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Author Topic: Need opinion...is there a need out there for cabinetmaking skills?  (Read 3878 times)
Phil H / Chicago
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« on: January 30, 2008, 08:10:20 PM »

I have been thinking about trying to find a building in the Chicago/Rockford area so I can have a place to store and work on my rv (and hopefully bus soon), but just can't justify the cost, unless....I were to try to start a little conversion shop that focused on highend cabinet/woodwork. Being all I really know well, I would stick to that. I figured if I did a little work to help offset the cost of the building, well then maybe it would be ok. What's the opinion out there?

Is there anyone in this area that might know of a building? Maybe there is someone out there that might want some building space to share?

Thanks, Phil
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grantgoold
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 09:15:21 PM »

I am in California and would love to have someone who is interested in custom cabinets for my bus conversion. You may want to think about both "highend" and economy products. Many bus converters are on budgets and yet looking for some custom work.

If you move to California or closer, let me know and I will be your first West Coast customer.

Grant
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Grant Goold
1984 MCI 9
Way in Over My Head!
Citrus Heights, California
cody
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 09:32:58 PM »

I find that there is always a need for someone that can do a good job on the woodworking end of a conversion.  It's very hard for any one person to wear all the hats necessary to do a reasonably well done conversion, between the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, painting and add into all that the woodworking and cabinetry and you'd have a very well rounded person, unfortunately that is rarely the case., The beauty of this board is all those qualities can be found over the many members here and everyone freely shares their expertise/knowledge.  I can appreciate the fit and finish of a cabinet that has been constructed by someone that has a good grasp of what they are doing.  I make a little sawdust now and then and can relate to what all goes into it, it's far more involved than some realize.
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luvrbus
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2008, 04:40:23 AM »

Phil and Cody, I like Grant live in the west and there is a guy here that for years has been building custom cabinets in conversions he comes to your bus with all his wood working equipment stays till the work is completed and is always booked in advance.May be a option for you if travel is in the plans
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Stan
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2008, 05:22:10 AM »

The key to doing quality work in a bus conversion is experience. I had a boat carpenter do the cabinet work in my first bus. When I approached him, he said that he had never done a bus, but a bus was just a boat upside down. His methods were completely different from the house cabinet maker. First a pattern on cardboard, transferred to hardboard that was fitted in place and then the hardboard used as a pattern for the hardwood.  A lot of the cabinets require a pattern for both the vertical and horizontal. Even with all his experience, he under estimated the price and there was a cost over run.

In a cheap conversion, the individual can take IKEA cabinets and chop the corners off and cover the gaps with moldings. Buyers paying  for cabinet maker skills will not accept that, and you can't make a living working for day labor wages as a helper.

My suggestion would be to practice on your own bus and then use it as a display to show what you can do. Remember that there is no engineered material in bus cabinets, just plywood and solid wood.

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JackConrad
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2008, 05:52:17 AM »

   We made all the cabinets and doors in our bus fromfurniture grade red oak plywood and solid red oak lumber. We purchased about 600 bd. ft. of 5/4 r.s. kiln dried oak. This was milled down to the dimensional lumber sizes we needed.  I am fortunate that when I was growing up, my father had a cabinet workshop at our house, so I started learning cabinet making at a young age.
   As was mentioned, building quality cabinets is not a fast project. Milling pieces, sanding, dry fitting, sanding, gluing, sanding, staining and finishing takes a lot ot time. Did i mention sanding?
   The other important factor is having the proper tools. It would be extremely difficult to build quality cabinets and doors with a portable circular saw and a hand held router. My cabinet shop is pretty well equipped and it still takes a lot of time. Several fellow busnuts have stayed at our place, some used my shop, to build their cabinets. Taking their time, most have made some beautiful cabinets.  Jack
   
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Growing Older Is Mandatory, Growing Up Is Optional
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Tenor
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2008, 06:02:37 AM »

My father-in-law is a cabinet maker.  Last summer I made doors for the old bus, and it was the first time I had ever cut anything that needed to look good.  This year, he found a great deal on a load of pitchy pine at 1.20/ft in 12" sections and we will use that to build almost everything.  We'll use the wet sections for walls behind tongue and groove paneling (pine as well) and use the good stuff for cabinetry.  We are doing things a bit differently.  Instead of using plywood for bulkheads and walls, we are going to do panel construction for that.  It's just as strong dimensionally, but lighter.
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Glenn Williams
Lansing, MI
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1968 MCI 7 Ser. No. 7476 Unit No. 10056
8v71
4 speed Spicer
Phil H / Chicago
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2008, 06:14:17 AM »

