As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.  

Custom Ikea Kitchen: Making Doors


For our kitchen, we chose to make classic shaker-style doors with simple flat panels. We like the clean simple lines, and they are also quite easy to build.

I first prepared the cherry stock for this build. I planed the cherry to 3/4" thick, and then ripped the pieces to 2.5" wide. That is the size I chose for our rails and stiles. I then cut the pieces to length and sorted them into piles: two rails and two stiles for each door that I am building.

I then arranged the pieces and chose which face was the show face, and also how I wanted them arranged. I always make an effort to lay out the piece so that the grain flows in a pleasing manner.

For example, in this photo you can see that the grain in the rail is curving AWAY from the center of the door. I don't think this is a good look, so I took this piece and flipped it around so that the grain curved the other way. In this way it gives the door a subtle arch kind of look, and I think it also helps the grain flow from the stiles to the rails and back. It's a subtle, but I find it to be important.

Here is another view of the same piece with the grain now curving the other way. I also have rearranged the stile on the left, so that it's grain also curves toward the rail. I find that extra effort like this is one of the big advantages of doing custom work. When you buy a manufactured piece of furniture, manufactured in a factory, you rarely find that the grain has been carefully arranged like this.

Once the piece has been arranged how I like it, I mark all the joints so that I can later reassemble it the right way. I also need to make marks that I used when making the joiner with my dowel jig.

You might have noticed that I had already cut my pieces to final length. I have had an awesome dowelling jig for about ten years, and I use it a lot. (In fact, I've never actually made cope-and-stick doors. No reason, I just haven't.) I also used the dowel jig for my doors, drilling holes in the ends and joining the pieces with glue and dowels.

After drilling all the dowel holes, I glued the frames together and clamped them.

Since I'm using plywood panels, I don't need to worry about wood movement. Hence, there is no need for the panels to "float" in the frame. Therefore, I use the router table to cut a rabbet in the back of the frames to receive the plywood panels.

I cut this in two passes so as not to take such a deep cut. This makes a HUGE mess, as it's almost impossible to use dust collection in this situation.

I then used a chisel to square up the corners. The other option would be to cut the corners of the plywood panels round, but I think this looks better.

I cut the plywood panels to size and glued them into the rabbet. I used some 5/8" brads, nailed at a 45-degree angle, to hold the panels in place while the glue dried. When I made the doors for the pantry, I just used glue, which is all you really need. This just makes the process go faster.

I bought 1/4" thick cherry plywood for this project. It was good-two-side plywood, with a particle board core. I had thought about buying good-one-side plywood, but changed my mind, as we will see the back of our cabinet doors a LOT in our kitchen. Every time we open the door I want to see something nice, not something ugly.

I finished the panels with three coats of Minwax oil-modified polyurethane. Despite the name, this is a waterbased polyurethane finish. It has the easy cleanup and low-VOC of a waterbased finish, but it also gives some of the lovely amber colour that oil-based finishes provide.

Here is a look at one of the finished kitchen cabinet doors.

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)

SensGard ZEM hearing protection
Stanley Leverlocks -- love these tape measures
Other auto-locking tape measures
Painter's Pyramids
Dowelmax Company
NOTE: at the time of publishing (May 2023) Dowelmax is not currently available on amazon. It has been in the past, so I am keeping the following links, but right now only the link above to "" is known to work.
Dowelmax Dowel Joinery Kit
Dowelmax Drill Guides for 1/4" Dowels
Dowelmax Dowels

Minwax Oil-Modified Polyurethane

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases you make using my affiliate links.


Thanks for stopping by! If you found this useful, please consider supporting my work!   Ways To Support Me ... »

See Also:

Custom Ikea Kitchen : Intro and Bulkheads

Custom Ikea Kitchen: Cabinet Fronts

Custom Ikea Kitchen: Side Panels