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New Life for Old Kitchen Cabinets - Continued

We buy the face veneer in 24-by-96-inch pressure-sensitive adhesive sheets and, using a special laminate slitter (Virutex, 800/868-9663, www.virutex.com), rip it into strips slightly wider than the face-frame components. Rob veneers the vertical stiles first, then does the horizontal rails. Overlapping the rail strips on the stiles and slicing through both layers with a razor knife creates a precise joint with the appearance of a real wood joint. Rob then uses a veneer cutter to trim the veneer flush with the frame edges, finishing up with a light sanding to soften sharp corners. This method gives the overlay an authentic look, unlike the wasteful and fake-looking alternative method in which the entire face frame is overlaid with a large sheet of laminate or veneer and then the openings are cut out.

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The authors purchase wood veneer in sheets backed with PSA (pressure-sensitive adhesive) and slice it on the job as needed.

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A hand-held laminate slitter speeds this work.

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By leaving the tail end of the parting paper in place on the PSA-backed veneer, the installer can overlap intersecting facing strips.

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He then cut them together to create a neat, tight-looking joint.

Exposed or finished cabinet ends and island backs get paneled with 1/4-inch sheet stock to match the veneer. All of the refinishing supplies for each job come from one of two wholesale vendors — Quality Doors of Dallas for solid wood products or Northern Contours of Fergus Falls, Minn., for RTF products — ensuring a true color and finish match between doors and veneers

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This exposed cabinet end was covered with a 1/4-inch-thick prefinished plywood panel to match the face veneer.

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The stone countertop, installed first, includes an overhang allowance for the build-up.

With the face veneering complete, Rob moves on to mounting the doors and drawer fronts. The finished doors and drawer fronts are shipped to us individually wrapped and stacked in a series of cardboard boxes. Each item is numbered to identify its place in the layout. Hardware, including hinges and pulls, is shipped loose for job-site installation.

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The typical one-week refacing process produces a "night-and-day" transformation in the average outdated kitchen.

We like to use concealed, self-closing European-style hinges because they install easily and provide three-way adjustability — up-down, sideways, and in-out. Once all the new faces are mounted, we go back and fine-tune the reveals as well as the overall face plane, shimming drawer fronts as needed to make them lie flush. These small adjustments make the finished job look brand new.

Gary Ellisis a principal at Northside Building Consultants and the owner of Kitchen Tune- Up of Cape Cod in Yarmouth Port, Mass. Rob Carter is general manager of Kitchen Tune-Up.