Frequently Asked

Why choose RLS Woodwork, LLC to complete my project?

What separates RLS Woodwork from other custom craftsmen --is that they aren’t selling custom products, instead they offer customization as a service.

  • I have personally crafted each piece of custom woodwork on this site.
  • Each piece is unique in style, grain, color and Made in America!
  • Designing and building custom woodwork has been my business for over 20 years.

What is Custom Cabinetry?

Custom Woodwork or Cabinetry means your cabinetry is created literally from scratch – to your exact specifications – to fit your room precisely, in every way. You decide the look you want and the functionality and convenience you need. You select your wood classification, your door style, your color or tint, your finish, your decorative treatments, your storage options – your everything – down to the last detail. Custom cabinetry is made to fit like a glove. Virtually every square inch of the room is carefully planned. Custom cabinetry lets you achieve exactly the look and functionality you want, almost anything is possible. You also have the versatility of having freestanding furniture created especially for you.

When someone says cabinetry, the first thing most people think of is the kitchen, then maybe the bath. At RLS Woodwork, we custom craft cabinetry and other fine pieces for virtually every room in the home. In addition to cabinetry for the kitchen and bath, we craft furniture such as armoires and entertainment centers. We make end tables, built-ins, medicine cabinets, mantles, bedroom suite sets, computer desks and much more. Fact is, RLS Woodwork will build most any custom piece you want. Think of the possibilities.

How Long will my project take?

One of the wonderful surprises you get when you work with RLS Woodwork is the fact that you can throw any job our way and not grow old waiting for the finished product. Because we’ve blended expert craftsmanship, a strong work ethic and the latest in cabinetry production technology, we can complete even the most custom projects in as little as four days to eight weeks.

I live out of your local area. Can you still do some work for me?

Of course. Small pieces of freestanding work are easily and safely delivered by moving companies that specialize in furniture. Most of the design work can be handled through phone calls. Large scale projects and built in cabinetry like home theater units get a little more difficult. If my expenses are covered by the client I will do a job site visit anywhere. Moving larger pieces long distance is also quite a bit more difficult than local work. Each project will be individually considered to see if it makes sense to you to have me travel.

When can you start?

The design phase can start immediately. The Construction Phase is based on scope and scale of each project and prior commitments.

Can you rush our project through?

Sometimes. There are many factors that determine delivery dates. My first consideration is for clients that I have already made commitments to. There are however occasions that I am ahead of schedule on projects, clients spaces are not ready or I am just plain not busy. Keep in mind that when I commit to your project that someone else behind you may be pushing for quick completion. 

Do you actually do the work?

I actually do all the work. I personally do your design and drafting. I personally fabricate your project. I personally do the installation. I sell most of my work based on the fact that I am a hands on designer/craftsman and have been doing this professionally for over twenty years.

How am I going to know that I will like the design after I pay for it?

You don’t and neither do I. I will make every effort to get it right on the first draft. If you do not like any thing that I proposed you can tell me. I am designing for your space not mine, you have to live with it not me. If clients have a problem I will change it, I will redesign it to their specifications. Drawings are a lot easier to change than the pieces themselves, so feel free to speak up and get what you like. I like to think of my business as a candy store, you can have anything you want, you just have to tell me and have the budget to support it.

How much is my project going to cost?

To 99% of all prospective clients this is the most important and common question that I am asked. The short answer is "I don’t know." The problem with pricing custom work is that it does not exist until it is completed. Consider that I have no idea what the piece is about, I have not seen the space it goes in, I know nothing about the client...... on and on. The reason this site exists is to educate prospective clients on how much their project may cost before they call me. Think of commissioning custom work as if you were going to buy a new car. You call the dealer on the phone and say " I am interested in buying a new car. How much is it? " A smart salesman will say " We have great new cars for $10,000.00. " You get excited and go to the dealership, meet with the salesman, and look at this fabulous car. It’s a limited-stock car with skinny tires, no radio and no luxury features. You then explain that you were thinking of ( insert all your criteria here ) and the salesman tells you " We have just what your looking for, starting at $33,000.00." You explain that you don’t want any of the cars on the lot, you need one specially built just for you. How much do you think that will cost? I am not going to give you lowball prices to get you to my shop only to tell you that the real cost on your job is two or three times what we talked about on the phone. Unfortunately, unless someone provides me with a scale drawing with all the project criteria I can not accurately price a job. There are many photos of past projects in this site, please look them up and get a feel for how much my custom work costs. You are more than welcome to come by the shop (by appointment) and discuss your project with no obligation or cost to you. I can give rough guestimates for you given enough information if you understand that it is just that ...a guess. The only way to give hard contract prices is to complete the design phase of your project or price scale working drawings provided by the client.

