Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cleaf Online Ordering

It's Alive!

I planned on blogging every day, however, as we came closer to launching our Cleaf Metro product line the ammount of work required seemed to grow exponentially. I am fairly certain that one day last week I came home dead tired and fell asleep at 6:30 p.m.! I still believe it may have been a dream (sources close to me say it really happened). Over the past few weeks my head generally hasn't hit my pillow before 1:00 a.m.

Why all of this torture? Cleaf Metro! We launched the first seven of twenty seven styles today for online ordering. We are really excited to finally see all of our hard work ammount to something actually visible online. It's alive! That's what I've been feeling today as the individual categories came online. There's still work to do, we are adding more options and working on getting the pictures of kitchens we have done in Cleaf online. The are still some styles that we haven't done an order with, so we're only able to show small swatches meant represent an entire kitchen. Then we go to work on the fifteen or so styles of the Luxe Collection.

The image below is the category page for Cleaf Metro Carbone. This is the gateway to Carbone -kind of an over view of product specifications and links to order cabinets by type. These pages were relatively easy to produce, but there are twenty-seven of them!

Below is the 'quick view' selection for ordering a 24" base cabinet. It shows the cabinet, part number , options, and price. There are also links to more information and some detailed descriptions of the cabinet and available options. The nice thing about the quick view is that from a page with say twelve different cabinets choices, you can open the quick view and configure a 12" cabinet, send it to the shopping cart, close the window and configure another cabinet of the same type without going back and forth between pages. Hm...that sounds confusing, anyway it's a nice feature and shoppers will appreciate it :)

Finally, I present a picture of Cleaf's Lakeshore Oak Shaker cabinets recently installed in a modest kitchen in Temecula. The customer is really pleased with the results and is having a professional 3D tour of this home produced (the house is a 'flip') and has promised we will get a copy once it's done (of course we will share it with you). There are some other pictures coming soon, including a San Diego condo done with Cleaf City Oak. I shared a picture of the 'under-stairs' glass door cabinet a few posts ago and people are still asking to see the whole project. It's coming, I promise!

Thanks for watching!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

That's Life

Cleaf Metro Product Setup...cont'd

On Sunday, I wrote about the setup of the new product we were hoping to launch this weekend. It didn't happen. What did happen is we realized that one of the product options, 'cabinet height', wouldn't work as we planned. The issue is really a technical one on the part of our ecommerce host. We offer 5 choices for casework material and 3 part numbers for width, so say you choose a 15" cabinet in x material, y width, the price would be z -no problem. The next choice would be height, and there is the problem is created. Using this setup would require us to show each width and height option, in each casework material option -as an option. This would make the option list massive, too massive. The alternative would be to use dropdown menus for each option. The image below is our current option setup for this cabinet.

Hate is a pretty strong word, so I'll just say, as online shoppers ourselves, we are not fans of dropdown menus. Our setup takes 2 mouse clicks to get from the first page, or category page for this item, to the option configuration. 6 mouse clicks to configure the options and add to a cart. Dropdown menus double the clicks required to configure a product: 1 click to open the menu and 1 to select the option. That's a total of 12 clicks to configure the same options and 16 total to get to it, configure it, and put it in a cart. Another issue with dropdowns: you can't see the available options until you click the dropdown. Not very user friendly. So stuck between a rock and a hard place, we chose to do the extra work in creating individual part numbers for each width and height and preserve our clean 8 click ordering process, actually, taking height out of the options drops our click number to 7.

There was never really a choice. We had to do the work up front necessary to make it as easy as possible for our customers to shop with us. It's a little disappointing that we missed another self-made deadline, but at the end of the day we know we are doing the right thing.

I talked about a new Cleaf kitchen we began work on Friday. The picture below is a Lakeshore Oak Shaker wall cabinet. These are being readied for installation on Thursday, actually they will be ready today, but the customer isn't ready for them until Thursday. We started work manufacturing these cabinets on Friday, and they are ready to install after only 2 and a half days! I'll have more pics of these cabinets at the end of the day.

Thanks for watching!


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Cleaf Metro Product Setup

We've been working on making the Cleaf Metro Collection available for online ordering for 3 or 4 weeks now. It's quite a challenge. There are 27+ styles, around 180 individual cabinets, and around 16-20 different options for each cabinet. Hm...27 x 180 x 20= 97,000-ish entries on an excel spread sheet! The picture below is a bit of what that looks like.

