The Cabinet From Hell


It’s time to face facts.  We can do whatever we want to make the kitchen look better, but this hideous cabinet is all you see whenever you’re in there.  All the new appliances and knobs and flooring in the world won’t hide this demonic thing.  I’ve considered covering it with a drop cloth but then Inky wouldn’t know where to eat.  I’ve considered destroying it with a flamethrower but I doubt I could keep the rest of the house from burning down with it.

This cabinet is old, and it rests on scrap 2×4 pieces the way an el camino rests on cinder blocks in someone’s front yard.


Nothing meets at a right angle.  The doors do not stay closed without the aid of a rubber band or a thumbtack.  I’d love to get rid of it but that’s 24 cubic feet of storage I don’t have anywhere else.


The frame is literally coming off the cabinet.  Look closely – you can see the frame is just held to the cabinet by a nice, smooth, bright finish nail.  I could pull it out with my fingernails if I wanted to.  The one across from this was repaired with glue, so now it’s permanently 2 1/2 degrees off.    Ugh.


The worst of it is the top, which is just painted construction grade plywood.  Painted a long time ago.  It does not come clean.  It’s pitted, stained, moldy and warped.  The only really good thing about old paint is that it was made before a lot modern environmental laws, so it’s generally better quality than new paint.  Plus it’s fully cured so it forms a hard shell that’s arguably stronger than the plywood it envelops.  Other than that, it’s disgusting.

Do not ask me why, but I decided to restore this thing rather than smash it to bits with a fireman’s ax.  The drawer pulls are easily replaced, and I even have some good pulls in mind for it.  And replacement hinges are affordable, right?  (answer:  no.  $25 per pair is not affordable, but that’s what well machined hinges cost).  What else would need to be done?  A melamine top is not hard to do.  A band of wood around the bottom wound conceal that weird heating apparatus underneath so we don’t have to see it.  And I can take the doors off, sand them down, stain them and polyurethane them and they would look significantly better.


And so, it’s come to this.  50 year old cabinet parts are in my shop, sanded smooth, re-squared, fitted, stained, and ready to go.  The cabinet will live again.  It’s still a piece of crap, but at this point, it’s like a personal challenge.  See how long I can keep this box limping along, serviceable, and in working order.  See if I can get the doors to close straight, or close at all.

I love making cabinets, and sometimes restoring the old ones teaches you a thing or two about making new ones.  But that’s really not the case here.  This Cabinet From Hell is a textbook example of all the things not to do when you’re making new cabinets, from the materials and hardware not to use to the way not to join wood together.  Well, let’s see how long I can keep it going. I have to move it out when I drywall the laundry room, then put it right back in.  If it survives that, it can probably last a while longer.