Cabinets have infinite options and design possibilities and are the most expensive part of your new kitchen. Here are some definitions to help you out when talking with your cabinet builder.

Box – The actual carcass of your cabinets. It can vary in quality and finish and can be easily overlooked. Having a UV Cured finish inside is important for easy cleaning of spills.

Face Frames – Face frames attach to the front of boxes. The cabinet doors attach to these face frames. Frameless cabinets will have nothing more than edge banding (a thin veneer) on the front of your boxes.

Doors & Drawer Fronts – Covering all or most of the openings in your cabinetry, these are the main visible aspect of the cabinets.

Toe Kicks – The space under the cabinet that allows room for your toes as you stand at the cabinets. There are different styles. A toe sweep for example gives angled corners to the toe kick to allow you to easily sweep underneath them.

Hinges & Slides – The necessary hardware used to operate your doors and drawers. These can greatly affect the quality of your cabinets. Drawers that stick or eventually sag from low budget slides will cost you more in the end.

Knobs & Pulls – Door knobs and drawer pulls can be vastly important not only to the look of the cabinet but to their functionality. They may be an extra cost or included in the cabinet bid.

Finish – The coatings that protect your investment. Much like the paint on your car, finishes give style and protection. Stain, paint, and top coats should all be considered.

10 Questions to Ask Your Cabinet Maker

1. What materials will you use in making the cabinets? Solid wood core plywood for the boxes and solid hardwood for the face frames are a must for longevity. Never settle for particle board boxes.

2. How are the cabinets being assembled? Glued and pocket screwed for strength and pocket screws for face frames. Cheaply stapled cases without glue will fall apart in time. Ask if face nails will be used on your face frames creating lots of small unsightly pock marks.

3. What are the finishes and will they be finished on site or in shop? Shop-finished cabinets are preferred. Having someone in your home to spray finishes with VOCs and chemicals is not recommended at all. A shop sprayed pre-catalyzed lacquer is the best finish. Cabinets with glass doors or no doors should be stained and finished inside to match the outsides. These cabinets should have shelves stained to match as well. Ask if nail holes made in installation of crown molding will be puttied and stained? Ask if the cabinet installation included caulking also.

4. How are the drawers and slide-out shelves made? Dovetailed drawers are the standard of strength. Solid wood sides are best. Don’t accept stapled MDF. In fact, no MDF at all should be in cabinets. MDF is not a structural material.

5. What Hardware will you use? Under mount soft-close are the best.With good hardware you will find that doors and drawers open and close with ease every time. For the doors, there are soft close features that will keep them from banging. Quality hardware will last much longer. Also ask if the hardware products are cheaply made of cast pewter or if they are cold rolled steel?

6. What are my doors made of and what will the style be? Raised panel and Shaker doors? Inset or overlay frames?  As for material, solid wood will lend itself to a long life. Many cabinet manufacturers use MDF for the center panels and then veneer over for the wood grain.

7. Will you provide the design and shop drawings and in how much detail? This is a super important question. Be sure you completely understand every aspect of the drawings; ask, ask, and ask for more details if needed. Don’t leave anything to chance. Get as detailed as you want.

8. What accessories are behind the doors? This is a tricky one because when you approve drawings, many times the number of shelves, slide out drawers, trash bins, and many other items can be left out. Be sure to ask what is included (and in comparing bids, this is an essential component).

9. How long will the cabinets take to make and install? This simple question can change everything.

10. Is the installation included? Installation is a big factor, and it is by far better if the cabinet maker installs as opposed to someone who has never even seen your kitchen layout. When the cabinet builder installs, any needed adjustments can be taken care of immediately. Also, ask if the knobs and pulls will be installed as well.

11. (BONUS) Can I visit the production facilities to become familiar with the process? Look for cleanliness and tidiness. You should find evidence of their skills and expertise. You should feel welcome to come see how they work. So, on your next cabinet purchase, relax and enjoy the process.  The work will be well worth the usefulness and beauty of you new cabinets.


