The Four Horsemen: Battle between the Best Online Cabinets
From Best Online Cabinets, we have before us a selection of several of the highest quality units to grace the workbench. In all our reviews up until this point, we have half shelves, cam locks, wooden blocks in the corner joints, and a respite of picture-frame back panels. Now while each of these units admittedly displays some questionable characteristics, we cannot deny that as a selection from a single distributor we have not seen the consistency in quality as we have from Best Online Cabinets with the Irvine, the Ice White, Vanilla, and the traditional White Shaker.
As with previous comparison articles, we will examine each unit compared to the next along our four main categories: Wood and Finish, Box and Storage, the Hardware, and Assembly and Support. When comparing these units to one another, every detail must be accounted for in order to provide you as our reader with the most accurate representation of the highest quality cabinet offered from each distributor. This comparison offers its own sets of unique challenges, difficult decisions, and resolute draws between the varying aspects of the four units, but by the end of the review we are confident one cabinet will stand out as the highest quality above the other three.
Wood and Finish of the Interior, Exterior, and Cabinet Face
The quality of the wood used in the door illustrates to the prospective owner of a unit the value placed in the cabinet by the manufacturer: the more natural hardwood used, the higher quality the unit is considered. From Best Online Cabinet’s white shaker selection, it is the Vanilla Shaker and the White Shaker composed of a majority of natural wood, or at least in the case of the Malibu White Shaker, an impressive synthetic hardwood substitute. Vertical routings are seen on the face of the Vanilla Shaker’s door, giving definition to the rails and the stiles (Picture 2). This is a slightly more ornate door than what we are accommodated to seeing on white shaker units but still exhibits a simplicity on par with traditional shaker construction methods. Maple hardwood composes the door frame with the middle panel being a less expensive hardwood and reversible option (Picture 3). The backside of the reversible door is lined with rubber-strip technology where the door frame meets the middle panel and the panel itself bevels outward, with the face of the panel bearing vertical routings spaced an inch apart.
Best Online cabinet’s alternative to hardwood and fibreboard options is the Rubberwood utilized in the White Shaker namesake of the distributor. This is the first uni to come across our workbench in which we’ve seen this natural medium density hardwood implemented, and the results are impressive, to say the least. Rubberwood, in addition to being environmentally friendly, is resistant to warping caused by humid weather. This also means
the paint and finish, if properly applied to the initial coat, will maintain the integrity of the application for many years, making the investment a worthy one. Also worthy to note is the fact that the Malibu White Shaker door is one solid unit, with the faux middle panel having been routed out during its construction (Picture 4). This is an approach outside the protocol set by traditional shaker building techniques, wherein a five-piece cope and stick approach is taken. Rather than two stiles, two rails, and a middle panel all fitting together, the door of the Malibu White Shaker is slightly heavier and carefully routed out, sanded, painted and finished to give the allusion that it is constructed in this traditional Shaker manner. The effect is an authentic, simple aesthetic made from a unique, quality material.
Among the four units, the Malibu White Shaker and the Ice White have the nicest paint jobs with the cleanest finishes. While both exhibit a crisp white paint, it is the Ice White that has the brighter of the two (Picture 5). The interior finish of the Ice White is actually a laminate coating that chips away with ease, compared to the natural wood grain interior with clear veneer finish of the Malibu White Shaker that is slightly rough to the touch but thick in the application. Where the Ice White will be easier to clean, the Malibu White Shaker’s interior finish will have more longevity and won’t chip away from the surfaces on which it has been applied.
Box and Storage
Most unique concerning the exterior finish and the box of the Ice White is the laminate coating found on the full-frame back panel. Typically, the exterior surface of the back panel will remain the natural wood and be a picture-frame recess back panel since they will be facing the wall whenever they are installed. Although the laminate coating will not be visible, it is still worthy to note the time invested into applying the finish. The back and side panels of the Ice White, however, measure just under 1/2 inch in thickness, which is on the thinner side of box panels
(Picture 6). Compared to the quality pressed plywood of the Malibu White Shaker measuring 5/8 inches thick (Picture 7), the Ice White falls short of the impressive stability exhibited by the dense box of the Malibu White Shaker. There is no doubt in our opinion that the plywood used for the Malibu White Shaker’s side, back, and bottom panels are the highest quality plywoods yet to have come across our review site.
Each four of the drawer boxes included with the respective units offers a varied insight into how manufacturers prioritize the most used element in a unit. We expect high functionality, full-extension, deep box depth, and tight bites in the dovetailed corner joints to qualify as a top tier drawer box. Best Online Cabinets offers four drawer boxes bearing each of these qualifiers to varying degrees, but the Vanilla Shaker and Malibu White Shaker’s drawer boxes are the two that rise above the others with the quality of their make.
