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Old 09-14-2017, 08:10 PM   #1
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Refinishing cabinets....the lazy way?

Okay, so to start off with --- I've read boywonder's great sticky-post on refinishing cabinets. It's great!

Cabinet door laminating/resurfacing tutorial
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ial-14419.html

And I've seen his work (and van) in person and they are beyond top-notch. I believe forum member BrianBlair's van has benefitted from some of boywonder's yankee workshop craftsmanship as well.

So anyway, on to the laziness........
I started to pull out some of the original (circa 1995) Sportsmobile cabinetry and re-do some of it....nothing major, but as time goes along you definitely start to identify areas where there could be a bit more storage....or ways that some functional items could be better arranged. Small tweaks seem to go a long way when you're two people sharing less than 75 square feet.

I've got this questionably-small cubby that Sportsmobile Fresno installed back in 1995.



It's kind of neat.....but doesn't hold a lot of stuff.



So I decided to tear it out.

The plan: I'm going to build a copy of it....and re-use it's front face/door/hinges....but I'm going to make it wayyyyy deeper. It will come out flush with the countertop.

In this photo I've unbolted it from the wall/counter and moved it outboard to simulate where it will end up.



Of course, to rebuild this cabinet unit.....I'll need to try to match the original circa-1995 wood veneer in the van.

Disclaimer/Explainer:
Now, before anyone suggests that "perhaps it's time to tear out the entire interior and re-do it all in a more modern material," I'll say only this: That's not the project I'm looking to do! And this post is all about laziness. That sounds like a lot of work....and I actually happen to like this 1990's-style woodgrain interior anyway, haha.

So again --- seriously --- boywonder's thread is great....but as I read through all the very-well-illustrated steps.....I started wondering....could not cabinet material be found that was pre-laminated with a Sportsmobile-interior-grade veneer already?

SURELY THERE HAD TO BE A PRODUCT CREATED FOR THE CABINET-MAKING LAZY MAN! Surely. Somewhere.

Invigorated with my new lazy plan for cabinet-making that didn't involve gluing veneer onto things, I went looking for a magical pre-laminated product sheeting at places like Home Depot, Lowes, etc....but was striking out fast. Resigned, I went at a place I wasn't really expecting to find lazy-man success....at a place boywonder had recommended for quality wood sourcing.....

Enter....a trip to Austin Hardwoods!
austinhardwoodsonline.com

***Continued below***
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Old 09-14-2017, 08:26 PM   #2
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(Continued)

If anyone lives in the SoCal / Orange County area, Austin Hardwoods is absolutely worth a visit. High-end materials, tools, resources, and knowledgeable craftsmen a-plenty.

And also.....among all the $7000 planed pieces of California Redwood....they sell Lazy-Man cabinet making materials.

The one I zeroed in on is a company called American Laminates.
American Laminates – Official Site ®

The cool Austin Hardwoods guys handed me a brochure/material selection booklet for American Laminates.....and off I went, ready to match grains with what Fresno had utilized back in 1995.

Many of the grains looked pretty close! In this photo, there's also a couple of samples of actual veneers from WilsonArt and Pionite.



So anyway....here's a pretty full representation of their material finishes, taken from their website:



More....



The stuff they sell is about $50 a sheet for a 4'x8' piece, and is indeed pre-laminated on both sides. To my eye, its on par with what Sportsmobile originally used to make my cabinets, but with a denser core. It's available in both a 3/4" thickness and also a narrower shelf-thickness which seems to be closer to around 3/8" or so.

It's truly Lazy-man cabinet material, ready to go.


Today I had some samples of their material arrive (called them on Tuesday with a couple grains in mind, and they sent them out right away.)



I recognize that these won't be the same quality as what boywonder and many of the other disciplined craftsmen among you would choose to do cabinet work with. This is indeed a manufactured wood product, and susceptible to all the same issues as anything that isn't a quality hardwood.

But for all practical purposes --- and to work with what's already installed.....if you want to maintain original appearances, and if you're totally OK matching up your new stuff to the original materials that weren't quality hardwoods by any means....this seems like a decent lazy-man shortcut/timesaver to get reasonable/presentable results pretty quick and pretty cost effectively.