Living without a kitchen can be hectic, crazy and expensive. And eating out every night could end up blowing your remodeling budget. But if you plan and prepare, you can survive, thrive and even have fun while waiting for your new kitchen to be done.

Plan on setting up a temporary kitchen in some place like your garage, basement or utility room (ideally, someplace with a sink). Even if you aren’t keeping your old appliances, for now keep at least the refrigerator and microwave oven to set up in this area.

Ask for details on LWi’s Complementary Faux Kitchen when we do the removal of your old cabinets.

As you pack up your kitchen here are a few items to leave out:

  • Plate, bowl, cup, silverware for each
  • Saucepan
  • Skillet
  • Mixing bowl
  • Toaster oven
  • Coffee pot
  • Crock Pot
  • Cutting board
  • Knives
  • 2 dish towels
  • Wash basin
  • Sponges and detergent
  • Trash bags
  • Zip lock bags

Useful Ideas

  • Use a cooler to wash dishes in.
  • Keep lots of non perishable snacks on hand like PB, crackers, dried fruit, etc.
  • Make clean up easy by using paper plates and plastic cups.
  • Use the outdoor grill – try foil packed meals, remember your scouting days?
    • If you’re worried about putting your cookware on the grill, rub bar soap on the bottom and sides of your pots and the black soot from the grill will easily wash off.
    • Remember that your grill can do almost anything your oven can, cooking everything from casseroles to pizzas. Most grills also include a side burner, which is great for making pasta or steamed vegetables.
  • Use a crock pot for meals.
  • If you’re still going to have a freezer during the remodel, make some big meals ahead of time and freeze them in smaller portions. You can defrost single-meal portions and reheat them in the microwave.
  • Offer a friend a home-cooked meal in exchange for using her kitchen.
  • Set up a mini kitchen somewhere else in the house so that you can do cooking while your kitchen is out of commission. Ideally, this location should have a sink or, if not, it should have easy access to water. You could set up your mini kitchen in a laundry room or near a bathroom. Equip it with a coffee maker, a microwave, a blender, a toaster oven, a hot plate and a slow cooker.
  • Prepare your meals in tin foil pans instead of earthenware to eliminate a lot of cleanup
  • Despite the temptation, don’t ask workers a lot of questions or hang around while they work. They will actually work faster and better if the client is not standing over their shoulders.

The most important thing to always keep in mind is the finished product – how you will feel once it’s all done.


The hub of your home is the kitchen. You start your day there with coffee and end your evening there with dinner or a snack. You help with homework, sort mail, prepare meals, and entertain in the kitchen. You want your home’s center to show who you really are and you want to feel great about it.

So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and make your kitchen dream a reality. But it’s a little, okay, maybe a lot, overwhelming and you’re not even sure where to start or even what to expect in costs. The LWi Custom Cabinets website breaks down the process for you and even shows you a cost breakdown analysis with a budget calculator. It helps in understanding what to expect cost wise for cabinets, flooring, lighting, new appliances and counter tops.

Here is an example: Let’s say the value of your home is $315,000 and you want to allocate 5% to the kitchen remodel ($15,750).

Then, 35% of that budget should be for cabinets (about $5,500), 12% for countertops (about $1,890), 10% for flooring (about $1,575), 10% for appliances (about $1,575, 4% for electrical and lighting (about $630), 3% for new wall coverings ($472), 25% for labor (about $3,937) and the last percent for miscellaneous (about $157). Of course, if you are not planning on some of these features, more can be allocated to other areas. And keep in mind, this labor number is spread out over all aspects of your new kitchen.

Ok, so now you have decided on your budget. First start with appliances. Go shopping and choose what works for you and where they will be located. This is an important first step because new cabinets will be built around them, so to speak.

