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Old 01-21-2007, 07:27 PM   #1
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Question How level for building cabinets?

This may be an obvious question... but here goes. How important is it to have the trailer very level when building/installing new cabinets? I have a very good and experienced cabinet maker working on making kitchen cabinets for me, but he has never worked on an Airstream. This is one of the questions that wakes you up in the middle of the night... hmmm, if they are moving my Aistream out of the shop to that area by the road... how level will it be? Yikes!

As always, I turn to my Airstream community for the answers. Thanks, Pam
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Old 01-21-2007, 07:33 PM   #2
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Optical Illusion

We once built a hot tub in a custom house overlooking a tidal bay. The foundation was very un-level. The Foreman called it an optical illusion. It looked good but it was not level. That is the challenge of a good carpenter.
Of course it would be easier if the frame was level and everything was plumb but that happens infrequently.
R
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Old 01-21-2007, 08:19 PM   #3
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I don't think the trailer necessarly has be level but you have to use someting as a reference and for me the only true reference is the floor. So all cabinet faces have to be 90 degress to the floor and all counter surfaces and shelves have to parallel to the floor. A level is useless unless the floor of the trailer is perfectly level side to side and front to back ,otherwise you have to rely on a framing square.
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Old 01-21-2007, 08:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pamelake
This may be an obvious question... but here goes. How important is it to have the trailer very level when building/installing new cabinets? I have a very good and experienced cabinet maker working on making kitchen cabinets for me, but he has never worked on an Airstream. This is one of the questions that wakes you up in the middle of the night... hmmm, if they are moving my Aistream out of the shop to that area by the road... how level will it be? Yikes!

As always, I turn to my Airstream community for the answers. Thanks, Pam
Living in the NW, I'm sure that you have seen the flotillas of float homes as you approach PDX from the East that are on the Columbia. They are all built without the use of a single level! Everything is done using squares., If your floor is flat, just get (or make) an assortment of different sized squares and your install should be a snap .
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Old 01-21-2007, 10:58 PM   #5
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Lew is pretty much right on there. Having a reproducible frame of reference is useful though. It really isn't that hard to build layers of 2x8 scrap lumber so that you can level side to side. With severe slope it might be difficult to get the tongue jack on anything solid. Be sure to put blocks against the wheels to keep things from rolling!

Level is overrated. This is an art museum at the University of Minnesota. You might come up with a similar creation if you step outside of the Flatland world ...
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Old 01-22-2007, 12:01 AM   #6
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level is important, BUT....

you'll never get a vintage Airstream level. There's always a little bit of droop from front to back, and in many cases some twist, too. Having done cabinets in 4 vintage Airstreams (16', 18', 27', and 31') I try to remember the following:

1. Remember that the only things that worry about precise level are the fridge and the frying pan, the fridge less so. I assume the fridge is near or across the isle from the countertop, so when I set up to install new interiors, I level the floor under the kitchen countertop.

2. If you want square drawers, build that cabinet outside in the shop (and square), then install it with shims, if necessary, to get it "level" and tight to the floor and shell.

3. Use the front of that cabinet as your vertical. I say this because if you are installing new partitions (isn't it fun cutting every durn one of them to fit the shell?), matching the angle of their vertical edge along the isle is more important than getting each one at 90 degrees to the floor at its location. You can use a cheap laser level in the vertical mode to match the first partition to ones further from the kitchen.

4. The drawer cabinet will naturally establish horizontal for the countertop, which should be parallel to the floor there. And the fridge should be happy, too. It'll be within a degree or two of level if the countertop is level. The floor isn't the only reference. You will notice right away when you put the countertop on the cabinets, the line between the bottom of the windows and the counter. This line might be more important to you than the floor--it is to me. It really doesn't matter if you match to the windows instead of the floor--when you comply with #6 below you'll be happy when you cook.

5. You'll never notice it if the bed winds up tilted a little (it's probably on the other side of the axle from the kitchen, so it's going to have some droop), one way or the other. We're only talking about 3 degrees or so of droop.

6. When you park, throw the bubble level on top of the coutertop to judge level--you'll be thankful you did when you're frying those over easy eggs or hoping the latest spill on the countertop doesn't take off like it's shooting the rapids.

7. Be careful about attaching cabinets to each other that are built as "boxes" , eg, that have a back to them (this makes them very stiff and unable to flex in a fore to aft direction, as you face them). Remember that the trailer flexes significantly over bumps. Cabinets that are built as boxes and are tightly attached side by side act as a long beam and will try to resist this flexing. They will break or screws with tear out. The answer is to build them with sides and a top (the floor, if you screw the sides into the floor, becomes the bottom), but no back. This allows them to flex as a parallelogram and relieve any stress from the flexing (nose to tail) of the trailer. It's OK to have really sturdy cabinets, but they need to have a "parallelogram" in between each of them. This could be something like horizontal shelves (what other kind are there, he asks redundantly) that are attached to the "boxes" on either side.

Have fun!
Zep
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