I ask this question because I believe any cabinet manufacturer who makes drawers from 1/2-inch melamine with a particleboard substrate and then just staples it together and hopes that the hot-glued 1/8-inch bottom might hold everything together is really robbing the customer.

I write this because yesterday I was involved with a group called "Homeworks" which helps people who can't afford the repairs in their houses. The kitchen cabinets in this house needed replacing and so "homeworks" goes to a big box store to buy some cabinets. They are also on a budget, and so they buy what they can afford. I was asked to put in the new cabinets they had purchased. The drawer runners were worth more than the drawers in these cabinets. You go to a big box store or maybe any other kitchen supplier to buy prefinished cabinets. You find some nice cabinets with a solid five-piece door and drawer front, but what about the rest of the cabinet? The side and bottoms are 1/2-inch particleboard covered in melamine and stapled to the faceframe along with some glue. The staple (there seemed to be thousands in this case) broke the bond of the particleboard. If you hoped the glue was going to do anything, think again. It may bond to some unfinished wood but certainly not to melamine or prefinished wood.

Why don't they use 1/2-inch plywood? It is far stronger. Is it that much more expensive to build a drawer box which will last longer and arrive not only at the retailer's store undamaged, but also be in the customers house for a longer time before needing repair.

I think we all know that drawers in a kitchen need to built to take a lot of abuse just with everyday wear, and second is the door hardware.

I really wonder about the economics of all this. If a study were done by the retailers (because they need to tell the manufacturer), they would find how profitable a cheap set of cabinets are when many are having to be repaired by the retailer so they can be sold or discounted so they can get them out the door.
Who are the people who buy these cabinets? They pay there hard-earned money today for what they think is a nice kitchen which looks good on the outside only and is a rotten apple on the inside. When it falls apart in five years they have to start all over again.
Some kitchens built 30 years ago may not look that pretty but they are going to outlast some of today's kitchens.

I wonder if the CEO of these companies has one of these kitchens in their homes?

Who am I? If you look on my web page I mainly build furniture but I will build a kitchen if the person wants to pay for it. I will build them a European cabinet because that is what I was taught in New Zealand where I served my 8,000 hour apprenticeship. The edges of the 3/4-inch (18mm) plywood are always edged with a solid clashing approximately 3/16 inch.

If I am going to put my name to anything I must be proud of it and willing to have that piece in my own house.
 

Andy Kearney started Andy's Fine Furniture in 1991, and is based in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area.  He makes custom pieces ranging from kitchens to wall units, tables and some chairs. Occasionally he has some help but mainly it is just him designing, machining, assembling, finishing then installing. He has some of his own designs which he shows at arts and craft shows along the East Coast, and in 2009 he won the Piccolo Spoleto Craft Event. www.andysfinefurniture.com. 

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