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 and well within the reach of anybody with some basic woodworking tools and skills.
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 dont close properly.
Perhaps youre building kitchen cabinet doors since your old ones gave up the ghost or maybe youre 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.
Kitchen Cabinet Refacing
Kitchen cabinet refacing is a term you will hear often among remodeling contractors. This is a viable alternative to completely replacing built-in cabinets. Just the doors and the hardware are updated. This saves money on both materials and labor (if you choose to hire a contractor rather than DIY). There are many styles to choose from.
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 that will match your project exactly.
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 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 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.
Cabinet door under construction
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.
Whats 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 isnt only a recommendation; its an obligation. In fact, it is every bit as important as the rest of your home security systems.
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 repellant properties.