Bent Doors

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Forum topic by Steve Woolley posted 02-18-2010 02:24 AM 2475 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Steve Woolley

10 posts in 4464 days

02-18-2010 02:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m looking for some advice regarding some warped cabinet doors. These are 3/4” cherry slab doors, 23” wide, with two 2” wide cleats glued/screwed and mortised to the inside of each door. I used the cleats because I was concerned about warping when I built the doors, but never having built slab doors before, I did not realize that the cleats would not prevent the kind of wood movement that I got. See an example here:
Bent Doors . Amazingly, the force of the warp even bent the cleats.

The doors were made and installed this past summer during high humidity. We’ve had unusually low humidity this winter (Ohio).

I’m faced with replacing about 8 of these doors. I would appreciate any ideas on how I might pull the warp or cup out of these doors or fix them somehow before I give in to just making new ones. If I make new ones, I will replace each 23” door with 2 11.5” doors.

Any feedback would be most appreciated.


-- Steve, Cincinnati, Ohio

4 replies so far

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2387 posts in 3571 days

#1 posted 02-18-2010 02:36 AM

I looked in here because I thought I might be helpful, we build a lot of doors but all frame and panel. The only suggestions I might have would be for the building process to avoid the warping but once warped like the doors you have I am not sure short of ripping the doors into smaller styles, sanding back the finish and glueing back up. Sorry I cannot help much.

I know when building my frame and panel doors, I just look for the straightest lumber for my styles and longer pieces. We also use a drum sander which I find helps to flatten out our panels on the high spots. None of our panels come close to being as wide as your slab doors though.

I would be interested to see what others have to say though. Jerry

-- .

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3460 days

#2 posted 02-18-2010 12:09 PM

These doors are warped! I think I know why and if I am correct, there is some good news, this is a relatively easy fix! (I hope so) Especially if the doors are all the same width. because you can use the same jig for them all. If not its not tragic either.

If you noticed that the doors are curved away from the cabinet, which means there is as you said a humidity difference. The dry air is drying out the wood on the outside and moisture is staying “locked” in the cabinet, there is a difference and bingo, the wood dries out and curls… the same thing will happen, if one leaves a solid piece of wood, (a non quarter sawn piece) face down on the work bench over night. Usually it will curl upwards.

I would fix this with a sliding dovetail, using the jig in this forum

First unscrew the old strips of wood.

Then Using clamps and straight, thick strips of wood get the doors flattened out so you can cut the groove for the dovetail.

I would also make sure to use a quarter sawn piece for the sliding dovetail and no screws, they are not necessary. I would also use Maple. Its harder, and fine pored, so it should slide in nice, not to mention it has a really good resistance against bending. You should also consider using a little thicker piece if possible, and not so flat. (at least 10 mm or more), and make sure the growth rings are perpendicular to the panel (or doors) being held straight. If need be, you can always stain the maple to match the cherry.

Then cut your dovetails to fit and your smiling ! Make sure you leave a gap underneath the strip so the wood can expand and shrink with out problems, and only glue end of the sliding dove tail or it defeats the purpose of allowing the wood to move along it. The sliding dovetail should slide in relatively easily the first 2/3 then it should start to become stiff, but the last 1/3 you should be able to whack in with a mallet or hammer.

I hope this helps, i am sure it will though

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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Steve Woolley

10 posts in 4464 days

#3 posted 02-18-2010 07:27 PM

Nicholas, I think you really nailed the cause of this problem. You’re right, all the doors warped the same way.

How will the use of a sliding dovetail help the cleats hold the door flat? The cleats, you’ll notice, actually bent with the doors, they didn’t pop out of their mortises. Here is the jig I used to mortise the cleats:

You’re also correct that maple would have been a better choice for the cleats – and turned on it’s edge for better bending resistance. However, I still don’t understand how to slide the cleats into the mortise in that the mortise does not/cannot go across the entire width of the door.

I do appreciate your feedback.

-- Steve, Cincinnati, Ohio

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3460 days

#4 posted 02-18-2010 10:20 PM

Steve, no problemo!

So first of all, I do not think you will achieve a 100% perfect flatness, close but not perfect with slab doors, because of the moisture difference.

I am strongly convinced that if you add at least 10mm of wood of thickness to the cleats, that it will help more than you might expect. I think getting rid of the screws serves two purposes, one the sliding dovetail holds better, and unless you made oblong holes (which is completly necessary for this kind of cleat with screws for fastners) for the screws to move back and fourth, the sliding dovetail slides and provides a much better guide. Second of all but just as important, having no visible screws or no screws at all looks way better and eventhough the layman man not know the difference concsencely (no spell checker here) they can somehow sense the difference.

I was thinking that you would ask about the entire door thing. Thats a good question and I do have a solution. well there are two, I will give you the more complicated one first .

it goes like the following… you could cut off the the edges of the doors, approximetly 4 cm, off each side (the left and right side). Ok then cut your groove. Cut your sliding dovetail to fit. off set the sliding dovetail so that the door hs a little space to move, but so you do not see it from the back of the door, basically cutting away a bit of the dovetail part, but leaving something over it from the cleat to cover the hole, and do this on both the right and left sides. Glue on the cut off wood. Depending on the blade thickness, you should be able to pull this off with out any real notice able width differene.

Here is what I would do and this is my second recommendation goes like this, do as I posted, earler, and if you are worried that you can see the groove from the one side, it is possible to glue a bit of veneer on one side thus covering it from the outside.

here are some pics to illustrate what I am trying to describe.

hoped to help, these were the only pics I have here on hand of something similiar.

let me know if there is any further questions…

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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