Old x New Truths About Custom Cabinetry in 2023

This article is an overview of the cabinet industry today from a modern female cabinet company owner’s perspective. For an analysis of which cabinet material (wood, laminates, or painted) is more durable, check out this article.

Carpentry is as old as humans have been building shelters. However, the custom cabinetry industry as we know it today started after the end of World War II with the goal to help speed up the reconstruction of the vast number of buildings destroyed during the war.

Have you ever heard of system 32?

System 32mm holes

The Germans are brilliant engineers, so they created “System 32” which is the spacing in mm between each hole in a line of holes drilled on a board. This pre-drilled line of holes allows accurate and precise fastening to create square cabinet boxes and shelving in an efficient and effective manner. This was the first system that allowed the mass production of cabinets. This mass production became then synonymous with convenience and in some cases later, lower quality.

As time went by, European cities were rebuilt and the need for mass production became connected to commercial and high-rise construction. This was completely separate from the regular needs of single custom family residential construction, so mass production took on the label and reputation of being inflexible, and lower in quality. Hence the explosive growth of IKEA, which believes everyone should have access to modern design that is affordable.

Fast forward to today, CNC machinery allows for mass production with hole patterns to be customized and drilled exactly where one wants them.

So, yay for new technology, right?

Still, as some small cabinet shops can’t typically afford CNC equipment and may not have access to or knowledge of the best quality of engineered products, the misconceptions or old truths of old-school-solid-wood are best continued today with small or traditional cabinet makers.

These old truths propagate bits of inaccurate information when it comes to the various types of cabinet companies, materials, and methods of construction x utilizing the latest technology and materials available. This makes it confusing for homeowners that are about to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their cabinetry for new builds, or large renovations, so they tend to invest in whatever belief is more like their own.

As a technology-forward company, we are often left with our heads scratching when we see clients making choices that were misguided by these misconceptions. Here are some of them and our thoughts on why they are misconceptions:

Old Truth #1

Solid Wood or plywood is the best material for cabinet components.

From cabinet carcass (boxes) to doors, drawer boxes, and fronts. Many still believe this, but guess what? It isn’t true!!

New Truth: First of all, despite solid and natural wood being gorgeous, precious, and a symbol of your love of natural products, it is unstable for boxes and doors in a kitchen or closet cabinet, which will also withstand a lot of daily wear and tear. Wood contracts and expands with heat and moisture levels in our homes. When this contraction and expansion happens, the joined edges as well as the long and large pieces will warp and even crack. When wood is exposed to various intensities of light, it also fades at different speeds or shades.

The typical issues of warping, twisting, and cracking encountered with solid wood components are not acceptable in cabinets of a high-end or luxury home of our generation and are the key reasons why the cabinet industry developed engineered wood products, such as MDF (medium-density fiberboard) and particle board (various grades available). These engineered materials eliminate callbacks and warranty claims by homeowners that are not the fault of the cabinet maker. It eliminates problems and new expenses for all involved down the road.

Old Truth #2

Wood is renewable.

Yes and no. You can farm it, grow it, cut it, process it and do it all over again. Is it fast? Not for the gorgeous Oaks, Walnuts, and Rosewoods.

New Truth: You are far more environmentally friendly if you embrace composite and engineered wood materials in your home, which are made from recycled wood fiber, instead of paying higher prices for harvesting precious solid wood materials from our forests.

Old Truth #3

A small cabinet shop will produce higher quality than a large, automated manufacturer.


Small cabinet shops can’t afford the latest and best CNC or paint booth equipment. As they grow and can afford these, their prices will reflect such investments.

New Truth: It is simply not possible to produce a high-quality large kitchen in a timely manner without the aid of CNC machinery and laser edge banders. Labor costs these days are high, and the scarcity of skilled workers is a real struggle in many industries, including the cabinet industry. Consistency and quality from piece to piece, cabinet to cabinet, or kitchen to kitchen suffer eventually. Capacity for project size or quantity is also limited to the skilled personnel available.

Old Truth #4

Automated manufacturing is not “custom” (enough) for my project.

If we were living in the 1960s, sure, it probably was the case. Many European (Italian and German) cabinet companies today still may produce limited sizes or types of cabinets for kitchens and closets with few to no options for customization.

New Truth: Many cabinet companies changed and evolved, and there is a new breed of European and European-heritage companies such as Dell Anno Home Design. For instance, we can produce custom single-family residential projects in wood veneer, painted MDF or laminate in our state-of-the-art factory, utilizing the best and latest equipment to deliver a flawless finished product to any size of residence. All with the same speed and precision that our factory makes cabinets for a 35-story hotel.

In summary – come join us in the 21st century of custom cabinetry options! Get cabinets you will love! Enjoy them and be proud to support environmentally friendly products, companies, and manufacturing techniques in your brand-new kitchen or closet.

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