The dovetailing of the Malibu White Shaker is the nicest between the four drawer boxes, with a five-tooth bite in each of the four corners (Picture 8). Smooth, strong, and easy to fix into place, the cuts for the dovetailing of this unit’s drawer box have the marks of expert craftsmanship and knowledgeable woodworking from the manufacturer. The biggest issue with the Malibu White Shaker is the assembly required in fitting the drawer box face to the front panel. This, as well as the Ice White Shaker, are the only two drawer boxes we have reviewed that require this level of an assembly from the builder and extend the amount of time required to properly put this piece together.
Measuring just under 3 and 1/2 inches deep, the drawer box of the Vanilla Shaker is among the deepest drawer boxes we have assembled (Picture 9). Industry standard establishes drawer box depth to measure right around 3 inches, with most clocking in a 1/8 less or more than that. This exceptional depth ensures that none of the larger items kept in the drawer box will catch the frame of the unit when the drawer is pulled out or slid back into place. What the Malibu White Shaker’s drawer lacks in depth, it makes up for with a box width two inches larger than any
other from RTA Cabinet Store, The RTA Store, or Kitchen Cabinet Kings. At 13 inches, the drawer box of the Malibu White Shaker is a solid two inches wider than the other boxes we have reviewed from Forevermark, GHI Cabinetry, Sunnywood, or Jarlin which measure right around 11 inches wide (Picture 10). So while the depth of the drawer box may not reach the depth that the Vanilla Shaker exhibits, the width more than compensates and is capable of holding more items as a result than the other boxes from Best Online Cabinets.
From Best Online Cabinets, all four of these units showcase full-body box shelf for storing items rather than the floating half-shelf or 3/4 shelf of the Southport Shaker from the RTA Store. This is notable because the shelves utilize all the available space available in the box of the unit, reaching from the back panel all the way to the front where the cabinet frame is located (Picture 11). The Ice White shelf pictured to the right is finished on three sides to allow for it to be flipped when it becomes scratched or marred from regular wear and tear. It is the consistency of Best Online Cabinets in providing full body box shelves along with their cabinet units that have impressed us most about the selection from Best Online Cabinets. Again, however, the Malibu White Shaker has taken the crown among the four units in the Storage category for its flush-frame cabinet face that allows for items to be easily placed and removed from the cabinet box (Picture 12).
All four sets of hinges have soft-close capabilities, with the only exception being the Ice White Shaker. The hinges on this particular unit fall short of adequately slowing down the door before slamming into the cabinet frame and as a result, we place them among the lowest quality of the hinges we have reviewed. Taking the prize for the top hinges are the pre-mounted DTC hinges found on the Vanilla Shaker. Not only do these hinges sufficiently prevent the door from slamming against the cabinet frame, but they arrive in the packaging already fixed to the door and the frame with a plastic wrapping surrounding the door mounted beneath the hinges (Picture 13). This
approach dramatically decreases the assembly time in addition to ensuring the protective plastic wrapping remains enclosed around the door throughout the shipping process.
All four sets of drawer slides feature soft close, full extension abilities that allow for the drawer box to completely exit the cabinet box, making it easier to keep items from getting stuck in the back of the box and forgotten. The slides attach to the front of the unit by means of wood screws tacking through pilot holes in the frame. Plastic clips are fixed to the bottom of the drawer box and snap into place on the drawer slides, allowing for the drawer box
to be easily removed from the slides if necessary. The glides are pre-greased and the drawer box moves quietly across the tracks (Picture 14). All four units have strong anchors attached at the interior of the back panel to support the glides, with the Vanilla Shaker having the strongest anchors composed of a solid metal (Picture 15) that will unfalteringly support the weight of a packed drawer box.
Cam locks are quickly becoming the industry standard for joining together the panels of the cabinet body. Connecting the panels is essential in stabilizing the body of the unit so we examine the nature of the hardware included with the package. From Best Online Cabinets, the Vanilla Shaker and the Malibu White Shaker have strong cam locks which bite onto the metal pegs that are screwed into the plastic receiving anchors (Picture 16). This technique firmly locks the panels together while also providing an easy, clean disassembly option in the event the cabinets need to be moved or when a kitchen is remodeled much further down the road. Both the Vanilla and the Malibu White Shaker’s cam locks perform extremely well in binding the unit together, but the Malibu White Shaker’s cam locks have a protective housing surrounding the receiving ends of the locking mechanisms (Picture 17). The plastic protective housing not only holds the metal pegs of the cam locks into the receiving ends even tighter, s.
but they eliminate the threat of weather warping the wood and popping the locks out after several years of use. The cam lock receivers of the Vanilla, in contrast, must be physically pushed into designated borings that are susceptible to loosening in the wood panels and falling out after repeated use over the years (Picture 18). Essential to these cam locks is paying close attention that the engraved arrows on the surface of the heads are facing the outside edge of the panel, so the opening end of the cam lock can receive and bite onto the metal pegs when inserted.
With the protective plastic housing, strong cam lock grasp, and added wood screws along the edges of the side panels tacking them to the back panel, the Malibu White Shaker cabinet reigns over the other three in regards to the connecting parts. The Ice White and Irvine are held together with cleats, which perform well enough but ultimately fall short of the technologically superior, environmentally friendly cam locks exhibited by the vanilla Shaker and the Malibu White Shaker units.
