Door of Opportunity

Being a licensed contractor and furniture maker has certain opportunities over others. For example, I know that many people want to remodel their kitchen. But doing a complete overhaul can be in a price range of over $20,000. But what about a new facelift for the kitchen?

Many times a contractor will talk the homeowner into all new cabinets to change the layout of the kitchen. The contractor is not ripping the homeowner off because cabinets change styles every couple of years.The style the homeowner has, although in great shape, is no longer made.

That’s where i come in, and the woodworker has the advantage.

I can made new cabinets to look like the old ones. Yes, it’s true these custom cabinets will cost more than the ones at the store. But If the homeowner only has to buy 2 or 3 instead of 20 or 30, it’s well worth the money.IMG 3413

The request I get most often is to cut down a cabinet to make room for a microwave. That’s the case with this one here in the photo. To begin with i remove all the hardware and look carefully for tiny nails or screws. I noticed that the panel was pinned in with small brads to prevent the panel from rattling. (a trick i do often as well) NOTE- if you think your saw will hit one of these nails set up a cheap framing saw blade in your table saw.

On a cabinet door the stiles are the longer pieces running vertical. The rails are the shorter ones running horizontal. Since i have to cut this door down I will measure from the top down to mark what my final size will be. I will cut through the stiles and panel. This will leave the rail untouched with a small amount of the stile still glues to the rail. Remove the panel and set it side. At this point you should have two stiles still attached to one rail forming a “U” shape.

Slowly chisel/split the stiles remains off of the rail keeping the tenon and profile of the rail intact. The rails might have tiny brads holding the stile pieces on so be careful. Test this rail fit on the stiles you plan to re-use.

Assemble the stile and rails together and make sure it’s the final size you need. Then I like to use a folding ruler with a slide arm extension and measure what the panel height should be. NOTE- the width in this case will remain the same since i am only cutting the door down.

Having the height of what the panel should be, I can cut it down on the table saw. Now comes the tricky part. I have to reshape the lower part of the panel. Depending on the shape of the panel, I might have some router bits. But most of the time i have to shape it by hand. I do this with a combination of hand planes, card scrapers and sanding.

With the panel reshaped, I’ll stain it at this time and then reassemble it into the stiles and rails. I’ll glue the rail in and let it dry. Once dry, i will have to probably IMG 3425do a little reshaping to the outer edges of the stiles from the process of shortening it. Once again either a router bit or hand plane will do the job. After that it’s sanding, staining and finishing the door.

In the end, the contractor is thankful to have you on his list of subcontractors. The homeowner is happy to have saved money.  And you will have the pride of putting your skills to good use for a few extra bucks in your pocket. And that my friends, makes me want to DANCE!!!