Case Study: Carle Kitchen Cabinets

Carle_2003_Kitchen_A_P_Pro_ (10)Nestled deep in Southwest Portland, the Carle family kitchen was the subject of an extensive remodel that was completed in late 2014. Interior designer Barbara Sumner and architectural designer Kristyn Bester worked with Versatile’s Product Designer Rex Vaccaro, to update and modernize the kitchen.

The design process for this particular project exemplifies our modern era; most of the communication during the process happened via Skype since the Carle family had been residing in Amsterdam when the project began. As with any remodel project, the designers hit a few snags, and the home was still under construction when the family returned to Portland. Ultimately, however, the Arciform and Versatile teams were able to achieve a contemporary, streamlined kitchen that is both functional and beautiful for the Carle family.

 

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What was the scope of the project and what were the design goals?

 For Versatile, the scope involved an entire run of custom upper and lower cabinets as well as a pantry wall; a large kitchen island with a cantilevered eating area, and a built-in window bench. Some retrofit shelving and a wet bar in an adjacent living room were also included in the design. The finishes ended up being a contemporary mix of stainless steel-wrapped upper cabinets, paint grade surfaces for the pantry wall, and solid, clear, walnut grain aligned horizontally on the lower cabinets.

What challenges did the project face?

The biggest challenge that this project presented was the fact that the client had a strong desire for all of the lower cabinets to carry a visually  distinctive horizontal line from the wood grain along the length of the kitchen. The surface area along the sink wall and island was very broad, and there was some difficulty in locating beautiful, solid pieces of walnut that were large enough to cover those surfaces. The main issue with long spans of wood, however, is that they will always warp over time, so there was an initial fear that the cabinet faces would warp and be ruined.

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What were the Uniquely Versatile solutions?

The first step in solving the problem was to communicate with designers working on the project. With regards to the sink wall, the solution was to simply compromise on the pattern, and face the cabinets with a classic vertical grain rather than risk the possibility of warping. To create a horizontal appearance on the surface of the nine-foot long island, a laminating method was used, in which a few boards of walnut were glued together along their long edges in order to add stability. Laminated wood still carries the possibility of warping; however, by alternating the grain patterns on the boards (essentially flipping every other board so that the grain pattern is opposite the one before it), more stability is added to the wood,  creating a preventive measure against warping. We were also able to retain the horizontal grain pattern that the client wanted, and applying these solutions to the project resulted in a stunningly beautiful set of kitchen cabinets.

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Versatile is always looking to come up with inventive solutions for the challenges faced when collaborating with others. Our creative team worked with the talented designers at Arciform to achieve their client’s needs for this beautiful home in Southwest Portland.

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Window Word of Day: Air Infiltration

air-resistance
Air Infiltration: The amount of air that passes between a sash and a frame; Measure in terms of cubic feet of air per minute per lineal foot of crack (margin).

Air infiltration is the major cause of heat loss or gain in a home. A reduction in air leaks will provide a more comfortable environment and improve energy efficiency in the home. Some ways to prevent air from leaking through windows include using caulking or weatherstripping and replacing glazing compounds. One of the best solutions for historic homes is to have failing windows restored; windows can also be replaced. Restored windows can last many years with proper maintenance.

If you’d like to explore how to correct air infiltration issues that may be occurring in your historic home, contact Versatile at quotes@versatilewp.com  and a Client Services Specialist will be in touch.

Case Study: The Block House Café

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In the heart of historic Dayton Oregon, The Block House Café recently moved into the 1886 First Baptist Church on Main Street. Working alongside architect Paul Falsetto and Fackler Construction, Versatile created a large back bar with surrounding cabinetry, wait-station and tabletops from old floor joists in the building.

Goals:

To create a large, functional and aesthetically pleasing back bar that hides the seismic bracing, and re-purpose original floor joists to create tabletops and a bar top.

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Challenges:

The biggest challenge we faced with the back bar, which included 10’ high walnut pieces, was installation to conceal three alcoves that were created by updated seismic structuring. The tabletops and bar top proposed a few challenges as they were created from wood salvaged from the original floor joists from the building. We were concerned about the tabletops cupping or warping, and we needed to create a flat, smooth surface on the bar top as there were many wormholes in the wood.

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Uniquely Versatile Solutions:

We worked around installation problems of the bar by pre-building it in 3 separate pieces with some tolerances to allow for variations in the walls when it was installed on site. The three pieces overlapped once installed to look like one piece of furniture while hiding the bracing behind.

