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Simple Cabinet Doors


The previous owner of our house was not a woodworker. Still, he left us some entirely adequate built-in bookcases in our family room. These were not fine woodworking, but still too good to tear out. (And considering that they installed hardwood floor after putting in the bookcases, yes around the bookcases, it would take a lot for us to go through the pain of ripping that all out!)

However, these bookcases were messy. We have a lot of books, we have a large family, and we homeschool. So all bookcases in our house get well used! But enough was enough. These bookcases were functional, but made the family room feel constantly messy. My wife put out the call for doors, and I was put to work.

For basic panels, where I don't think the project warrants the effort of true frame-and-panel construction, I have developed a technique of what I call "fake flat panels". They look like real flat panels in a frame-and-panel door, but they aren't.

For building doors for these basic bookcases, to turn them into cabinets, I elected to keep things quick and simple. The previous photo is of the backside of my sample joint. The frame was made from 2-1/2" x 3/4" red oak stock. The ends were connected with pocket hole joinery. The inside was then cleared out with a 3/8" rabbeting bit on the router. A panel of 1/4" plywood is then fitted into this space and glued and screwed into place.

The above photo shows the end result, of the back. From the back, the trickery is plain to see. But from the front, it looks just like any other "real" flat panel door.

Sorry, I don't have any photos of the doors in their unfinished state. Dark stain is not usually my first choice, but in this case I had to match the existing built-in shelves. Waterbased Flecto was used for the stain, and then also Flecto Varathane was sprayed onto the doors for a nice finish. After a few days to harden up, furniture wax was buffed into the rails and stiles. (I found the panels really didn't need it.)

Some random-hardwood knobs were used for handles. They were far cheaper than going to find actual red oak knobs. I had a hard time with the stain at first, it just would not match. But I solved that by digging into the "sludge" at the bottom of the stain can and laying that on. (Yes I do stir the stain to mix it, but I still always have a small layer of solids stuck down there which came in handy in this instance.)

And here is the final result. Turned out pretty good, we think, and it goes a HUGE way to "calming" the room. Just scroll back up and look how messy the original was!


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