So This Is How This Is Going To Go: Kitchen Remodel Edition

Last Sunday my mom came up to the farm to “help me with the kitchen remodel” which basically means she brought up a bottle of wine, and we drank half of it while sitting at the kitchen table talking about life before I finally got up the courage to say, “Fuck it, let’s take these cabinets out.”


And we got about this far before we were like… we probably need pizza and more wine before we do any more, right? Right.

Then she helped me leverage this 200 lb oven/microwave out of the wall and take the big cabinets out to the garage.


Incidentally, I’m not sure how many times in the course of this blog I’ve said, “can we just take a minute to acknowledge how awesome my mom is?” But, like, can we just take a minute to acknowledge how awesome my mom is? Because I’m 100% sure when she found out she was going to have a daughter, she did not expect that a couple of decades down the road her motherly duties would include things like fence installation (uh, more than once) and kitchen demo.


And yet, here we are. I’m lucky in that both of my parents don’t just accept this strange thing I’ve chosen to do in my spare time– not get married, have kids, settle down…oh no, instead I tear houses apart and put them back together again while hoarding farm animals–but they both actively support and participate in this craziness. Not just once, but for a decade.

So. That’s awesome.

Anyway, back to the crazy at hand… Taking those existing cabinets out was so easy that I was like, “Let’s get a quick win and put the new ones in!” Which would have been a quick win…


(We were so close!)

If it hadn’t ended up like this…


Because I’m an idiot and I was drinking.

In the course of trying to secure those cabinets I snapped the heads off two screws and one is embedded and stripped (but not fully tightened) between the stiles of both those cabinets. This is likely because I didn’t pre-drill the stiles with the right bit(s), and the one I did use was fairly dull. Lesson learned.



That’s the sound of me not losing my shit over this, but also spending a week+ cooking microwave dinners by connecting the range/micro combo in the middle of the floor to power via extension cord.


While I death-glare across the room at those cabinets.

Just… here’s what my amazon shopping cart looked like the Tuesday after this adventure:



Just for the record neither the VamPLIERS or the “damaged screw remover” set proved to be useful in this particular case.

Luckily I haven’t done any damage to the actual cabinet box throughout all of this, so my options are to 1.) accept a slightly imperfect joint between these two cabinets and just hang them up on the wall, or 2.) try to cut the head off the stripped screw and pull the cabinet off of it, and then cut it down without damaging any of the cabinet wood and try this again.


So. This is how this is going to go?


Here are my goals for this weekend then:

  1. Replace the sanding pad on my orbital sander and prep/paint enough of the wood paneling to make me not feel like a slacker.
  2. Install the uppers and lowers on this side of the kitchen by any means necessary.
  3. Remove the tile backsplash in the entire kitchen.
  4. Build a cabinet for the microwave. Maybe.

It’s clear there isn’t going to be fast progress on this kitchen, so I’m just going to have to take it how it is. And that’s how this one is going to go…

18 Responses

  1. Give us a sneak peak of what it’s going to look like…one day. I’m also looking for cabinets for a flip I just picked up in case you are selling any…

  2. If the stipped – busted off head screws are indeed connecting the two outer styles of the two cabinets I’d remove enough wood to get at the stripped one (should turn out easily if stripped)
    w/a small needle-nosed vice-grip. Possibly drill out or try the same with the others that are tighter. Then fill with same color sandable stain accepting wood filler rub with stain, pre-drill new hole, set clutch on screw driver, door covers everything. Any like screws on rear of cabinet during affixing to wall remedy same way. This may or may not take more wine. At this time I’ll just take a minute to acknowledge how awesome I feel your family is, as well as, making note your grandmother has grit and is pretty kewl too.
    If I ever get to my inside house kitchen remodel I could repurpose a much nicer set of cabinets then my weekend carpenter on site built 1949 fake antique 70’S stained upgraded cabinets. Those would make some fancy cabinets in a wood-workshop area as well. Enjoy reading you Kit, best of luck in the screw extraction. Looking forward to seeing the finished cabinets. I am not nor ever professed to be a pro but very good with a hammer & crow-bar.

  3. You’re not going to gut the wall and re-insulate? I don’t know how to install cabinets or build cabinets, but I can air seal and insulate with the best of them. It’s kind of like “if all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail,” but to me every wall I see is an opportunity to insulate. That does substantially slow down the renovation process though. A LOT.

    1. No, those are the only two wall cabinets coming down… this is a facelift, not a full renovation! 😉

  4. As Jack said: Vice grips. I use the flat nose ones, not the needle nose. Tighten them down like nobody’s business and clip them on. One you get a twist or two, move them and out it will come. I sometimes put a screw driver through the handle to increase the torque.

    But try it without lubricant (aka wine).

    1. PS: Use the front “mouth”, not the side “jaw”, of the vice grips so the jaws don’t want to twist…..

      1. I tried this after your suggestions… that screw wasn’t budging though! (Spoiler: I did get the cabinet up anyway though and it looks fine.)

  5. We are experiencing similar problems. In the process of removing a cabinet we have a stripped screw and a broken on so my old cabinet is still where it was only no longer flush as it was. This is frustrating as I am laying a new floor and need that cabinet out because the layout is changing.

  6. So tell us. WHY is it considered ‘crazy’ to live YOUR LIFE exactly as *YOU* CHOOSE?

    (Even though way more men than women would live a lifestyle much like yours and NOT even give a thought to the Crazy.)

    Is it not crazy-making to live one’s life meeting the expectations of others?

    Living lives of …quiet desperation?

    Giving up your CAREER as a woman because you earn FAR LESS than your husband and daycare is expensive and by the time the kids are in school and you return to work all of that TIME spent as a familial ‘caregiver’ means little to nothing to prospective employers and you are once again entry level as an employee eking out a new career path but will likely need to redo $chool if there will be any hope at all in retiring before you are 95… and ONLY THEN you can begin doing what you LOVE to do because – after all – no one pays attention to Crones!)

    Driving to/from a j.o.b. just to pay bills for most of your life for all of the stuff and then time flies by and then there is no more YOU.


    THAT is crazy.

    OBTW – snapping the heads off from screws is innate behavior for the female Praying Mantis.


    1. Ha. Well, I also drive to/from my job every day just to pay bills for all my tools 😉 Best of both worlds!

  7. Spax screws. the only screw i use for woodworking. i stumbled upon them when installing my hickory cabinets and haven’t looked back. the other big improvement ive made is a hss countersink set. good luck.

  8. How far away does a kitchen sink need to be from an electrical panel my kitchen is sm and the panel is in my cupboard by my sink so do I need to relocate my kitchen sink

  9. Wow… it’s so beautiful. Great article with very good suggestions of things to consider before remodeling. Inspired to remodel your own kitchen with these jaw-dropping ! Nice and great work… !

  10. looking forward to seeing your progress and learning a few things about kitchen remodels. love the pic of you and your mom! before your new floor is installed, i vote that you bring all the animals into the kitchen for a tea party and take lots of pictures before herding them out again. take advantage of that plywood floor 🙂

  11. Now that’s impressive! Did your mom really helps with your kitchen renovation or was it a one night push. I wish my parents were more supportive with what I do. Taring kitchens apart and then fitting the whole kitchen installation and refurbishment and montage and etc. etc. is far from being simple. Just because I’m not a rocket scientist does not mean this is not an honest job and I can only salute you and your mom on this! I’m looking forward to see your complete kitchen renovation!

    Kind regards!

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