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Old May 10th, 06, 9:41 am   #1
stalefishlabs
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I'm in the process of installing Ikea cabinets throughout a 4500 square foot very custom house. My wife and I shopped cabinets everywhere and were thrilled with the price and options Ikea has to offer. We were a little hesitant to bite off such a big project as a DIY deal in what has become a fairly dreamy house but so far everything has gone extremely well. I'll post some pictures when I get a chance.

Right now I wanted to share a few things I've learned about tools. First off, I have a habit of overkilling things, so understand that right up front. It was very important to me that these cabinets not feel like they were assembled out of a box by me, the homeowner. So I decided to glue every cabinet box. I know most people say this isn't necessary, and it probably isn't, but if you have the time and desire it really does make for a stiff cabinet box. I recommend Gorilla Glue - just don't lay it on too heavy because it expands as it dries and will ooze out and need to be scraped off.

Speaking of glue, I also highly recommend using clamps when putting together the cabinet boxes. You can get clamps in widths from 6" to over 36" at Lowes or Home Depot, and I've found them to be a lifesaver, both during box assembly and even more importantly when setting the cabinets and trying to get them tight next to each other. When building boxes, I would typically glue, then quickly run the clamp down the side of the cabinet to help join the parts, and then turn the metal screws. I didn't find it necessary to leave any cabinets clamped - it's just a convenience thing to help squeeze the sides together initially.

The most significant tool purchase I can recommend to anyone doing any significant Ikea cabinet installation isa table saw and nice saw blade. I decided to go budget in this department so I bought a Ryobi table saw for $100 at Home Depot. It even came with a stand for that price. I know this saw probably isn't sturdy enough to last me for years and years but it's working great now and is hundreds of dollars less than most options. So you can go budget on the saw...but not on the saw blade! I spent $100 on the saw and $50 on a new blade. That may sound crazy but some trim carpenter friends convinced me to buy a good blade. And they were dead on. I highly, highly recommend the red Diablo table saw blade that is available at Lowes and Home Depot. It cleanly cuts through cover panels, toe kicks, counter tops, and pretty much anything else without even the slightest chipping. I was paranoid and taped the cut lines at first but I quickly realized it wasn't necessary. Spend $150 on the cheap saw and the expensive blade and you won't be let down. One more thing - I did find that the guard on the Ryobi saw had little teeth that had a tendency to scratch cover panels. So I ditched the guard. If you do the same, just be extremely careful - table saws are one of the most dangerous tools around. Always, always respect them and keep your fingers out of the way.

I'll post some pictures of my progress soon. So you'll know, here's what all I'm tackling with Ikea kitchen cabinets:

* Kitchen with 11 1/2' island and built-in Avsikt roll-top appliance garages

* Two bathrooms, one with cabs that have a 45 degree bend

* Office with built-in cabs that make a U around one end of the room, as well as conduit chase pipes for sneaking wires between each base

* Laundry room with custom benches made of over-refrigerator cabs

* Den media built-in with Avsikt slider cabs that were modified to 16" deep to fit media equipment

* Playroom hobby corner with bar height cabinets and built-in Ikea cubbies above them

* Possibly a media cabinet over an outside fireplace that we're considering under a covered porch (still crunching numbers on that one!)

Hope this info helps someone out there. I'm kind of working on an island since there is no Ikea in my city (Nashville), and I know I've appreciated every tidbit of info I've learned on here.


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Old May 10th, 06, 11:05 am  
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I second your table saw and blade thoughts! (And your clamp ones, too!)Always, always spend the money on a good blade. We've mostly used a chop saw/miter saw for cutting any parts we needed to cut (moulding strips), and the most important lesson I learned is that you can't cut too slowly when it comes to particleboard w / laminate over it... going too fast = chips in laminate.

We also ponied up the $$ for a good good finish blade for the circular saw for use in cutting Numerar oak countertop... ended up with a bee-utiful 45 degree cut in the corner. Came out "the nuts," as my ever-eloquent hubby would say.

Much as I am loathe to admit it, spending the money to buy the right tools has made all the difference in building our own log home. It's been hard enough as it is, but it would have been nearly impossible without all those things I thought were a little nuts to spend the $$ on... scaffolding, a right-angle drill, hammer drill... the list goes on and on...

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Old May 11th, 06, 9:11 am  
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Thanks so much for sharing your experience and I can't wait to see the pics! It helps to actually have the name of what a "good" saw blade is, I am always frustrated in not knowing which ones are expensive because they are good and which ones are just charging for a brand name.

