Help with first cabinet doors

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Forum topic by Don Carrier posted 03-10-2012 01:42 PM 1555 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don Carrier

114 posts in 2372 days

03-10-2012 01:42 PM

I am currently building a bathroom vanity and I am at the stage to build and install the doors for the first time. I would like to have the doors inset into the cabinet frame. What are the gotcha’s I should look out for? At this point I know the opening size and I know I want 2 doors, but I am not sure what size to make the doors. I was thinking of a 1/8th inch space on all sides. My doors will be kreg assembled frames with plywood inserts. I am not sure what hinges to buy as cost is a factor.

Any and all suggestions appreciated!


-- Don

9 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8189 posts in 2573 days

#1 posted 03-10-2012 02:03 PM

View cracknpop's profile


294 posts in 2345 days

#2 posted 03-10-2012 02:15 PM

My first attempt at full inset doors was on an entertainment center so I knew I wanted a uniform gap around each door. Right or wrong, I built the doors larger than the opening size and trimmed them down on the table saw to about 3/32” gap (I used dimes as my spacers) all around. In trimming the doors to fit the opening, I was able to trim one door with a taper jig to match one side that was ever so slightly out of square.

As for hinges, there are a wide range available. I used Blum European style hinges but I know there are many other styles available. I did find this page on Rockler’s website helpful (though I know you can find more economical hinges elsewhere):

I am certain there are far more experienced cabinet makers on LJs and I look forward to hearing their recommendations to you as well. Good luck and enjoy the learning experience.

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View DustyRich's profile


12 posts in 2314 days

#3 posted 03-10-2012 02:19 PM

I’m finishing a computer desk for a client that I used the Blum hinges w/ an inset application for face frames. I over sized them slightly and fitted them in the openings once the doors were together. If you don’t have the 35mm bit for the hinges, you can always use butt hinges and mortise them into the frame and door. The price range on those is real cheap to “are you kidding me ?” depending on the finish and material. Don’t forget that when you fit the doors unfinished, they will swell a little with the finish, so make allowances for that too. Good luck, it can be challenging but when you’re finished and they work beautifully, you know you’ve done good.

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2993 days

#4 posted 03-10-2012 06:23 PM

Today the European hinge is probably the easiest to use. They have many features that help you adjust your doors so they fit well. 1/8” all the way around is a little excessive. 1/16 is what I aim for (others have different size they are comfy with). As others stated, build them a little oversize,(size of opening) attach your hinges, plane other end to fit.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2846 days

#5 posted 03-10-2012 06:33 PM

Two considerations for you: If the doors meet in the middle, then your math is a little different.

Second, if you back bevel the leading edge a little it’s easier to true up the door in place.

I would lean you toward euro hinges just because the three way adjustment makes this kind of application a cinch. But be sure you get the inset hardware. Avoid the cheapy 2-way models.

Some butt hinges have an elongated hole in each leaf. That makes adjustment fairly easy, then you fix it with a screw in the round hole.

Anything over an eighth looks misfit, so how about shooting for a sixteenth and then truing by hand after that?

BTW, an edge sander is a terrific tool for this application. Even a small one.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Don Carrier's profile

Don Carrier

114 posts in 2372 days

#6 posted 03-11-2012 08:45 AM

Thanks everyone. I’ll tackle the doors today. Lee how is the math different if they meet in the middle?

-- Don

View JohnMeeley's profile


255 posts in 2329 days

#7 posted 03-11-2012 12:17 PM

I agree with all of your input received so far. I would build to exact numbers, and sneak up on the final fit. Nothing worse than hanging a door, only to realize a 1/16th bigger would have been nicer. Take the time to trim evenly from all sides for uniformity. Don’t worry over it too much, that’s my largest problem. I get quagmired in my own false worries.

I think Lee’s point was a 1/16 for both doors leaves an 1/8 gap between. If you sneak up on it you can get that gap down to a sheet of paper.

face frame outa square is a real buzz killer

-- "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot do."-Walter Bagehot

View Trapshter's profile


64 posts in 2390 days

#8 posted 03-11-2012 12:56 PM

i agree with John. Build it to the size of the case opening and sneak up on it. Also I put them in the openings where they are going to go and shim them there until the glue drys

-- Smile and wave boys just smile and wave

View JohnMeeley's profile


255 posts in 2329 days

#9 posted 03-11-2012 08:19 PM

further more That’s why I firmly follow “face frame first” method for cabinets. This allows me to size drawers and doors, and the face frame is the only part that dictates your linear space. Nobody really ever see’s the box you built. Especially in the case of a wall to wall vanity.

(sic) I am also an idiot. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

-- "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot do."-Walter Bagehot

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