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Cabinet Masters Requested: Retrofitting Wood Doors to Vintage Kitchen's Sheet Metal Sink Cabinet

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Forum topic by Lovegasoline posted 06-08-2018 12:58 AM 6013 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lovegasoline

66 posts in 180 days


06-08-2018 12:58 AM

Hi Folks,
I’m renovating/restoring my kitchen which is 90 years old.

It has a cast iron double farmer sink mounted on a sheet metal cabinet, 1920s.
The cabinet in general is in surprisingly good shape for it’s age and the use and abuse it’s seen. The sheet metal doors however have been kicked closed too many times and are dented and the metal stretched. They are attached with knife hinges, which you can see in my pics. If I could get access to the inner screws on the knife hinges I could remove the doors and just make new ones to screw on the hinges. The problem is the inner screw on each knife hinge isn’t accessible … there does seem to be a way to access it, but it’s from inside the cabinet through a little hole, unfortunately the sink would need to be removed to gain access to the hole… removing the sink would open up a worse can of worms and is not an option, trust me on this. Also, the screws on the hinges that are accessible will not turn.

Initially my plan was a quick and dirty stripping plus some Bondo on the door faces which I started doing, but I think I need to change course and abandon that approach.

Frankly, I’ve had my fill of paint stripping (stripping the entire built in cabinetry plus trim and door/window frames … which when I post pics you’ll think I’m absolutely nuts). So I want to figure out another solution for these doors.

I have two ideas I’d like to get some development and feedback on.

1) the first is quick and dirty. I was thinking I could re-face the doors: attach a thin panel to the outside of the doors to make a smooth, even, planar, surface that would look good, the thinner the better. Something like 1/8 Baltic birch plywood maybe epoxied to the doors?? Not sure how to mount it cleanly. You’d only see the face of the doors 98% of the time; the only time you’d see the edges are in accessing the sink cabinet for cleaning supplies. So either Baltic Birch or maybe even something thinner and/or another material. But what material and how to attach it to the doors?
I like this idea because it would allow me to just get something done now quickly and inexpensively, and I think it would look OK.

2) The other idea is to cut/grind off the door hinges and toss the doors in the garbage where they belong.
Then, if I can locate a cope and stick router bit to match the kitchen cabinets I can make a door with poplar and plywood panels. The question then would be what sort of hinge hardware and how to mount it to the cabinet? I could easily mount a wood stile strip on the steel cabinet as a surface to mount the hinges to.
This approach has the benefit of getting the doors off so I can strip the remaining paint between door-and-frame, which I can’t easily access now. I can clean it up real nice, spray paint everything, and


have nicely functioning doors, that are a step up in style from the utilitarian cabinet.
The problem is finding the right router bit which I’ve not yet been able to do (here’s a link to my thread with the cabinet door profile specs – maybe someone here has experience with sourcing router bits: http://lumberjocks.com/topics/275225).

Maybe even do #1 now quick & dirty & super cheap, then do #2 at a later date.
However, I’d really like to get trash the doors and get in the crevices of the cabinet to strip it good NOW so I don’t have to make a mess in my kitchen with chemicals and dust all over again at a later date.

Any suggestions?


24 replies so far

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Lovegasoline

66 posts in 180 days


#1 posted 06-08-2018 01:01 AM

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cabmaker

1740 posts in 2951 days


#2 posted 06-08-2018 11:32 PM

Are you dealing with the entire kitchen or just the sink base ?

Why would you want to go to such extreme on a low end base cabinet like that one ?

Remove the doors and attach a face frame to the metal cabinet is one way…....

View crb's profile

crb

22 posts in 551 days


#3 posted 06-08-2018 11:43 PM

90 years is a good run for anything that isn’t a tree. Don’t do #1. Remove everything your can and do it right. Especially if you plan to live there.

-- Tighten it until it breaks, then back off a quarter turn!

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JCamp

814 posts in 692 days


#4 posted 06-09-2018 12:39 AM

Are you against pulling the cabinets completely out and installing or building new ones? You could always use those in a building or garage

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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Lovegasoline

66 posts in 180 days


#5 posted 06-09-2018 04:16 AM



Are you against pulling the cabinets completely out and installing or building new ones? You could always use those in a building or garage

- JCamp

From my OP:
“removing the sink would open up a worse can of worms and is not an option, trust me on this.”

Pulling the cabinet is solving a problem other than the one I have. The cabinet and sink stay. Period.
At issue is the door situation.

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Lovegasoline

66 posts in 180 days


#6 posted 06-09-2018 04:25 AM


Are you dealing with the entire kitchen or just the sink base ?
Why would you want to go to such extreme on a low end base cabinet like that one ?

Remove the doors and attach a face frame to the metal cabinet is one way…....

- cabmaker

I suppose I’m an extreme fellow.

The entire kitchen will have practically not a single surface untouched, not a single square inch, but it will retain the same DNA.

For a detailed report and pics go here:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f17/built-kitchen-cabinet-stripping-restoration-let-me-draw-your-expertise-200209/

Can you provide some more detail and reference for a face frame retrofit?
I was considering just adding a stile on each side for door hinges to attach to. May not even need a stile as there’s a sheet metal stile of sorts.

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Lovegasoline

66 posts in 180 days


#7 posted 06-09-2018 04:31 AM


90 years is a good run for anything that isn t a tree. Don t do #1. Remove everything your can and do it right. Especially if you plan to live there.

