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Any woodworkers on AF?

ouch1976

Android Enthusiast
Nov 30, 2011
537
90
This is totally off topic from anything related to Android, but I hope that the plethora of information on AF can help me out. I'm having cabinets, bookshelves, and a fireplace mantel built in our den and I was wondering if anyone here has any advice.

Basically, I'm totally confused on what type of wood to use. Should we build it with solid wood like poplar or maple, or should we use plywood with veneers, or can MDF be used, etc? All I know is that we're going to paint it white when it's complete, so we're looking for paint-grade material. What's the best (cheapest) option out there that will look nice?

Also, I'm getting a huge variation in estimates for the costs to build the unit. One estimate is literally 4 times another estimate. I expected slight differences, but to be off by 3 or 4 times is crazy. So far, I've received 4 estimates and there's still a huge variation. Is there a rule of thumb to estimate costs? I read somewhere that it's priced by the linear foot. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
 
MDF is fine for panels if you are going to paint it, but the framework is better in wood. If painting it then maple, cherry etc is crazy. Any random hardwood would do (deal?).

The price is probably related to skill level and how it will be put together (mitred joints vs fixings?) . I've had some crazy quotes for that sort if thing. Never take them up, always do it myself or buy from ikea!

Suspect I've just muddied the waters.
 
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I have over 1500 posts here (as Titanoman) :

http://www.diychatroom.com/

But there are too many variables in most projects to answer easily.
I'm trying to leave my real passion behind, since my wheelchair ended my career, and don't get too involved in that forum too much, anymore.
You might go there and ask for ideas about your project. There are some real talented carpenters in there.
Good luck with your project.
 
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What wood you use totally depends on the look you want. If you intend to paint, then MDF should be fine except for the framework. If you intend on staining, then the only way to go is with regular wood. I see you say you want to paint it white, if there is NEVER any intention of stripping it and finishing with stain then MDF may do, you may also want to consider the rest of the materials used in the room.

For instance: my parents have a home with wainscoting on all the walls in the family room, on 3 it's below a chair rail and on the 4th it's on the entire wall except where the fireplace is. This is stained pine, they had a TV cabinet built out of pine and closely matched the stain color to the walls. When my dad replaced all the plain hollow-core doors in the house with six-panel doors, that room got stained solid wood instead of hollow-core. In a case like that, match the finish to what's in the room.

As far as the cost to build, the guy that quoted 4x more may have just not wanted the job so he priced himself so high he figured he would be out of the running. For a good craftsman it shouldn't take more than a few working days to a week, depending on the size and complexity of the project. When you asked for quotes, were you asking for them to include materials cost? If not, maybe he missed that and included that while the others didn't.

It also depends on the type of people you were asking for quotes from. If you ask a general carpenter (jack of all wood trades type) for a quote to do built-in cabinets and then ask a cabinetmaker to quote you may get wildly different quotes. The cabinetmaker will likely do better quality work building cabinets, but will likely cost more. Check around and see if you have any unfinished wood furniture places in your area, some may do custom work like you want (that's what my parents did for theirs 25 years ago), and they may build it off-site and bring the finished product in so you're only disrupted for the final installation instead of the entire project.
 
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What wood you use totally depends on the look you want. If you intend to paint, then MDF should be fine except for the framework. If you intend on staining, then the only way to go is with regular wood. I see you say you want to paint it white, if there is NEVER any intention of stripping it and finishing with stain then MDF may do, you may also want to consider the rest of the materials used in the room.

For instance: my parents have a home with wainscoting on all the walls in the family room, on 3 it's below a chair rail and on the 4th it's on the entire wall except where the fireplace is. This is stained pine, they had a TV cabinet built out of pine and closely matched the stain color to the walls. When my dad replaced all the plain hollow-core doors in the house with six-panel doors, that room got stained solid wood instead of hollow-core. In a case like that, match the finish to what's in the room.

As far as the cost to build, the guy that quoted 4x more may have just not wanted the job so he priced himself so high he figured he would be out of the running. For a good craftsman it shouldn't take more than a few working days to a week, depending on the size and complexity of the project. When you asked for quotes, were you asking for them to include materials cost? If not, maybe he missed that and included that while the others didn't.

It also depends on the type of people you were asking for quotes from. If you ask a general carpenter (jack of all wood trades type) for a quote to do built-in cabinets and then ask a cabinetmaker to quote you may get wildly different quotes. The cabinetmaker will likely do better quality work building cabinets, but will likely cost more. Check around and see if you have any unfinished wood furniture places in your area, some may do custom work like you want (that's what my parents did for theirs 25 years ago), and they may build it off-site and bring the finished product in so you're only disrupted for the final installation instead of the entire project.


Thanks! We definitely want white and don't see ourselves changing it anytime soon (but I can't tell you that our style wont change in 20 years). But for the time being, white, paint-grade material is what we're looking for.

I received quotes from cabinet makers, contractors, and even a handy man. They all are expecting a few days in the shop and a few days at the house. Of course I like the cheaper options, but I'm concerned that it will look lousy and fall apart. I would love it if a cabinet maker would work with cheap materials. In your experience, will the cabinet makers work with MDF and plywood or do they only deal in solids?

I'll definitely check out the furniture places around me. Thanks again!
 
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