Essential cabinet doors

There are a number of design and construction options to consider when making doors for cabinets and other woodworking projects.

Choose a method of construction

Depending on the size of the door or the style of a piece of furniture, it is important to choose an appropriate construction method. Large doors benefit from frame-and-panel construction because it allows the panel to expand and contract in width from seasonal humidity without affecting the fit of the door on the piece of furniture. This is especially important if the door is inset into an opening.
There are several ways to vary the appearance of a frame-and-panel door. You can experiment with the width and placement of the stiles and rails (the top, bottom, and side members of the frame). Or you might build a more advanced frame-and-panel design, such as the tombstone door.

Go beyond flat

Coopering is a general woodworking technique that can be used for making bow-front cabinet doors. It involves assembling a panel from staves (strips of wood with beveled edges) and then shaping the joints smooth to reveal a curved form. Other techniques that will yield similar results include resawing a bow-front door from a thick piece of lumber and laminating thin panels on a form.

Not all doors must be seen

There are several methods to make stowaway doors on furniture, as seen in the tambour on 18th-century roll-top secretary desks or the pocket door on modern-day entertainment centers. These are a good option if saving space is a concern. Tambours are constructed by gluing strips of wood to a canvas back. The flexible panel travels in grooves. Pocket doors can be hand-built or use expensive hardware.

Add custom details

For a modern look, choose kitchen cabinets with doors that fit flush to the edges of the cabinet and use sleek kitchen cabinet pulls or even no pulls at all.

There is a variety of commercial hardware options for doors, but making your own knobs and pulls is a great way to personalize a project. Hand sculpted pulls can be as diverse as your imagination can take you, and turning pulls on the lathe is another great way to add personality to a design.

Consider also whether stained natural wood, painted wood, or man-made materials would look best with the overall home design. Here also, it is possible to mix and match a bit. Cabinets can be two-toned with the outer frame around a cabinet door one color contrasting with the main cabinet color. For a farmhouse or more traditional look, a single kitchen cabinet can be made to look more like a piece of furniture by using a different color or material than the rest of the kitchen and putting it on raised legs.