Can you come to my house / business and look at my space to give me an estimate?

Yes. I can and I will if the client understands that when I am looking at their space and proposing solutions that I am doing part of the design phase. There is no charge for this orientation meeting, and it handles several things at once. First off I am not just some contractor with a tape measure and a pickup at your house. I can show work in progress, actual pieces of wood, an extensive portfolio.... Prospective clients who invest time to meet me and discuss work conveys to me that they are committed, serious and invested in their project.

How do I determine Kitchen Design?

When designing your kitchen think about your family and how you use your kitchen – or would like to use it. Make sure to incorporate the "work triangle" for the most efficient cooking space.  The “work triangle” is created by the refrigerator, stove and sink, which must all be within three steps of each other. Use home furnishings magazines such as –Crate&Barrel, House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Midwest Living, Traditional Home, Better Homes & Gardens, and Southern Living are just a few places to start and learn what appeals to your style and space. Tear out what catches your eye and start a folder of ideas. We will help you define your style based on this collection of styles. We will help you incorporate the "work triangle" into your design plans.

What about Style?

Style is important.  Often folks like to match the architectural style of their home, while at the same time creating a more comfortable and modern environment. This can be more of a challenge than most realize. This is, however, exactly what we are most experienced to accomplish.  Modern, Victorian, Craftsman and Ranch style homes (among others) are styles we see and work on every day.  We do our homework and will find suppliers perfect for your project.

We don’t know what to do with our space. What should we do?

You probably do know what to do with your space, but you probably just can’t verbalize it. I know if I proposed a $10,000.00 zebra skin computer desk for your space you would know if you wanted that or not. The design phase usually determines function based on the needs and wants of the client. After function is decided we can plug in the cosmetics. The clients architecture, furniture, style ... is all considered at the first site visit. After twenty years of designing and building custom work, I have learned the questions to ask that will determine a concept worth developing.

What doors and drawers are available?

Raised Panel doors are typically reproductions of period styles, or variations thereof. This type of door includes a panel, or multiple panels, that are slightly raised up to create a classic dimensional look. The panels fit into grooves in the door stiles (the horizontal pieces that form the top and bottom of the door frame) and the door rails (the vertical frame pieces, side to side). The panels are not glued, but rather, float within the grooves to allow for the wood’s natural expansion and contraction.

Recessed Panel doors are basically Raised Panel doors in reverse, as the center panels set back from the stiles and rails. Recessed Panel doors also create an appealing dimensional look.

Flat Slab doors are just as the name describes. Because of their simplicity, they fit well within a variety of looks, from traditional to transitional to contemporary.

Glass window doors feature authentic mullions (the framing that holds the glass), adding to the charm and authenticity of the doors.

Drawers, of course, fit into the same classifications as the doors, creating a consistent, unified look to your cabinetry.

How are RLS Woodworks Custom Cabinets made?

RLS Woodworks Custom Cabinets, doors and drawers are solidly and precisely made of the finest materials to ensure that they are as near to perfection as human craftsmanship will allow. In short, they are built with strength and durability to last for ages.