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Old May 11th, 06, 10:01 am  
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Some of the best woodworking saw blades made are Forrest blades, the Forrest Woodworker II is the closest thing to a perfect all purpose blade that has yet been made (in my obviously not so unbiased opinion ). That said, cutting melamine is a bit of a specialty operation and for best results you really shouldhave a blade that's intended to cut laminates. Freud generally makesgood blades and should be available in your local big box.

Have to sound a word of caution about the inexpensive table saw, it's VERY important that you check the fence to make sure it's aligned parallel to the blade, normally you align the blade AND the fence to both be parallel to the mitre slot (the track that runs from front to back parallel to the blade). If the trailing edge of the fence is CLOSER to the blade than the end closest to the operator, even by a small amount, it can cause a very dangerous situation where the wood is pinched between the blade and the fence and can cause kickback, where the work is thrown back at the operator in excess of 100 MPH, it's sufficient to cause real damage. So it's HIGHLY advised that you stand to the side of the blade opposite the fence so that anything coming back out will miss you. I've been hit by a kicked back piece of plywood, and was very VERY lucky that it hit DEAD on my beltbuckle... I still had a *nasty* bruise:shock:. Also, if you're removing the blade guard, and there are cuts that cannot be made with it on,make sure that yoursaw has a splitter (metal piece that sits directly behind the blade) to keep the wood/material from pinching the blade and again causing kickback. There are inexpensive aftermarket options that can be used if your saw has a throat plate/insert that can be drilled. The one I use is the Micro Jig Splitter.

The problem with inexpensive table saws is the lack of stability and ability to tune them properly, if it's something you're going to keep and use for years to come I STRONGLY advise waiting and buying one that will be safer to use and will last. Actually there's a new saw starting to come to market that has some huge advantages over the existing saws, safety and design wise. 'Course it's also more expensive... Take a look at http://www.sawstop.com/for details.

'K. Now that all THAT is out of the way, I HIGHLY recommend spending the money on a GOOD blade, it really does make a huge difference in the quality of the cut.



James


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Old May 11th, 06, 11:00 am  
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Either that, or get your wife to buy you one for your anniversary. Isn't that how you got yours, Tig?

Stalefishlabs -- Welcome to the forums! Thanks for the detailed information. What a great idea for a thread! Sounds like you have (and will have for some time to come) LOTS of experience in installing these cabinets! Can't wait to see your pictures!

Susan

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Old May 14th, 06, 12:35 am  
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Thanks, guys. I do agree about it probably being a good idea to spring for a better table saw if you can swing it. I'm already regretting not putting the $100 I spent toward a nicer saw. My hardwood guys did warn me about checking the cheaper saw regularly to make sure it stays aligned - apparently the cheaper saws have a tendency to vibrate themselves out of alignment. Even so, if you have to economize, buy the expensive blade first!

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Old May 15th, 06, 11:00 pm  
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Just remembered another handy little technique that you may find useful if you're assembling a bunch of cabinets. Tinker with the setting on your drill that causes it to slip based upon the torque. Through a little trial and error you can find a setting that cranks the vast majority of cabinet screws without the risk of overtightening. The drill will start slipping at just the right moment.

On my Porter-Cable 19.2v drill this ended up being an "8" in the setting range from 1 to 20. With my drill on this setting, I can screw just about every cabinet component without risking stripping the laminate. The major exception to this rule involves the little screw posts that hold up cabinet shelves. These screws sink extremely easily and have to handled more carefully. You have to also be very careful with any screw into metal, such as the frosted glass Avsikt doors - very easy to strip! Hope this helps...

-michael

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Old May 15th, 06, 11:10 pm  
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Last suggestion for the night, I promise! Just wanted to highly recommend the electric-gas Paslode nail guns if anyone is considering a nailer for cabinet installation. I'm building a new house, so I needed a nailer beyond just cabinets but the framing/finish nailer combo has been absolutely awesome. I know most pro's prefer compressor-driven air guns but I personally found the convenience of the "cordless" Paslode guns to be exactly what I needed. Lowes has been running a combo special where you can get the Paslode framing nailer and finish nailer for around $500. Or if you're strictly working with cabinets, just go with the finish nailer.

I've found that there are just some situations in Ikea cabinet installs where nailing is easier than screwing. Sometimes cover panels and fillers end up in strange locations where the best option is a finish nail or two. If you do go the Paslode route, don't forget that the framing nailer and finish nailer use different sized (and colored) gas canisters. Buy an extra pack of each!

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