Shaker Antique White (Kitchen Cabinet Kings): Warped panels
This review we feature the apparent top of the line unit from Kitchen Cabinet Kings: The Shaker Antique White. At the higher end of the price spectrum for a B15 white shaker unit, the Shaker Antique arrived to us within the 5 to 7 business days they advertise on their website. Expectations are set high for this one folks, so let’s get into it…
Wood and Finish
Door, Drawer face, and Frame
We are greeted by a 5 piece cope-and-stick style traditional shaker door with the Shaker Antique. The stiles and rails of both door frame, as well as the drawer face frame, are composed of birch hardwood with MDF center panels. The frame of the unit itself is also composed of birch, a quality wood versatile in a variety of climates and durable for a number of years (Picture 1). The MDF center panel fits nicely in place, with clean cuts on the cabinet frame and an overall solid construction with the materials used.
Grade: 3.5/ 5.0
The finish on the Shaker Antique’s cabinet face is deservedly in the top tier of paint and finish jobs we have reviewed yet on our site, although it must be noted that the hue of the paint is noticeably off-white. Smooth, even texture, and thick application on every surface of the door, drawer face, and cabinet frame have us with our noses to the birch, inspecting for even the slightest of indiscretions and finding none (Picture 2). This is highly impressive, especially given that a hardwood such as a birch can be challenging to apply a paint and finish evenly. As the grade exhibits, the Shaker Antique has accomplished this feat.
Grade: 5.0/ 5.0
Cabinet Box and Interior Finish
With a non-matching natural wood grain interior, the finish on the inside box of the Shaker Antique is a UV coated laminate veneer. We have seen this before on the Artisan White Shaker from RTA Cabinet Store; the UV coating simply means that the interior resin is a water-based factory-applied coating assumedly more eco-friendly than resin finishes typically used in other cabinet models (Picture 3). It is an impressive finish, thicker than the vast majority of veneers that are the current industry standard. The exterior of the side panels on the Shaker Antique is stained to match the off-white color of the cabinet face. No cracks or chips can be found on either panel, and the back panel possesses the same UV coating as the interior of the unit.
Grade: 4.5/ 5.0
Box and Storage
Immediately we notice some radical warping to both side panels, which is never a good sign as we prepare to assemble a unit. Both side panels, the back panel, and the bottom panel measure 1/2 inch in thickness (Picture 4, 5 and 6), with seemingly well-pressed plywood and clean cuts around the edges. The fact that the side panels are warped is rather disappointing because the plywood looks like it is very high quality; luckily it is only the side panels with the concave, or else this unit might be nearly impossible to assemble.
A significant positive attribute of the cabinet box is the full back panel (Picture 7). Typically we see a picture-frame recess back panel with the B15 white shaker units, so although the side panels may be warped the full back panel stabilizes the otherwise wonky cabinet box (Picture 8). The back panel slides into place with the two side panels through tongue-in-groove fittings, but with the warping of the side panels, there are large gaps between the panels which can be seen in Picture 8. Not only does this detract from the stability of the unit, it makes the assembly process extremely frustrating.
Grade: 3.0/ 5.0
Immediately we notice some significant damage to the top of the right side panel of the drawer box, which has been finished over with the UV coating. It is still an eyesore to the overall aesthetic of the box, which is hindered by the arch-top molding of the panels as it is (Picture 9). Awkward corner joints work against the dovetailing, which has been cut without precision and requires some forceful hits with a rubber mallet in order to get the box assembled semi-properly (Picture 10). With a bottom panel of the thinnest industry standard quality, the drawer box of the Shaker Antique is an illustration of haphazard manufacturing and carelessness (Picture 11).
Grade: 2.0/ 5.0
In addition to being of a mediocre build, the drawer is also lacking in depth compared to the vast majority of industry standard boxes. At 2.5 inches deep, many items will undoubtedly get caught on the cabinet frame when opening and closing the drawer (Picture 12). This is guaranteed to be frustrating for the owner of the unit, especially considering the drawer touts full extension capabilities that would otherwise be seen as an advantage in this category. Rather than having access to items which get shoved to the back of the box, everything will get shoved even further to the back because the shallow depth will cause the drawer to get overfilled to the point of clogging (Picture 13).
The interior box of the cabinet’s storage capacity does not fare much better than the drawer box. With a floating half shelf measuring 3/4 inches thick and finished on three sides for flippability, the length reaches only halfway across the total length of the unit (Picture 14). This lack of shelf length, just shy of 11 inches, creates a disparity of usable space within the box, with more than half the available storage space in the cabinet going to waste because of the choice to save cost on materials rather than invest in valuable storage capabilities (Picture 15).
