Shaker Hill (Sunnywood Cabinetry): Strong plastic cam lock housing
Today I put together a Shaker Hill cabinet that I ordered from RTAcabinetstore.com. Like all the cabinets that I review on RTA Cabinet Reviews, the Shaker Hill is a 15-inch base cabinet in a white shaker style. The cabinet arrived to me within the 5-7 business days guaranteed on the website.
This cabinet is branded as a Sunnywood Cabinet on the inside of the drawer box (Picture 1–below, left) and on the outside packaging (Picture 2–below, right). This means that it stands to reason that this cabinet should be identical to any other Shaker Hill cabinet you might be able to get from another provider.
Wood and Finish
Doors, Drawer Face, and Frame
The door on the Shaker Hill is a pretty standard design for shaker cabinets. It is a five piece frame and panel door with cope and stick joints. When you look closely at the Shaker Hill door, you can see the door has vertical groove details that accentuate the joints of the door pieces (Picture 3–right). This is an aesthetic choice you can see on many wood grain shaker style doors.
The cabinet frame, door and drawer front are all made from hardwood with the middle panel of the door being composed of MDF (medium density fiber wood). This choice to use MDF as the center panel is typical in the Shaker style with the thought behind it being this material is capable of resisting warping better than a birch or maple center panel. While this may be true, the quality of the material is not nearly as well-regarded as wood because the quality of using a hardwood such as birch or maple indicates higher craftsmanship and an investment in the product itself.
An interesting feature of this cabinet is that the drawer front is just a flat panel and does not have the shaker style features to match the door. This is another aesthetic choice that some people prefer. It should also be mentioned that the drawer front does NOT come attached to the front drawer box panel. You have to screw it in yourself.
Grade: 3.5/ 5.0
The paint is a very clean, bright white tone. The finish is smooth to the touch is applied with a decently thick coat. There are no obvious visible wood grains. Despite the care taken into the packaging of this unit, the door still arrived with several cracks in the paint (Picture 4, below). Also along the inside of the door appears to be small indentations left from a nail gun, I assume used to hold the MDF center panel in place (seen in both Pictures 4 and 5, below).
Grade: 3.0/ 5.0
Cabinet Box and Interior Finish
The Shaker Hill has a natural maple interior (Picture 6–left). This is often referred to as a non-matching interior. The insides of the cabinet panels have a nice wood veneer surface. For many people having a matching interior is not a priority. A number of online RTA cabinet companies utilize universal bodies for their cabinets so a non-matching interior is considered standard within the industry. The outside box of the Shaker Hill is a matching white color stain to the frame, door, and drawer face (Picture 7–right). Although this likely won’t be seen once the unit is installed, it still illustrates a care into the quality of the product from the manufacturer.
Grade: 3.0/ 5.0
Box and Storage
The quality of this cabinet box is sound. The side-panels are ½ inch think semi-decent quality plywood (Picture 8–below, left). A half-inch thick body panel is fairly common among RTA cabinets. The back panel on the Shaker Hill is a thin skin panel, around 1/8 of an inch thick, supported by a sturdy frame of plywood, or “picture frame panel”. This is the most common form of a back panel, for the main reason being the back of the cabinet will be facing the wall once installed and won’t be exposed to the same wear and tear as the other areas of the unit. Also, an industry standard exhibited in this Shaker Hill cabinet is the tongue-in-groove assembly technique used to fix the back panel to the side panels (Picture 9–below, right).
Grade: 3.0/ 5.0
The drawer is simple to assemble even though I had to attach the drawer front myself (Picture 10, 11–below, left and center). Most units will arrive with the front of the drawer box pre-attached to the drawer face; markings are typically provided to ensure the drawer face is aligned properly. The sides of the drawer box are all ½ inch thick and made from hardwood in a natural wood color. The drawer box bottom panel is one of the thinner ones to come across the workbench at 3/8 of an inch. The pieces are held together with very decent dovetail construction on each corner which sturdily holds together the body of the drawer (Picture 1–below, right).
Grade: 4.0/ 5.0
In the body of the Shaker Hill Cabinet is a floating shelf with a solid thickness measuring ¾ inch. The shelf is 16.5 inches deep so it is noticeably longer than the little half shelves implemented by most other companies in their B15 White Shakers, but it is certainly still some inches away from being a full-sized shelf (Picture 13–below, left). The shelf is finished on 3 sides so it can be flipped upside down if necessary but you would not be able to turn it around to a different edge. Four clear plastic pegs hold the shelf in place and can be moved to adjust the height of the shelf or remove it entirely if so desired (Picture 14–below, right). These plastic pegs are very breakable but can likely be replaced for minimal cost if not for free. The drawer is just over 3 inches deep and the back of the drawer rests about 2.5 inches from the cabinets back panel. The design of the drawer itself is good. The frame does protrude into the storage space but not any more than you would expect from a traditional B15 framed cabinet.
Grade: 4.0/ 5.0
The soft close mechanisms (SCM) on the Shaker Hill cabinet are a little different from the other SCM hinges on the units I have reviewed. These SCMs are not built into the hinge itself; they are small mechanical devices that attach onto one hinge (Pictures 15, 16–right; below, left). As the door closes, the SCMs cause the door to close slower and softer. Attaching the door to the frame with the hinges is a simple process, hand tightening wood screws into the designated pilot holes prior to fastening the SCMs to the inside of the hinge (Picture 17–below, right).
