Insetting glass in cabinet doors

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Forum topic by kap_x posted 09-24-2015 03:25 PM 2357 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1000 days

09-24-2015 03:25 PM

Hello, all.

I am new to woodworking and decided to dive head first building a 7’6” Gustavian-style corner china cabinet. It will look similar to this. Most everything is done and looking good, but I am working on the cabinet doors now. This is a paint-grade project.

The top section will feature cabinet doors which are ~36” tall and ~13.5” wide. Each will have a 1/8” glass panel inset into the rails and stiles. The rails and stiles on the lower cabinet doors are joined with mitered edges and each have a dado which accommodates a central panel. I’d like to make the top doors in a similar manner, but with glass. These will have two additional horizontal rails on the front face in line with the shelves. I have never worked with glass before, so this presents some foreseeable challenges for me.

As it stands, the rails and stiles are all designed to be 3/4” thick and 2” wide. I am thinking a 1/4” deep dado into each to accommodate the glass panel and still leave room for inset frameless hinges and a key-lock mechanism. My hangups are as follows:

1. Joinery – I am concerned that glued miter joints will not be strong enough to support the weight of the glass on a cabinet door. Is this a valid concern? Should I change the joinery? On the bottom doors the center panel was glued into the dado; is there an adhesive with which I could accomplish this with the glass?

2. Dado concept – On most of the glass doors I see, it seems the glass is inset into a rabbet. Is there something I am overlooking with the design concept, for instance issues stemming from temperature fluctuations (I live in Alaska…)

3. Joinery for horizontal rails – Still debating on how I want to join these with the stiles. I was thinking some sort of lap joint but if there is glass in the 3/4” stock, that’s a pretty thin joining surface. Suggestions?

Thanks in advance!!

10 replies so far

View CB_Cohick's profile


485 posts in 1275 days

#1 posted 09-24-2015 03:33 PM

Welcome to LJ’s, kap. First off, let me say you have chosen quite a project for your first woodworking effort! If I understand you correctly, I would agree that a miter joint may not be sturdy enough for your doors with glass panels. Mortise and tenon would be the strongest joint, but most cabinet doors I see make use of cope and stick joinery for the rails and stiles. That method though would require a set of appropriate router bits and a router table. I have made some simple panels using dowels that I am confident would be strong enough to support glass. I am pretty new at all this too, so I am looking forward to hearing what some others may suggest.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2394 days

#2 posted 09-24-2015 03:52 PM

2. Dado concept – On most of the glass doors I see, it seems the glass is inset into a rabbet. Is there something I am overlooking with the design concept, for instance issues stemming from temperature fluctuations (I live in Alaska…)

By putting the glass in a rabbet, and nailing the trim on from behind to hold it in, you can replace the glass if it ever breaks, instead of the whole door. It also has the added benefit of allowing you to complete 99% of the build, along with finishing, before you put the glass in. Wouldn’t be too pleasant if you had it in the dado, glue it up, then finished it, then accidentally broke somewhere along the way. Or, if you used a dark stain, or paint in your case, on a lighter wood, but had the glass panel in the dado, you wouldn’t be able to paint/stain the inside of the dado, which may be visible through the glass at certain angles, and it would look weird. Since you’re painting, I would paint the rabbet and inside of trim piece to avoid bare wood showing.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2714 days

#3 posted 09-25-2015 12:09 AM

Ed beat me to it! The only thing I might add is to use half lap joinery. Easy to do, self squaring, and STRONG.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View splatman's profile


586 posts in 1423 days

#4 posted 09-25-2015 03:20 AM

+1 half-lap joinery. You could use a half-lap/miter combo, for the mitered joint look and strength of half-lap. Since you’re painting the item, you could probably ignore the miter idea. If doing miters, other options include biscuit joinery. A better one is Dominoes, though the Domino tool costs $1000+ You could do a similar trick with a router table, or build a slot mortiser (YouTube vid, 6:24). Or use through dowels (assemble the parts and drill from the outside, through the joint, insert the dowels, and sand flush).

+1 Rabbets, not dadoes for the glass.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3172 posts in 3255 days

#5 posted 09-25-2015 04:22 AM

Those doors are simple shaker style which can easily be made on a table saw. Personally, I would skip the mitered stuff. You tube has example videos.

I make my stiles 2 1/4 inches wide. No problem with the euro hinges and 7/16 inch deep dadoes for panels.

I made these doors recently for a project using the table saw.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2822 days

#6 posted 09-25-2015 02:18 PM

I built a whole kitchen full of cabinets when we remodelled our current house with glass in all the uppers. The glass is simply glued into a rebate in the backs of the completely finished doors. The glass company cut the pieces for perfect fit and glued them in with silicon. They assured me that no further retention was required.
They look great and it’s been ten years.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View bonesbr549's profile


1557 posts in 3091 days

#7 posted 09-25-2015 03:09 PM

I use a rail n stile set and simply cut the back side off iwth a router, thenn put the glass in, and cut some qtr round, and custom cut into place and pin nail it in. I included a ling to a hutch thats 9+ years old. Big thing you want to leave a way to replace a broken panel.

To cut the qtr round pieces, I simply use some same stock from project and thats about 6” wide and 3/4 thick. cut the round over profile on all four edges and use the TS to cut the strips off getting them perfect. I dab of glue and few pin nails and I cut the miters tight, and she’s good to go. Ever have to replace one, just pop the pieces out and put a new pane in, and put the qtr round back in. Really easy. I work mostly with cherry and keep a good stock of them in the shop.

Of course many ways to skin that cat, but do leave you a way to replace the glass. Good luck cheers!

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View Daruc's profile


460 posts in 1157 days

#8 posted 09-25-2015 04:29 PM

I use a rabbet and stops as well.
One other thing I do is,
lay the door flat,
put the glass in and put some weights on the glass to hold it down firm in the frame.
Then I put a bead of silicone just around the outside edge of the glass.
Add the stops after it has set up.
I think this adds strength to the door (a little) and helps keep the door from that rattle sound.
If you ever have to replace the glass, take out the stops and just razor cut around the glass and it will come right out.

-- -

View kap_x's profile


2 posts in 1000 days

#9 posted 11-06-2015 10:05 PM

Thanks for all the input, guys. I ended up building the top doors out of hard maple with (my first ever) mortise and tenon joints with two more “rails” level with the shelves half-lapped with the back of the stiles. I rabbeted in for the glass panel and set the glass with nothing but silicone, and it ended up working out really well. The glass feels very secure I am very happy with how it turned out.

The lady finished it with milk paint (which looks nice but it takes a LOT of expensive milk paint…we ran out twice) and oiled over top of that.

This was a pretty big project using a lot of techniques that I tried for the first time on the cabinet. Luckily everything worked (with plenty of mistakes and frustration, for sure).

What do you think?

View runswithscissors's profile


2764 posts in 2049 days

#10 posted 11-07-2015 01:15 AM

Wow. That is a beautiful piece of work. You say you’re new at this? If you did this for a client, I’d say you’ve already turned pro.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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