Definitions

kick-board

Cabinet making

[kab-uh-nit-mey-king]
Cabinet making is the practice of utilizing various woodworking skills to create cabinets, shelving and furniture.

Cabinet making involves techniques such as creating appropriate joints, dados, bevels, chamfers and shelving systems, the use of finishing tools such as routers to create decorative edgings, and so on.

History

Before the advent of industrial design cabinet makers were responsible for the conception and the production of any piece of furniture. In the last half of the 18th century, cabinet makers such as Thomas Sheraton, Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite also published books of furniture forms. These books were compendiums of their designs and those of other cabinet makers.

With the industrial revolution and the application of steam and electrical power to cabinet making tools, mass production techniques were gradually applied to nearly all aspects of cabinet making, and the traditional cabinet shop ceased to be the main source of furniture, domestic or commercial. In parallel to this evolution there came a growing demand by the rising middle class in most industrialised countries for finely made furniture. This eventually resulted in a growth in the total number of traditional cabinet makers.

Before 1650, fine furniture was a rarity in western Europe and North America. Generally, people did not need it and for the most part could afford it. They made do with simple but serviceable pieces.

The arts and craft movement which started in the United Kingdom in the middle of the 19th century spurred a market for traditional cabinet making, and other craft goods. It rapidly spread to the United States and to all the countries in the British empire. This movement exemplified the reaction to the eclectic historicism of the Victorian era and to the 'soulless' machine-made production which was starting to become widespread.

After World War II woodworking became a popular hobby among the middle classes. The more serious and skilled amateurs in this field now turn out pieces of furniture which rival the work of professional cabinet makers. Together, their work now represents but a small percentage of furniture production in any industrial country, but their numbers are vastly greater than those of their counterparts in the 18th century and before.

Schools of Design

Scandanavian
This style of design is typified by clean horizontal and vertical lines. Compared to other designs there is a distinct absence of ornimentation. While Scandanavian design is easy to identify, it is much more about the materials than the design.

French Provincial
This style of design is very ornate. Objects are often stained or painted leaving the wood concealed. Corners and bevels are often painted with a gold leave or given some other kind of gilding. Flat surfaces often have artwork such as landscapes painted directly on them. The wood used in provincial varied, but was often originally Beech.

Early American Colonial
This design emphasises both form and materials. Chairs and tables are often constucted with turned spindles and chair backs often constructed with steaming to bend the wood. Wood choices tend to be decidious hardwoods with a particular emphasis on the wood of edible or fruit bearing trees such as Cherry or Walnut.

Rustic
This style of design sometimes called "log furniture" or "log cabin" is the least finished. Design is very utilitiarian yet seeks to feature not only the materials used but in as much as possible, how they existed in their natural state. For example a table top may have what is considered a "live edge" that allows you to see the original contours of the tree that it came from. Rustic furniture is often made from Pine,Cedar, Fir and Spruce.

Mission
Mission Design is characterized by strait thick horizontal and vertical lines and flat panels. The most common material used in Mission furniture is oak. Hardware is often visible on the outside of the pieces and made of black iron.

Shaker
Shaker furniture design is focused on function and symmetry. Because it is so influenced by an egalitarian religious community and tradition it is rooted in the needs of the community versus the creative expression of the designer. Like Early American and Colonial design, Shaker craftsmen often chose fruit woods for their designs. Pieces reflect a very efficient use of materials.

Types of cabinetry

The fundamental focus of the cabinet maker is the production of cabinetry. Although the cabinet maker may also be required to produce items that would not be recognised as cabinets, the same skills and techniques apply.

A cabinet may be built-in or free-standing. A built-in cabinet is usually custom made for a particular situation and it is fixed into position, on a floor, against a wall, or framed in an opening. For example modern kitchens are examples of built-in cabinetry. Free-standing cabinets are more commonly available as off-the-shelf items and can be moved from place to place if required. Cabinets may be wall hung or suspended from the ceiling.

