3/16/2010 Stan's Cabinet Shop
Urbas Home Services

Serving north Kitsap and east Jefferson Counties, Washington
Including Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, and Bremerton
Custom Cabinets and Home Remodel
Individual Detail for Every Job
How we build our Cabs

Document made with Nvu
Stan Urbas 
Urbas Home Services
E-mail: cabinets@urbashome.com
Seabeck, WA 98380

office phone: 360-830-4162 (local to Kitsap County, Poulsbo, Bremerton)
cell phone:    206-992-8803 (local to
Bainbridge Island)
WEB Site:      stanscabinetshop.com or  urbashome.com


About Us

Some Examples Of Our Work

How We Build Cabinets

Storage Problems?
    ==> Storage Solutions!

Cabinet Styles

Cabinet Options

What's Out There: Is This Your Kitchen?

If You're Interested:

How We Build Our Cabinets: What We're About

Why we build them: The main reason we build cabinets is that we enjoy doing it. Yes, it's that simple. We could do other things, and, in fact we have done other things, and we've been successful doing them.  But we enjoy the challenge and beauty of wood, and the lasting qualities of good wood construction. For us it is very enjoyable to create something, and to build it knowing that the new owners will enjoy it for many years to come. And when someone comes to us with a request to build something new, something we haven't done before, well so much the better.
We're Small: Sometimes when defining what you are it is easier to do it by defining what you are not. And what we are not is a large, mass production operation. Quite the contrary, we are very small, and do only one job at a time. Everything we build is custom-built. And so if you want cabinets that are taller, shorter, deeper, wider, or narrow than the norm, that isn't a problem for us, for we really do not have a "norm". We price our work based on a simple principle of time and materials. The amount of time it takes to build a particular cabinet is based upon the number of pieces it contains. And so by requesting a cabinet that is larger or smaller than "standard" really doesn't change it's construction costs. It will change the cost for materials - be it up or down - but not of labor. And so if you have special needs, like sizing cabinets to a certain height person or to provide wheelchair access, we can do that without really charging an arm and a leg. What is it you have in mind?  Talk to us -- we'll work with you.

And If You're Shopping Price: Let's face it.  Sometimes you just have to go for the lowest price possible. And we're fine with that. It's just not what we do. For the lowest price per cabinet you'll probably do best by shopping the big box outlets. However, we believe we are very competitive with the mid- to upper- price range, so if it's value you're looking for, give us a try.

What About Counter Tops?  While this is not our primary business, we do install laminate or tile counter tops if a customers requests them.  We also routinely work with other local constractors who supply and install granite, marble, and synthetic specialty counter materials. These products are typically extremely inflexible and require special preparation to insure the base cabinet surface is perfectly flat. Our cabinets are designed and installed to meet these requirements.

How We Build Our Cabinets

Design:  Out of our initial contacts we will come up with a rough design and a price estimate for the project.If this looks to be agreeable to the client we then do a detail design which leads to a firm price bid. Acceptance of this bid commits the customer to purchase the product and commits us to building the product per those specifications. Normally the design is done where we sit down with the customer at their site and lay out what they want.  We use a commercial computer product to do this process.  Out of it we get a floor plan with the layout of all cabinets, and a series of simulated camera views to see what the finished product will look like. This data is then input into our own computer programs which calculate the precise specifications for all cabinet parts and produce:

It should be noted that our proprietary computer programs are one of the key items that separates us from our competition and from the home woodworker. With them we can readily change basic dimensions and automatically recalculate all part sizes. This is how we can tailor general layout specifications to customer-specific requirements.

Materials: The materials we use in our cabinets are selected to be durable enough to last a lifetime while not being so expensive as to break the bank. All the basic structures - the cabinet shells - are made from 3/4" plywood on the sides, top, and bottom, with 1/2" plywood on the backs. There is no particle board or any other composition material used anywhere in our cabinets. The insides of the shells - the part NOT seen from the outside - is made from either cabinet grade birch or maple/birch, which gives a smooth hardwood finish to the interior. Cabinet sides and backs which are exposed to the room are made from a hardwood veneer plywood to match the wood used in the cabinet fronts -- unless hardwood panels are chosen for these surfaces (see cabinet options). All shelves are made from 3/4" plywood. This is normally birch or maple/birch, unless the cabinet doors are clear glass instead of wood panels. In that case a hardwood veneer plywood to match the cabinet front is used for shelving.

