Sunday, December 14, 2008

Seven Drawers For Seven Slots

The holiday season and icy weather are both to blame for the severe downturn in cabinet making over the past few weeks. I was able to fix the sticky problem with the first 4 drawers I made. They now glide effortlessly. I also made the last 3 drawers for the butler’s pantry side.

The additional 3 drawers on the butler’s pantry are located just behind the lower section inset on the dining room side. This is where the tile panel is located. I thought about doing a cabinet there, but you can never have enough drawers. Am I right? They were fairly simple to make. The one thing I would do over if I had the chance was not make them so deep. I figured that making 3 deep drawers was easier than, say, 4 shallow drawers. The problem with this is that I had to come up with some nice pieces of salvage 1X9 redwood to make the drawers. This is easier said than done at this point in the game.

I also called about marble. I went with a different stone fabricator than when I did the kitchen. If you recall, in the kitchen, I just had the fabricator cut me a rough slab and then I cut the sink hole and finished the edges. It was a lot of work, but it saved a lot of money.

This time, money is less of an issue and so I thought I would have it done. Well, after I got the estimate I’m now rethinking that. The marble slab for the kitchen island is about the same square footage as the slab needed for the dining room. I paid $350 for the rough slab for the kitchen and picked it up myself. The first estimate for the dining room was $1,700.00 and some change! Half of that is milling, finishing, transport, installation, etc.

I specifically said I don’t want the laminate edge and they charged me for that. The laminate edge is where they glue a strip under the front edge to hide the sub-counter. I told them I didn’t want the so there estimate was $250 too high. That brought it down to a little under $1,500.00. It is not that I can’t afford it, so much as I down want to. Even if I got just the rough cut slab from these guys their price for square footage is still about twice what I paid from the other guys and it is the same type and thickness of stone. Maybe marble prices have skyrocketed over the last 3 years. I don’t know.

I’m going to get an estimate from the other guys next week. We’ll see what there estimate comes in at. This first place I contacted said they wouldn’t be able to do the work until the end of January. That is longer than I thought, but what are you going to do. I still have 18 doors to make, so it is not like I will be waiting on them.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Four Drawers

The first one took about 3 hours, but after that I was able to make each of the others in less than an hour. I had only made one other drawer before this and that was only due to a mistake. When I made the corner cabinet in the bathroom it was supposed to be a single door for the whole thing. Well, I made the door 6-inches too short (gun to head) and so I ended adding a drawer to the top to make up the room. The logic at the time was that adding a drawer was less work than making a new door. The verdict is still out on that, but regardless, it was a good experience.

These drawers presented a unique challenge for me – well, I guess at this point, almost any drawer presents a unique challenge considering I had only made the one prior to this week. Anyway, the main challenge with these was that they are pass-through drawers. They can be opened on either side of the cabinet. If I were making a standard drawer on a 24-inch deep cabinet, the drawer could be 20-inches deep or 22-inces deep. It really wouldn’t matter how deep it was so long as it would close. With these, they needed to be pretty darn near close to the exact depth of the cabinet or they would always look odd from one side.

The target depth was 22-inches. I had already made the draw fronts for the front side so I needed to make the draw fronts for the back side. Then by measuring the thickness of both, minus the rabbit at the end that would accept the draw sides, that would give me the length of the sides.



Well, I panicked. That is one of the reasons it took 3 hours to make the first one. No, those aren’t the drawers I made. Those are the 1920s drawers that came out of the old rental kitchen. I dismantled them to make the new drawers. This is the other reason it took so long to make the first drawer. I want things to look authentic, so using 7/8th inch thick redwood drawer sides and bottoms from the 1920s did help in that, but it added a lot of time.

The other panic induced decision was to make them a hair longer than they needed to be. One of the things I’ve been worried about all along was that the cabinets will seem too 2 dimensional. These are supposed to be High Victorian dining room cabinets. A lot of times these would incorporate columns and mirrors and bump-outs and what ever other trick the cabinet maker could come up with. Also, when you think of Victorian trimwork there are always parts in relief of other parts to accentuate shadow lines. For instance, the head blocks and plinth blocks always sit a quarter inch proud of the casing. It gives the trim that added dimension to catch the light and throw a shadow.

So with all of that in mind, and the blinding fear that I would make them too small, I made the first one a quarter-inch too long so the dining room side would sit a little proud of the rest of the cabinet. I did it and then I did the other three exactly like that, and now, surprise of all surprises, I’m doubting that decision. I don’t think at this point I will be taking them all apart to trim a quarter-inch off the sides, so once again I will either need to live with this or sell the house.

I’m leaning towards selling the house, but since that won’t be tonight, here are a few shots. First the long shot and then a left and right close-up.










Regardless of the quarter-inch I’m greatly relieved that this task is behind me and I generally like the way they look. It is going to kill me to mount hardware in those burl drawer fronts. The only problem with them now is that they don’t operate all that well. Because they must open from both sides, the draw guides need to be dead-perfect, straight-on. Mine aren’t. These are not modern guides but redwood ones I made. My hope now is that I didn’t use glue when I installed them three weeks ago. If they are just put in with brads, I should be able to pop them out and reposition them, or even make new ones. We’ll see.