Next it’s time to have some fun and get cabinets started. Seems odd to start cabinets next, but remember after you’ve signed off on your new cabinet plans it takes 4-6 weeks to have them built. In that time you’ll be selecting countertops, flooring and lighting. Plus you’ll have a cabinet color sample to take with you when you shop. You’ve probably read that first sentence again and thought “fun?” Yes, planning your cabinets should be fun. Because you’re creating your new kitchen now. The cabinets are the number one feature both for functionality and beauty. You may already know what your dream kitchen looks like – fantastic – you’re over a huge hurdle. If not, time to go through magazines, lots of them. Visit Houzz.com and Pintrest too for ideas.

Don’t look for an entire kitchen you like. But instead focus on pieces of the kitchen. One photo may be the perfect color, another best style; another has legs you love on the island, or a pantry pullout system that would make your life so much easier. Gather it all up and take it to the cabinet designer at LWi Custom Cabinets. You’ll work with Joshua. That’s his job, to look at your space and make it all work for you.

Once it’s all designed, you’re on your way. Now is the time to take care of electrical and plumbing you may need done, choose new flooring, countertops, new paint, and lighting. Most of all, always keep in mind that final look of your new kitchen and how you’ll feel once you are enjoying it while you have your morning coffee.


It’s an old saying, and one that still holds true. In today’s faster and cheaper world, a lot of the most important decisions are based solely on price and how fast we can get it. Sometimes faster and cheaper is just that. When you’re comparing remote controls, you might stand there for 20 minutes looking at all of the options before you decide. You pride yourself on finding the most bang for your buck, and move on. Maybe later you realize that you should have taken a little more time, and bought that one that was $5 more. We all do it, and usually end up buying twice. Value and lowest price aren’t the same thing.

Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling your existing home, if you’re like most people, you have done your homework. You’ve looked at all the latest websites, schemed and dreamed, and come armed with a big book of ideas and plans. Taking all of those pictures and convenience hardware options and integrating them into your exact space isn’t easy.

Factors to consider when choosing a custom cabinet maker:

Customer Service – Customer service is probably one of the most important. If you’re waiting two weeks for a bid from one company, and another has already met you, provided samples and designs, and accurate pricing, then you shouldn’t keep waiting. The same way you’re waiting for a bid is how you’ll be waiting 6 weeks late on your cabinets, and then waiting again for them to come and do their punchwork if you go with waiting. There is a serve in customer service. Find someone that wants your business, takes care of your needs and questions quickly and efficiently. How you are treated is something to never overlook for the potential “savings”.

Quality – What your cabinets are made out of and how they’re put together is important. Do you save $1,000 bucks and live with puttied nail holes that don’t match scattered across the face of your $15,000 dream kitchen? Did you consider asking how they attached their face frames? Most people don’t. Are you painting your cabinets? Are you being quoted “Paint Grade” by one company and “Paint Grade Maple” by another? Most people don’t know that what’s specified as “Paint Grade” is usually a combination of wood species and man-made pressed board that could never take paint evenly. “Paint Grade Maple” is just that, solid white maple. The nebulous combination of “Paint Grade” might save you a little money up front, but what are you going to have to live with? You’ve put so much time and thought in your dream kitchen, would you want to pinch pennies in quality?

Finish – The most beautiful cabinets in the world can still be ruined by a poor finish, and the ugliest can be made beautiful by a good finish. The finish is really what you see when you look at cabinets to be honest. Are you really comparing the same things when you look at pre-finished and job-finished? The guys that painted your walls might be cheap to throw some stain or paint on your cabinets, but what’s that going to look like in your home that you’ve worked so hard for? Wouldn’t you rather your project be finished in a dust-free controlled environment by experience professionals using state of the art processes? You might save $500 having those painters “stain and finish” your cabinets, but who’s going to pay them to put them all back together when they’re through? How many options and samples do you think the wall painters will have for your unique finish? What is the finished product going to look like when you’re through, and isn’t it worth $500 to be happy with the finish?

