Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Cobbler's Kids Have No Cabinets

Artist: Antonio Rotta

OK-so I'm twisting the saying a bit, but you all know what I'm talking about.  We get so busy doing projects for everyone else, our own homes beg for a little TLC.  I teach 8 different cabinet classes, have published national features on cabinetry, and finished a kitchen a month when I had a paint crew.  And this is my kitchen...

No one says much-most people are too polite. But I can see the disappoint. "I paid all this money and flew to Kansas to learn about cabinets and YOU STILL HAVE CRAPPY OAK."  I hang my head and list all the reasons why I waited:  Too many choices.  Not enough time.  Waiting for the appliances to die so I could get stainless.  Deciding if I would tear the floors up.  But now I was forced into action.  Our finishers were losing lots of jobs to re finishers using Gel Stains or Tinted Lacquer.  They needed a water-based solution with a rich look, durable finish, and as few operational steps as possible.  I spent a month mixing and testing products to develop new recipes and finishes that became the Cabinet Update: Re-Stain Class.  After working on Habitat doors, I committed to one of my class samples (The Kona Cafe) for my own kitchen. Here is my kitchen door with the finish:

Now I have to match the frame and 30 pieces to this door.

The most important thing before breaking down your kitchen is to get your loved ones out of your way for a week or so.  We decided since Bruce doesn't fit in a kennel, he would go to California for the holiday. So let the project begin.

Prep:  After clearing the house, this is really the most important step in a re-stain project.  I begin by removing the doors and drawers.  Each piece is marked behind the hinge:
This is "Upper" door number 2. When I work on the back, I will cover this marking with a piece of tape so I don't cover it with my finish.

I also mark the hinge slot on the frame.  Call me OCD (which I am) but after you spend 2 hours trying to rematch doors/drawers to the right opening, you will never be without a Sharpie and numbering system again.
The frames are ready to go.  Since I plan on changing the walls, I did not tape them off.  If I am finishing the walls and the cabinets, I always do the cabinets first. This saves a lot of masking off.  I did tape and paper the counter top and appliances.

All the wood needs to be cleaned and de-glossed. This is what will happen if you skip this step:

Sadly, this is my island that I painted with Black Setcoat before a party-8 years ago.  It actually held up pretty good considering I did nothing underneath.  I started this with a sanding block and then moved to a belt sander.  The right way to begin is to apply a degreaser/deglosser after removing the hardware.

I like the liquid TSP by Jasco.  You can buy this brand at Ace or True Value Hardware stores.  There is a powder form but it has to be mixed and is more aggressive then the pre-mixed liquid.  Most TSP says "substitute" on the label.  The substitute is the "phosphate" or P in the TSP.  Real phosphates get in the water supply and causes algae to grow.  My girl scout leader was married to a Botanist.

Pour the TSP into a plastic container-it will melt Styrofoam.  I brush it on full strength and let it cook for at least an hour.

After the TSP has cooked, I wrap a sanding block in 120 grit paper and sand off all the junk the TSP has forced to the surface-grease, wax, loose varnish, and other unsavory goodies. At this point, I wipe this surface with a damp cloth to remove any TSP residue and sanding dust. The surface should appear dull.

Side note: OMG Kate...My Prince gave me a colored stone ring too.....
"Wills-renewed cabinets for the castle make a swell wedding gift..Call Me"

After cleaning, I removed the side hardware from the drawers.  There are two options. One is to remove the side rollers-which I did because all the pieces are the same size.  Or the hardware may be wrapped in tape:

This is an option if A)pieces are different sizes or B) You don't have any tools.

Here are the rest of the cabinets ready to prep.  The most difficult thing about finishing cabinets is having workspace.  Buy yourself some sort of rack system. Our is from Costco (natch) and is on wheels making them easy to move.  I like this open system because I can see the pieces as I work.  Lining up all the drawer fronts lets me know if a piece is too light or too dark.  Breaking down the kitchen, TSP, Sanding, and Cleaning took me about 2.5 hours for all the pieces and the frames.

"If Charles preps the cabinets, may you do better on the price? We do have a wedding to pay for after all."

No comments:

Post a Comment