Cabinets may have a face frame or may be of frameless construction (also known as European or euro-style). Modern cabinetry is often frameless and is typically constructed from man-made sheet materials, such as plywood, chipboard or MDF. The visible surfaces of these materials are usually clad in a timber veneer, plastic laminate, or other material. They may also be painted.


Cabinet components

Bases

Cabinets which rest on the floor are supported by some sort of a base. This base could be a fully enclosed base (i.e. a plinth), a scrolled based, bracket feet or it could be a set of legs.

Adjustable Feet

A relatively new type of adjustable leg has been adopted from the European cabinet system which offers several advantages. First off, in making base cabinets for kitchens, the cabinet sides would be cut to 34 1/2 inches, yielding four cabinet side blanks per 4 foot by 8 foot sheet. Using the adjustable feet, the side blanks are cut to 30 inches, thus yielding six cabinet side per sheet. These feet can be secured to the bottom of the cabinet by having the leg base screwed onto the cabinet bottom. They can also be attached by means of a hole drilled through the cabinet bottom at specific locations. The legs are then attached to the cabinet bottom by a slotted, hollow machine screw. The height of the cabinet can be adjusted from inside the cabinet, simply by inserting a screwdriver into the slot and turning to raise or lower the cabinet. The holes in the cabinet are capped by plastic inserts, making the appearance more acceptable for residential cabinets. Using these feet, the cabinets need not be shimmed or scribed to the floor for leveling. The toe kick board is attached to the cabinet by means of a clip, which is either screwed onto the back side of the kick board, or a barbed plastic clip is inserted into a saw kerf, also made on the back side of the kick board. This toe kick board can be made to fit each base cabinet, or made to fit a run of cabinets.

Kitchen cabinets, or any cabinet generally at which a person may stand, usually have a fully enclosed base in which the front edge has been set back 75 mm or so to provide room for toes, known as the kick space. A scrolled base is similar to the fully enclosed base but it has areas of the base material removed, often with a decorative pattern, leaving feet on which the cabinet stands. Bracket feet are separate feet, usually attached in each corner and occasionally for larger pieces in the middle of the cabinet.

Compartments

A cabinet usually has at least one compartment. Compartments may be open, as in open shelving; they may be enclosed by one or more doors; or they may contain one or more drawers. Some cabinets contain secret compartments, access to which is generally not obvious.

Modern cabinets employ many more complicated means (relative to a simple shelf) of making browsing lower cabinets more efficient and comfortable. Such means include (names may be heavily colloquialised):

  • The lazy susan, a shelf which rotates around a central axis, allowing items stored at the back of the cabinet to be brought to the front by rotating the shelf. These are usually used in corner cabinets, which are larger and deeper and have a greater "dead space" at the back than other cabinets.

Cabinet Insert Hardware

Another recent development in cabinet inserts or hardware, often taking the place of the lazy susan, particularly in base cabinets is the blind corner cabinet pull out unit. These units pull out and turn, making the attached shelving unit slide into the open area of the cabinet door, thus making the shelves accessible to the user. These units vary greatly in design and cost, but are very practical in making what was once dead space usable.

Other insert hardware is continuously being designed and includes such items as mixer shelves that pull out of a base cabinet and spring into a locked position at counter height. This hardware makes lifting these somewhat heavy mixers and mechanically helping with the process of positioning the unit for use. More and more components are being designed to enable specialized hardware to be used in standard cabinet carcasses.

Tops

Most cabinets incorporate a top of some sort. In many cases, the top is merely to enclose the compartments within and serves no other purpose - as in a wall hung cupboard for example. In other cabinets, the top also serves as a work surface - a kitchen countertop for example.

See also

External links

References

  • Lee Jesberger (2007). Pro Woodworking Tips.com.
  • Ernest Joyce (1970). Encyclopedia of Furniture Making. Revised and expanded by Alan Peters (1987). Sterling Publishing. ISBN 0-8069-6440-5 (Original edition), ISBN 0-8069-7142-8 (Paperback)
  • John L. Feirer (1988). Cabinetmaking and Millwork, Fifth Edition. Glencoe Publishing Company. ISBN 0-02-675950-0

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