This is what I'm working on today. Reviewing the spreadsheets in preparation of making the products live on our website. There are two main spreadsheets involved: Products and Product options. The products sheet columns go from A to BG, that's like 59 columns with 180 rows. I was curious about how many individual characters each row used so I used the =LEN function in excel to count the characters in each column in the row (I probably know more about excel than is healthy -a necessary evil for sure). The answer is 1,800. Take that number and multiply by 180 rows: 324,000 individual characters. That's a lot of typing! Luckily we are able to copy and past large portions of that data and then make changes based on the part number we are dealing with. That's a look at the information required to get an entire product line like Cleaf Metro online.

Oh, but we're not done yet! There's images! The image below shows the three images created for each of the 180 individual cabinet types. These are created in the software we use to design and manufacture the cabinetry. Each one was constructed in the software and screen shots were taken of each view. The images are then cropped in photo shop, saved with unique names, and then uploaded to the website. After that, each image must be attached to each product type so when a customer is ordering they can see what it is they are after. I mentioned product options above, some of the options have individual pictures too. For example: each cabinet we offer comes with a choice of casework material (casework is all of the parts made to build the cabinet not including the doors, drawer fronts, and hardware). Images for these options are created as well. And then there's the images of the kitchens and bathrooms we have taken of our projects with Cleaf Metro that we need to put online.

There is another area that we had to work on as well: pricing. Each cabinet, each size of that cabinet, and each option for that size cabinet has a cost that we have to know. The first step in pricing a cabinet is to take each individual part of the cabinet and figure out how many square feet of material each part needs. Parts also need edgebanding, we need to know how many feet of edgebanding for each part too. Then there's the doors and drawer fronts which use different materials. Hardware and options like 1 door or 2 door, 3 drawers or 4 drawers all have to be calculated and input too. That's an entire excel workbook of its own.

This is my work today. Reviewing all of this information so we can launch the Cleaf Metro products. After that, we move on to setting up the Luxe Collection by Alvic. 21 styles with options...

Thanks for watching!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's Still This Week

Custom Cleaf Metro 'under the stairs' Cabinet

I mentioned we were working on this cabinet last night. It's the final piece of the San Diego condo project we've been working on. A complete set of those pictues will be posted soon. It goes with a set of cabinets we already installed under the stairway. We are wrapping up our work on the condo and should have a complete set of pictures to share soon, including a custom floating entertainment center we designed and built today, a last minute add-on from the customer.

The material is Cleaf Metro City Oak. This condo is in downtown San Diego, so the name fits perfectly. Since the cabinet has glass doors and the interior is visible, we used the same City Oak to make the casework. We used Blum clip-top soft close hinges and a piano hinge between the two doors. I did the programming for the doors on the CNC last night, it was a bit of a challenge since we typically do square doors.

The program used to design the doors is called woodWop and came preinstalled on our CNC. We already had the casework completed so I knew the outside dimensions of the doors, the tricky part was the inner open sections. I had to tell the CNC where to start cutting and where to go after that. We had no prototypes or any previous work to take from so I decided to draw a full-scale layout of the doors on a table. This enabled me to measure accurate dimensions and figure out exactly what to input into the program. I ran two prototypes in a different material and fit them on the casework to ensure the reveals were correct. A reveal is the portion of the casework that is visible around the doors. In this case 1/16th of an inch on both sides, 1/4" on the top, and the doors are flush with the bottom. This is our standard 'overlay', which is the term used when discussing how the doors overlap the casework, and is typical of European Frameless cabinetry. Frameless meaning there is no 'face-frame', which is like a picture frame around the opening of the cabinet. A Face-frame is the traditional method for constructing cabinets. We are very happy with how this cabinet turned out, and are eager to complete the project and post pictures. The kitchen was done in City Oak as well and looks great.

We also started work on another Cleaf project today, this time in Lakeshore Oak. The cabinets for this kitchen were cut this morning on the CNC, edgebanded, and assembly is underway and will be completed Monday. I'm working on a video of the entire manufacturing process and will share it when it's done.

I plan on posting at least once a day, I really enjoy what I do, and being able to share makes it more fun.

