|Ask This Old House|
David: Question: We'd like to remove and reuse some cabinets in our 1958 house, but contractors tell us it would be difficult because of the way the cabinets were built. Can that be true?
-Margaret Russell, Santa Ana. CA
Norm Abram replies: Yes, it's true. In older houses like yours, cabinets were often "stick built": constructed in place; one piece at a time, using little more than finishing nails and glue. You can usually spot this type of construction by peering inside a cabinet. If there's no back-if you see a wall instead of wood-then most likely it was built on-site.
Unlike modern, shop-built cabinets, which are made up of individual boxes, site-built cabinets are essentially one complete unit. So before you go through all the trouble of trying to salvage one, make sure you have either a place to put the entire thing or a way to modify it to fit the new location.
Now, you might be lucky an have cabinets that come out in one piece. But more often than not, the
only things you'll be able to salvage are the doors, drawer fronts, and drawer boxes. Here's one way to put these items to use: Build new cabinet boxes for them to fit into.