To address the tabletops potentially warping, we added a dovetail key underneath to tie the planks together. By attaching the key to the middle plank only, the planks could expand and contract naturally, but not warp or cup. And finally, to create a smooth, flat surface on the bar top, the wormholes were filled with clear epoxy rather than a colored putty. Since the natural color of fir changes over time, the clear epoxy will make a smooth surface without worry that the wood color would ultimately shift away from the color of the putty. Versatile’s experience and expertise allowed us to anticipate potential issues and create solutions before they became real problems on site.

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Versatile Showroom: Walnut Doors

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You may have heard that Versatile Wood Products is getting a new showroom! The first piece to go in were these amazing, custom lift and slide walnut doors.

Shop carpenters Jeff, Eric & Dan show off the ready-to-be-installed doors in the Versatile shop.
Shop carpenters Jeff, Eric & Dan show off the ready-to-be-installed doors in the Versatile shop.

The unusual “lift and slide” mechanism was chosen for these doors. This mechanism is primarily used for extra-large doors, allowing them to open easily without resistance from weather-stripping.

Project Goals

The goal of these conference room doors is to provide privacy, while also allowing some visibility to avoid cutting the room off entirely. Panes of insulated glass were incorporated, also providing sound reduction. To provide extra stability, all pieces were laminated together. A continuous grain pattern was selected to run horizontally through the doors. With the continuous grain and rich colors, these doors play a large part in creating the ambiance of the new showroom.

The mechanism is completely stainless steel, eliminating corrosion concerns. It can be used with doors up to 800 pounds, making it perfect for this large scale application.

Curious how it works?

To open the door, the handle raises up and lifts the door off the track to allow it to move easily without resistance from the weather-stripping. Once the door is pulled closed, the handle is lowered and the tracks make contact to create a tight seal and lock.

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There are only a handful of companies that can make a lift and slide door. Here at Versatile Wood Products, we can design and build a door to meet your exact specifications. Our goal is to fulfill our customer’s design needs with the right door and hardware that will ensure a functional design and operating system over the lifetime of the door.

Intrigued yet?

Come and see these doors, along with other beautiful custom doors and windows at our showroom launch on September 18th!

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Join us for a Launch Luau
in celebration of our new Versatile Showroom

When: Thursday, Sept 18 2014
Time: 2 pm to 5 pm
Where: 2303 N. Randolph Ave
Cocktails, tropical treats and a whole roast Kalua pig will be enjoyed.

Plus a chance to spin the wheel of fenestration for fun and prizes.

Space is limited. Click here to RSVP by Sept 10th to join in the festivities.

Details

Help us celebrate the launch of our new show room at this Mad Men themed tiki celebration. Kick the tires of our new custom window, door and cabinetry displays and spin the wheel of fenestration to win prizes, drinks and more.

How can we help you create a custom entry that will be the showpiece of your next project? Contact quotes@versatilewp.com to start your custom quote.

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Cabinet & Drawer Inserts

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Kitchen design by Arciform senior designer Chelly Wentworth.

There are seemingly endless options for cabinet and drawer inserts. At Versatile Wood Products we always try to select the top of the line products to compliment our high end cabinets. Here are some of our most used options.

From Rev-A-Shelf:

Waste container pullouts

Rev-A-Shelf - 5149 series waste container

This series is our first choice when it comes to waste storage. They are mounted on the bottom of the cabinet, and on the back of the door, making it easy to pullout and close. They are sleek, soft closing, have a nice slide and are very sturdy. Available in a single or double (one or two waste containers) door mount system and have an anodized aluminum frame. The bins are available in silver and white.

A less expensive option is this wire tray version:

Rev-A-Shelf - RV series waste container

This system can work with a swing door, and has a wire tray that pulls out. Unlike the first series, this requires a wider space to allow for the hinges. This is not a soft closing option.

Tray dividers

Rev-A-Shelf - 597 series tray divider

These are great for organizing baking sheets, dishes and trays. No more clanking around in your drawers for that cookie sheet! They are available in chrome and white, and can be spaced according to your preferences.

Tip out trays

Rev-A-Shelf - 6541 tip out tray

The perfect way to keep your sponges out of eyesight, and off of your new counters. This is available in stainless steel and a variety of sizes to fit under your sink.

Cookware organizer

Rev-A-Shelf - 5CW2 cookware organizer

This is a great option to keep your pots and pans organized, and easy to grab, available in stainless steel.

