Today I am thrilled beyond belief that we are starting to get cabinet doors installed on some of the (IMHO beautiful) cabinets that I built over the past year since my very first cabinetry-cation.
You wouldn’t think it’d be a big deal to get cabinet doors installed, but this is pretty huge. And now I can’t wait to get even more up so that we no longer have to check and make sure we don’t need to dust off cups, plates, and bowls before we use them.
After the fourth of July, I was able to take a few days off work and make some progress on the doors, so now we’ll have to OPEN cabinet doors to access some items! Novel, I know… but here are the doors that are hung so far.
How did These Doors Come About?
Well, I built them.
I went back and forth on building them and ordering doors (unfinished) from one of the several suppliers of cabinet doors online. Either way, I knew I would be on the hook for priming, painting, and installing (though Mr PoP is essential on that last part!). But my worst nightmare was to order $2K+ worth of doors only to discover that the measurements were slightly off to the point where trimming them would look funny or that they wouldn’t work with the hinges I had picked out.
So after reading a bunch about building your own cabinet doors, I decided to give it a shot. If I failed, I would (at the bare minimum) gain some valuable experience on measuring overlays and cuphole layouts and hopefully be able to really place an order for unfinished cabinet doors confidently.
The Design Of Our Doors
The design we wanted for our doors was a pretty basic – rectangular shaker style doors with a plywood beadboard center panel. Rectangles are pretty easy, which worked in my favor. We also knew that we would be painting these doors, so I had the luxury of using non-hidden joinery methods that could be completely covered up with wood filler and paint at a later time.
How To Build Painted Shaker Style Cabinet Doors
Here’s how I constructed the doors using 1×3 poplar boards and 3/16″ birch plywood beadboard paneling.
1 – Use a router to make a slots 3/16″ wide in the interior edges of the poplar boards for the door frame. The beadboard panels (3/16″ thick) will slide into these. Not having a router table, I set up a DIY-jig on our work table outside and used a Mikita hand router (this one from Home Depot) with the edge guide pressed up against my DIY jig to make four passes with the router taking off ~1/8″ each time in order to get the slots just over 1/2″ deep.
While I routed to the end for each of the rails (the horizontal pieces of the door frame), for the stiles (ie the frame pieces that make up the two sides), I stopped the routing 2″ from the end. This left me with a solid 2″ x 2.5″ space of unmolested wood at each corner where I could join it without worrying about the strength being compromised by routing.
2. Drill holes for joinery. This tutorial showed how to use mortise and tenon joinery on shaker style cabinet doors, and that seemed pretty cool. But given that ours were going to be painted I went with the joinery method I had gotten pretty good at so far in this project, my good old Kreg pocket-hole jig/screws.
3. Drill cup holes for the hinges. The hinges we wanted to use are the European-style hinges that require a 35mm (1 3/8″) cup to be drilled to a precise depth and a precise distance from the edge of the door frame. To that end, I went ahead and bought the basic Jig It (the deluxe version didn’t seem necessary) and the long shank 1 3/8″ Forstner drill bit to use with our hand drill. Those two items cost ~$100, but were cheaper (and will occupy less space to store) than getting a drill press, which is how the pros would generally create these holes. Admittedly, I’ve never used a drill press, but the Jig It worked REALLY well to drill these holes. It was easy to set up and use (even for a person without a ton of upper body strength), and made precise holes each time. There are cheaper guides out there to drill these holes, but I liked that this one came with a feature that would help me keep the hole going straight down (instead of angling somehow as I have been known to do when drilling) as well as a stop collar that would make sure I didn’t drill too deep.
4. Cut the beadboard paneling so that the lines will be symmetric after it’s inserted into the slots. It takes 3 times as many cuts as just slicing a panel off at random, but I guarantee that it looks at least 3x better to have the stripes all centered. =)
After that, it’s all assembly and finish work (wood filler, sanding, priming, sanding, painting, sanding, painting, sanding, painting, sanding, … painting). The plywood beadboard paneling we got is such a tight fit in the 3/16″ slots that tapping it with a hammer is sometimes necessary to really get it in, so I’m not worried about it moving around and there’s no “chattering” or rattling heard from the panels when you shut the doors. Installing them is also pretty darned easy with the 3-way adjustable Blum hinges that we bought. Eventually we’ll go in and make a few tweaks to the adjustments since they aren’t lined up EXACTLY right in a couple of spots (off by maybe 1/32?”).
Between the router (~$130), the 3/16″ router bit ($25), the Jig It and Forstner bit ($100), the wood for the frame (~$200 so far, probably another $200 or so to go), and the beadboard paneling (~$160) – unfinished doors are going to end up costing us around $800 or so. That’s about 1/3 of what we were looking at paying to have them built and shipped to us unfinished with pre-drilled cup holes. Sure, it’s more work, and does take some time (and a good pair of ear muffs) to zone out while doing all the routing. But like the cabinets themselves, I’ve really enjoyed the process of figuring it out and putting all the various pieces together from start to finish.
And it’s darned satisfying to see them finally hanging up on the cabinets!
* Are you aware just how many shades of grey there are? At one point in the process I thought I had Fifty Shades of Grey(!!) on my hands, but luckily when I counted it was only 39 grey paint chips… Phew!
What’s making you happy this Friday?