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How to Create New Cabinet Doors

When remodeling a cabinet, one of the final steps is to create new doors for it. Learn how to make new cabinet doors with these easy step-by-step directions.

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The butler pantry cabinet, before the restoration

Step 1: Measure and Check Each Cabinet

Measure each door opening.Check to see if the cabinet openings are square or not. If they are out of square, the cabinet may be able to be tweaked back into square.If not, make the door parts 1/8" oversize so that the doors can be cut to fit the out-of-square openings.

measure each door opening

Step 2: Measure and Cut the Door

Measure the existing doors including the rail dimensions (top and bottom boards of the door frame) and the stile dimensions (the side boards of the door frame). To cut the selected wood to the sizes needed for the door frame, begin by ripping down wood stock to the appropriate widths for rails and for the stiles of the cabinet doors. For the glass doors, rip down an additional width of wood stock to approximately 7/8" wide. This will be used to make muntin bars to be placed in the center of the glass doors (i.e., the three middle doors).

measure the existing doors

Step 3: Shape the Stile Edges

To shape the inside edge of the rails and stiles, first prepare a router table with a rail-and-stile set (male and female) router bits. Using the male bit of the router set, make the first cutting pass on one edge of each ripped board (Images 1 and 2). This will create the identical details for all the parts (rails and stiles) on the doors. Alternately, this same shape could be created with two passes of a beading bit and — with the board on edge — a veining bit to cut the slot for the door panel (Image 3).

Step 4: Cut All the Door Stiles

To cut the door parts to proper dimensions for each door, first cut all the door stiles (side pieces) to the length required for height of the door. Then cut all the door rails to the length required for the width of the door. Subtract the surface width between the outside edge of the stile and the start of the bead-shaped detail. Then subtract that from the overall door width to get the length of the rail boards.

Step 5: Cut the Ends of the Rails

Set up the reverse profile bit in router table — i.e., the female bit of the rail and stile bit set — to cut the joint shape onto the ends of each rail board. Using router table's miter gauge, push a rail board through the profile bit at a 90-degree angle to cut the shape on the end of the rail. Repeat on both ends for each rail to create the joint. Repeat the process on the muntin bars as well.

set up the reverse profile bit in router table

Step 6: Temporarily Assemble the Cabinet Doors

To create the door panels, begin by temporarily assembling each of the cabinet doors on a flat surface. Measure the distance between the inset of the beaded shape on both the top and the bottom of the doors. This will determine the panel width and height. Cut the 1/4" plywood panel to fit into the center of each of panel-style door.

Step 7: Cut Notches on the Muntin Bars

To create the muntin bars for the glass doors, take the ripped 7/8" board stock and make two passes with a beading bit on one edge as above. Then use a rabbeting bit to cut a notch along the length of each muntin for the placement of glass panes. Use the rabbeting bit or a table saw to remove the beaded shape off the back side of each rail and stile board dedicated to the glass doors. Sand the cut as needed.

creating muntin bars for glass doors

Step 8: Create a Panel Door

Begin by applying glue to each of the joints, where the rails meet the stiles (Image 1).Avoid glue in the panel groove, so the panel can "float" within the door frame. Assemble one rail (top or bottom) to the door stile boards.Insert the door panel into the groove (Image 2).Insert the other rail between the stiles and onto the door panel (Image 3).Clamp the stiles to the rails using bar clamps – two on top and two on the bottom to prevent the stiles from bending.