This article explains what a DIYer needs to know about building kitchen cabinet doors. It discusses
wood selection, finish selection, and types of hinges and cabinet hardware. Its a great woodworking project.
New Construction or Remodel?
Kitchen cabinet doors sustain a lot of use on a daily basis, yet get little respect. Actually, the
one time they get any mention is when they don't close properly.
Perhaps youre building kitchen cabinet doors since your old ones gave up the ghost or maybe you're
installing new cabinets and need to put your distinguishing touch on them.
Also, there will be times when youre
refinishing kitchen cabinets that one door is just not
salvageable. In this case, youll have to duplicate the old one.
Planning Kitchen Cabinet Door Finish
The initial thing to take into consideration is what kind of a finish you are going for. For a natural
finish such as tung oil, varnish, or polyurethane, the cabinet door wood should match the cabinet wood.
If you insist on them being different, keep them consistently different and while maintaining an
overall consistent theme.
In order to match, the wood should be the same so that the grain and color is respectably similar.
For instance, oak has a characteristic pin looking grain, but few oak varieties are the
exact color. Oak ranges from bleached to darkish red.
Speaking of matching wood color, its almost impossible to find exactly the right shade of commercial
wood filler, even given the vast selection that Minwax provides.
Finish Carpenter Tip: Achieve perfection. Make your own inexpensive
custom wood putty.
If youre building kitchen cabinets or doors yourself, and not prefab, know that kitchen cabinet doors
use a boatload of trim. If the bankroll is an issue, avoid pecan, walnut, oak, and the like, and check out
This hardwood is easy to work with, takes
woodworking glue well, is affordable, and has a range of color streaks that
are easy on the eye.
The Architecture of a kitchen Cabinet Door
Your basic kitchen cabinet door is a flat slab of wood, or more commonly, plywood, usually with some
beveled edges, and hinged to your cabinets so that it covers your cabinets openings.
If youre after more sophisticated cabinet doors, think of the cabinet door as a picture frame.
But youre not constrained to glass, a backing of the wood the cabinet is constructed from is
common as well.
The actual construction details are covered in depth in this article on building a recessed medicine cabinet. Many photos are included for simplification.
The average cabinet door is made of a frame which is constructed to fit just inside the cabinet opening,
with molding surrounding the edges to lend a decorative effect and to be a stop, making it flush to your
cabinet, and maybe an inlay; this will give the door depth.
Hardware for Cabinet Doors
All your cabinet doors have hinges. There are many styles available on the market today and theyre
quite affordable. You may use hinges that are recessed, spring loaded, flush mounted, etc. The more complex
the hinge is, the more complex the installation will be.
What's the Catch?
Your cabinet doors will need to have some catches. There are fundamentally two kinds of catches: magnetic
and friction. The basic idea is to keep the doors snug within their frames.
This keeps the doors from
swinging wide open unexpectedly. It will also keep your family pet(s) from exploring your food
If you have a toddler, there are a slew of products on the market intended to baby-proof kitchen
cabinets. This isn't only a recommendation; it's an obligation.
Finishing Your Cabinet Doors
There are quite a few good methods to finish cabinet doors. Doors should be finished the same way
the cabinets are. If theyre going to be painted, make sure to use a high quality primer. Then finish
them using a gloss, semi-gloss, or satin sheen paint.
For a smooth finish, use an airless paint sprayer.
The most attractive cabinets are finished with a clear finish that showcases the expensive hardwoods
that were used in their construction.
You can stain them prior to applying the finish coat if you desire, or just finish with tung oil,
polyurethane, or varnish. Tung oil is recommended for kitchen situations because it has excellent water