Grade: 3.0/ 5.0
The Shaker Hill cabinet uses under-mount tracks for its drawers, which attach to the back panel of the cabinet using a pair of plastic brackets. The fronts of these brackets are then secured to the frame with small wood screws, flush with the face of the cabinet (Picture 18–below, left). Once installed the drawer box slides into place on these metal glide tracks with ease. The plastic brackets that anchor the glides to the cabinet box are noticeably stronger than most of the others I have installed (Picture 19–below, center). Also of significance are the soft close mechanisms on the drawer slides as well as their ability to fully extend (Picture 20–below, right).
Grade: 4.0/ 5.0
This cabinet is assembled with tongue and groove joints (Picture 21–left) and held together with cam locks. These cam locks are a little different from what I have used in the past. The “lock” on the cam lock is a plastic box that sticks out off the side of the panels. The other panel has a small set of short posts that fit into the cam lock (Pictures 22, 23–below). It looks less strong than other metal cam locks I have used but it was extremely easy to install and lock into place. I have my doubts concerning the quality of the cam locks, particularly how long they will hold the cabinet body together over time. Overall, the cam locks are a modern, solid option for keeping a cabinet held together and assembling the panels in a short amount of time without the aid of another set of hands.
The Shaker Hill cabinet has hard plastic corner braces to stabilize the unit as a whole (Picture 24–below). These do not seem quite as strong as the solid wood corner braces, but they are easier to attach.
Grade: 3.0/ 5.0
Assembly and Support
The care taken into properly wrapping and protecting this Shaker Hill cabinet unit are above and beyond any other cabinet that I have reviewed thus far. The edges are covered in edge protectors (Picture 25– left). Each of the pieces–the door, the frame, the body–have all been packaged together and arranged very methodically so as to distribute the weight of the package evenly and protect them all individually (Picture 26–right).
The box has Styrofoam blocks and sheets protecting the cabinet pieces (Picture 27—below, left), with stiff cardboard in the interior corners to prevent damage if the package is dropped (Picture 28—below, center). Large red Ziploc bags keep all of the screws and hardware separated within the shipped package (Picture 29—below, right). Unfortunately, even with all this protection, the door of the cabinet had a crack in the paint running along the joint in the door. This is a very common issue with painted doors and likely has nothing to do with the shipping but rather the application of paint to the door frame.
Grade: 5.0/ 5.0
Ease of Assembly
Assembling the Shaker Hill cabinet is a breeze–the easiest build I have encountered yet. The blocky cam locks feel fragile and faulty, but they are fast and easy to lock into place. A major factor that helps make this cabinet so easy to assemble is the incredibly detailed assembly guide (Picture 30–left). Pictures and step by step written instructions explain every detail concerning how to assemble the cabinet (Pictures 31, 32–right; below, left).
There are separate special instructions with color pictures included to illustrate how to install the soft close mechanisms (Picture 33–above, right). I finished the cabinet without needing assistance from another set of hands and with minimal tools required. As a bonus note, these instructions were so thorough that they even came with installation tips and instructions.
Grade: 5.0/ 5.0
The Customer Support from RTAcabinstore.com has been relatively punctual in getting back to me concerning questions regarding my order. With this particular unit, I only have had issues with the cracked paint in the door of the Shaker Hill and their team has been accommodating in sending me a replacement door.
Grade: 4.0/ 5.0
BBB = A-
Customer reviews: 9 positive reviews, 0 neutral, 4 negative (69% positive, 31% negative). Total Reviews: 13; Total Customer Complaints: 15
The reviews for RTAcabinetstore.com concerning Better Business Bureau are mostly positive, but there are enough official complaints filed on the website to bring attention to experiences customers have had with the company. Many of these issues are the same ones I experienced when dealing with their customer support, mainly regarding the response time from their team in offering solutions to replacing damaged parts. That being said, there are still several reviews with people expressing how accommodating the customer support has been so the experience I have had may not be the norm.
TrustPilot = 2/5 stars
Seven Reviews: 4 positive, 3 negative
The negative reviews on TrustPilot address the extensive response time (or complete lack of response) when individuals attempt to reach out to RTAcabinetstore.com, a problem which I, myself, have run into. The positive reviews focus on the wide variety offered by this vendor, the affordable pricing, and the easy installation. All three of these are true, but my focus is on finding the best quality RTA cabinet without counting price as a part of the criteria, as many low-quality units can be high-priced and sometimes the lowest priced cabinets end up being the highest quality.
The Shaker Hill offers a healthy combination of positive features and negative attributes; as far as the features worth noting:
- Solid, safe packaging when the Shaker Hill is shipped
- Elaborate instructions, colored pictures and a detailed guide to make for a straightforward assembly process
- Under-mount drawer glides with SCMs as well as the capability to fully extend
- An adjustable shelf with an above average length, finished on 3 sides
- Hardwood door and box frame from quality material
And on the negative end, the Shaker Hill has:
- Plastic corner braces providing little stabilization
- A thin, picture-frame recess back panel fit with the ½ inch side panels
- Cracked paint finish on an otherwise smooth, consistent door
On the whole, the Shaker Hill cabinet offered by RTAcabinetstore.com is a quality White Shaker variety. While it is the most expensive of the White Shakers obtainable from this particular distributor (currently retailing at $170.38), the quality of the cabinet box and connecting parts put it slightly behind in grade from the Vanilla Shaker. However, if you are in the market for a bright white finish (rather than the off-white finish of the Vanilla Shaker) and price is of no matter, the Shaker Hill is a choice candidate.
Overall Grade: 3.8/ 5.0
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