Author Topic: School me on cabinet materials  (Read 9410 times)

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Offline UncleJoe

  • Posts: 142
School me on cabinet materials
« on: January 05, 2013, 06:01 PM »
Since I purchased my first Festools a little over a year ago my skills have gotten dramatically better with each project. I am what could best be described as a serious hobby woodworker. I recently made some built in cabinets for the wife's mud room and she loves them and shows them off to everyone.   

Now I am trying to step but my game and I am carefully reviewing all the things that worked great on the last project and trying to improve on those things that did not. On the mud room cabinets I used 3/4 birch and poplar for the face frames.  These are really solid but should I have used 1/2 inch? The cabinets were very heavy.

My next project will involve a family room built in and will be painted white. Should I use 1/2 or 3/4? Birch or maybe MDF?

What is the standard material for paint grade case work. Is poplar good for face frames or should I use clear white pine or does it matter?

I appreciate any advice you guys might have.
I am not young enough to know everything!

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Offline Sal LiVecchi

  • Posts: 1377
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2013, 06:20 PM »
UncleJoe.   As I have a habit of overbuilding, my thoughts are stay with the 3/4 birch for your carcass work and us the popular for your face frames. This combo will look great with the painted finish you are wanting to use.to aid with making the cabinets lighter if you want use 1/4 Luan for the rear panel on the cabinets.

Sal
Life is too short and the road is too long to drive anything less than a Festool

Offline erock

  • Posts: 1254
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2013, 06:45 PM »
I have used MDF for a number of cabinet projects around my house and for friends and family.

The thing about MDF is that you need to remember to use oil base primer.  Keep the fasteners about a inch away from the edges. 

PRE DRILL MDF !  it will blow out on you.

I have had great results with MDF and poplar for the face frames.  I have used MDF with the Kreg jig and the Domino.  For paint grade cabinets

MDF is a great source of sheet goods.  The thickness is consistent, no voids in the material and very smooth. 

But the only thing I don't like about MDF is the weight if it.  I think it's around 90 pounds for a 4' x 8'  sheet of 3/4"

It will also be great for jigs.  1/2" and 3/4" MDF is fairly inexpensive for jig making. 



Eric

Offline jmbfestool

  • Posts: 6628
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2013, 07:24 PM »
Use birch and popular.  Unless cost is a factor then use mdf instead of birch
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Offline Jalvis

  • Posts: 348
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2013, 07:28 PM »
Maple is better than Poplar but it depends on the budget.

Unless your building traditional inset doors stop building face frames and build Euro cabinets......Saves time and material. 

If you start building Euro cabinets get a hot air edge bander and/or lipping planer. 

Offline JPF Woodworking

  • Posts: 104
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2013, 07:31 PM »
I also agree with the birch/poplar combination but would strongly suggest going with pre-finished  birch for the carcass work. Saves a great deal of time in the finishing stages and the refinished birch is very, very durable. I would stay away from MDF as this material is very heavy, difficult to fasten unless you are careful (i.e. dado and pre-drilling is a must) and using oil base paint/primer is kind of a drag IMHO.

Just my thoughts

JPF
P

Offline mastercabman

  • Posts: 1854
  • NORFOLK,VA
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2013, 07:54 PM »
I use 1/2" prefinished birch for the carcase.I leave it natural inside the cabinet.On the side,use 1/4" ply if it's stain  or 1/4" mdf if you are painting it.Glue the 1/4" panel to the side of the cabinet.You only need it where it shows.If you want to paint it inside too,then you can use 3/4" MDF for the sides and then you can use 1/4" for the backs depending on how you are building your cabinets.
As far as the face frame,use soft maple for paint jobs.  Poplar is ok,but stay away from clear white pine, too soft.
If you decide to use MDF,you can use a oil base primer,or if you can get it,i like to use a vinyl primer.Then i use a precat lacquer or CV as my color top coat.
I don't understand!?! I keep cutting it,and it's still too short!

Offline Chris Hughes

  • Posts: 571
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2013, 08:54 PM »
The last thing in the world I would use for carcass work would be mdf.  While it is stable, flat, cheap, and easy to paint, it is very fragile, heavy, and screws will get pulled easily from it.  I used to use mdf but it is inferior to ply products.  For paint grades projects I like mdo, also known as sign board.  Maple is good for fame frames.

Offline Brice Burrell

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  • Remodeling Contractor
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Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2013, 09:17 PM »
Maple is better than Poplar but it depends on the budget.

Unless your building traditional inset doors stop building face frames and build Euro cabinets......Saves time and material....... 
 

I agree with the advice on maple over poplar that several members already said.  For one built in maple isn't going to break the budget.  The maple is far harder and is going to stand up to a lot more abuse.  Also, if you're going maple be sure to tell your supplier you're going to paint so he can set you up with a lower grade, that will save you some money.

Now for advice on using euro style construction for built ins, it's not for me.  Face frames are the traditional look and I think it gives a built in a more timeless warmth and charm.  Euro style is a bit to modern for my tastes.  For a contemporary home then it might would work well.     
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Offline Tinker

  • Posts: 3722
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2013, 01:19 PM »
I am not sure, exactly what euro Style is, but if it means no face frames, i am with brice on that one.  When I do shelves and cabinets in my shop, I don't bother with face frames.  If I do something in the house, i do face frames.

