It’s difficult to replicate the beauty and harmony you see in a home with well built flush inset cabinetry. It’s equally difficult to discern whether it’s the clean, consistent lines between the drawers, doors and the surrounding frame, or the simple yet ingenious concept of having the moving portions of the cabinet face inset into their background that grabs your attention the most. You instantly sense the long hours of planning and careful building that went into the piece of art before you. In a typical kitchen you find at the retailer around the corner, you will often find cabinetry that is built in a framed style with overlay doors – mass manufacturers of cabinetry use this style to allow the greatest room for error in the construction, assembly, and installation phase of the process. They do this essentially to allow the product to be more flexible in adaptation to differing settings and constraints.
What you see in these photos of cabinets Stonebelt Cabinets built in Laguna Beach is the fruits of labor required to build cabinetry for only one setting and to fit only a single, precise set of constraints. The challenges in building this type of kitchen cabinetry lie in the frame that is fully exposed (as opposed to that with overlay doors and drawers) and the reveal you see between the drawer fronts and doors. The former is addressed in very careful planning of the layout and construction of each and every cabinet – the frame width must be consistent throughout so no overlap, or doubling, of the frame is allowed to take place. Therefore you will have cabinets that have the frame flush with the inside of the box, those that have the frame slightly overlaying the inside box wall, and some that have a strip of shallower material that can later be cut to mold precisely against a wall that is not square. You get the point; the cabinets are not interchangeable and are not easily adapted for a different space if a mistake was made in the planning and construction drawing stage of the project.
Once you have the box and frame aspect of the job completed, you then tackle the issue of drawer fronts and doors. This is an unusual step in the realm of cabinetry. In a typical kitchen, you know the dimensions of the doors and drawer fronts as soon as you know the dimensions of the cabinet boxes you will build – this is particularly true in cabinets built in framed style with overlay doors, where you have a good amount of leeway in fitting the doors. When building flush inset cabinets however, we don’t know the exact dimensions, usually to the 1/16 of an inch, of each opening until the frame is complete. This happens because each opening of the frame has to be sanded to perfection and precisely squared, all of which can have that 1/16” change in the final dimension. The end result is that a door is created for each opening to its exact dimensions. Once the doors and drawer fronts are sanded and a proper fit is ensured for each one with further perfecting adjustments, the hinges and drawer slides are carefully affixed to ensure equidistant gap on all sides of the drawer front or door.
All this planning and work, without even touching on the challenges of stain and lacquer finish of the final product, is responsible for that sense of harmony you feel when you walk into an enclosure adorned with cabinets built in the flush inset door and drawer style.