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Modular CNC

Modular CNCModular cabinetry is made with incrementally sized interchangeable components. The registration holes for assembling those components are all in the same (relative) position, regardless of the component incremental size or position in the cabinet.

The basis for the 32mm system is hardware with mounting holes some multiple of 32mm apart and drilling machines with multiple 32mm spaced drill bits. When using traditional line and construction drilling machines it makes sense to size and locate as may components as possible in 32mm increments. The only thing CNC changes is that increments other than 32mm can be used.

When using CNC to drill locating and assembly holes, the only dimension that has to to be in multiples of 32mm is the hinge plate and drawer slide mounting holes (f/b), When designing modular cabinetry, changing one dimension changes everything else on that axis.

Changing the vertical spacing of the slides to 31mm changes all height dimensions; panel, drawer box and face, door, hinge cup spacing, etc. While changing all vertical increments to 31mm provides dimensions that are closer to American standards, it has no effect on the constraints of modular cabinetry, e.g. the bottom drawers on full overlay cabinets.

Five Drawer Cabinets

In the 80's and 90's there were numerous 32mm system articles written by Jon Elvrum (most no longer online). One of Jon's favorite drawer topics was five drawer base cabinets. Apparently this is an example of the Bauhaus School of Design's Modul Perfekt and a common component of European styling. While I could find no specifics, having all drawers a multiple of the top drawer does allow for more symmetrical layouts. Unfortunately five drawer layouts aren't possible with the 32mm system when 30-1/2" tall boxes and 4" toe kicks are desired.

After seeing the five drawer layout in the Kurka jig manual (not modular), I did some math and realized that a five drawer 31mm increment layout worked out on two fronts, ~30-1/2" boxes and ~6" top drawer. The final motivation for this post was Cabinotch's broken True 32 CNC layout (10mm off bottom drawer). While CNC makes things like 31mm increments and five drawer layouts possible, it is not some magical solution to the constraints of a modular cabinetmaking system. I may be missing something, but I don't see any obvious ways that CNC can help with the reduced bottom drawer space on full overlay cabinets.

It just so happens that 31mm increments doesn't break with undermount slides that need 37mm of bottom clearance - that is the clearance provided with 19mm stock and a shifted 45mm bottom start hole. Unfortunately, the Plus 32 method doesn't work as well with 31mm increments because the increments below the top drawer are even (VS odd) and it results in more drawer box sizes (VS less). While not modular, bottom drawer boxes that are shorter (e.g. -11mm) can provide a consistent top registration/reveal (e.g. 22.5mm) when incremental box sizes (e.g. 31m + 14) are used. An extra mounting hole (a la Process 32) is not required, 37 BC slides sit on the deck and bottom row mounting holes should work (1mm interference w/ 19mm panels, 0 w/ 18).
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