You guys are right....there are cabinetmakers and then there are "cabinetmakers". It's like any industry, you usually get what you pay for. I did a set of kitchen cabinets for a MCI about three years ago, a highend conversion and the guy wanted it to look nice. I went in and made templates of the floor/wall/ceiling, went back to the shop, fabricated the product, hauled it to his bus and installed it.....fit like a glove. If you plan first and take all the guess work out of it, shouldn't be a problem. He was happy so I was happy. If I remember right, he spent about $12,000 with me. He decided to sell his bus before we got back to the bathroom and bedroom. The guy who bought the bus finished the project.....and that's all I'm gonna say bout that.

When people come to me about doing their home I usually ask them up front, do you want something nice, good materials and done right.....or do you want something to hold up your countertop? I can help with the first.

I started my first bus conversion about seven years ago with the intention of doing a very highend interior, mostly for myself but if I liked the process was going to use it as a showroom and get into the business. But things did not go as planned, the first shell I purchased turned out to be such a problem, full of rust (my igorance), the owner who sold it to me did not even own it, he fabricated a false title and then filed bankruptcy.....on and on went the problems until I just gave up and sold/trashed the shell. I am just now looking at trying again. I just want to take my time and find the right 45' shell this time. For the time being I guess I will just enjoy my rv.

Thanks, Phil
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JackConrad
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2008, 06:16:19 AM »

Tenor,
  Probably not as important in a bus as a home, but check the moisture content of the lumber before making panels. If the lumber was not kiln dried, you may have shrinkage issues. Several years ago I made a dining room table from white oak and teak that was not kiln dried but had been air drying for 20-25 years. Everything was fine until we turned on the AC in our new house. After a few months, we had a gap open up in the table top between 2 of the boards that shrunk when the humidity level in the house dropped.  Jack
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Growing Older Is Mandatory, Growing Up Is Optional
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2008, 06:44:55 AM »

Thanks for the warning Jack.  Fortuantly, this is kiln dried.  And, if it moves, (since we are going for the rustic cabin look), I'm not gonna cry too hard. 
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Glenn Williams
Lansing, MI
www.threemenandatenor.com
1968 MCI 7 Ser. No. 7476 Unit No. 10056
8v71
4 speed Spicer
cody
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2008, 09:33:02 AM »

Your absolutely right on cabinets in a bus being an entirely different animal from those in a house, your dealing with an entirely different set of variables. You first have to find the imaginary vertical and horizontal to base your templates off and then deal with the curvature of the walls, unless you live in california your house generally doesn't move much lol, a coach does and what looks good now may take on a different appearance down the road. I've been making sawdust for many years and some have even dared to call it cabinetry, I even had the nerve to post a couple of pics of some of my work here on the board and I think that most that have seen what I do have felt that it was better than what they normally would see at walmart, based on that, I would think a good cabinet maker would find plenty of work with conversions if he wanted to do it.
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JimC
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2008, 09:04:30 PM »

Cody gets the understatement of the year award for his statement about

"better than the ones you would see at Wall Mart".

Attached is a picture of his cabinetry skills.
JIm
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4106 - 8-71/730
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
between Milwaukee & Madison
wvanative
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2008, 05:45:52 PM »

Cody, if that picture above is your work, it is great. I hope when my time comes that I'll be able to do as nice as you have. Very nice work

WVaNative
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Dean Hamilton Villa Grove, IL East Central IL. Near Champaign
Still Dreaming and planning
cody
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2008, 06:40:28 PM »

WVNative, Thanks, thats my work, I enjoy making sawdust.  Since we've been fulltiming I've had the pleasure of working on several coaches and each one is a challenge and a pleasure, I enjoy it and carry a few basic tools with me, it's a hobby of mine. Here is a another pic, this is the dinette I built. The next one shows a detail of one of the dinette bases, the last one is of the refrigerator after I built it in with the microwave built in above it, the refrigerator has a temperature sensitive switch that turns on a fan and exhausts the cabinet heat if it reaches a certain point.
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JimC
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2008, 08:00:41 PM »

Cody,
You will have to give me the specifics of your set up with the temp switch and what fan you used.
The fridge went out on my bus in Phoenix (after building it in) and I have to make another mount for it and the micro/convection oven above it. The heat is what I am worried about, and I have thought about how to do what you have done..
Jim
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4106 - 8-71/730
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
between Milwaukee & Madison
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