Pullout pantry

Pullout pantries are a great way to utilize cabinet space, while having it blend into your kitchen. Your pantry items are easily accessible from either side, and nothing gets left in the back of your cabinet. Versatile’s top two choices are below, the biggest differences being sizing options and shelving materials. These pantry systems mount at the top and bottom of the cabinet, making them extremely sturdy. They are sleek and soft closing, hidden behind a cabinet door.

Rev-A-Shelf - 5200 series pantry pullout

This series is available in three heights and two widths, and have adjustable maple shelves with an anti-skid transparent coating.

Rev-A-Shelf - 5700 series pantry pullout

This option is available in four heights and various widths, has wire racks and a chrome finish.

Rev-A-Shelf - 448 series pantry pullout

For a less contemporary look, this maple and plywood system is also a less expensive option. This is a lighter weight pullout as it is only mounted at the bottom of the cabinet. It is available in three heights and four widths.

Spice trays

Spice trays are the perfect way to save cabinet shelf or counter space, and are a great way to organize your spices.

Rev-A-Shelf - 4SDI spice tray

We really like this wood insert. This is a great, sturdy option and it can be customized to fit various drawers.

There are two polymer options that we also really like.

Rev-A-Shelf - ST50 spice tray

This is a tiered insert, 50″ x 21″ and can be trimmed down to fit in any drawer. Available in a glossy or textured finish, and white or almond colors.

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A smaller version is above, 16″ x 21 1/4″, that can be trimmed to fit. Available in a glossy white finish.

Rev-A-Shelf - 432-BFSC spice pullout

Another option for spice organization is a base cabinet pullout. Available in 3″, 6″ or 9″ models, have wood shelves and are soft closing. As this is a narrow pullout, it can be hidden behind a decorative cabinet.

Lazy susans

There are a few options to choose from when it comes to lazy susans. We typically select the half-moon or kidney-shape shelves as they are not attached to the door. Door mounted (attached to the back of the door) units are available only with inset doors, thus limiting cabinet options in your kitchen. Both units below are base mounted (attached to the bottom of the cabinet).

Half-moon shape

Rev-A-Shelf - 6882 Lazy Susan half moon

To maximize a deep and long base cabinet that might not be used to it’s full potential, this half-moon shape shelf is a great option. The shelves pivot and pull out, allowing for easy access to those items in the back of the cabinet.

Kidney shape

Rev-A-Shelf - 6472 Lazy Susan kidney shape

For a larger, corner cabinet, this kidney shape shelving unit swivels, providing easy to access to all items in the cabinet.

Pie shape

Rev-A-Shelf - 6942 Lazy Susan pie cut

This pie shape shelf is a good option for an inset door. The shelving unit is attached to the door and rotates to allow access to all cabinet items.

All three options are available in polymer, which is durable and easy to clean. They come in almond and white colors.

Another great insert option are the trays made by Versatile Wood Products.

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These trays are made of bamboo, with dovetail joints,  available with or without a scoop handle. They are a great option to add some organization to your cabinets.

All of these inserts can be included in your custom cabinetry design when you work with Versatile Wood Products.

Versatile’s cabinetry specializes in traditional face frame construction and includes bamboo drawer boxes, soft close hinges and ¾ inch plywood boxes as standard features. Each design is custom manufactured to the unique specifications of your kitchen without the scribes, fillers and compromises that some other cabinet manufacturers use.

There are endless options when it comes to cabinet and drawer inserts, so speak to our Cabinet and Custom Product Specialist today for more information and to decide which options are best for your project, rex@versatilewp.com

Stay tuned for cabinet door material insert options!

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Best Practices for Doors in High Exposure Areas

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Living in the Pacific Northwest, we are faced with a lot of rain.

Here are a few ways Versatile combats the water during the build process, to keep your doors in great shape.

Quality materials are a must! We always use high quality, solid wood. The materials used will play a large role in the longevity of your door.

Most commercially manufactured doors are made up of many pieces of wood joined together. A veneer is then added to the exterior to give it the look of a solid piece of wood. At Versatile Wood Products, each piece of wood is hand-selected so our doors can be made by single, double or triple laminating, without a veneer.

To ensure that the door is completely sealed, Versatile provides a full gluing of all joinery.

Mahogany Planks (18)

All doors go through the wet glazing technique, with neutral-cure silicone, instead of the dry glazing technique, which uses rubber gaskets. The benefit of wet glazing is that the seal is less prone to shrinkage and cracking.

To greatly reduce air and water infiltration, Versatile uses silicone bulb weather-stripping. This is preferred to foam filled, vinyl coated compression weather-stripping as it has superior durability and air sealing. Silicone bulb is also smaller and essentially hidden in the tight spaces that we have on custom doors.