Our framed cabinetry projects are hand built in by the Dado method and sealed with Lacquer. Dado means Dado- this is a groove that is cut into a board or panel in which the edge of another board or panel can fit into. An example of which is the sides and back of a cabinet drawer that are dadoed to accept the edges of the drawer bottom. This method is a stronger way to "capture' the drawer bottom than just gluing or nailing the drawer bottom edges to the side panels. The boxes are dadoed, glued, then stapled; while the faces are biscuit jointed. Framed cabinet construction is generally considered more traditional looking and offers some style variety based on the amount of door overlay. Door overlay simply means the extent of which the door covers or "lays-over" the face frame. We use Titebond original glue. Which means the wood around the bond would separate before the glue will. The resulting fit is precise and sturdy.  All of our cabinet boxes are made from 1/2" birch with 1/2" full backs and ¾" birch shelves. As a substitute, we can provide the prefinished material -melamine for shelving. 

Our doors are constructed in a variety of styles from the standard raised panel door to the mitered, or applied moulding accent. Concealed hinges come standard and “soft close” hardware is available for a gentle, soft close.

All RLS Woodworks Custom Cabinets drawers are constructed with 9-ply birch boxes standard. Dovetail boxes are also available upon request. Choose your drawer slides as well -we use economical enamel slides. “Soft close” hardware technology is also available.

What type of Wood should I Choose?

There’s nothing like beautiful solid wood to bring out the best in a kitchen, bath or any room in your home. With custom cabinetry, your choice of wood species for your cabinetry is quite plentiful. How you choose is a matter of personal taste. Perhaps you want a rich, dark look with very little to no grain. Or maybe you’re looking for light and bright. Or a rustic feel.

The wood species that make up the biggest share of our work are Cherry, Knotty Pine, Red Oak, Mahogany and Birch. But there are many more species to choose from, including exotic woods such as Quartered Black Walnut, Quartered Figured Anigre, Medium-Heavy Birdseye Maple, Reconstituted Wenge, Reconstituted Zebrawood, Quarter Sawn Cherry, Rift Cut Oak, and Quarter Sawn Maple. But wood species selection is just the beginning. The finish you choose for your wood can greatly affect the personality of your cabinetry. And your finish choices are many. We work with you to find the perfect combination of wood species and finish. And, of course, paint grade wood (usually Maple or Poplar) gives you the freedom to create a painted look – including special finish treatments.

Here is some interesting information about the characteristics of some of the wood species we offer.

Note that, just as no two trees are alike, no two pieces of wood are alike. Some species of wood have more variation than others. Please note that certain wood species have inherent characteristics. Also note that wooden hardware (knobs, pulls, etc.) having a finish will wear with use.

Mahogany: Mahogany wood is a richly colored lumber that is among the more valuable wood species in the world. It is known for its unique pink coloring, which develops into a deep reddish-brown as the wood ages. Unlike alternative wood products, such as oak or pine, mahogany features very few knots or voids. This gives the wood a smooth, even grain pattern, which makes it ideal for fine furnishings and wood craft. Most species of trees that produce mahogany wood grow quite large, which enables harvesters to produce large, continuous boards. Using these large boards, furniture makers can create desks, tables, and other furnishings without seams or joints. Mahogany is incredibly strong and durable, allowing craftsmen to create long-lasting products. While the majority of this wood is used for furniture-making, its rich coloring and durability also make it a popular choice for manufacturers of musical instruments. Many wooden drums are made from mahogany, as are acoustic and electric guitars. Wooden boat producers also rely on it due to its strength and resistance to rot.

Cherry: Belongs to the rose family, and was used by the Greeks and Romans as long ago as 400 B.C. for furniture making. Cherry helped define American traditional design because Colonial cabinetmakers recognized its superior woodworking qualities. It has a rich red-brown color that deepens with age and exposure to sunlight. Its exceptionally lustrous appearance almost glows. It’s straight-grained and satiny, and sometimes contains pin knots and gum pockets that give the wood a distinctive character. Its more uniform texture takes a stain very well. Cherry is light, strong, stiff and rather hard. Cherry may have mineral streaks and pin burls, and will darken noticeably with age. Sapwood may appear in profiled areas.