- crb

#1 gets me up and running ASAP with crisper cabinet doors than I’ve had. I’ve got time pressures, I want to make moves. #2 can be implemented at a later date when I have less on my platter, which is full beyond belief at present.
If I could locate a cope and stick router bit to match the present cabinet doors I’d jump in on #2 now, but I’ve not had any luck getting a match:

Help Locating a Couple Router Bit Profiles
http://lumberjocks.com/topics/275225

I’m looking for invention, design, fabrication, creative solutions, problem solving … that sort of thing.

Nothing wrong with this sink. There’s 80,000 variations on themes to do with this sink cabinet, form the most banal and functional, to the most outrageous design excursion in modern times.

View Rich's profile

Rich

3645 posts in 731 days


#8 posted 06-09-2018 04:35 AM


Are you against pulling the cabinets completely out and installing or building new ones? You could always use those in a building or garage

- JCamp

From my OP:
“removing the sink would open up a worse can of worms and is not an option, trust me on this.”

- Lovegasoline

LOL. Welcome to LJ, where actually reading the thread rarely happens.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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rwe2156

3087 posts in 1622 days


#9 posted 06-09-2018 03:28 PM

Remove doors, install a face frame and make new ones.

I would go with inset doors. Simple shaker style – flat panels and no mouldings.

They are already different from the rest of the cabinetry, anyway so don’t worry about matching them.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Lovegasoline

66 posts in 180 days


#10 posted 06-09-2018 09:38 PM



Remove doors, install a face frame and make new ones.

I would go with inset doors. Simple shaker style – flat panels and no mouldings.

They are already different from the rest of the cabinetry, anyway so don t worry about matching them.

- rwe2156

That’s an option, and not a bad one.
However if possible I’d really like to keep the cabinet door profile as I have another base cabinet I wish to make to go under my kitchen window. Also, I wonder if a full face frame will look weird at the sink … it would certainly interfere with sliding things in and out of the sink, like buckets etc. I’d like to just open the doors and have a flush bottom shelf to slide things in and out.

I guess I need to seek out some router bit experts to assist in sourcing the cope and stick bit.

View Sparks500's profile

Sparks500

199 posts in 472 days


#11 posted 06-10-2018 01:21 PM

I’m just throwing out a thought here, but, a sheet metal shop could make an overlay on the existing door that could be pop riveted on the edges. Or, if you’re feeling really brave, soldered.

-- A good day is any day that you're alive....

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Sparks500

199 posts in 472 days


#12 posted 06-10-2018 01:23 PM

I’m also wondering where this is located. Could this be an old St. Charles kitchen?

-- A good day is any day that you're alive....

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Lovegasoline

66 posts in 180 days


#13 posted 06-10-2018 08:05 PM



I m also wondering where this is located. Could this be an old St. Charles kitchen?

- Sparks500

I’ve never heard of St. Charles kitchens before so looked them up. Apparently the company was founded in 1935. The kitchen cabinetry here is original (and it’s all in very rough shape): it’s an apartment building built in the late 1920s so a St. Charles provenance isn’t a possibility although it’s interesting to have a peek at that bit of history, thanks for sharing that.

Btw, only the sink cabinet is metal all the rest are built-in from wood … I’m amazed at how efficiently the latter were constructed. It looks to me like the cabinetmaker used materials available from the job site: for example a small counter top is made from a window sill as it shares the edge profile, while all the cleats and internal cabinet shelf supports and cleats are made from picture rail molding.

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Lovegasoline

66 posts in 180 days


#14 posted 06-10-2018 08:18 PM



I m just throwing out a thought here, but, a sheet metal shop could make an overlay on the existing door that could be pop riveted on the edges. Or, if you re feeling really brave, soldered.

- Sparks500

It’s a great idea, but likely too costly for me … the overlay idea I had was really geared towards a quick & dirty (and cheap) interim solution. It’s a good idea for me to replace the doors … I just need to resolve sourcing a router bit to match the present cabinet’s profile (not having any luck there). In the entire apartment it’s the sink cabinet that has honors as the ‘dark unconscious’. The leaks it’s seen, the place where mice ran into and out of, the botched plumbing jobs by unskilled handymen, the likely rotted wood flooring underneath and one can only imagine what mysteries reside inside the back wall. The sink cabinet doors don’t open or close in cleanly, and they’ve been kicked closed and abused as one can tell by the dents.

So, to invert the vibe in that area: make nice does with good hinges, make a better under sink organization system, maybe put an LED light under there, and make it warm and welcoming would have an impact on the apartment’s psyche.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

3087 posts in 1622 days


#15 posted 06-12-2018 02:50 PM

Remove doors, install a face frame and make new ones.

I would go with inset doors. Simple shaker style – flat panels and no mouldings.

They are already different from the rest of the cabinetry, anyway so don t worry about matching them.

- rwe2156

That s an option, and not a bad one.
However if possible I d really like to keep the cabinet door profile as I have another base cabinet I wish to make to go under my kitchen window. Also, I wonder if a full face frame will look weird at the sink … it would certainly interfere with sliding things in and out of the sink, like buckets etc. I d like to just open the doors and have a flush bottom shelf to slide things in and out.

I guess I need to seek out some router bit experts to assist in sourcing the cope and stick bit.

- Lovegasoline

Looking at that pic again, you don’t need a face frame at all. Just make doors to match the rest of the cabinetry and use inset type euro hinges. That way they’ll be hidden. You’ll need to back up the doors somehow with an astralagus or rabbet on one door edge with a catch to keep them even when closed.

One way or another, you gotta get the doors off first and see whats possible.

You don’t need a router bit just run the groove for the panel all the way and make a stub tenon on the rails.

OR, just build it to match the rest of the kitchen.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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