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Thread: Kitchen Cabinets

  1. #1

    Kitchen Cabinets

    I'm in the planning stages for a kitchen remodel and have a couple of questions about cabinets. I will be keeping the lowers I have in place and replacing the uppers. My existing cabinets are frameless and I will be replacing the doors and drawer fronts on the lowers. The doors I want to build are a simple shaker style with stiles, rails and a flat panel insert. I am not sure the best path to building the doors.


    Should I use a stile and rail shaker router bit or just use my table saw for the kerfs and shoulders? What species would be best for painting? Poplar, etc?


    Regarding the panel insert (all will be painted), should I use 1/4 plywood or perhaps mdf?


    Should I glue the panel given that shrinkage will be minimal due to it being ply?


    For painting, I plan on using an oil based satin as oils always seem to me to be the hardest. Would you spray? I have a traditional compressor based HVLP gun.


    Thanks for your suggestions!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike McCloskey View Post
    Should I use a stile and rail shaker router bit or just use my table saw for the kerfs and shoulders? What species would be best for painting? Poplar, etc?
    That is a personal preference. I use a router table for all my cuts as it make the stopped cuts in the stiles easier to, uh, stop (depending upon your chosen joinery method). I join all my pieces with a Domino (loose tenon).

    Regarding the panel insert (all will be painted), should I use 1/4” plywood or perhaps mdf?
    I like to use a hardboard insert myself but find whatever is flat and be sure to paint it ahead of time...on all faces and edges. It will last better in a harsh environment like a kitchen. Use a good quality primer and paint. Spend some money there and it'll be worth it in the long run. Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore are some of the nicer (pricier) brands to look into.

    Should I glue the panel given that shrinkage will be minimal due to it being ply?
    I wouldn't do it. You'll want to use something like Space Balls or lay down lines of pure, cheap silicone on wax paper, cut 'em up, and use them to keep your panels from moving and centered. This will keep them more or less floating.

    For painting, I plan on using an oil based satin as oils always seem to me to be the hardest. Would you spray? I have a traditional compressor based HVLP gun.
    I spray just about everything but then again I have a nice (loud) 4-stage turbine HVLP (Apollo 1000, bought early 2000s). Practice with your chosen paint to set it up properly.
    Last edited by Chris Padilla; 01-10-2017 at 6:36 PM.
    Wood: a fickle medium....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  3. #3
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    -Poplar would work, but you could probably upgrade to soft maple for the cost of a family dinner at a restaurant - personal preference.
    -Shaker doors are easy to build on the tablesaw, but a good set of router bits could save you some hand sanding - personal preference.
    -I prefer Ultralight MDF over plywood for the panels and glue them in if you want to, MDF is stable and does not expand and contract, plywood can be unpredictable. I built 36" tall uppers (9'ceiling) for our basement laundry room a few years ago using poplar and MDF for the 5 piece raised panel doors and glued the panels in then primed and painted. They are still flat and true as they were on the first day - again personal preference.
    -I would definitely spray (if your gun can handle/atomize thick paint properly) it's much more even and so much faster. Start with a good primer, MDF can be a b.... if not sealed properly.
    Edit: Sand lightly between coats.

  4. #4
    Thanks for the help guys. I'll probably go with MDF. Any tips on ensuring that the doors are square. I've never made five piece doors before. Want to try to make sure that they are perfect.