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Old 09-14-2017, 09:10 PM   #3
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I have the same oak color interior (98 Indiana build). I've used 3/4" oak plywood for a few cabinet doors and it matches pretty well. The SMB stuff is 1/2", but with the edge t-moulding its functionally 3/4".

I've also gotten similar samples of the laminated wood, but haven't taken the plunge to order any yet. I may do some serious cabinet rebuilding this summer, so we'll see.

That small cabinet must have been made for something in particular for the original owner... why else would there be an AC outlet inside it? Odd.
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:16 AM   #4
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Ah! Interesting about the original SMB stuff being 1/2" thick, not 3/4". I guess I knew that....

....but as you say, the 3/4" edge-overlapping T-molding really makes it "read" like 3/4".
I'll be ordering a 4'x8' sheet of this material pretty soon, so should have a more accurate idea of its true thickness to share shortly.

(Definitely hoping now that its actual thickness is closer to 1/2"....just to make the whole "replicating original dimensions and joinery" tasks easier.

*** PS -- yeah, this hidden AC electric socket placement is super weird, right? No idea why anyone would want that tucked inside that cubby. I'm guessing it's just as likely that the cubby was a last-minute addition to the build, long after the AC socket was installed. But who knows....maybe someone had an electric toothbrush that they passionately felt just HAD to be always plugged in (and hidden away) when they were in campgrounds with full hookups, haha.... #theythoughtofeverything
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:35 AM   #5
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That's pretty cool Mike. The outlet placement is indeed weird. Judging by the shelf in that teeny cabinet I'm guessing the original buyer decided they wanted a spice rack with a door so they wouldn't be vacuuming up parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme after every off-pavement adventure. Kudos on the research.

Now, to the next question, how in the heck to they ship a 4x8' sheet of thin laminate? Can you roll the stuff up?
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Scotty View Post
Now, to the next question, how in the heck to they ship a 4x8' sheet of thin laminate? Can you roll the stuff up?
My interpretation was that the 4x8 sheet is a fully laminated sheet of wood, I would assume it gets delivered to the lumber yard and you would have to pick it up from there, no?
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:51 AM   #7
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OH! Perhaps you are right. Maybe Mike can tell us.
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:29 PM   #8
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Correct --- these are indeed pre-laminated 4' x 8', 3/4" thick panels.
Seems that the commonly-used trade name for these panels is TFL panels ("Thermally Fused Laminate.") .



A durable, melamine-type outer surface (with integral decorative "woodgrain" print/appearance) is thermally fused to a core of varying material (can be either plywood, MDF, or particle board.)



Good description of them here:
https://www.panolam.com/materials/th...sedlaminatetfl

"TFL panels consist of a melamine-impregnated printed or solid-color décor sheet that is pressed directly onto a substrate like particleboard or medium density fiberboard (MDF). Using heat and pressure the resin from the décor layer melts and joins with the surface of the substrate to create a permanent bond. TFL panels are widely used in office furniture, closet system components, store fixtures and cabinets. It is also an appropriate specification in healthcare, hospitality, commercial and retail settings."

Again, the stuff really seems to be certainly up to the original standards of the Sportsmobile builds when they rolled out of Fresno/Indiana/Texas to begin with in the 1990's. It gets used for desktops, commercial/hotel interiors, etc....





They get shipped straight to the lumber store, and you trundle on over in your vehicle-that-can-fit-a-4x8-sheet-of-plywood of choice to pick it up. (I'm still not 100% sure I own such a vehicle....the Sportsmobile's RB30 layout SEEMS like I'll be able to pick up a 4x8 sheet of plywood--- if it's slid inside the rear door on it's edge....)

Again, the cost of this stuff is great! Only about $50 for 4x8' panel.

The only possible snag I'm suddenly considering --- is whether or not there's a "minimum order" of "x number of 4'x8' panels" that is required to buy some of the more specialized finishes. Hoping not!
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Old 09-15-2017, 03:55 PM   #9
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The thought is seriously occurring to me:
JMHO.....but I am willing to bet that the three SMB build locations use essentially this same TFL pre-veneered stuff. (Albeit perhaps with a custom thinner core.)

No way are they cutting out their particle-board/MDF cabinet pieces and then subsequently precisely laminating/trimming veneers onto them like boywonder. That's way too much work/craftsmanship.

SMB Mass production =
they've found all sorts of lazy-man shortcuts with their builds, too!
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