Very Heavy Stainless Steel Cabinets

Cabinetmakers discuss materials sourcing for an unusual job: 3/8-inch solid stainless steel cabinets. October 15, 2009

I am pricing a large project and the designer would like us to provide stainless open upper cabinets. They have drawn them using 3/8 stainless steel plate. Has anyone had anything like this made before? I suggested using a wrap, but they are determined to use solid stainless. I have contacted my local suppliers without much luck.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
I think I would point out the weight of 3/8 SS to the designer. Otherwise it sounds like you need a good metal fabricator.

From contributor M:
I have a lot of experience with metal as well as wood (though I deal with wood most of the time). The first thing you need to do is go back to the designer and get him to change the specs. 3/8" material? That is absolutely ridiculous and if you are trying to get someone to build them for you, it is no wonder you can't find a source. 20 gauge material should be more than enough (which is roughly 1/16" give or take a few thousandths).

You will need to find a custom fabrication shop with the necessary press brakes and shears as well as the ability to weld stainless to get this done. You can also check your local area for a good fabricator, as most of them are slow, just as in our business.

Just for information... Most truck bodies (I'm speaking of the typical utility/service body) are not any thicker than 20 gauge except for the actual floor in the truck bed. I think you really may need to educate the designer and get clarification on what they want before you proceed.

From contributor E:

I do a lot of commercial food service tops with the thickness at 16 gauge. Have the designer find you a source and cost.

From contributor P:
...and we're sure the designer's not referring to "308" stainless, which refers to formulation rather than thickness?

From contributor C:
Yes, have the designer source. He or she probably knows what they are trying to achieve.

From contributor L:
A few months ago we did a reception counter with a 1/2" SS writing ledge and welded on brackets. Had it made by a big fabricating shop that does lots of SS - expensive! Heavy! my guess on weight for uppers 3/8" SS 1' deep, 2' wide, 3' high with one shelf, no back figured, 170#. Need good screws to hang it!

From contributor J:
Hope they have deep pockets.

SS is very heavy, and making shelves out of 3/8" thick will weigh a ton. You'll likely need to have some serious blocking in the walls for attaching these cabinets.

I don't agree with making the designer find the product; that's our job. Although 3/8" SS is unusual, it's not some really off the wall product nobody's ever heard of. I recommend going to a shop that specializes in SS work and have them quote it exactly as it's drawn. Then once they see the price it will be much easier to suggest alternatives.

From the original questioner:
The cabinets that they are looking for are definitely 3/8 SS, and there is roughly 80L/F of them required and they are all to be open shelf. This is for a designer we have done a lot of work for in the past and I certainly would not feel comfortable telling him to source them out and price them himself.

As far as hanging them, the contractor suggested hanging them using a Unistrut system. These are part of a huge project, a roughly 27K sq. ft. main house and a 12K sq. ft. pool house that has casework in every possible location for a very large local sports star.

From contributor F:
We are currently using some 316 stainless in 1/4"x1/2" strips for trimming doors. Each piece is 12' long and weighs more than 8#. Say that's a little more than .66# per sq. inch… and this is only 1/4" thick! A piece of this material that was 12" deep and 36" wide would weigh 285#. 3/8" would most likely top out at over 427#. You’re gonna need a crane, dude!

And I disagree… In my experience, designers always provide tear sheets for unusual or hard to procure products. We can do the research for them if they prefer, but we bill them accordingly, whether we actually line item it or just build it in.

From contributor R:
There are a few manufactured lines that make stainless steel cabinets, Viking being one. You could look them up and become a dealer rather than trying to become an armored car manufacturer.

From contributor B:
I can guarantee that Viking does not make any thing out of 3/8 SS.

From contributor W:
It may well be too late for your bid requirements, but my company builds custom eccentric architectural work all the time. We work in a myriad of different materials, and would certainly be able to provide cabinets of the sort you describe. The thickness of material you require is not necessary, perhaps. But I would think that for a high end custom job the client/designer probably wants to set his/her cabinets apart from a more traditional food service look.