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Chinese Cabinets (the non-politically correct guide)

So someone thought it was a good idea to give me a blog. I know it’s not the most popular blog on the web but from time to time people tell me that they read something that helped them in their kitchen education. Well this entry is a big one for me. It deals with a big issue not only in the kitchen industry but a large problem for our country. I’m going to do my best to avoid making people angry and at the same time get to the point without the unnecessary fluff.

This is not an attack on China or it’s people. It is an attack on Chinese cabinets. Not the beautiful works of art from ancient dynasties that show extreme craftsmanship and attention to detail. I’m referring to the ones of today that are built with bad plywood and cheap knock-off hardware, finished with the wrong methods and therefore having a very short life span in a kitchen. I’m supposed to be calling them “import cabinets” but that would be ambiguous and I’m not interested in that. I, very deliberately, mean Chinese.

Let’s remember a few things from recent history: 1. Lead paint in toys from China, 2. Chinese drywall that made people sick, 3. Chinese dog food that was killing pets, 4. 2008 Chinese milk scandal – Baby formula that contained melamine. Do your own research if you don’t remember these from the news.

There is one driving force that attracts people to Chinese cabinets – Price. But why are they so inexpensive? Is it the labor? Is it the materials? Is it due to lack of guidelines that need to be met?

Time for a cliche… What do we know about things that seem too good to be true? Exactly. There’s something wrong here.

“But plywood is plywood. Wood is wood.” WRONG. How many plys is it? What kind of wood was used? Are the plys straight and unbroken or do gaps, kinks and overlaps exist in the material introducing weaknesses? There are different levels of everything out there. Chinese Birch plywood is inferior and lacks in strength. You can do your own plywood investigation – There’s plenty of info out there. Do you think any highly skilled woodworker that takes pride in their work would use plywood from China? The only answer is “no”.
bad plywood

What about CARB compliance? American products are held to a higher standard reducing the formaldehyde exposure in many building materials. Regardless of how you feel about our own EPA, China is known for it’s lack of air quality and low product standards. Cabinets from China would definitely not be considered “green” and possibly dangerous.

So this is a blog post that is not only making some strong statements but also asking you to do your own research. Yes, I think Chinese cabinets are very bad quality. No, I wouldn’t sell them. I had a short period in 2006 where I did try this route – I didn’t know any better – Now I do. I will never do it again. I think it takes a certain morality to not sell them when so many others do. I have always gone against the grain to a degree and rarely chosen the easy way – I wouldn’t change that about myself. In keeping with that personality trait (or flaw) this post is my attempt to push back. Perhaps it will save someone from wasting thousands on an inferior product that will have a short life span.

Do your own research. Tell me if I’m wrong.

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