I am trying to improve my kitchen cabinet output time, specifically in finishing and box construction.
I have been cutting full-length side panels, notching the toe kick and dadoing every other joint. I recently tried making the boxes without the toe kick, but then installed the plain boxes on a 2x4 platform (faced with oak), which in the end gave me the necessary toe space. This was really fast and helped my bottom line, but I wasn't satisfied with the end result. What is the standard practice for box construction?
Do any of you spray your 4x8 sheets before cutting everything down to size? If it works for casework, will it also work on door and face frame parts? This must be torture on the blades. What are your tricks for speed without losing quality on finish?
Does anybody have experience to share with the compact type HVLP gravity feed sprayers?
I also install my cabinet boxes on a separate toe-kick frame. I don't see where quality is reduced. It's a lot easier to shim the frame level than install the boxes. I can also get six side panels out of a 4x8 sheet of plywood, instead of four.
I cut the notch for the toe in the side of my cabinet. I have been toying with the idea of setting up a jig to cut the notch with a router.
The toe-kick assembly is made separately with 3/4" ply and then attached. The face is made of 1/4" solid stock that is flush-routed to the box and then rounded over (combining the traditional face-frame cabinet with a Euro, but a lot faster). I do the same thing for upper cabs. Run the top and bottom through with the sides in between and the back planted on (parts are biscuited and stapled together).
I usually order the doors from a cabinet door company. I leave finishing to the professionals.
We buy pre-finished banding and use Zenith Tibet Almond Stick on the banding edges after they are cleaned and eased. It looks pretty good and is real fast.
We also build loose toe kicks in long lengths from 3/4" ply and level them before setting the boxes on them. You can do a much better job of leveling when you can get to the back and in the corners of toe spaces; the boxes can then be set on them and slid around for scribing, etc. It also helps to have a good reference point when measuring for cutouts, sink pipes, etc.
We installed a kitchen once where the customer bought cabinets with the ends running to the floor. We couldn't get the cabinets level without several tries. I couldn't tell where the floor was not level and the corners were a real problem. We just refuse to install those now.
We used pre-finished birch ply (3/4” and 1/4”). The stuff is made and flat-line finished by Columbia (and others, I assume). We used it for all non-exposed case parts like sides, decks and backs. They also supplied pre-finished and pre-edgebanded ply for shelves; crosscut, rip, done.
We pre-finished our frames, doors, drawers and mouldings in a much abbreviated work-flow since the case parts were now out of the finishing line. In fact, ultimately, we farmed our finishing out to a high-end firm that was as good at what they did as we were at making doors and boxes. The charges were within reason since the larger plywood parts were out of the mix.
All joints were cut prior to sanding and finishing, and though it did call for a bit more care in assembly, this too helped our efficiency, since everyone knew they couldn’t just fix assembly damage (an often time-consuming job). I was surprised at how infrequently there was actually any damage done during assembly. It was far more likely that cabinets were damaged in transit or on the job.
We also used the Camar leg levelers (mentioned above). This allowed us to get 6 base sides with little waste from a 4 x 8 sheet. It also made our installer a happier guy.