How to Plan a Custom Woodwork Project

In my 30 years in the custom woodworking business in Vancouver BC, I’ve seen many types of woodworking projects, including kitchen cabinets, wall units, built in cabinets, media centres, and home offices, to name a few.

If you’re planning on doing a custom woodwork project, here are a few things I’ve learned doing custom cabinets for houses in Vancouver BC. Throughout my three decades in the woodworking business, I’ve encountered a number of owners committing serious mistakes during the planning stage and the project ends up disappointing clients. I believe that a successful project must be able to put together the principles of function and style at the same time, while shopping for quality materials and contacting the right person to do the job.


Function is something that I always discuss with my client before we do the project. Any custom woodwork like built in cabinets or wall mount units must work for its intended use. If I put built in wall units in the kitchen that’s too small to fit in things, what’s the point of having built in wall units built for that matter? The same is true with built in kitchen cabinets and wall cabinets; these custom woodwork must be carefully planned.


As for style, most of my clients in Vancouver BC talk to me with no idea what style they want with their built in kitchen cabinets, wall units, or any woodwork they require. I usually visit their homes and look at the existing woodwork so I can incorporate the design to their homes in Vancouver BC. Whether you’re looking for the “wow factor” or an invisible look, make sure your woodworker knows this. Color is another obvious important part of style. I will not get too deep into this as it is very subjective, but here are a couple of general guidelines. Don’t match your woodwork to your wood floors. Use a lighter or darker shade that is complimentary. Some contrast is good. If your cabinets are dark, use a lighter counter top and vise versa.


Pick the best materials that your budget could afford. Use wood that will look well when fashioned into built in kitchen cabinets, wall units, built in wall cabinets. Choose wood that’s readily available in Vancouver BC. Try to use real wood plywood as opposed to particle board core products. Plywood is more expensive but will last much longer. Choosing a species of wood can be confusing. Exotic woods can be extremely expensive. Domestic hardwoods are usually the best choice as they are durable and reasonably priced. Hardware is another important part of a good woodworking project. Many people never think of this, but nobody wants drawers that rattle or doors that don’t fit properly. Demand hardware that is lifetime guaranteed. Virtually all brand name hardware has this.


Finally, find a shop that does custom woodwork in Vancouver BC. Look for shops which have experience in creating kitchen cabinets, built in wall units, built in kitchen cabinets and wall cabinets, among other custom woodwork. They should be able to provide you with pictures and references. I always do computer drawings for my clients, but hand sketches are often sufficient. If your project requires onsite work and/or installation, make sure the business has the proper liability insurance. An installer could easily drive a screw through a water pipe, wire, or in floor heating and cause considerable damage. Insist on having the scope of the work in writing and expect to pay a deposit.

If you follow these basic guidelines, you should be able to get a quality project completed that’s functional, beautiful, and within your budget.

Laurence Walker
Vanvouver BC



Custom Kitchen Cabinets, built Ins, Wall Units and Woodworks In Vancouver BC

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105 - 20111 Industrial Ave

Langley BC  V3A 4K6

T-604.530.3919  F-604.530.3898

Serving Vancouver and the Lower Mainland



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