Grade: 2.0/ 5.0
Branded as UCD hinges, these soft-close mechanisms require mounting to the borings in the door and to the cabinet frame (Picture 16). UCD is a medium-quality hinge but nevertheless dependable. It does take some extra time to install these hinges, but since there are pilot holes in both the door and the cabinet frame the process is straightforward. Overall the devices are effective in preventing the door from slamming against the frame and damaging it.
Grade: 3.5/ 5.0
One unique thing we notice as soon as we remove the drawer slides from their cardboard packaging is that the beige plastic anchors are already attached to the back ends of the slides. This is only a slight convenience but still a feature we have yet to come across in any other unit. While they are not BLUM quality, these drawer slides feature soft-close mechanisms and full extension capabilities. They mount to the cabinet rame through pre-drilled pilot holes (Picture 17), making the mounting process quite simple.
Grade: 4.0/ 5.0
Here we came across a disappointing fact concerning the connecting hardware shipped with the Shaker Antique unit: two beige metal cleats are missing from the bags and as a result, we were unable to attach the toe kick to the bottom of the cabinet. Beyond this fact, the rest of the hardware included fit well enough given the warped nature of the plywood side panels (Picture 18). The plastic UCD brand clips that fit into the drawer glides are rather clunky but still effective, with wooden blocks adding extra stabilization in each of the top four corners of the cabinet box.
As previously mentioned, the beige plastic anchors are shipped attached to the drawer slides (Picture 19). Since there are two cleats missing, we are forced to dock some points from the grade in this category.
Grade: 2.5/ 5.0
Assembly and Support
Double-corrugated cardboard surrounds the exterior packaging of the Shaker Antique (Picture 20), keeping it fairly easy to handle and to open upon delivery. Inside the parcel, the side panels sandwich the rest of the unit’s pieces with one on top and the other panel underneath (Picture 21). This could be part of the reason for the dramatic warping of the panels, but our guess is that the warping occurred prior to shipping. At any rate, the contents of the package are well organized; several thick styrofoam blocks are in place to keep items from shifting around too much during delivery and damaging one another (Picture 22). Hard cardboard stabilizers are placed in each of the four corners and further protect the Shaker Antique during its journey (Picture 23). The manufacturer did not necessarily go above and beyond in protecting the contents, but the unit suffered little to no damage, therefore, the steps taken have proven effective.
One extra measure is taken that admittedly impresses us: the extra care and time invested into wrapping the door of the Shaker Antique (Picture 24). This ensures the paint and finish of the door are well-preserved upon delivery, and as we noted this has one of the top finishes on a cabinet face we have reviewed to date. We also give credit to the manufacturer for the detailed organization of the package, with the hardware and instructions placed in their own cardboard boxes for ease of handling (Picture 25).
Grade: 3.5/ 5.0
Ease of Assembly
Included are picture instructions which give a bare-bones rundown of how the Shaker Antique is to be assembled (Picture 26). Although the method presented is the best option, it still proves both challenging and frustrating for a single builder to accomplish. This is mainly a result of the warped panels. Each cleat must be fastened to the appropriate pilot hole with a hand driver as a power drill will snap the heads off of the wood screws
(Picture 27). Once the cleats are attached and one side panel is fastened to the back panel, the bottom panel slides into place, a task made all the more difficult by the concave of the plywood (Picture 28). Once the panels are joined together to the best of their abilities, the door can be attached and drawer box slid into the unit. Large gaps are found where the panels meet the cabinet frame, giving the Shaker Antique an overall look of shoddy craftsmanship (Picture 29).
Grade: 2.5/ 5.0
For being the top tier unit offered by Kitchen Cabinet Kings, the Shaker Antique White has left us rather disappointed. According to our grading system and the standards we hold RTA cabinets, the following positive attributes are worth mentioning:
- Thick, even paint coat and finish on the face of the unit, giving a cohesive and sharp aesthetic to its initial appearance.
- UV coated interior finish that is more resistant to damage caused by regular usage.
These are truly the only two positive attributes we found in this unit to soar above the competition of other RTA units. Below are the negative characteristics we felt are worth mentioning:
- Poor dovetailing couple with a damaged arch-top molding makes the box panel appear shoddy, weak, and secondhand.
- Shallow drawer depth and a short floating shelf waste a significant amount of potential storage space.
- Missing cleats from the connecting parts, leaving us unable to attach the toe kick to the front of the unit.
- Warped side panels that made the assembly process frustrating and weakened the overall stability of the cabinet.
While the finish is undeniably brilliant, the quality of the Shaker Antique suffers from low functionality, shoddy craftsmanship, and lack of care from the manufacturer in ensuring the cabinet lives up to its full potential. At its current retail tag of $236.25, we recommend taking a look at other units such as the Ice White Shaker for a unit that is more affordable, stable, and dependable for equipping your kitchen space needs.
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