In addition to the materials of the door, an entryway overhang can have a large impact on the longevity of your door.

The height and depth of an overhang matter. The deeper the overhang, the more protection your door will get. Depending on the direction your door faces, the distance of the overhang should be at least half of the height of the door.

overhang req

Water management is also important. Keeping water away from problem areas, such as the sill, framework, and top of the door is a must.

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Using a traditional threshold, where the sill has a slope, or bevel, is the ideal way to drain water away from the framework.

Another key thing is to provide a positive wash (having no flat surfaces for water to pool on), this will ensure a lifespan of 15-20 years. For a door exposed to water, the sill should be at a slope of at least 10 degrees. All other flat areas should be beveled to avoid having water collect on the door.

As the top of the door is also susceptible to water damage, an in-swing door is preferred in high exposure areas to provide extra protection to this vulnerable area.

inswing-not vwp door

For taller than normal doors of eight feet or more, a multi-point (3 or 5 point) locking mechanism is recommended. This will provide additional sealing points against air and water infiltration and reduce warping and bowing of the door.

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For doors with glass that are exposed to the elements, Versatile sometimes uses laminated glass. As illustrated below, laminated glass is two panes of glass with a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) inter-layer. Using laminated glass will decrease the chances of breaking or cracking in stormy conditions.

 

laminated glass

Think about how you will finish your door. Clear and stain finishes will require more maintenance than a painted door; the door will need to be refinished more often than if it were painted. If it is in constant sun, the wood is more likely to fade when finished with a clear coat or stain.

stain vs paint

Water management and quality materials are key to keeping your door beautiful for years to come. Ready to create your own durable and beautiful entry system? For more information and to begin a quote, contact Alex MacKenzie, quotes@versatilewp.com.

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Case Study: Custom Double Hung Window

2164 NW Aspen Ave 2

This may look like a humble little double hung but what appears to be straightforward actually involved a lot of attention to detail, careful coordination and amazing craftsmanship.

When this job is finished it will be very difficult to identify the original windows from our new window; aside from the fact that the new window operates like butter.

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The Challenge

Our colleagues at Kem’s Woodworking needed to help their clients meet current egress codes for a new basement bedroom with a historically accurate window that matches all the original double hung windows throughout this 1930’s West Hills home.

Kem’s cut a hole in the exterior wall directly between two existing windows and challenged Versatile to deliver a window that looked like it had always been there.

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The Uniquely Versatile Solution

Versatile built a traditional weight and pulley double hung to the necessary size to meet the egress requirements. We matched the reverse ogee interior detail and the exterior stucco mould exactly.

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Even the stepped exterior window sill was reproduced to match all original sills.

(The picture below shows the window before the finish painting was complete.)

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The Result

You would be hard pressed to identify at a glance which window was added to the home and which were original. Sometimes, the best Versatile solutions are the ones that are impossible to identify once they are installed!

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Case Study: Stairwell Lift Door

Sometimes the answer to a tricky design challenge isn’t a choice between manufactured and custom options. Sometimes the answer is to use the best of both. Here’s how we tackled one very unusual vertical lift stairwell door with a combination of manufactured and highly custom Versatile solutions.

The Challenge

Versatile client Bobby Meeker had a very unusual request. He wanted to create a privacy barrier between his main floor and the master suite above but his narrow stairwell did not have enough clearance for a traditional door to function.

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He wanted it to be beautiful and he needed it to integrate seamlessly with the traditional style of his home with no visible operation. And it needed to lift vertically. There was no room in the stairwell for a traditional swing or pocket door. But there was plenty of room for the door to lift up out of the way into the upper portion of the stairwell.

The Uniquely Versatile Solution

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The  inspiration was a door our Director of Product Development, Alan Hart-McArthur, saw in a 1920’s Bungalow in SE Portland.  From that original inspiration Alan set out to devise a weight pocket and track system that was robust enough to support the weight of the door, large enough to house large steel weights, and yet still low profile such that they didn’t take up too much space on the stairs.

The results are 15’ long weight pockets that house nearly 40 lbs of solid bar stock steel in each side and yet are a little over 3” deep.

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The Materials

The door is a standard VG fir Simpson door with Prairie grids.  The client then took it to an artist named Ron Branch who sandblasted the custom tree branch etching into both sides of the insulated glass. The door was finished with clear coat and the weight chases and tracks were primed and then painted to match the walls and trim. By using a manufactured door for the base design, the client was able to free up budget that could then be applied to creating a very custom and visually stunning etched glass design.

