Column: Bay Area Home Improvement – Cabinetry

February 22, 2018 11:44 am · 20 comments

Bay Area Home Improvement is a new column on

This week on Bay Area Home Improvement, we are talking cabinetry with Kyle McClay, owner of American Kitchen Company in Concord.

When it comes to cabinetry, you can go with paint, or you can go with stain. But the most important thing is to go with solid wood. Forget the particle board.

As far as selecting wood, there’s something called the Janka Scale that tests for hardness. Cherry is at the top as one of your hardest wood and Oak is at the bottom as it is softer. Maple is a good middle choice.

When it comes to doors, I prefer the 3/4” thick cut. The box of the cabinet should be made of cabinetry grade wood, at 1/2” thick. I like all the hinging to be European as it comes with a lifetime warranty and they are all soft closing.

When it comes to drawers, use dovetail construction, it is one of the strongest joints used in kitchen cabinetry.

Visit to and see the cabinet constructions.

If you have any questions, post your comments here.

You can always review this and other videos on the Home Improvement Tab.

Bay Area Home improvement is a new weekly column on Claycord providing you tips to help guide you along with your home projects. Kyle McClay, owner of American Kitchen Company in Concord, you may have seen on KRON4, will provide you with weekly tips on various subjects, complete with a short video. We will archive this and each edition on the Home Improvement tab above for anytime you wish to reference them.

You are welcome to leave your comments or ask questions for advice below.

Fred February 22, 2018 at 12:38 PM

My cabinets are over 40 years old and made with particle board carcases with hardwood face frames and doors. Still in good shape. Admitedly out of style, but I’m too cheap to replace them for that.

Kyle Mcclay February 22, 2018 at 1:36 PM

That’s awesome Fred!!!

SF oh February 22, 2018 at 1:40 PM

I like this new column. We are in the process of upgrading our 40 year old house. I appreciate the tips and advice.

Kyle Mcclay February 22, 2018 at 1:58 PM

Glad you like it! We will be doing a new tip every week.

Nick February 22, 2018 at 2:16 PM

We just bought my first house and will be reading this column every time, looking forward to it!!

Kyle McClay February 22, 2018 at 2:50 PM

Congrats on the new place Nick!

Mary Fouts February 22, 2018 at 2:49 PM

Great new column! Always enjoy getting fresh ideas.

Ironically, we just had our general contractor do some home repair and maintenance work. I love to cook and bake, had the old dishwashing machine removed and replaced spot it with a simple heavy duty inset shelf unit where I can store/stack commonly used kitchen items, including 2 gallon glass jugs I use for sourdough bread baking. My cabinets are 1970s, wanted something functional and simple.

It is so handy and I absolutely love it! Tons of room. So glad I ditched the dishwasher. Used 3/4 inch grade A plywood for the construction, and bottom is firmly supported for any cast iron I store. Here is a photo right after construction:

Kyle McClay February 22, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Thanks Mary for the great feedback! Glad your remodel was done right. They used solid wood so it should last a lifetime.

Kyle McClay February 22, 2018 at 3:11 PM

Love to help MJ! Hope our new weekly video series will help give you some insightful tips.

Kirkwood February 22, 2018 at 3:20 PM

Seriously, is there a best time of year to get the best price from a contractor?

Kyle Mcclay February 22, 2018 at 3:57 PM

Great question! At AKC we use no sub contractors so our pricing doesn’t change seasonally but….. many paper contractors that are reliant on subs and usually raise rates ounce they are booked. Especially true durring the summer months.

ClayDen February 22, 2018 at 4:05 PM

We have a 40 year old house and the cabinets are in decent shape, but we want pull-outs everywhere. A few years ago I built large pull-out drawers for our pantry and they are wonderful. I used pre-finished 1/2″ birch plywood and interlocking joints; almost as good as dovetails and they have held up very well. I’m considering doing the same thing to our other cabinets and replacing the doors. I also modified a couple of the other cabinets, and that required new doors which I made to exactly match the originals. The cabinets are particle board with ash face frames and doors, so I’m also considering replacing the boxes with pre-finished plywood. I have the tools and knowledge, so I’m seriously considering making everything myself and then having them professionally painted. I’m not sure about whether to do the installation or to contract it out.

Kyle Mcclay February 22, 2018 at 5:08 PM

It sounds like you can tackle this bud! If you have the tools then that’s the biggest cost hurdle. I’m going to do a video on how to paint cabinets. It’s very doable on your own and if you did hire out it’s not expensive because painters don’t require all the insurance and licensing a general does.

Hans February 22, 2018 at 6:11 PM

We have maple cabinets, and a few are showing a little water damage near the sink. Is it possible to get those areas touched up?

Kyle McClay February 22, 2018 at 8:06 PM

Water damage is a real tough one when it comes to wood. There are some tricks you can do to mask it but the right way is to replace the damage.

Hans February 23, 2018 at 1:53 PM

I should have clarified that the wood looks fine, but the varnish(?)/lacquer (?) is cracking…

Mark February 22, 2018 at 8:05 PM

What kind of wood is best for the shelves?

Kyle Mcclay February 23, 2018 at 8:02 AM

Plywood that has a hardwood veneer is not only less expensive but in many cases stronger than solid softwoods like pine. Most lumberyards stock the basics: birch, maple, and oak veneer plywoods. Birch is the best wood to use if you plan to paint your shelves, and maple lends itself to a variety of stains.

Aspirin February 23, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Some drawers are too shallow in height. Be sure that your stuff will fit.

Bottom cabinets should all be equipped with rollouts. They greatly increase usable capacity and are a joy to use.

Laminate (like Formica) counter top material is excellent. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Always use top grade hardware (like drawer slides, knobs, hinges). They are worth the extra cost.

Kyle Mcclay February 23, 2018 at 8:59 AM

Great advice!

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