Home improvement manuals illustrate the number of factors that go into determining the cost of built-in cabinets: type of wood and thickness, joint construction, type of paint or stain and varnish, door-hinge type, drawer-glide type, overall cabinet size, whether the cabinet finish is applied to the inside, the outside or both, door style and door thickness. And these are but a few of the almost endless choices to be made.
There is another major cost consideration that easily can be overlooked, and one which we have never seen mentioned in available literature the door-drawer configuration. That is, how many doors and-or drawers a particular cabinet, or set of cabinets, contains.
Drawers can be made from as few as five pieces of material a bottom, two sides, the back and the front. A door, on the other hand, can be made from just one. And although smaller, a drawer front can be every bit as difficult to mill as a door. Also, a drawer rides on tracks called glides that are substantially more expensive than the pair of hinges on a door.
It's easy, thus, to deduce that, all else being equal, a cabinet with one door will likely be less expensive than a cabinet with a door and a drawer or three or four drawers. However, if you price the cheapest drawer against the most expensive door, the drawer will come in lower.
Trying to cut costs can backfire. For example, using one door where two have been designated could be a mistake for a couple of reasons: First, one large door can be cumbersome to open in a tight space like a kitchen or bath, and second, the larger the door, the more prone it is to warping and twisting. Also, a kitchen with only a few drawers could be unappealing and inadequate. Cabinets with doors can be used very effectively only in combination with sinks and countertop appliances like cooktops. Many designers will lead their clients to believe that sink cabinets, for example, should have a blank piece of wood over the doors that aligns with the top drawer of an adjoining cabinet. Although this is a common practice, we see many cabinets with doors joined only with several banks of drawers. Older kitchen design included one bank of drawers per kitchen plus several other modules each containing one drawer and one door.
Be creative. Develop a design that will make your kitchen, bath, office or entertainment center versatile and practical.
Q. Recently, you wrote an article about repairing binding doors. Warn your readers to plane inward from the edge of the door rather from the center to a corner. Following this procedure will reduce the chance of splitting the wood near the corner. Tom B., Oakland, CA.
A. No need now for us to caution them you already have. Thanks.
Q. Have you any suggestions for dealing with the right angle corners formed by aluminum gutters. Mine leak! The installing contractors have many times caulked the joints to no avail. They leak in the next rain. Also, do you recommend galvanized sheetmetal gutters? Jack P., San Rafael, CA.
A. Caulking will not hold when applied to a loose joint. If the two sections of gutter that meet at an inside or outside corner, or at any other connection, are not soldered or riveted (front, rear and bottom), no amount of caulking will create a dependable water seal. This condition is exacerbated when long, continuous lengths of gutter exist. The longer a given length of gutter the more it will expand and contract when impacted by temperature changes. This expansion and contraction will show up at unsoldered or unriveted connections by pulling away at the caulking.
Ask your contractor to rivet plates to the inside face of the gutter to both sides of the connection. Then seal with 3M liquid aluminum. If the gutter is prefinished or painted, the finish will have to be completely removed. A riveted attachment sealed with liquid aluminum is to many contractors the waterproof connection of choice. Don't forget that there is no caulking that will maintain a watertight connection while the joint itself is moving. The plate and the rivets are used to prevent the movement.
We prefer 26-gauge galvanized sheetmetal gutters because they are stronger and more resistant to denting and bending. Copper is the best.