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Make a Kitchen Cabinet Door


Similar to Making a Picture Frame, Design it, Build it, and Apply Wood Finishing Techniques

© 2008 by All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

Cabinet Door



This article explains what a DIY’er needs to know about building kitchen cabinet doors. It discusses wood selection, finish selection, and types of hinges and cabinet hardware. It’s 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 you’re 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 you’re refinishing kitchen cabinets that one door is just not salvageable. In this case, you’ll 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, it’s 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 you’re 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 poplar.

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 cabinet’s openings.

If you’re after more sophisticated cabinet doors, think of the cabinet door as a picture frame. But you’re not constrained to glass, a backing of the wood the cabinet is constructed from is common as well.

For a wealth of ideas, check outRockler’s exclusive Custom Cabinet Door and Drawer program.

Detailed Layout and Construction Instructions

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 they’re 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 hidey-hole.

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 they’re 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 repellant properties.


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