WORTH THE EFFORT
A kitchen that started from behind scratch.
SHOP OWNER: Bob Chapman
LOCATION: Montclair, NJ Here are some pictures of my kitchen project. This was a gut-rehab (down to studs and joists, then re-built). I combined the existing kitchen and pantry rooms into one L-shaped room. One end of the L has the major appliances, and the other has storage plus second sink and second oven, plus a desk for my wife. The lead photo shows the storage/pantry area. The next two pictures show the major work area from two different vantage points. The last picture is a detail shot of some of the drawers, before the faces were applied.
I am a slow worker: this was a five-year project that I started on the day that I took (early) retirement. The first 6 months were spent at the CAD terminal doing the structural design for the changes to the house (removed load-bearing wall and supported the two floors above with an LVL 14" deep beam), and the part-by-part design of all the cabinetry. Demolition yielded 9 tons of debris to the dump! Then we started re-building.
I did all the electric and plumbing changes, including re-working the drain lines back to where they go into the ground to correct someone else's odd work. My unfortunate Dad visited in the midst of the plumbing mess, so he got to help for a whole week of sweating and swearing when things didn't go just right.
The cabinets are cherry frames, maple ply carcases, birdseye maple fronts and dress panels on the cabinet ends. All this was machined from rough lumber that we processed in the basement shop. Fortunately, we have a walk-in basement at the rear of the house. The cabinet runs are made up as complete units, not assembled from a bunch of separate cabinets. I'm not sure in retrospect that this was a clever decision, as the size meant that they had to be assembled and finished in the kitchen! But, it sure makes for a strong cabinet: the top, back, and bottom of each cabinet is one piece of ply (except where the run was longer than ten feet). The finish is two coats of varnish on all surfaces.
The flooring is maple over 3/4" ply over the old subfloor, all this to get back to matching height for adjacent rooms.
The work surfaces are granite. This part I had someone else do. I spent three full days in their shop watching how it's done. Working stone is as interesting as working wood, and the amount of manual labor is impressive.
The time spent on CAD was a real boon, particularly since I had never undertaken a WW project of this scale. Once I was finished, I could print out a dimensioned drawing of every part in the room, and take it to the saw. While that saved time and errors, the major advantage was that I had to visualize how the entire room was to come together for electric, water, wood. And I had to make only one trip to buy wood!...Bob Chapman
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