Installation – Getting your new dream kitchen installed properly is probably the most crucial step. You’ve approved your designs and finishes and can’t wait to see what it all is going to REALLY look like. Are the same people that designed and built your cabinets installing them? Some cabinet companies “sub out” their installs to other individuals that you’ve never met and have never seen your cabinets before the morning they arrive at your home. Are you comparing a sub-out install to an employee install? Will your project manager be there to oversee the crew? Will the installers even speak your language? It might be a wash price wise, but you can bet that if your cabinet price has installation as a separate line item, your cabinet install is being subbed-out to the lowest bidder. Having the people that know your cabinets inside and out install them not only saves you time, it produces a better end result. Isn’t that what you’re looking for?



The city of San Marcos is restoring the historic home of Ulysses Cephas.

The city purchased the home in 2003 as a historic preservation project. Mr Cephas was a blacksmith and community leader at the turn of the 20th Century, with the goal of making it a focal point in the Dunbar Historic District.

The Cephas House is located at 217 W. Martin Luther King Drive, across the street from the Calaboose African American History Museum. The Dunbar Neighborhood is the birthplace of jazz and swing composer and musician Eddie Durham (1906-1987) and the home of the city’s first African American residents.

The Cephas House renovations will include restoration of the exterior, some repurposing of interior rooms, and accessibility improvements. When all rehabilitation activities are complete, the City’s Parks and Recreation Division will offer a variety of leisure and cultural arts classes and programs at the Cephas House. In addition to these programming functions, the Cephas House will provide a venue for the display of materials that detail the history of the Dunbar Neighborhood, its prominent citizens, and the importance of the African-American presence in the growth and development of San Marcos.

The project contractor, Cougar Construction LLC of Nome, Texas, has completed a number of historic renovation projects. Owner Richard Bates is performing much of the work himself.

The kitchen cabinets were completed by LWi Custom Cabinets to match the original color and style, a “Holiday Turquoise”.


Being attentive to details and conscientious rewards you in many ways. One of the jobs we are working on right now came about because the customer recognized that in us.

An architect that we work with owns a very nice bungalow style home and he’s renovated it himself with his own personal style. He understands that the devil is in the details and when he wanted to do his stairs, he chose us.
We went with Long Leaf Pine to match the existing flooring and keep the historical integrity of his home.

Long Leaf Pine is a material that I am very familiar with: I’ve done everything that you can do with wood to it, from market it to miter it. To say I like it would be an understatement. Each piece is a little “living history”, and what you’re holding was probably an established tree when the Pilgrims were landing at Plymouth Rock. It’s a beautiful wood, ranging in color from electric yellows to deep reds and browns, very tight grained, and hard. While there a lot of “Antique Heart Pine” products out there, really only Long Leaf looks like Long Leaf. Loblolly can be nice and even some old Southern Yellow can look really good, but Long Leaf stands above the rest.

It is an expensive product, ranging from about what you’d pay for a nice African Mahogany and up, depending on clarity and sizes. That being said, it is worth every penny.

We just finished his project this week, and I have to say it turned out very well.

As we got into the project, the scope grew, and we added cladding the walls and ceilings of his loft with tongue and groove clear yellow pine, the walls of the stairwell, and even the underside of the stairs, seen from below. We also built and installed a sliding door system at the first floor. The project looks amazing, and the customer is extremely satisfied. Mission accomplished, Team!

Winder grain running correctly, around the corner, it takes more time but it’s worth the effort We had to maintain straight and level lines of the tongue and groove around the room and clad the closet doors as well with an 1/8” clearance

Our customer wanted to be able to separate off his office, so we worked with him to design this sliding door. We had the door and the wall material’s horizontal lines match up, which presented an interesting challenge.


Juxtaposition – The act of placing things side by side for the sake of comparison or contrast.

