Cabinetmaker profile: Kevin Dunphy Custom Woodworking and Custom Concrete Inc.

Get to know Kevin Dunphy

By Home & Cabin   2012-03-01

Born in Toronto to Newfoundland parents, it’s not a far stretch that 51-year-old Kevin Dunphy has eventually made this province his home.

A few years ago, Dunphy brought his skills and his family to Harbour Grace, where he set up Kevin Dunphy Custom Woodworking and Custom Concrete Inc.

He’d spent time as a young man working big factories in Ontario, assembling cabinetry. He later spent a few years working on antiques then moved for a few years into finishing and re-finishing aircraft interiors. Knowing he wanted something specific, he started taking night courses in cabinetmaking and started his own company in Montreal in 2000, hoping to get away from the “cookie-cutter” cabinetry made by mass producers.

Dunphy says the idea that custom cabinetmakers can’t compete with mass producers is only true from a certain standpoint. They may be faster and cheaper, but when it comes to designing a custom kitchen and fine-tuning it to the special needs or desires of a client, “the reality is that they can’t compete with us.”

Although he finds inspiration and enjoyment in all of his woodworking, he says he enjoys working on home theatre units the most because each one presents a new challenge. But, when people are willing to spend larger amounts of money on custom woodwork, it’s usually in kitchen cabinets.

Dunphy, with the help of his two employees, has had success in offering customers an opportunity to have a uniquely designed and constructed kitchen.

In the workshop, a Computer Numerical Control machine allows him to produce three-dimensional carvings of shapes and patterns. The addition of this machine has opened doors to adding unique and personal touches to cabinets, and the ability to reproduce many images or drawings that customers bring in when they come shopping for cabinets.

Dunphy says many homeowners are looking for cabinets that look like furniture. A challenge he happily accepts. “I want to be challenged because I want to see how far I can go,” he says. “And it makes business sense.”

Cabinets are his bread and butter right now, but Dunphy says he’s willing to look at any project idea a customer might bring through his doors.

In addition to his cabinetry creations and often as a lovely complement, Dunphy also produces policy concrete countertops. “People don’t realize that it’s so much easier to integrate concrete countertop than granite,” he says. “One of the main reasons is that it’s a handful of earth.”

Winifred Elms of Harbour Grace is a happy recipient of a set of Dunphy’s custom-built cabinets. She says she wanted a new kitchen because her previous kitchen was about 35 years old. “I thought I’d go up and see Kevin to see if he could change it around for me so I could have a more convenient and up-to-date kitchen,” says Elms, adding that the transformation is gorgeous.

Dunphy says he probably won’t ever retire. “It takes so long to get good at (this). You get to a certain level where you can build anything. You look at a picture and you can build it and you don’t want to stop,” he muses. “I’m very happy here.”