Apartment Renovation Ep.5 / Installing the Kitchen Cabinets
I’ve finished installing the kitchen I made in my workshop a few days ago. I believe I’ve achieved a pretty good result if we take into account that I built it with only a few hand tools. I used waterproof MDF with a matte white lacquer finish. The inside of the drawers is birch plywood. I’ve used an oak laminate countertop, which I found at a good price in a carpentry store. It has pieces of oak in all shades, giving it a unique look. I needed solid wood because I installed the sink below the countertop, meaning the edge is visible. There is a little protrusion in this corner because of the stair landing that I covered with laminate flooring, but this way we can cover it so it’s barely perceptible. Installing this kind of kitchen is relatively easy. I’ll start with the corner cabinet. First I turn it on its side to attach its adjustable legs, and preadjust their height. I put it in its emplacement and make sure it’s at the desired height and it’s level. The adjustable legs make this step so much easier. Now I’ll keep installing the rest of the cabinets in the same way, starting with the sink. I fasten them together with clamps, make sure they’re still level, and screw them together. We must try to put the screws in places where they’re not too visible. Now I’ll install the cooktop & oven cabinet. And now the drawer cabinet. There is a junction box here, so I’ll mark its position on the back of the cabinet to cut it off so that the junction box is accessible. Once cut, I install the cabinet like before and fasten the lid of the junction box to the back of the cabinet. This cabinet will go on the other corner of the kitchen. Because of the unevenness by the stairs, I can only use two legs; on the other end I’ll screw the cabinet to the wall. I make sure it’s level and aligned with the rest of the cabinets, and that I’ve left a big enough gap for the dishwasher. It’s time to cut the oak countertop. I measure the length of the first part. There is an uneven section on the wall behind it, about 5mm over 30 cms, making it 10mm in total if we take into account the total depth of the countertop. First I’ll cut it down to the desired depth, since it’s a little larger than necessary. I’ll use the circular saw and its parallel guide. Now I’ll mark the tilted part and machine it with the planer. Finally, I cut it at the necessary length. I put it in its place and make sure everything is correct. Now I mark the other part of the countertop. I put it in place and use a ruler to mark the cut for the joint with the other part. I cut it and put it in its place again to mark the length of the part. I mark again and check whether it’s correct. This kind of countertop has a bevel on the front which will leave a groove when joining the two pieces, so I mark the depth and cut the bevel with the help of a ruler and a chisel. Now I’ll machine the joint between the pieces. I’ll use biscuits and on the bottom I’ll make some holes to place half moon nuts. This way the bond will be firm and level. I put the countertop on the cabinets again to mark and cut the holes for the sink and cooktop. I’ll start with the sink. I’ve bought one that goes underneath the countertop, so the edge of the countertop will be visible. I mark its position and drill a hole with a bit so that I can insert the jig saw. I cut it with the jigsaw 2 millimeters away from the mark and finish the job later with a plunge router. I’ll also put in the brackets that lock the sink in place. This way I can use the sink itself as a guide for routing. I mark the position of the brackets, drill holes and attach the threaded inserts. I install the sink and prepare the router. I’ll use a flush trim router bit, which comes with a bearing that will run along the entire surface of the sink, leaving the wood aligned with the side of the sink. I taped over the sink with masking tape to avoid damaging it. Since oak wood is quite hard, a more powerful router would be ideal, but little by little, making a few shallow runs, I can remove all of the wood. Now would be a good time to sand the edge and bottom of the countertop. Before that I’ll apply some pure linseed oil on the underside of the countertop. I put the countertop back on the cabinets, make sure it’s square and screw it to the cabinets from below. I’ll cut a hole for the cooktop in the other piece. Since this edge won’t be visible, the process is quite simple. I install the second countertop part in the same way, and fasten the half-moon nuts’ screws. I measure and cut a hole for the faucet with a hole saw. It’s time to fit the edging strip. I’ll be using this oak casing I had in my shop. First I’ll cut it down to size in my portable workshop, and then I’ll cut it at an angle with the slide miter saw. Once adjusted, I glue it in with anchoring adhesive. Now I’m going to finish the top side of the countertop. First I adjust the joint between the countertops with a card scraper. Then I’ll sand the entire surface with P80, P120, and finally P220 grit. I spread some pure linseed oil over the entire surface. It’s amazing how the color of the oak wood changes with just a little oil. I’ll also fit this filler strip on the corner of the kitchen. I check its measurements at several points and cut it in the portable workshop. On the back I’ll fasten a leftover piece of MDF from cutting the filler strip itself, which I can use to screw it to the kitchen cabinet. On the bottom of the kitchen I’ll fit a white lacquer plinth. After measuring it, I cut it with a sliding miter saw. I’ll use plastic brackets to lock it onto the cabinets’ legs. I’ll also seal the gap between the countertop and the tile with silicone. I’ll use an old trick which involves applying masking tape and rubbing it with a finger covered in soapy water. Now I can install the doors and drawers, along with their handles. I made a template to make this operation easier. The last step is to fit all the appliances. We only need to plug them in and put them in the appropriate gap. Only the extractor hood takes a little more work. I check its position and make a hole so I can put it up on the wall. I fasten the extraction tube and the kitchen is ready to be used!