What is “site-built” cabinetry? Many years ago practically all residential cabinetry was built on site as part of the process of building a house. In other words it is “old school.”
Time was, the same carpenters who would be installing the interior trim would also build the kitchen cabinets, bath vanities and built-ins. These carpenters using mostly hand tools, with perhaps some help from a table saw, would measure, cut and install each piece which made up a cabinet. The process was tedious but had some advantages. Unlike factory built cabinets of today which are constructed in modules of 3″ increments and require filler strips to make up the difference, these original cabinets could be completely custom dimensioned according to the requirements of the space. In addition, when walls and floors were not level or plumb the site built carpenter would take the situation in stride as he fitted each piece according to the conditions, whereas with modern factory built cabintry these adverse factors can be more of a headache. However, this method of cabinet making began to die out when it could not compete economically with the modern factory’s efficiency and advanced tooling.
But it did not die out everywhere at the same time. In some parts of the country air tools were embraced more rapidly than others, and when site built carpenters found that they could use the new air guns to construct cabinetry their efficiency soared to the point where they could compete very well. The painters who applied the finish to the cabinets could also avail themselves of air power and produce a finish which could rival that of factory cabinets. I first learned these techniques in Oklahoma in the early 80’s and in that part of the country this is still the predominant method, especially for high-end custom home building. Since coming to Virginia in 1988 I have made of this method a niche market and have continued to refine it beyond what I learned in Oklahoma.
Step 1: Design
Step 2: Beginning with the base
Precision of Custom Cabinetry
Base cabinets built out and receiving face frames
Beginning an upper cabinet with the bottom shelf
Fitting the lower cabinet face frame
On Site Construction of Custom Cabinetry
Seeing Custom Cabinets Come Together
Crown Molding on Custom Cabinetry
Step 3: Finishing
Step 4: Completion