Now that we have the plans drawn it was time to fabricate! Our cabinet maker, aka my brother programed the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine based on the rendering we drew up. To put it simply, this machine uses computerized controls and routers to remove layers of material as well as cut out whatever shapes are programmed. We used large slabs of MDF (medium density fiberboard), which is an engineered wood product made by breaking down wood into wood fibers and binding it into panels using high pressure and temperature. Sorry for nerding out a bit but I thought that was some interesting info. I hate acronyms without an explanation
As I shared in a previous post, we chose to use MDF this time due to its strength and ability to withstand temperature fluctuations. It is also more cost effective. Once the machine was programmed we placed the slab of MDF onto the conveyor belt and let it work its magic. It was so cool watching it intricately cut out each piece and router the flat slabs to create the shaker profile. The machine even creates the holes for hardware! When we built our first home my brother didn’t have this machine and had to do all of this by hand. Having the machine do this eliminates human error. It is really an amazing thing! I documented all of this on my Instagram @modernmidwestnest so head to my highlights to see it in action! Below are a couple videos showing the machine cut out the doors.
After we cut all of the pieces it was time to add banding to the edges. I had to ask my brother why we were including this step since we are painting everything. He explained that it paints better and creates a more finished look if it is edge banded .
Once that step was done we sanded, sanded again, and sanded some more. This is a very important step to get a nice smooth finish. When the MDF is put through the CNC, the fibers in the MDF become a little raised. This can show through your finish and look like hair or fuzz. Using a high quality primer also helps keep the fuzziness at bay.
Now that everything has been sanded and prepped it was time to prime and paint. We decided to go with a tinted conversion varnish. This product produces a very durable and smooth finish. I’m about to get a little sciency now. Conversion varnish is a two part post catalytic product meaning that the varnish needs to be mixed with a catalyst in order for it to be activated. Once mixed the product must be used within 6-8 hours to prevent it from hardening. A pro of a tinted varnish is durability. It forms a very hard coating once dried that isn’t tacky as paint can be. This also makes it super easy to wipe down and clean. This product also has a level of elasticity which is beneficial in humid climates or moist areas of the home like bathrooms. There are also some cons one being it needs to be mixed to “activate”. If mixed incorrectly or in a room with contaminants like dust or debris, the chemical process that occurs can be compromised causing it to not apply correctly. You also need to have a professional apply this product as it is not as easy as paint. Luckily my brother has had many years of experience using this product so we were confident in using it again. Below are a few videos of the primer and paint being applied.
Now not everything went smoothly, no pun intended. Below is a pic of one of our drawer fronts. We don’t know what happened since it was the only one that it happened to. Some sort of contaminant must have caused a reaction that led to the finish crinkling. Unfortunately we couldn’t just refinish it, we had to start from scratch on this piece to insure it wouldn’t happen again.
We had so much fun being a part of the process and learning from my brother. He enjoyed showing us how his machines work and putting us to work! I’m so proud of all that he can do and thankful that he spent so much time doing this with us.
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