All drawers are made from 1/2" birch 9-ply European plywood. This wood has a sanded hardwood surface and the multiple birch plys on the interior or the wood are selected to eliminate plywood blows from the exposed edges.

Door fronts, drawer fronts, and all cabinet faces are made from the hardwood material selected by our clients. This is all solid hardwood - there is no plywood or wood composition or any other non-hardwood material used anywhere in the door fronts, drawer fronts, or cabinet face frames. Surfaces wider than 3" are cut and pieces edge-glued together to provide a solid wood plane that will resist warping. Individual wood pieces are selected and matched for wood grain consistency. The client may optionally select glass panels instead of wood in the cabinet doors (see Cabinet Options).

Construction: All drawer fronts and door panels consist of narrow wood strips - usually 2" to 2-1/2" wide, that are edge-glued prior to finishing. Door rails and styles are glued together with the door panel in place. Panels "float" inside the frame and are held in place with rubber-like "space balls". All cabinet shells are screwed together for long-term stability. Drawer sides are pegged and glued together with a special multi-stage dowel designed to eliminate pull-out. Cabinet faces are screwed to the cabinet shells. Drawer fronts are screwed to the drawer boxes. Cabinet shells are screwed to one another as well as to the room walls during installation. With the exception of corner units, all upper and lower unit shelves are fully adjustable.

The upper units have space behind the lower trim for under-cabinet counter lights. The top of the upper units is normally flush with the top of the trim. But this can be lowered to flush with the bottom of the trim if you want in-cabinet lighting, say for a china closet with glass doors and glass shelves.


Doors: All doors are mounted with European-style recessed cup hinges. This means a 35mm "cup" hole is drilled into the backs of the doors and the hinges are recessed into these cups. The hinge is then screwed into the door and the matching cabinet frame. All doors are built with pneumatic "soft close" cylinders to prevent annoying clatter when the door is being closed. The customer may purchase door handles or knobs, which we will mount at no charge, or we will optionally cut finger inserts into the bottoms of upper doors and tops of lower doors.

Drawers: All drawers are mounted with full extension ball bearing drawer glides, similar to those found on better file cabinets. The drawer glides are screwed onto the drawer sides and to the cabinet shell vertical sides, thus preventing any unwanted movement.
The customer may purchase drawer handles or knobs, which we will mount at no charge, or we will optionally cut finger inserts into the tops of all drawers.

Corner Turntables: All lower corner units come equipped with two full-circle lazy susans. These units are made from 3/4 inch plywood and are secured to fixed plywood shelves with a ball-bearing metal turntable bases. With this configuration there is no center post to impede large items, and the heavy-duty base is capable of carrying heavy items such as sugar, flour, dishes, appliances, etc without strain. Upper corner units may optionally have heavy duty lazy-susans as well.

Finish: All outside wood (exposed to the room) is finished with a select wood stain and at least four coats of polyurethane sealer.  Inside surfaces receive one coat of sealer.

Doors vs. Drawers:  Our standard construction would feature doors on all upper units.  Lower corner units would have doors, as would under-sink units. All other lower units would have drawers, normally either three-high or four-high, as specified by the customer, unless the customer requests doors.

Installation: Cabinets adjacent to walls are screwed to the wall studs. For island or peninsula units, where there is no wall behind them, special blocks are screwed to the floor under the cabinets and the cabinets attached to the blocks.  Similarly, special mounting procedures might be employed for upper units not attached to a wall.

Rail and Style: What's the Big Deal?

First a bit of a definition. The rail and style cabinet door consists of a center panel (usually solid wood) surrounded by two vertical boards (styles) on each side, and horizontal boards (rails) top and bottom. Typically the rails and styles are around 2-1/4" wide, and the center panel accounts for the rest of the door area. If the panel is shaped along the outside edges so that the center part of the panel comes forward, the term "raised panel rail and style" is used.  Otherwise we have a "flat" panel. A raised panel door is pictured on the right. To the left we have slab doors. There are two reasons for having panel doors: they are functional and people like the way they look. The functionality of this type of door comes from the fact that wood expands when the air is moist, and contracts when dry. But just like we expand sideways when we eat too much (we DON'T get taller!), wood expands mostly sideways when the air gets moist. So if you have two solid doors (just the panels, no rails or styles) side-by-side, opening to one large passage, the doors would expand and tend to overlap in the summer when its damp, and contract to expose a wide gap between them in the winter, when it's dry.