The Result

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The door lifts easily into the upper portion of the stairwell and the narrow weight pockets blend in visually with the rest of the space. We had so much fun helping Bobby find his Uniquely Versatile solution!

What tricky design dilemma would you like our window and door designers to tackle next?

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A Revealing Restoration

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The Daily Journal of Commerce had an intriguing cover story yesterday about the Witherspoon Building, a 123 year old downtown building on the Portland Historic Resource Inventory that is being renovated to serve as the headquarters for Parliment, an advertising and brand design firm.

The building has a fascinating history, including stints as a brothel, a speakeasy, and a  secret entrance to the Shanghai tunnels that were used to whisk unsuspecting sailors into a new life of press-ganged labor.

The article shines a light on the challenges of bringing such a historic structure up to current seismic standards, explaining:

“Hands down, the biggest challenge is the structural seismic upgrades that (need) to be done,” said LSW’s Esther Cho Liu, the project’s architect. “The building is quite old, so nothing is really lining up anywhere … It was actually pretty crazy. Not one of the walls on the exterior lined up all the way … All the existing floors, especially the second floor … it’s just a mess.”

Fortunately, Chris Erickson, Parliment’s owner, has a vision for how to make the most of this messy situation… and it comes with a cool project for Versatile Wood Products.

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As you can see in this image, the main floor facade of the building was entirely bricked over at some point in the building’s past. Erickson, in collaboration with LSW Architects and R&H Construction, plans to strip away the brick and restore the full original storefront facade. They have commissioned custom historic reproduction storefront windows and a huge 8 ft entry door to be installed into the newly revealed original facade.

Witherspoon elevation

A Uniquely Versatile Solution

The architect’s goals for the storefront were to maximize daylight and open up the views in the ground floor space while ensuring the long term durability of the windows and doors installed in the space.

The original specs for the windows included installing separate manufactured windows side by side to create a bank of storefront-style windows. Versatile was able to design a single custom window with 4 large panes that will accomplish the same goal but will keep the mullions to a minimum between the panes of glass in order to maximize the natural light. This solution will be applied to all four banks of windows in the current storefront plan. Versatile will also provide a large custom entry door and two smaller side entrances to the project.

Careful selection of tight grain CVG fir, properly painted and pre-treated with benite will ensure the long term durability of the product.

Versatile’s expertise with turn-of-the-century architecture will ensure that every detail of the window’s design and construction will be in keeping with the original architectural style of this historic building.

How would 19th century craftsmen have constructed these windows?

Most likely, the original windows were site glazed in place. The Versatile solution mimics this look while providing a much easier installation for R&H Construction.

How will windows this large get to the site?

This is where R&H will reap the benefits of working with a local custom shop.

To transport these 17 ft long windows to the site, Versatile will build an outrigger frame on the delivery truck for safe transport to the site. This is feasible because of the relatively short distance the windows have to travel. An out of state manufacturer would have had a devil of a time finding a safe transport solution for such large pieces.

We look forward to seeing this beautiful building restored to its original look and we can’t wait to show you how the finished project looks!

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Project Case Study: Custom Wood Island

Turned legs, maple butcher block featuring end-grain detail and a mixture of stainless steel and wood elements come together to create an unusual and challenging design puzzle for the Versatile Wood Products team as they work to create this custom kitchen island for a client in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

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Here you see how the end grain has been integrated into the maple butcher block counter, creating a durable cutting surface and a beautiful checked pattern.

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Here’s a longer view of the counter, showing the unusual scale of the piece. A stainless steel prep sink and counter will be integrated into the triangular notch shown here, with extremely close tolerances needed for the end result to be flush on both edges. Versatile Carpenter Jeff Vasey has needed to customize each surface that intersects with the stainless steel counter to ensure a smooth transition between the two elements, resulting in at least one edge that tapers simultaneously in two different directions. You’d never know it to look at it, but some serious hands-on engineering goes into translating an architect’s design into a durable and high quality finished product.

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Here’s the stainless steel counter that will fit into the notch. It is still wearing its protective plastic skin while they finalize work on the counter surface.

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Here you can see the 10 turned legs that will form the base of the island. Electric outlets will be integrated into the island using a hollowed out  leg to hide the wires.

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Versatile Drafter/CNC Operator Rex Vaccaro creates detailed shop drawings for each custom cabinet we construct in our shop to ensure that the carpenters have all the information they need to successfully interpret the designer or architects vision.

We can’t wait to see that vision turned into a completed reality.

We’ll keep you posted.

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