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Old 09-22-2016, 10:05 PM   #1
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Cabinets - DIY or Professional?

We were wanting to do a complete renovation for our 1968 sovereign. And since we planned on living in it full-time, my husband and I wanted to do custom cabinets. Would anyone recommend doing the cabinets ourselves? It should be noted that I only have a high school wood shop course worth of experience. But have a friend who has all of the necessary tools.

Or should we get them professionally done? If so, any recommendations for anyone in Southern CA? I tried asking a couple of custom cabinet places but they aren't familiar with RV Cabinetry.
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Old 09-22-2016, 11:46 PM   #2
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I was "lucky" to find an inexpensive cabinet guy off Craigslist. Our deal was that he'd make the cabinets to my dimensions, and then I'd cut the back curves and around the wheel wells and the like, and I'd install them.

He was cheap and good, but it took for-freakin'-ever! The good part of that was that I'd go over to his shop, take him a chorizo burro for lunch, and watch and ask questions. I picked up a bunch of good tips on how the pros make cabinets!!

I also learned where he got his materials.
Pro tip: It ain't the orange place, the blue place, or the place where they sell you a tiny piece of onga-bonga wood for fifteen dollars.
I ended up making the upper cabinets myself, as well as the dinette. I did have him make the doors for the upper cabinets, because I can't do mitered corners for crap. (That may change since I got a better [non HFT] miter saw).

The two most important tools to have will be a good table saw and a Kreg pocket hole jig set. A good miter saw won't hurt any, either.
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Old 09-23-2016, 12:15 AM   #3
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Add a good biscuit joiner tool to your kit as well. Suggest a fine-tooth carbide blade for the miter saw. Cuts much smoother.


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Old 09-23-2016, 07:30 AM   #4
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drboyd that looks great. Where did you find the aluminum trim and the struts for the upper cabinets?

This AS on the LA Craigslist has an amazing interior with lots of polished aluminum trim. I'd love to do a remodel but I have no idea where to get the trim pieces.

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst...783767979.html
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Old 09-23-2016, 08:16 AM   #5
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One thing to take into account is weight. That's why as we rebuild our interior we are essentially making just the face frames. Everything is attached to something else so there is really no need for sides.
A pocket screw jig makes building these extremely easy. Just need to make sure you have straight cuts.

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Old 09-23-2016, 09:51 AM   #6
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The polished aluminum trim came from Orange Aluminum in California. The struts are 50 Newton off eBay via China.
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Old 09-23-2016, 09:54 AM   #7
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Cliffcharb is absolutely correct about the weight issue. The cabinet boxes are plywood, not mdf.
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Old 09-23-2016, 10:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
Add a good biscuit joiner tool to your kit as well.
What is a biscuit joiner, how is it used, and what do they cost? Thanks
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Old 09-23-2016, 10:40 AM   #9
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Cabinets - DIY or Professional?

Price varies. I have a DeWalt.

It is typically used to edge join pieces of wood to make bigger panels, drawer fronts, put wide edges on plywood, etc.

If I'm making a wooden countertop edge I use biscuits for alignment and pocket screws to pull and clamp everything together.


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Old 09-23-2016, 10:54 AM   #10
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A biscuit joiner sounds like one more thing that I would use very poorly.
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Old 09-23-2016, 11:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
Price varies. I have a DeWalt.

It is typically used to edge join pieces of wood to make bigger panels, drawer fronts, put wide edges on plywood, etc.

If I'm making a wooden countertop edge I use biscuits for alignment and pocket screws to pull and clamp everything together.


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I want to replace the tambour doors in my galley under the sink and also under the bathroom sink with hinged cabinet doors. They always get stuck.

