners.
Distressing artificially ages the wood to create a look consistent with a period of time. Distressing comes in a variety of forms, including a crackle finish to mimic cracks in painted finishes, dings and dents to simulate wear/tear, rubbing through the finish to create a worn effect, and randomly placed worm holes.
Thermofoil finish is the application of a plastic laminate coating to engineered furniture board. The laminate finish can be applied to a variety of door/drawer shapes and profiles. Thermofoil provides a strong, durable finish. However, thermofoil comes in a limited number of color choices and if damaged is difficult to repair.
Finally, stainless steel can be used to create a very contemporary look. In this situation, stainless steel is applied over wood frames, so the door style choices are more limited. Stainless steel is a very durable and easy to clean finish.
Updating kitchen and bathroom cabinetry continues to be an excellent way to improve your home's value and appearance. Cabinets are available in a wide assortment of styles, woods, and finishes. They also come in a range of prices, providing options that fit the budget of every remodeling project. When planning a kitchen or bathroom renovation, cabinet options, construction, and pricing needs to be considered to make the best investment in your home. To help understand the differences in cabinets, the following is a brief summary explaining the characteristics of custom, semi-custom, and stock cabinetry.
Custom Cabinets give you the greatest number of options for remodeling projects. An almost endless number of choices allow the bath or kitchen design to be limited only by your imagination. Custom cabinets provide unique products and configurations not typically available in semi-custom or stock cabinetry.
Current design trends make cabinets resemble pieces of furniture. The picture below shows a refrigerator designed to look like an armoire. Custom cabinets can be designed and configured to "create" furniture, match existing designs and colors, or fit unique sizes. Regarding cabinet construction, custom cabinets typically have plywood cabinet boxes, solid wood face frames / doors / drawerheads, maple dovetail drawer construction and soft-close hardware. The finishes can involve up to 25 steps to prepare, stain, and seal the wood for a lasting, durable finish.
From a cost perspective, custom cabinets are the most expensive. However, the higher cost provides the most product and design options, an extremely high level of quality, and usually hand-rubbed finishes.
Semi-Custom Cabinets also come in a wide variety of styles and options. While not as adaptable as custom offerings, they still offer a wide range of choices to meet the needs of most home remodeling projects. Features standard on custom cabinets may be options, with additional cost, on semi-custom cabinets.
Construction for semi-custom cabinet boxes may utilize furniture board or plywood, depending on the manufacturer and their options. Face frames, doors, and drawerheads are typically solid wood. Drawers are usually made from solid maple and joined with dovetail joints. Delivery times for semi-custom products are shorter than custom, allowing faster completion of home improvement projects.
Overall, semi-custom products provide a substantial number of options and choices, but at a lower cost than custom cabinets.
Stock Cabinets allow homeowners to add value without spending a significant amount of money. Stock cabinets come in a variety of door styles, wood choices, and finishes. However, the selection is not as wide as custom or semi-custom lines. A more limited choice of cabinets will reduce the amount of customization, or unique elements of the project. Similar to comments above, features that are standard on custom or semi-custom lines are often an upcharge on stock cabinets. Depending on the project, semi-custom cabinets may be cheaper than stock cabinets if a number of options are chosen.
While construction of stock cabinets is similar, the materials may be slightly thinner (1/2" versus 3/4") or use a different material. Face frames, doors, and drawerheads are still primarily made from solid wood. Solid maple drawer boxes with dovetail joints are typically an option. Finishes are applied in fewer steps on a production line.
The KitchenWright carries all three types of cabinets and has examples in our showroom. Stop in and let us help determine the best solution for your home remodeling project.
"I am in love with my new kitchen and The KitchenWright played a huge part in that. I had specific ideas and they educated me and made it happen. They knew what I wanted and seamlessly made decisions based on that. I've had other contractors try to pass things by on me, thinking I wouldn't know the difference, but in this case they anticipated issues and fixed them before they were permanent. They were a delight to work with. My kitchen even made the Facebook page! Thanks for making this a great experience!"
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"They did a fabulous job. They were real professionals, it was the type of job that I could leave them alone and not worry about my house."