How to Make Wooden Cabinet Doors

Lead Image
  • 3-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-300
What You'll Need
3/4 inch plywood with hardwood surface
1/4 inch plywood with hardwood surface
Table saw
Mitre box, mitre square
Router on a router table
Wood glue
Stain and polyurethane finish
Safety gear

New cabinet doors can completely change the look of your kitchen. While you could purchase new ones, you could also build your own from scratch for the fraction of the cost of new cabinets. Follow the guide below to build frame-and-panel cabinet doors. These cabinet doors include an exterior frame routed to hold a 1/4 inch panel in the center. This cabinet-door style is just as easy to make as a simple slab-door style, but it has a richer look.

Step 1 – Choose Your Materials

The quality of the cabinet doors you will make will depend on the wood that you choose to make them out of. Different types of wood will have different grain patterns. Choose a wood you like with as straight a grain as possible.

Choosing Surfaced Wood

If you don’t have a planer and jointer, you will need to look for wood that is already surfaced on four sides, S4S wood, or you will need to ask if the lumberyard where you’re buying your materials can finish them for you.

Step 2 – Measure the Door Sizes

You’ll need to make the frames the size you want the finished doors. First, measure and sketch the kitchen area where you will install the doors. Write the measurement of each door beside its opening in the sketch.

Leaving Overlap

Remember to leave 1/2 inch overlap on each side of the door. The vertical sides of the frame are called stiles, and the horizontal are called rails. When you measure the length of the stiles, you should add 1 inch (1/2 for each side) to the length of the stiles. Do the same for the rails.

Step 3 – Rip the Frame Pieces

Rip your 3/4 inch finished lumber to your preferred rail width. Most often, this width should be around 2 inches. This width leaves a noticeable frame without using too much wood.

Step 4 – Cut Frame Pieces to Length

Warning: When using any kind of router or saw, take the appropriate safety precautions as provided by the tool’s manufacturer. Wear safety gear, and make sure there are no children or animals in your work area.

Use a mitre square to square the boards. Then, set up the table saw to length, and cut all the boards of the same length in succession to avoid resetting the saw each time. First cut the stiles, and then cut the rails.

Step 5 – Make Router Cuts

On each of the rail pieces, use a coping bit on the router and a coping sled to make a coping cut on both ends of each rail. Do not use a coping cut on the stiles.

After all the rails are cut, use a stick bit to make a groove for the rails to attach to the stiles. Then, create a decorative cut along one of the edges of the stiles and the rails. Run the four pieces from each door through at the same time, so that the cut is on the inside edges.

Step 6 – Cut the Panels

Next, cut the center panels from the 1/4 inch plywood for each door. To find the size for the interior panel, measure in 3 1/4 inch from the exterior size of the door.

Step 7 – Assemble the Doors

Use glue on the end of each rail, and insert them into the bit groove. Hold them in place with clamps. Then, insert the inner panel, but do not glue it. Assemble the remaining stile and rail, using wood glue in each joint.

Step 8 – Stain the Doors

Using stain and polyurethane gloss, finish the doors to the color and gloss you desire. Once the stain or gloss is dry, you can install cabinet hardware, like knobs.

WARNING: Make sure your work area has proper ventilation and to wear a face mask while applying stain and polyurethane gloss.