I’m the shop manager at Kurzhaus Designs, a design-build company with an office in Dennis, Mass., where we also have our cabinet shop. To complement the custom work we do — both new construction and remodeling — we design and build our own kitchen and bathroom cabinets. In our area of New England, there’s little demand for clear finishes, so for the most part we build traditional painted face-frame cabinets with frame-and-panel doors. We use soft maple for the frames, and MDF and plywood for panels and carcass parts.

Occasionally a client will come to us with a kitchen designer in tow. We’ll work with outside designers, but to control quality and fit, we still prefer to build the kitchen ourselves. In our experience, most designers work from manufactured cabinet catalogs: They put a kitchen together by joining a bunch of individual cabinets under a common...

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