In the galley I think the easiest way is to attach a front face to the existing kitchen sink counter. In the bathroom I think building a new sink cabinet would work best. How useful would a biscuit joiner be for this project?
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Old 09-23-2016, 11:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drboyd View Post
A biscuit joiner sounds like one more thing that I would use very poorly.
Are you saying this is not a good tool?
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Old 09-23-2016, 11:40 AM   #13
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X 2 on rmkrum's suggestion. Pocket screws give a very strong joint.
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Old 09-23-2016, 11:45 AM   #14
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All good advice. No one mentioned counter tops. About the only skill I have is laminated plastic tops. Here in the south every shop I have asked uses particle board of one sort or another which is very heavy so I make mine out of 3 ply fir 1/2" plywood. I haven't been able to find anything more suitable or lighter weight. The laminated plastic has been made thinner over the years hence lighter. The tools are pretty basic Harbor Freight. Router and bits for finishing edges, throwaway paint brushes for the glue, table saw and drill with standard bits and philips screw driver bits. Put everything together with screws. Make the finished edges with solid poplar strips 3/4" x 1 1/4" before applying laminate. Put a 3/4x3/4 strip on the underside to anchor it to the side of the trailer or bulkhead.
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Old 09-23-2016, 01:38 PM   #15
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Cabinets - DIY or Professional?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumatic View Post
I want to replace the tambour doors in my galley under the sink and also under the bathroom sink with hinged cabinet doors. They always get stuck.

In the galley I think the easiest way is to attach a front face to the existing kitchen sink counter. In the bathroom I think building a new sink cabinet would work best. How useful would a biscuit joiner be for this project?

A biscuit joiner can be effectively used to align the face frame and strengthen the glue joint holding the face frame on the cabinets. As a charter member of the redundant redundancies school of engineering, I would also put in a few pocket screws in the cabinet sides to pull stuff together until the Gorilla glue holding it together dries. Gorilla glue is very strong, but it does expand and foam a bit, and stuff needs to be held together or clamped very well to keep it tight.

Don't use excessive glue no matter what kind. Cleanup is a pain.


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Old 09-23-2016, 02:10 PM   #16
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As a charter member of the redundant redundancies school of engineering,
Thank you for your exquisitely redundant response.

Just wondering, Do you wear a belt and suspenders to hold your pants up?
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:53 PM   #17
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For my money, the best thing about doing your own cabinetry is the ability to go ultralight. You go to a shop, you get super heavy plywood, or MDF, or (gasp) particle board. I've found that you can get away with 1/4" plywood with 1/2" edging as structural pieces. I shall once again sing the praises of Eurolite plywood, which looks pretty great when given a few coats of marine varnish.

This winter's project is to do the cabinetry in the galley, which will be 2 layers of 1/8" Eurolite with a 6 oz. epoxyglass core, tormented into curves. The forms that I'll build to get my curves will wind up being the top and bottom of the cabinets.

The vanity in the head shows off a bit of this technique. As soon as you put a bend in plywood, strength goes way up.

BTW: Just installed my new custom mirror that I built...
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Old 09-23-2016, 03:09 PM   #18
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Thank you for your exquisitely redundant response.

Just wondering, Do you wear a belt and suspenders to hold your pants up?

Nope. Engineer, not silly. Pants stay up just fine.

I have found using biscuits as an alignment tool for the pocket screws is a convenient way of keeping parts aligned while I glue things together. They also make the joints much stronger. I had issues with pocket screws alone pushing parts out of line. I use oak and maple, and the harder wood causes issues with just pocket screws.


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Old 09-23-2016, 04:25 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by SuzyHomemakr View Post
For my money, the best thing about doing your own cabinetry is the ability to go ultralight. You go to a shop, you get super heavy plywood, or MDF, or (gasp) particle board. I've found that you can get away with 1/4" plywood with 1/2" edging as structural pieces. I shall once again sing the praises of Eurolite plywood, which looks pretty great when given a few coats of marine varnish.

This winter's project is to do the cabinetry in the galley, which will be 2 layers of 1/8" Eurolite with a 6 oz. epoxyglass core, tormented into curves. The forms that I'll build to get my curves will wind up being the top and bottom of the cabinets.

The vanity in the head shows off a bit of this technique. As soon as you put a bend in plywood, strength goes way up.

BTW: Just installed my new custom mirror that I built...
Looks beautiful but you don't look like a Suzy to me. Post some more photos please.
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Old 09-23-2016, 05:15 PM   #20
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I've found a trick for woodworking. I quickly discovered what I'm no good at and I stopped doing it. ;0)

Biscuit joint fall neatly into that category!

I use pocket screws and make sure the joint is glued and clamped together SUPER TIGHT before driving in the screw. The darn angled screw will pull the joint upward otherwise.

I agree that nice light cabinets are the best bet for an Airstream. Now if I can only figure out what to use my biscuit joiner for...
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