Oak: Oak has a long, distinguished history in furnishings and interior design. Oak was a favorite of early English craftsmen and a prized material for American colonists. Red oak grows only in North America and is found further north than any other oak species. A red oak grows slowly, taking 20 years to mature and living an average of 300 years. Red Oak ranges from a white/cream color to a warm, pale brown, tinted with red. The grain is known for its “rays,” which reflect light and add to its appeal. Depending on the way the logs are sawn into timber (rift cut, flat sliced, flat sawn, rotary cut, quarter sawn), many distinctive and sought after patterns emerge: flake and flame figures, pin stripes, fine lines, leafy grains and watery figures. Oak is heavy, very strong and hard, stiff and durable under exposure, and wear-resistant. Oaks take a wide range of finishes very well.

Quarter Sawn Oak: Cut at a 90-degree angle to the grown rings, Quarter sawn Oak has a distinctive straight and vertical grain. Because of the method, this wood is limited in length and width, but highly prized for veneers.

Knotty Pine: Light in both weight and color, Northeast White Knotty Pine contains knots that give it a distinctive character, ranging from pin knots to large bull’s eyes. It is straight grained, usually a blondish-white, and can be stained in a variety of colors or left its natural shade. Often used for provincial or country designs, Knotty Pine is a perennial favorite. Knotty Pine, however, is a soft wood and dents easily. Pine has pitch, which under extreme heat can rise to the surface. Colors around knots will change.

Red Birch: The heartwood of Red Birch is softer than Oak, but has a tighter grain and looks good with light to medium stains and finishes, painting and polishing beautifully. The wood is smooth and stiff and resists abrasion. Red Birch may have mineral streaks and pin burls.

Paint Grade wood may be a blend of birch, soft maple or hard maple, which are all close-grain woods. Paint grade is non-select for color and grain pattern and may vary from dark heartwood to very light sapwood.

What about Durability and Preservation?

RLS Woodworks cabinetry's durability is courtesy of time honored construction and finishing techniques practiced by the world’s most skilled craftsmen. Even though our craftsmanship and quality are unparalleled in the industry, custom cabinetry truly is fine furniture and needs to be treated as such. Here are some tips for keeping new cabinetry looking new:

Treat your cabinetry just as you would fine furniture, particularly when it comes to moisture – wood’s worst enemy. Don’t drape wet towels across cabinet doors and take special care of cabinetry near sinks, dishwashers and like areas. Dust with a soft lint-free cloth, and only use non-alkaline soap to clean your cabinetry. Don’t use abrasive cleansers or scouring pads, which can damage the finish.

What to expect with new solid wood cabinetry?

Wood, of course, is a natural material. And, as we all know, Mother Nature plays by her own set of rules. This, you’ll likely discover for yourself after your new custom cabinetry is installed.

Nature’s little variations. Like all natural materials, wood comes with subtle variations in graining, knots, coloration, and the like. Which is just how we like it. These individual distinctions are all part of the charm and beauty of natural wood. Over the years, wood will darken some or lighten a tad as it ages and is exposed to light, both natural and manmade. Again, it’s all part of the price of admission, and will surely endear you even more to your custom cabinetry with each passing year.

Expansion and Contraction. Because every home climate is different, when your cabinetry comes home, it’ll need some time to adjust to its new environment. Some shifting of doors may occur due to wood’s tendency to expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes. Fear not – and fix not. This is normal. In a month or two, your cabinetry will feel and look right at home. However, on the outside chance that your cabinetry does not become fully acclimated to your home, simply contact RLS Woodworks, and we'll take it from there.

I saw something in a magazine/ at a store / in a catalog, can you copy it for me?

Absolutely, but it will cost more. Production pieces offer great value to consumers. I am hand building one-of-a-kind pieces from raw stock materials. My material and hardware costs on a project will sometimes cost close to the retail price of some production cabinets and furniture, but will most likely be higher than a mass produced item. Keep in mind, you get what you pay for.

As far as copying work, I am capable of doing that. I prefer to use what you like for inspiration and create a one of a kind custom piece just for you. I will copy things that you can’t get anymore, or if you need to match something. 

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