Kitchen Cabinets from Components
With careful layout and efficient assembly, you can piece together affordable cabinets from mix-and-match doors, drawers and boxes.
Synopsis: Two cabinetmakers describe how kitchen cabinets can be made from stock components purchased from outside suppliers. The approach helps to control costs while speeding construction. The article includes an annotated list of hardware and cabinet-component suppliers.
For more than 13 years we’ve been building premium furniture and custom cabinets in Albuquerque, N.M. In that time, costs have risen, but competition has kept our prices low. About five years ago, we began looking for a partner who could help us stay competitive. That partner turned out to be not just one but a group of companies that make cabinet components.
Component manufacturers make everything from a single, simple square box to elaborate assemblies that will cover the wall. The cabinets arrive in tightly packaged bundles of flat panels (called knocked down, or KD). Large retailers such as IKEA sell KD cabinets to brave and thrifty do-it-yourselfers. The retailers include extensive instructions with the components, and market them under the category RTA, which means ready-to-assemble. We often get calls from do-it-yourselfers to help them to complete their jobs, so we don’t mind the competition.
Some fabricators deal in machined components made of particle board veneered with vinyl, polyester or wood. Others carry solid-wood components such as face frames, boxes, doors, drawer fronts, shelves, and drawer sides and bottoms.
Manufacturers show their wares in well-organized catalogs. For some (Components Plus), you specify what you want, and they tell you what you need and give you the prices. Others (Cab-Parts) let you pick from a huge assortment of shapes and sizes. Then, you add up the costs based on the price list and order the parts by catalog designation.
Typically, we buy KD cabinets and drawers from one manufacturer, doors from another and hardware from our local mail-order distributor (TJ Hardware Inc., Albuquerque, N.M.). If we need a hardwood drawer, we go to another fabricator. The result is a set of cabinets that combine the look of custom woodwork with the efficiency of modular construction. As a ballpark price, you can figure the base cabinets will cost about $70 per running ft. and the upper cabinets $60 per ft. This price includes the carcases, drawers, raised-panel doors and necessary hardware. All these parts fit together because the dimensions are standardized and we are meticulous in our specifications.
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