Thanks for watching!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Another Late Night...

CLEAF Metro Collection Update

A picture taken in the shop today. The foreground is Cleaf Metro Pebble Beach, and the background is Cleaf Metro Cool Grey Linen (the two Cleaf linen textures will be available as casework material!). We have some information and additional pictures of the linen texture on our 'Materials' page if you are curious. We are working towards launching the online ordering for all 27 Cleaf Metro styles this week. We are big fans of this product and our customers are too, all of the Cleaf pictures on our website are from our jobs -we have done a lot of Cleaf for local customers and are excited to be making it available for online ordering in a couple days. I have a ton of pictues of the kitchens and bathrooms we've done with Cleaf Metro and will be sharing them once I get a chance to get them off the camera. I also posted a video of our CNC cutting a Cleaf Carbone panel, it's interesting if you are curious about how we manufacture cabinets. There's also one of us trying to demonstrate the resilience of the product...I should probably apologize for the music now -just in case you decide to watch that video.

The image above is the product we will be launching shortly after Cleaf Metro goes online. Pictured is Textile Oro, it's a product by Alvic called 'Luxe'...we love it! I posted this particular picture because we just had our first customer for Luxe select this for their kitchen cabinets. The edge banding is two-tone and looks awesome, my picture doesn't really capture the beauty of this door, the 'textile' pattern looks like spun gold when the light catches it right. The Luxe Collection will feature 21 styles including High Gloss (Textile Oro is High Gloss), and my personal favorite the 'Supermatte' and 'MetalDeco' series. Alvic has a great video about the series if you are interested. I was an instant fan the moment I saw the product, I would love to do my kitchen in the Antracita Supermatte or Metal Deco. Anyway, that's coming soon.

I plan on posting some images of a Cleaf Metro City Oak cabinet we did for a San Diego customer. It's a unique cabinet, it goes under the stairway so it has an interesting shape. We're putting glass in the doors tomorrow and then it will be ready to install. We remodeled this customers condo with Cleaf Metro throughout and I'll have some pictures of that soon as well.

Wow! Look at the time...I better sleep.

Thanks for watching!


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our First Cabinet Post <sniff!>

US RTA Cabinets

Kitchen and bathroom cabinets, that's what we do. Okay, not just kitchen and bathroom cabinets -though that is our focus, we often end up making cabinets for many other purposes. That's really how our company started, making things. There are two sides to this company, US RTA Cabinets, founded by myself. We are the online source for people across the country to order cabinetry made by our brick-and-mortar half, HK Custom Cabinets.

I may ramble. In fact, prior to founding US RTA Cabinets I was a long time employee of one of our competitors, who shall remain nameless (don't get me wrong, there are no hard feelings on my part, it just doesn't make good business sense to name names). Anyway, I was asked repeatedly to not spend so much time on the phone with customers -I like to talk, especially when I'm talking with a customer about their project. Though I understood the business aspect of things, I always felt if a customer needed an hour of my time while I was designing their kitchen or helping them during their installation then they would have it. It's a big deal for most people, ripping out their old kitchen and installing a new one, especially when it was ordered online and they are a thousand miles from the guy who designed it. There is usually a lot of other things going on for the customer too, typically they are dealing with contractors and trying to manage all sorts of other considerations when remodeling. I get it. That's why I gave my time to anyone who needed it, even at the risk of angering my boss. Did I digress -probably.

If you've made it this far, I commend you on your patience and reading ability! I too read, and as you can see I like to write. Enough about me , let's talk about what we are going to be talking about on this blog here. We make cabinets and want you to buy them. Is that too blunt? Heh! (a coworker asked me once what Heh! was when I texted it to him, I said it's like LOL but not quite OL) We manufacture cabinets. Mostly of the European frameless variety, but we also have customers that ask us for framed and inset cabinets as well. I'll post more on those types in the future. You can see our work at or see our pretty pictures on We manufacture with CNC and there's a couple videos on our Youtube page if you're interested, we plan on making more videos about cabinets and cabinet manufacturing so check back occasionally.

Our intention is to make this blog a place to talk about cabinets, manufacturing, and remodeling. I'm new to blogging, so if you can, and do ask a question here I will respond. I have a ton of experience and knowledge to share and I am looking forward to not only having fun, but helping where I can.

Thanks for watching!