I got my start as a carpenter in the 1990s working for my dad, who was a longtime custom home builder on Maryland’s eastern shore. Back then, he and his crew always built kitchen cabinets in place, ripping the plywood on site to create the boxes, adding face frames and drawers (also built on site), then installing doors and drawer fronts purchased from an outside supplier to complete the cabinets.

When I started my own construction company, we shifted to installing modular stock cabinets because they were faster and less labor-intensive (and therefore less expensive). This remained our standard practice until a couple of years ago. I had always been bothered by the limitations of building up cabinet runs out of modular boxes sized in 3-inch increments and was growing frustrated with the long lead times (up to 20 weeks in some cases) that only became worse as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Because it was becoming increasingly difficult to get cabinets on site, I decided to return to my roots and start building our own cabinets again.

Our approach is a bit of a hybrid. We build the boxes in our small shop, sizing them to fit the space rather than in standard increments. At the same time, we build the face frames, again sized to fit the space, along with the doors, drawers, and drawer fronts. We then fit the doors and drawer fronts to the face frames, finish them, and even install most of the hardware, but we don’t permanently attach the frames to the boxes until we are on site and the boxes have been installed.

Key to our approach are the mechanical biscuits in the Lamello Zeta P2 system. These biscuits allow us to temporarily install the assembled face frames in our shop to do our fitting, and remove them to easily transport the cabinet components to the site. Once there, we install the cabinet boxes, which are slightly undersized for the openings, and then template the openings for the face frames, which we’ve built to be slightly oversized. After trimming the frames to size, we snap them in place. The resulting cabinetry looks like it was built in place without any seams.

Read More