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  • Writer's pictureEric Goetting, COO, Millwork

Beauty and the Box: Shop Series Part 2

Why every MN custom cabinet starts with something you never see.

Glance at the millwork page on our website and we think you’ll agree that there are few things in a home as aesthetically pleasing as a custom cabinet. The clean lines, the exotic materials, the myriad styles, finishes, and colors—all created to meet the unique needs, tastes, and desires of the people who call that space home.


But beneath all that diverse exterior beauty lies something we think is equally beautiful: the structural bones of every custom project that we call the box. For all practical purposes, the box is everything that happens behind the front-facing part of a cabinet. Boxes are for cabinets what framing is for the rest of your house, the all-important skeleton upon which everything else is built.


The starting point for every custom build.

So why are we devoting an entire blog post to discussing something you’ll never see? Because the better you build a custom box, the better you build the whole cabinet, not just in how it looks or how well it functions but also how long it lasts.


Put a slightly different way, a well-engineered, 100-percent square box is the hidden but essential component behind all the fantastic work you see on our millwork page and in homes and businesses around the Bay Area.


As a recognized leader in custom cabinetry for more than four decades, we understand the critical role the box plays in our shop’s success, which is why we put so much effort, time, and investment into ensuring that the boxes we build are, quite simply, second to none.


The difference is in the details.

Six reasons our boxes are the best in the business:

  1. We use the highest-quality prefinished maple plywood, which helps ensure our boxes stay as perfectly square as they start.

  2. Our prefinished maple plywood features an environmentally-friendly soy-based adhesive.

  3. Another great feature of the plywood we use is its uniform thickness (versus cheaper alternatives that can range plus or minus 1/16th of an inch). That may not seem like a large fluctuation but when it comes to providing accurate box dimensions, every millimeter counts!

  4. Our boxes are screwed together (vs. nailed or glued), with each screw enhancing the sturdiness and durability of the build.

  5. Our boxes feature a separate back that’s applied with a disguised nailing bar to create a perfect square.

  6. We use a separate toe kick box and load-bearing metal legs to serve as the foundation for each box, a unique MN feature that ensures a plumb-level, totally square foundation for the entire custom installation.

A not-so-simple matter of investment.

Other shops can lay claim to one or two of the features listed above, but we can say with some confidence that MN is one of the few that brings together all six of them under one roof.


That’s because in the 40+ years we’ve been building custom millwork, we’ve had a front-row seat as the entire arc of technology that has shaped our industry evolved.


Along the way we’ve invested lots of time and money into procuring equipment that aligns with our shop’s mission to build the best custom cabinetry in the Bay Area, starting with the box.


Our state-of-the-industry Edge Bander applies with unprecedented precision a banding to the front edges of the box, enhancing the aesthetics and maximizing the durability of the only part of the box you actually see.


Our Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Router does all the machining of the box parts, including drilling the holes for the all-important Confirmat screws that hold everything together.


And, of course, our computerized Panel Saw cuts the large sheets of prefinished maple into the smaller, precise sections that comprise each box’s construction.


We love how all this machinery dials up the safety and efficiency of our operation, but its real contribution is the precision it brings to every part of the box as well as every style and finish choice you make as that box evolves into the centerpiece of any room where it is installed.|

Hidden box. Clear benefits.

We understand that custom cabinet boxes don’t make for the most scintillating dinner table conversation, but we hope you better understand why we never tire of talking about them. We’re proud of the fact that, as with every other aspect of our business, our boxes reflect our refusal to ever compromise on quality. They may be behind the scenes by design, but they speak for themselves in the satisfaction our customers receive—and the fewer recalls contractors face—due to their long-lasting quality.


So all hail the well-built box and its many advantages. Next up in our custom cabinet series: All the fun stuff that goes on the front. Stay tuned.


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