I have mentioned before that I do a lot of driving in my day job. I’m in flooring sales and I travel from city to city visiting customers and such. This gives me a lot of time to think. Sometimes I use this drive time to come up with woodworking solutions. It was during some of this drive time that I came up with my method for creating my kitchen cabinet doors.
The construction process is unique. In fact a woodworker friend asked me about my method since he would have never thought to make doors this way. He found it unusual that I would add the groove for the door panel after the door frame was assembled. The reason I chose this sequence of assembly comes from the thought that I wanted to minimize joinery where one part fit into another. For these doors specifically, I wanted to avoid any fussy joinery for the door frame. All joinery can be fussy I guess, but I see pocket screws as the most simple way to join two boards.
I can join the door frame with pocket screws, cut the panel slot with my router, partially disassemble the frame, insert the panel with glue and then put the frame back together.
In our small kitchen, we have three sets of upper cabinets. At this point, I have finished the new cabinet space and added new doors for two of the uppers. In this post, I will complete the third set of upper cabinets which I am calling the fridge uppers. The new space in this cabinet will have four doors and there will be four new doors for the existing space. Let’s take a look at my unusual door process…
In the photo above, you can see completed door frames on the right and a door which has been partially disassembled. The MDF panel’s corners need to be rounded so they match the curved corners cut by my router’s slot cutting bit.
Once the panel is glued in place, I reinsert the pocket screws, spread some glue at the joint and drive the screws homme. Next I add plugs for the pocket screws and plane the plugs flush with the frame.
The strength of the door comes from the glued in place panel. I felt uncertain that pocket screws alone would be sufficient for long term strength. I wondered if after, lets say 10 years that these screw joints would sag and open up under the weight of the door. The glued in place panel keeps this for happening.
Something that has kept this big, repetitive project from becoming boring is the use of hand planes. I use a block plane to trim the pocket screw plugs and in the photo above I’m getting a precise fit using a hand plane to trim the 45 degree ends of the beaded trim. I cut the beads at a 45 degree on my miter saw, leaving them a little long, then sneak up on the needed fit by planing away a small amount of material using my shooting board.
Years ago, I used a similar method (not using pocket screws though) to make frame and panel doors so I already had the slot cutting bit. So, this process is not totally new to me. This process is so unique that I really don’t expect many others would ever create doors this way. This is a nice thing about woodworking – I have a somewhat unique situation needing to make a lot of doors as fast as possible. And I want to do it as inexpensively as possible (meaning I did not want to buy a rail and stile router bit set up). This solution helps make woodworking rewarding.
Above you see the completed doors minus final paint. Next up is a custom profile crown molding to finish off the top of the three sets of upper cabinets (visible in the SketchUp image at the top of this post). A project that I am a little stressed about since I’ll be cutting a broad cove using my table saw, which I have never attempted before. Stay tuned…