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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Add a Dishwasher and Save the Cabinet!

Of course, our Inglewood project house from the 1940's wasn't designed with a space for a dishwasher. However, it's almost a requirement for today's lifestyle, especially if you want your home to be more appealing to home buyers.

This kitchen had one bank of cabinets along the exterior wall while the stove sat on the interior wall. There weren't many cabinets to begin with and even less counter space. We knew we wanted to replace the counter and add a new tile backsplash, but how would we fit a dishwasher into this space? Could we also add more counterspace while we're at it?


At first we tossed around the idea of building a separate cabinet that would contain the dishwasher next to the stove. This may have worked, but presented problems making the plumbing connections because the dishwasher would be on the opposite wall from the sink.

The better option would be to remove some cabinets and add the dishwasher next to the sink, saving and repairing the cabinets to be placed on the interior wall next to the stove. This plan would solve the plumbing issues and give the homeowners nearly 36" more counterspace next to the stove. That's a win-win!

(I also widened the doorway in the kitchen picture above to help the traffic flow and better connect the kitchen to the cozy dining area. See this post)

After removing the old tile and countertop, I carefully thought about how to cut out the cabinet that was in the way of the forthcoming dishwasher. If I did it right, it could be easily repaired.

I started at the edge of the sink cabinet and made a vertical cut using mostly my jig saw, but also the reciprocal saw in the places (like along the back) where the jig saw wouldn't fit. The most important part would be the faces of the cabinets. In our case, this would all be painted, however, I still needed to make straight cuts.

These cabinets were originally built as one large unit, rather than individual cabinets. This meant that once I made the cuts, I was left with a cabinet that was open on the end. I wanted to repair this so that the cabinet could be reused.

I started by making a new end piece for the face. Thankfully, I had some scrap of the original stock that was around 7/8" thick. (Typical stock nowadays is 3/4"). If possible, it's best to match the original materials as exactly as you can to make it look like it's always been there.

I ripped the board to the same width as the rest of the cabinet face pieces and attached it using wood glue and small finish nails. The big thing here is to make sure the pieces are attached squarely so that the door and drawers will fit and not rub. If you need to, you can sand or plane the door as needed.

Once the face was fully assembled I just needed to cut out an end piece from a sheet of cabinet-grade plywood that I had picked up. Higher grade plywood is nicer because it often has more plys (making it stronger) and less defects on the sanded surface. Mine had zero knots and would paint very well.

With a couple coats of paint, this cabinet will be ready to go.

If you'll remember, we removed 36" of cabinets to install a 24" dishwasher. What about those extra 12 inches?? For that, I built a small two-shelf cabinet from scratch. I'll cover that in my next post.


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