Thursday 10 July 2008

I just beat the 4 year anniversary...

... of starting the kitchen (by 2 weeks!). I guess technically - it is not quite done - the pulls are not finished - but... it feels pretty great to have it to this point. The above photo is made up of 3 shots spliced together in photoshop - it was the only way I could get the whole thing in.

The doors themselves went together quite well - and were easier and faster than the drawers. I used a Zona saw to cut the shoulders for the hinge mortises - and a small router plane to clean them out. I was a little worried about cutting the mortises in the cabinets, but it worked quite well. I am still a little bitter that I did not have the foresight to pre-cut mortises for knife hinges like I used in the mudroom cabinets... but I will get over it. These are oil rubbed bronze hinges and worked quite well with the walnut (and the future African Blackwood pulls).

I need to thank Jim Shaver for reminding me of a great technique for keeping doors closed. I used 3/8" rare earth magnets buried in the bottom of the door rail and another in the face frame. They are epoxied in and covered with a piece of walnut veneer (planed flush with an XSNo.4 of course:). It worked perfectly.

In hindsight, there are a few things I have learned.

Firstly - building your own kitchen cabinets is not for the faint of heart. I underestimated the size of this project by at least 200%. It was totally worthwhile, I learned a tremendous amount and I would do it again (if I had to), but I was nuts to think I could do it in a year.

2. Taking the time to find quarter sawn wood for door frames is the right thing to do. In the grand scheme of the project and the immense time it requires - the extra expense of quarter sawn is a drop in the bucket, and you will thank yourself repeatedly because everything is so stable and is visually harmonious.

3. Hand cutting the dovetails in the drawers is extremely time consuming... but worth it if for no other reason than the the learning experience. It took several months of “spare time” to get them done, but my confidence in cutting them has really improved and has positive implications for a lot of other woodworking skills. And - they just look wicked.

4. Door panels that are 7/16" thick are flexible enough to be persuaded into a frame.

5. Air dried walnut is a wonderful wood to work.

6. Sanding sucks. There were a few places where I was not able to plane a surface so I hauled out my ROS. It was a perfect reminder of why I make planes.

The doors around the sink window have beveled glass in them to mirror the side lites of our front door (see below). The doors worked out very well - but the beveled glass on the top 4 doors is a little tough to see given the dark interiors.

The kitchen island was made several years ago - it was installed Christmas day 2005. The boxed dishwasher was the island with a tablecloth thrown over it. What prompted the island construction was a phone call from Sears (where we bought the dishwasher). They were calling to suggest that we might want to consider extending our coverage because the one year warranty was about to expire. Jill just laughed and told them we would pass - the dishwasher was still in the box.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That looks great, Konrad and well worth all the time and effort. Fabulous work.

Cheers :-)

Paul Chapman

11 July 2008 at 06:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought you were referring to the four year anniversary since your last post! ;)

Very well done. I love the book matched panels.

What is the plan for the blackwood pulls? Turned or carved or something else altogether?

Thanks for the post!

11 July 2008 at 14:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats, Konrad! You should be justly proud of the fine work. I'm sure Jill is happy as well

Jon Fiant

11 July 2008 at 15:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Killer "woodworkers" kitchen.
i bet you are glad you took your time with it...
Its kind of hard to tell, but is that a maple counter top slab? (with bb ends on the island)?
Great work, the pulls will tie it all together nicely.


11 July 2008 at 17:46  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks everyone.

The blackwood pulls will be turned, similar to the pulls I used on a table I build for my sisters wedding gift. A bit of a Shaker influence, very small (5/8"d) and about an inch long. I will post pics when they are done.

Jon - Jill is thrilled and I have to say - she has been most patient with me on this project.

Tom - Yes, the island top and counter tops are all hard maple. The bread board ends on the island top are done with 1/4" blackwood drawbore square pegs.


11 July 2008 at 18:18  
Blogger Unknown said...

Meticulous work, gorgeous wood (especially the pantry drawer fronts). A tool maker's kitchen. And what is a kitchen but a type of workshop? Congratulations Konrad. I know the feeling of finishing one's own kitchen. A curious mixture of accomplishment and relief.

11 July 2008 at 23:26  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Jameel,

thanks. You pretty much nailed it with the feelings of relief. This is a mega project off the long list of things to do. Unfortunately - the list grows faster than the items coming off.


12 July 2008 at 09:09  
Blogger Rich Stevens said...


Well done on such a stunning project.

Very few people will realise just how much work goes into a project like this. Kitchens almost never get built this way anymore - no one could afford to pay for the labour!

Its now all MDF boards cut on CNC machining centres - accurate but no soul.

I have often feared (and wondered) how Walnut would go into a kitchen - fearing it would be too dark. Yours seems to have a lighter touch - perhaps the use of Maple for the top was the colour balance Walnut needed.

Once again, well. You must have a very happy stable at present!


15 July 2008 at 17:54  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thank Richard.

We were a little worried about walnut being too dark too. We spent a great deal of time walking through high end kitchen showrooms just to see how dark kitchens looked. The common solution was a very light counter top. So you are on the money with why we have a maple counter top (and because it was a fraction of the cost). Our first kitchen had dark painted cabinets and a maple counter as well - and we really liked it. It also helps that our current kitchen faces south west - so we get light all day long.

Best wishes,

15 July 2008 at 20:33  
Blogger Unknown said... said, that taking the time to find and use 1/4 saw lumber for the door frames is important because....

"everything is so stable and is visually harmonious"

perfect words for a beautiful job.

16 July 2008 at 21:52  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Neil.

This is one of those moments where I know exactly when I was enlightened. I was taking the train to Montreal (from Toronto) to do a press proofing for a big job I had designed. I had just purchased "the fine art of cabinetmaking" and consumed the whole thing during the trip. Page 31 (of the soft cover edition) made it so painfully obvious when something was done without thought. It was a series of photos of pairs of paneled doors - some with harmonious frames - and some without. The series was worth the cost of the book - it was so powerful it did not even need the captions.

Best wishes,

16 July 2008 at 22:22  
Blogger Unknown said...

Checked my hard cover.....same page.


18 July 2008 at 05:55  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home