That’s exactly what LWi Custom Cabinets has been doing, creating a new show room with juxtaposition in mind. The new mid century style desk is made of pecan with sleek straight legs made of aged long leaf pine. Several small vignettes showcasing various styles and finishes, is topped off with a bright red stained maple top edged with clear finished beach wood. Placing these quiet opposite wood species and finishes together creates a unique modern twist that greets the eye with Fun!

LWi Custom Cabinets is also beginning to create unique furniture pieces that won’t be found anywhere else. A Rustic Pecan Dresser, for example who drawers are actually a large door with nickle handles and feet for a modern rustic look. A new table recently created has a trestle live oak leg system with a pine top stained dark, the top edge in Live Oak with a raw edge.

Mixing things up and adding an unexpected twist creating something eye opening, is the new juxtaposition LWi is creating. Take a look at the new web link showcasing these new designs and ideas, and be inspired to come up with your own juxtapositions.


Here are a few suggestions on what you can do to make sure your new cabinets are as green as they come, no matter where you have them installed.

Cost vs. Value and Going Green with Cabinetry
First and foremost, many people are concerned with the budget implications of going green with cabinetry. Many may ask if going green is worth the trouble where cabinets are concerned. Going green with your kitchen, bath, or other cabinetry project isn’t about finding the cheapest price. From a green remodeling perspective, greening your cabinets means eliminating common health risks associated with economy cabinetry materials.

  • Avoid MDF, Interior Grade Plywood, and Particleboard—Every one of these products is a major ingredient in stock and semi-custom residential cabinetry. They also all contain urea formaldehyde based adhesives, a proven carcinogen that can off-gas into your home for years after installation. If you can, avoid cabinetry made from medium density fiberboard, interior grade plywood, and particleboard.
  • Seal MDF, Interior Grade Plywood, and Particleboard—If you do purchase cabinetry made from these materials (most cabinets you can purchase contain these materials to some degree), be sure to paint over any exposed surfaces with several coats of a paint or sealer before installation.
  • Choose Custom Cabinetry Made with Formaldehyde-free products—From a health perspective, the greenest cabinetry on the market is custom cabinetry. It also happens to be the most beautiful and functional cabinetry solution, since it’s custom built for you, your space, and your needs.
  • Use Low- or no-VOC Paints, Stains, and Sealers—Paints, sealers, stains, and other finishes used on cabinetry can off-gas a host of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your indoor environment, including some that have been implicated in skin disorders, respiratory problems, and even cancer. By choosing low- or no-VOC paints, stains, and sealers, you’ll reduce your exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals, or eliminate them all together.

Which Shade of Green is Right for You?
While thinking green when it comes to cabinetry is a smart choice for your health and the environment, it’s not unusual for homeowners to feel a little overwhelmed when presented with the full scope of green remodeling options. If you’re feeling unsure about how green you’re willing to go with your new cabinetry installation, there’s no need to worry. Going green isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, and any step you take in a green direction is a smart one whether you paint an old set of cabinets with low-VOC paints or spring for a set of custom built cabinetry for your kitchen or bath remodel.


We’re never bored here at LWi. One of the things that we really enjoy is the diversity of work that we do. Since we not only build custom cabinets, furniture, and specialty woodwork but also restore and refinish antiques, the day may find one of us doing something unusual and the whole shop gets involved. Last Friday as the day was winding down, we all gathered around an antique steamer chest that was being painted and took up a brush. It was fun, and a chance for us to have a laugh after a week of activity. We get some funny requests, like turning a broken old oak table into a bookcase, or making a table out of a bookcase. Either way, you can bet that on a Friday afternoon, there will be a shopful of skilled craftsmen working on it. Cabinets are fun and easy, but it seems like when something funky has to be done, the minds come together and before you know it, problem solved. With a recent customer, we did a complete home’s worth of cabinets, refinished 7 or 8 pieces of furniture, and modified an antique to become a vanity sink cabinet. It was nice to be able to get so much work from one customer, but the thing we like best is the variety of services that we offer. If you’re considering a remodel, and you want to update your furniture as well, let us know, and we’ll help you make it happen

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