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Novice Wood-Ruiner Studies the Door Build

Figure 1:  A Door in the clamps (Big iron Besse ones!)

So … the doors are going together – but I’m doing the bottom ones first (using the birch panel inserts instead of the glass inserts that will go into the top cabinet panels).  Before I could get to the glue-up shown in figure 1, I ran the frame parts over the table saw (to cut them to length and to put the panel dado grooves into the edges of them), and then I ran the frame parts over the router (to put the biscuit mortises (grooves) into the ends of them.  I had previously used the router to put an ogee style inner profile on all of the frame parts.

Figure 2: A pile of cabinet door bottoms to start things up

In Figure 2 can be seen a small pile of door tops/bottoms (tops and bottoms are identical).  The biscuit mortise (groove) can be seen in the end of each piece.  This groove can be cut easily with a router biscuit-cutting bit.  The one I’m using is shown in Figure 3, and is a Whiteside #0 biscuit-cutting bit.   The doors probably get most of their strength from the panel insert’s glued connection to the frame, so the biscuits really only serve to hold the pieces in alignment while the glue dries, and to add a little strength.  This is OK for the lightweight bottom cabinet doors (the panels are very lightweight, and won’t require much more than I’ve done) – but for the upper cabinet glass-insert doors a better joint will be needed that is much stronger than the biscuits. I’m still thinking about what I will use for that …

Figure 3: The #0 biscuit-cutter router bit makes quick work of biscuit mortises!

On the table saw, a dado blade was used to cut the mortises (grooves) for the birch panel inserts.  The birch is 3/16 inch thick, and the frames are one inch thick.

Figure 4 : The ends of the door bottoms still need to be dressed.

Figure 5: A few of the doors almost finished, and one with white paint.

It can be seen that the ends of the frame pieces still need to be dressed up a little (sanded) – before the glue-up assembly.  We will need about 24 doors, so the router and table saw efficiency is needed!

It seems such a shame to cover the hardwood doors with white paint!  But – the hardwood purpose is more than just to look good.  It will resist bangs, dents, scuffs and the like for years to come.   One can see that I got the panels upside down in the middle two frames – they should all look like the panel on the far right.  They’re sanded smooth, and after paint will all look the same, but for a clear finish this would have been a serious boo-boo.  This is because only one side of the inner panel sheets have a “good” factory finish.

Figure 6: The finishing process involves lots of sanding!

As shown in figure 6, the router table is handy for more than just routing!  The very first sanding I do with an orbital sander.  From then on, it’s all by hand.

Figure 7:  The router round-over bit does a job of cleaning and rounding edges

This is still my whiteside 3/32 roundover on the table, and it’s not really a very high radius.  I may re-do the round-over with a 3/16.

Figure 8: The sanded dust is easily gotten rid of with the super vac.

Once again, the dust collector tube from the router table comes in handy as it sucks the fine sanding dust from door surfaces.

Figure 9: After the super-vac, a tack cloth cleans up the rest

The tack cloth doesn’t clog up nearly as fast if the vac is used often enough.

Figure 10: Next, we drop some shellac onto the doors.

Shellac for bare wood primer is the best IMO – just have good ventilation.  I use the clear kind (the orange/amber has wax, which would not be the best primer).

Figure 11: Although this gets into the next article, I’ve started cabinet cutting in volume.

The blade is sitting low in the piece.  I try to find a spot where the cuts are cleaner.

Figure 12:  The rough-cut cabinet panels mean a lot of sanding!

Maybe the spot I selected for blade height was not optimal, as the pieces look pretty rough cut.  No matter – sanding cures all!  Notice some of the plywood is maple – for exposed surfaces where dings might occur, and where the extra strength is beneficial.  All will be painted, however.

Figure 13:  Note that the saw is OFF.  I never use a hand to push pieces!

The guard on the saw should always be used.  And, I always use a pusher-piece to move wood thru the saw – never a hand!


Usual disclaimer: These pages are written by an amateur woodworker, so are not recommended for any best practices or project advise or tutoring. The pages simply detail what I’ve been doing (a journal of sorts), and may include a ton of mistakes and bad ideas. Hopefully, some of the problems disappear by the end of the project.



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