  5. #5
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    Mike it's not that hard to do.Dont worry you'll figure out a system that's works for you.
    And if you get in a jam well throw you a rope.
    One of the best ways to take the power out if doing something is to talk about it.
    So save your power.
    You be fine.
    Aj

  6. #6
    Thanks Andrew!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike McCloskey View Post
    Thanks for the help guys. I'll probably go with MDF. Any tips on ensuring that the doors are square. I've never made five piece doors before. Want to try to make sure that they are perfect.
    Build a mock up using cheap pine or pallet wood before you start working on the real thing, make sure all your cuts are 90* horizontally and vertically. Before you apply any glue assemble everything dry, put your clamps on and measure both diagonals, you don't want any surprises once the glue is out of the bottle. Be careful with the amount of clamping pressure, to much and the stiles will bow upwards. If you have a pin nailer you can shoot a couple pins into the joints on the back side of the doors, this will let you free up the clamps for the next door and you still have a minute to double check the door for squareness and make sure everything is nice and flat. Don't be to generous with the glue in areas where it is difficult to clean up, especially on the inside corners. When you cut your panels, it would be a good idea to cut them about 3/16" smaller than than the distance between (inside the grooves) the top and bottom rails as well as the left and right stiles, this will make assembly much easier.
    And as Andrew said, there is always someone here to assist you along the way.
    Last edited by John Lankers; 01-11-2017 at 12:39 AM.

  8. #8
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    Any tips on ensuring that the doors are square.
    My thinking may be sort of whacked out, but, I like using a router instead of the table saw on the rails and stiles for this reason.
    The router bits are a fixed distance from things & the doors just seem to go together square.
    Also - it might be my imagination, but, using space balls also made things go together square for me.


    Regarding the panel insert (all will be painted), should I use 1/4 plywood or perhaps mdf?


    Should I glue the panel given that shrinkage will be minimal due to it being ply?
    Another advantage the router has is that you can buy undersized bits that match the undersized plywood.
    I glued my inserts, but, only a dab in each corner.


    Flat doors are really super easy to make.
    Once you make one you'll kick yourself for not jumping in sooner & you'll start looking for things you can make doors for.
    Last edited by Rich Engelhardt; 01-11-2017 at 2:30 PM.
    Every loaf of bread is a tragic tale of grains that could've become beer.......but didn't....

  9. #9
    If you have spray equipment look at General Finishes pigmented poly. It was designed to spray so it sprays much easier than a typical paint will and dries in a couple hours so you can do multiple coats in a day.

    I sprayed my cabinets with it two years ago and have been very happy with the durability and cleanability.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike McCloskey View Post
    Thanks for the help guys. I'll probably go with MDF. Any tips on ensuring that the doors are square. I've never made five piece doors before. Want to try to make sure that they are perfect.
    When I make doors I cut the panel to the exact length I need then lightly clamp the rails to it then clamp the stiles. If your panel is square the door will be square. I make the stiles a little long and cut them after assembly. Having a sliding table saw makes this step simple.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  11. #11
    Great tips all! Feeling more confident already!

  12. #12
    Brad, as a pigmented poly, it finishes looking like paint?

  13. #13
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    My approach to my kitchen remod a few years ago was the same, new, taller uppers, but keep the carcase of the lowers, add new doors and end panels. I went with natural hickory, so I didn't paint them. I used raised panels, which are a bit trickier than shaker style. I did, however, make new top and bottom cabinet fronts for my son's kitchen probably 7 years ago. Soft maple with 3/4" MDF raised panels. Before painting I sealed the raw MDF edges with a watered down glue. I painted them using SW classic acrylic satin enamel, which is a water based self-leveling cabinet paint. They turned out really nice. I sprayed them using a rented airless sprayer. Spraying a heavier paint like that can be an issue with some HVLP sprayers. The advantage to a self leveling paint is if you need to paint anything in place because you can't spray and need to brush or roller, you can still get a sprayed on look. I have since bought a Graco X5 entry level airless sprayer and have painted probably 30 raised panel bifold and full size doors as well as a basement full of beadboard in a fraction of the time it would take with roller and brush, or even using my HVLP conversion gun.
    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 01-11-2017 at 2:17 PM.
    NOW you tell me...

  14. #14
    Thanks Ole, would any others like to comment on using an airless sprayer for cabinets?

  15. #15
    Another question - I know there are a myriad of ways to construct the carcasses. What type of joinery works best for y'all? Pocket holes, biscuits, rabbet, butt? Thanks again!

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