A FEAST FOR THE EYES
Figured maple and granite make for a dazzling kitchen.
SHOP OWNER: Derek Lentz
LOCATION: San Jose, CA
Here are some shots of my new kitchen. I sprained my arm in the middle of the project and could not do any real work on it for several months, so it's taken quite a while.
The drawer fronts, doors and panels are made of birdseye maple. I bought it from Wall Lumber and had it shipped in. It cost me literally half what I would have paid for inferior wood locally, even with the shipping costs. They gave me great service and excellent quality material (sight unseen) at a very reasonable price. They helped me minimize the freight costs as well. For example, they warned me to call the freight company ahead of time so they would not charge me $20-30 for the phone call to say it was ready to pick up, which they tried to do anyway!
The face frames are regular hard maple; I thought birdseye would be hidden and overkill. I used maple plywood for the carcases and some Russian birch plywood for the drawers. I opted for Russian birch drawers because of kids. In fact, one new drawer was already almost filled with water by accident! It survived just fine though!
We wanted the cabinets to have clean lines, but we also wanted some visual detail to keep the doors and drawer fronts from looking too plain. So, I routed a profile on the outside edges of both the drawers and doors.
I had to hand plane most of the panels and face frames because my jointer was acting up and I couldn't seem to get it to behave, plus I enjoy hand planing, at least when my arm is not sprained.
I think the corner cabinets are interesting. My wife hates lazy susans, so I made double doors, a narrow one along the side and a wide one along the back wall. The smaller door does not open unless the larger one is first opened. Between them, they give excellent access to storage space which LOML needs and loves.
Some tasks took a surprisingly long time to do. For example, I had to hand carve some of the hard maple panels to fit around tile bullnose, which was installed where the panels go. Installation took quite a few hours, but they do look nice now. I still plan to add some more doodads, notably some pull-out shelves and an appliance "garage," at the request of LOML.
The finish is pre-catalyzed lacquer sprayed with an HVLP gun. I left the wood natural, without any stain or dye. The natural maple is really nice. It warmed up the kitchen, makes it feel more open and comfortable. Friends who saw the old and new are shocked by the difference.
I got most hardware from a local cabinetmaker supply shop, which I accidentally found out about from my main lumber supplier. The door hinges are self-closing Hettich 35mm European-style hinges with adjustable face-frame plates. Most open 125 degrees but some open 170 degrees.
I didn't install any catches on the doors, but I used lots of plastic bumpers to make the drawers and doors close quietly. Nor did I use any knobs, because they catch on kids and clothes. Instead, I routed ogee recesses on the back edges of the door and drawer fronts. The drawers are hung on full-extension, heavy-duty Knape & Vogt KV8400 slides. A good friend did the tile work and helped me arrange for the granite countertops. I found that there is a HUGE difference in the price range of different granites -- roughly 50:1 or more! The granite we bought was at the low end of the range--not much more than tile--but it is pretty and both my wife and I liked it--a miracle!!! The granite fabricator came and measured after we installed the cabinets. The folks at Woodcentral have given me GREAT advice and encouragement throughout this project. It definitely would not have come out this well if not for Woodcentral. I still made some mistakes, of course. I made the top rail on the upper cabinets too narrow, so I could not use a crown moulding, there was only enough room for a simple molding. I also had to fit and trim the moldings because the ceiling height varied so much. Thankfully, most people have no clue when they look at the kitchen. It's a good thing our kid is in college. We used her room to store the cabinets while I was making them!
. . . Derek Lentz
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