What kind of joint is best for kitchen cabinet doors?

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Forum topic by stefang posted 10-10-2009 11:38 AM 11018 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3333 days

10-10-2009 11:38 AM

Our kitchen cabinet doors are traditional construction with raised panel and framed with regular stiles and rails construction which I built myself many years ago. However, a few years ago I made six hanging cabinets for my workshop using mitered half-lap construction on the frame and panel doors. The panel is 3/8” chipboard, not glued in. These cabinets have remained very stable and the door frames seem very strong. I like the mitered look and I am considering using this type of construction on a new set of kitchen doors. But before I do this, I would feel more comfortable if I knew this type of construction would be suitable for that purpose, so I would appreciate any good advice before I make the leap.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

10 replies so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4123 days

#1 posted 10-10-2009 06:42 PM

I just made a whole bunch of mitered floating tenon doors for my kitchen, I’ll tell you in a decade how they hold up, but I had the devil of a time getting them apart after my dry fit…

I think mitered half-lap should be just fine!

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3575 days

#2 posted 10-10-2009 06:46 PM

Hey Mike
Fine woodworking had a strength test on door joinery and half lap was the strongest.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3285 days

#3 posted 10-10-2009 06:58 PM

In our production door shop we use the traditional cope & stick joint. Having done thousands & thousands of doors over the last 40 years, I don’t remember ever having one come back due to the joint failing. When the door is dropped or abused it will usually break the wood around the joint, but the joint itself doesn’t come apart. That said, Fine Woodworking recently tested joints and showed the cope and stick to be somewhat weak. My question is, how often do you put 1000 lbs of mechnical pressure against the corner of your kitchen cabinet doors. I think the test of time is much more important to me. Now is it better than your mited joint? I’m not real sure. I would say do whatever you like best. Both joints will work for you.


View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3353 days

#4 posted 10-10-2009 09:29 PM

And then dowel pin the mitre as well never move then LOL

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3199 days

#5 posted 10-10-2009 09:53 PM

I think if you go out now and look at what is coming out of most cabinet factories today is going to be cope and stick joint with pocket hole screws. There has been a big swing toward pocket hole usage as of late. And not just in the face frames. I am seeing it more and more especially in large full overlay doors.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3333 days

#6 posted 10-11-2009 11:31 AM

Thank you one and all for the very helpful comments.

I have cope and stick cutters for my combi machine shaper and I used them for the existing cabinet doors, but since no one had anything negative to say about the mitered half-lap joints, I think I will go with that. I used some router templates to do the Mitered half-laps on my shop cabinet doors and they worked real well. It’s good to know that the half-laps are actually stronger than the cope and stick joints. Not so surprising though, considering the huge glue surface.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View HarleySoftailDeuce's profile


320 posts in 3418 days

#7 posted 07-10-2011 05:15 AM

Hi Mike,
I’m going with cope & stick for my skaker doors. A new neighbor of mine is a high end furniture maker (18th century)...and his work is exceptional! He’s mentoring me. I’ve built typical cabinet carcasses from 3/4” ply and attached with Kreg pocket screws;really sturdy. My backs are also 3/4” ply. overkill I know…but its’ my first woodworking project…so ignorance is bliss. Drop me a note for any information I can offer you.


-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4399 days

#8 posted 07-10-2011 06:10 AM

I used cope and stick and then put loose tenons (Beadlock) in the joints. I don’t think they will ever come apart.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3157 days

#9 posted 07-10-2011 06:16 AM

I’ m doing floating tenon mitered joints for my kitchen cabinet doors as well. I certainly prefer the look.

-- jay,

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3545 days

#10 posted 07-10-2011 06:21 AM

We build a lot of doors and use cope and stick. But if i were doing my own i would prefer to use mitered joint.

-- .

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