The first row of drawings demonstrates the possible problem with slab doors. In the normally dry time of year (usually winter), the "normal" door gap of  1/8" is set and the doors look and work fine. However, the humidity of summer can cause the doors to expand by 1/2 of 1% (or more!). This expansion would mean that what were 18"-wide doors are now each wider by 1/16" -- the two doors thus filling the 1/8" gap and causing the doors to rub.  Any further swelling and the doors will overlap -- one door will not close. To remedy this one can set the summer gap to 1/8", which will mean the winter gap will be an unsightly 1/4" or more. Or one can make the doors a little narrower and place a vertical style in the face frame behind them, thus changing the one big opening into two smaller ones.

The second choice is to build rail and style doors (illustrated by the second row of drawings). Since the side rails and styles are quite narrow, there is little expansion or contraction in the frame. The center panel, which DOES expand and contract, actually floats within the frame.  So it can change in size without affecting the overall dimensions of the door. Note that in the above drawings each door only expands by 3/64" in the moist season and the gap between them is a comfortable 5/32". The net expansion is all due to the small width of the styles. The center panels still do expand, as in the previous example, but since they "float" inside the styles, their change in size does not affect the overall door size.

Typical Cabinet Door Styles

Classic Slab Door with Edge Trim
edge view

Raised Panel
Cutaway Edge View

Recessed Panel
Cutaway Edge View

Slab Door
Cutaway Top View

Raised Panel
Cutaway Top View

Recessed Panel
Cutaway Top View

The above pictures are examples of the three primary styles of  cabinet door and drawer fronts we do. Note how both the raised and recessed panels have a small gap between the edge of the panel and the inside of the frame groove. This gap is filled with an elastic "space ball" which allows the panel to expand and contract within the frame, yet has a tight fit to eliminate noisy rattles.

Slab: Although we do use this style for some cabinet doors, it is more more widely used for drawer fonts. Options range from a simple clean look, similar to the frame of the recessed panel on the right to a more pronounced rounding (bullnose) to an ornate trim as pictured. A variety of trim cuts are available.

Raised Pane: With this style the center part of the panel is about even with the surrounding frame. A variety of edge styles are available for both the panel and frame.

Recessed Panel: (also called "flat" panel) As you can see in the pictures, the center panel is flat and slightly set back from the surrounding frame. In the true Shaker style, the lines are simple and clean.

Should I Worry About Wood Warping?

OK, first of all a dose of reality. These cabinets are made of real wood, and all wood warps! That is, it warps to some degreeThe questions that arise are these:  how much is it warping, and is the amount a problem? If you have a situation of continuous excessive moisture, such as in the shower room of a gym, you might want to consider something other than wood. However, in residential settings wood warping can easily be kept within reasonable limits by following these steps:
  1.  Most wood that is going to warp does so during its initial dry time. That means it is warped when it gets to the lumber yard. Since we select all our cabinet lumber ourselves we simply put warped boards aside. At one time lumber yards did not allow the buyer to select lumber, but fortunately, those days are in the past. I don't know what happens to these rejected boards; in fact, I don't care. I just don't want them in the cabinets we build.
  2. Much of the wood has a small amount of warpage when it gets to our shop. Rather than trying to straighten the boards by gluing or whatever, we just cut straight boards out of what we have and discard whatever remains.
  3. Boards have internal stress and can warp over time. The wider the board, the more warpage results.  This is why we cut all our door and drawer boards down to 2 to 2-1/2 inches wide and laminate (glue) these narrow boards into wide ones. For the most part this will result in the flat, straight door and drawers we want.
  4.  Occasionally - rarely, actually - we get a board that develops a "late-life" warp -- after the door or drawer is glued up, finished, and installed. If this happens we bite the bullet, build a new door or drawer, and donate the old one to our neighbors fire pit.
One word of warning: no matter whether you have our cabinets or someone else's, if the cabinets are in the bathroom you should have - and use - a room fan that exhausts humid shower air to the outside.