Assembly and Support
Best Online Cabinets is the first of all the cabinet distributors we have reviewed to send units in two separate boxes: the Ice White and the Malibu White Shaker stand apart from every other unit as a result of this feature. There is a two-fold view we have taken concerning this method of packaging: on one hand, the two parcels increase the likelihood of the cabinet parts becoming separated over the course of its delivery in addition to being slightly more cumbersome to transport around a worksite (Picture 19). On the other hands, separating the cabinet face into a parcel of its own adds a level of protection to the most valuable components of a cabinet’s visual aesthetic, and makes for two lighter packages rather than a single heavier one. In order to protect these valuable elements, we are inclined to prefer the two-parcel method of packaging white shaker cabinets over the heavier single parcel that usually suffers some form of damage during transit.
The Ice White Shaker takes the prize for the best packaging, with thick styrofoam chunks keeping the panels from rubbing against one another and thin styrofoam sheets enclosed around each of the pieces. It is also neatly organized inside the two parcels, which helps to keep track of the parts of the unit and ease the overall assembly process. With the Malibu White Shaker, the packages are heavier than the Ice White because the plywood is denser than the other panels.
Only one of the units from Best Online Cabinets comes with directions on how to properly assemble the unit, and that is the Malibu White Shaker. Each of our reviews, however, does provide a short description of the assembly process and if there are any issues, please feel free to ask us in the comments sections for each unit and we will be happy to walk you through our various approaches to completing the units (Ice White Shaker, Vanilla Shaker, Irvine Shaker, Malibu White Shaker).
The picture-diagram instructional guide included with the Malibu White Shaker provides some insight into proper assembly for this cabinet, which is far more than the other units. There are some issues with the BOC instructions: they are difficult to follow in the arrangement of the steps visually, with several stages of assembly appearing on the page before they should truly be built. Still, the directions make this cabinet the next easiest to assemble alongside the Irvine White Shaker.
What makes the Irvine Shaker’s assembly process easier than the Vanilla and the Ice White are the metal “L” brackets that allows the panels to snap into place. The sleeves of these brackets must be tacked into place on the side panels with a little give in order to allow the “L” bracket itself, which is attached to the cabinet frame and back panel, to slide into place (Picture 23). Typically the sleeves will already come fixed to the panels but with the Irvine, they need to be tacked into place. This process doesn’t take very long but still extends the amount of time it takes to piece together the body of the cabinet.
The cam locks of the Malibu White Shaker are easy enough to lock into place once the metal pegs are properly screwed into place (Picture 24). When the side and back panels are brought together, small wooden pegs hold them in place until the cam locks are turned to bite onto the metal pegs protruding out from the flush cabinet frame. On the side panel, pilot holes are in place to guide wood screws through the back and bottom panels (Picture 25). We also have to use wood screws in assembling the cabinet body of the Ice White, but there are no pilot holes to guide
these wood screws through and as a result, the room to misjudge exactly where to tack the screw increases greatly. With the Malibu White Shaker, the assembly is the easiest of the four because of the instructions included with the packaging of the unit, the simple nature of the cam lock assembly for the flush cabinet frame, and the pilot holes in place on the side panel to guide wood screws into the back and bottom panels.
The customer service offered by BOC is above and beyond. Their team sets the bar high with quick responses to live chats, emails, and immediately picking up the phone. Any and all questions I had concerning the unit were answered with punctuality, clarity, and efficiency. With a quick shipping time and an online store that is easy to navigate, we cannot recommend seeking the assistance of the BOC team in designing your kitchen. The team is also happy to send sample doors of any four of their White Shaker selection for you to view as you look to decide what variety will suit your aesthetic needs best. With quality products and a clear goal to make the process as easy as possible for their clients, Best Online Cabinets brings levity to an otherwise stressful and daunting project.
With four White Shaker cabinet units ranging from medium to high quality, Best Online Cabinets sets the standard to a new high compared to the other distributors from whom we have ordered units. While each distributor has one or maybe two units that cause us to take a second look. Best Online cabinets show impressive consistency in quality with all four of these units, and if it isn’t obvious in the review above the one cabinet that takes the lead is the Malibu White Shaker. While it does have some negative features, to quickly highlight the positives here are the following:
- Solid rubberwood door with bored out middle panel
- Clean, crisp white paint and finish
- Thick side panels and full frame back panel composed of quality plywood
- Strong dovetail on the drawer box and quality slate-style face
- Unique flush-frame cabinet face for better storage
- Full-body box shelf finished on four sides
- High-quality cam locks that firmly hold panels together
- Organized packaging and easy to handle parcels with instructions
Although it is not without its shortcomings, the Malibu White Shaker has almost everything we look for in a white shaker unit. It is simple, sturdy, clean, and dependable; depending on your needs and preferences, the Malibu White Shaker will enhance any kitchen and prove to be a valuable investment for any home.