Cabinet Refacing: Bamboo Edition

Some before and after photos from a recent kitchen cabinet refacing, where we left the existing cabinet carcases and replaced the doors, hinges, drawer boxes, drawer fronts, and guides.  Disadvantages to this approach:  you’re stuck with your original layout and can’t do much to change the functionality.  Advantages:  you save a bunch of money, between cabinet carcases, materials, and installation, as well as avoid many of the headaches that generally accompany a full kitchen remodel.

We started with a standard, early-70s 3/8″ face frame overlay of pattern-routed plywood fronts with copper hardware.  The cabinets, like the rest of the house, had been well-maintained by the previous owners, but the new occupants were looking for an update, but with a minimal environmental footprint.

Bamboo cabinet refacing Bamboo cabinet refacingBamboo cabinet refacing

In the past, I’d been less than totally happy with refacing projects I’d completed and others I’d seen, as the new doors/drawer fronts never fully covered the old face frames and, in particular, the finished ends.  But the clients were committed, largely for environmental reasons, to refacing and, with some particularly good collaboration, we were found what I think is a very happy solution.

By using bamboo (Teragren’s three-ply caramelized vertical grain), I was able to miter the cabinet corners to cover both the finished ends as well as the wide corner stiles.  We even managed this around the oven surround and under the range hood.  Between this technique and using a variety of door hinge overlays, we achieved a nearly seamless, true full overlay look.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was a new kitchen.  And if bamboo isn’t your thing, there’s no reason you couldn’t easily achieve similar results substituting with ApplePly, laminate, or any other flat slab material.

Bamboo cabinet refacing Bamboo cabinet refacingBamboo cabinet refacing

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Look at this copper repoussé backsplash

Just look at it.

dt.common.streams.StreamServerNormally, I’d be upset to learn a client paid more for a backsplash than she did for her kitchen cabinets.  But not this time.  Read more about this lovely bit of copper art, Eugene’s Archive Designs, and the repoussé process in the Register-Guard.  Photo by Collin Andrew/Special Publications.

pettigrew 013 tnFor what it’s worth, here are the project cabinets, just after installation.  Full overlay in salvaged chinquapin.  Photo by me.

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Another bit of press in the Register-Guard Home and Garden section, this time covering a recent, straightforward kitchen designed by Allison Kelly of Delano Designs.  Hard to tell by the photos–click the ‘photo’ tab to see a couple–but it’s a simple full-overlay of ApplePly, the no-added formaldehyde product from States Industries here in Eugene.  The curly, burled western maple that comprise the two open shelves are from Cottage Grove’s own Curly Burly Milling.

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My Gerhardt Richter

Gerhardt Richter color chartVisitors to the shop are always asking me, “Is that a real Gerhardt Richter color chart, worth millions, hanging on your wall?” While only Gerhardt and I know for sure, astute observers will note that Richter often didn’t work with soundboard and laminate samples. But it knocks down the noise in the shop a bit and really brightens the place up, I think.

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Cascadia Wildlands Wonderland Auction 2012

CW’s 10th annual Wonderland Auction is coming up on Saturday, December 8th at 6pm in the EMU Ballroom.  Always a classy event, a fun time, and for a good cause.  Get your advanced tickets here.

The framed mirror I donated for last year’s auction was enough of a hit that I stuck with the design, using some nicely figured salvaged western maple from Curly Burly Milling in Cottage Grove.  I didn’t manage to get a photo before I dropped it off at the CW office, so you’ll just have to check it out in person at the auction.

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NYTimes: “Ikea Admits Forced Labor Was Used in 1980s”

 Ikea Admits Forced Labor Was Used in 1980s


“Yeah, well, there’s a reason why it only costs 99 cents.”

–Fast Food Nation

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Ode to the bridle joint: or, towards a theory of why IKEA is terrible

The bridle joint.  A full tenon sandwiched between the sides of an open mortise.  Acres of face-grain glue surface.  Sink a couple pegs through the piece and you have a joint that’s as strong as it is lovely.

bridle joint

You can see then why an outfit like IKEA would want to incorporate the bridle joint in their line of ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets.  But this is where quality woodcraft intersects with bulk production.  Note in the photos below the faked joint and the pegs that hold precisely nothing together.  I like to think I don’t take my work too, too seriously, but these IKEA cabinets are simply an insult to anyone who cares about things beyond what they look like.

IKEA fake bridle joint


IKEA fake bridle joint

For a more detailed description of the history of the IKEA pathology, you’d do well to read Lauren Collins’ 2011 piece in The New Yorker.



“Make amusement all you wish. But choose with care. You are what you love. No?”

–David Foster Wallace

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I don’t often capture a client’s pet’s likeness in my work.  But sometimes I do.

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A nice note from a recent kitchen cabinet client whose home remodel is finally wrapping up:

“Your excellent work on the cabinets is the centerpiece of our remodel–your sense of design, attention to detail, and willingness to collaborate and make it work for us have made this part of the project such a pleasure…. Also, we very much appreciate your attentiveness to sustainable materials/wood finishes.”

client feedback

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Medicine Cabinet

A new, custom medicine cabinet in a bath remodel.  After removing the old Broan, pressed metal cabinet, we found we were dealing with a plumbing wall–two standard 2×4 framed walls sandwiching a 4″ gap that accommodates the large sewer vent pipe.  Which left us with room for a 7 1/2″ deep cabinet–more than twice as deep as the standard, original cabinet.

medicine cabinet

The cabinet itself is all FSC-certified, from the maple plywood carcase (via States Industries) to the figured cherry face.  Otherwise, a standard, classic Craftsman look.

Adding a mirror back on the inside accentuates the box’s depth, reflects more light into the cabinet and room, and, in a pinch, lets a second person use the space–one person using the open door mirror and the other using the cabinet back.  And if the mirrored door is fogged up after a hot shower, just open the door for a clear reflection.

medicine cabinet

Here’s a look into the plumbing wall, after we’d expanded the cutout to make room for the new, larger cabinet.

plumbing wall


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