I just did a rolling cabinet with scrap MDF.  I made a mistook and used the screws for hardwood with my Kreg pocket holes.  I did not get very many into the carcase before i realized i was stripping the threads out of the material.  Replacing the screws with the coarser threaded screws meant to be used with soft wood was ok where I had not used the fine threaded "hardwood" screws.  where I had used the hardwood screws, the threads did not hold when i changed screws.  Had to drill new pocket holes.  If that were for somebody else, it would have been a bit of a loss.  But i have never used MDF for anything in the house or for anybody else. 
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline Jalvis

  • Posts: 348
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2013, 03:10 PM »
A standard for a Euro Cabinet is no face frames.  You can use any door style on a Euro Cabinet and it will look cleaner by eliminating the wide gaps along the sides.  Do a word search for frameless euro cabinets and look at the variations.  In my opinion the main advantage is how the door becomes the primary visible point of interest.  If you use face frames with overlay doors your most likely dating your work.  All major cabinet manufactures use euro designs unless its a traditional Inset door.

Almost all my cabinets are pre-finished birch or melamine for the main carcass.  If using melamine its almost always a Particle core.  Particle core Melamine is a great product as its easy to clean, highly affordable,  and durable.  The only place one should not use a particle core would be the bottom panel under the sink.  Although I still use the particle core in this application but laminate vinyl after installation while sloping it towards the door.  This will increase its life span when theres a leak.

Everyone has different preferences on materials.  From my experience its better to spend more time and money on the doors, finish, and hardware.



Offline mastercabman

  • Posts: 1854
  • NORFOLK,VA
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2013, 04:15 PM »
A standard for a Euro Cabinet is no face frames.  You can use any door style on a Euro Cabinet and it will look cleaner by eliminating the wide gaps along the sides.  Do a word search for frameless euro cabinets and look at the variations.  In my opinion the main advantage is how the door becomes the primary visible point of interest.  If you use face frames with overlay doors your most likely dating your work.  All major cabinet manufactures use euro designs unless its a traditional Inset door.

Almost all my cabinets are pre-finished birch or melamine for the main carcass.  If using melamine its almost always a Particle core.  Particle core Melamine is a great product as its easy to clean, highly affordable,  and durable.  The only place one should not use a particle core would be the bottom panel under the sink.  Although I still use the particle core in this application but laminate vinyl after installation while sloping it towards the door.  This will increase its life span when theres a leak.

Everyone has different preferences on materials.  From my experience its better to spend more time and money on the doors, finish, and hardware.



I also think the same way somehow,but most customers don't know the difference.I have talked to 2 of my sell rep. and both shared the same feeling about face frame.If you going to have full overlay(1 1/4"overlay) Why do a face frame?   You really can't see much of it when the doors are close.With frameless you save a few $  on the wood and labor of making a face frame.
But it is what it is,face frame is just the thing here in USA.
I have met a lot of cabinet installers and carpenters that does some install and most of them hate installing frameless cabs.
I don't why,i find the frameless somewhat easier to install.It's just different.
As for what to use for built-ins,i think MDF is great if you re going to paint.There's also some plywood that is good for paint but a little pricey and maybe hard for the OP to get.
I don't understand!?! I keep cutting it,and it's still too short!

Offline jmbfestool

  • Posts: 6628
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2013, 04:17 PM »
Face frame looks good if ur doors are inset but if u have ur doors face mount then your best of going euro style units.

In uk. Euro style is what every one has  and face frame with inset doors are normally bespoke kitchens but u can buy face frame units of the shelves.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2013, 04:21 PM by jmbfestool »
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Offline Sparktrician

  • Posts: 3838
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2013, 07:09 PM »
The last thing in the world I would use for carcass work would be mdf.  While it is stable, flat, cheap, and easy to paint, it is very fragile, heavy, and screws will get pulled easily from it.  I used to use mdf but it is inferior to ply products.  For paint grades projects I like mdo, also known as sign board.  Maple is good for fame frames.

The only time I ever use MDF is under Formica for a countertop or in making an occasional jig. 

- Willy -

 "Remember, a chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of wood higher up." - Brigham Young

Offline Chris Hughes

  • Posts: 571
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2013, 07:33 PM »
Regarding "Euro style", even if I were build with faceframes I would design with "full overly" which is basically what you get in euro style.  I would use a 1 1/4"  "compact" cup hinge on a 1 1/2" faceframe. 

Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2013, 07:40 PM »
Joe,

You can never go wrong using 3/4 ply for cabinet carcasses if weight or the minor cost difference isn't a concern. You are building something you want to last, and might as well do it right. Prefinished birch for the interiors saves alot of work, and for the painted exterior faces, birch, mdo or mdf will all work well.
Poplar is good for paint grade face frames and doors/drawers, maple is better and more stable.
I spray my painted cabinets and then topcoat with a clear conversion varnish to protect the finish.

Mike
"The only lessons I've learned worth remembering, were when things weren't going well"

"Who is John Galt?"

Offline CarolinaNomad

  • Posts: 306
Re: School me on cabinet materials
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2013, 09:56 PM »
I recently installed wainscoting and some built-ins for an entire house using MDF and enjoyed working with it.  Spray painted WB acrylic and did not have any problems with the MDF swelling due to water based paint.  But I glued every joint and depending on the joint I either screwed or nailed the joint.  But like all material, it has it's advantages and disadvantages. 
Jeff
resides in NAINA