Removable panel cabinet door

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 10-17-2012 08:30 PM 5296 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1100 posts in 2459 days

10-17-2012 08:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Ok I’m looking for ideas. For 6 of the 10 cabinet doors I have yet to make my wife would like to be able to remove the center panel and change it. Seasonally. For a holiday. Just because….. whatever.

These are simple shaker style doors. Rails and stiles are about 2 and a half inches wide. I’m using Blum euro type hinges (with the 1-3/8 cup, screw on, soft close, 170 degree open…. yeah).

To make the solid panel doors, I’m basically doing it all on the table saw. Using a dado I make a 1/4 in groove, 3/8” deep down the center, then trim back the rails to form a tongue. So basically I need to remove the one leg from the “groove” on the back side. Easy for the rails. I can just trim it off on the saw, form the tongues, and Bob’s your uncle.

But for the stiles, I can’t trim it off to the ends. I need to have a complete groove, the width of the rail, at each end of the stile. I’m thinking my best bet here is to use the router. Not sure if I should just do them blind on the router table or if I should come up with a long jig so I can see everything and run the router down a straight edge. Either way I’d have to clean up the corner, but if I can do this fairly accurately from the start, I should be able to clean up the corners with a chisel.

How would you do this? Am I on the right track?

Holding the panels in isn’t a concern. I may simply use panel clips or I might mill some thin strips to form a frame on the back side of the door and use some fine brass screws. The doors are not large. 4 of them are only like 12×16, 2 more at about 12×24 and one at 24×30.

So I think I’m just looking at what might be the best way to clear the back of the stile so I can set panels in there.

10 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5142 posts in 2666 days

#1 posted 10-17-2012 08:42 PM

I’ve done that. I assembled the doors, then used a rabbeting bit to alter for the panel insertion. Let the bearing ride on the other side of the groove.Clean up the corners, and you’re done. I also used the panel clips. Didn’t really like they way they looked, but they were out of sight. Worked quite well. BTW, I did it to put in clothe grills where speakers were located inside the cabinets. Having changeable panels for seasonal stuff sounds like a great idea! I’ll have to consider that in the future if we re do our kitchen.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Woodknack's profile


12399 posts in 2553 days

#2 posted 10-17-2012 09:11 PM

I think you’ve got it, a rabbeting bit in a router and panel clips sound ideal. Interesting idea.

-- Rick M,

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4298 days

#3 posted 10-17-2012 10:38 PM

We’ve lived in enough old rental kitchens that we decided to make the center panels or our kitchen cabinet doors removable for cleaning. Rather than cutting grooves in the rails and stiles for the panels, I cut a rabbet out of the inside of the back of the door and screwed strips of wood around the edges of the rabbet to hold the panels in place.

This way when the airborne grease build-up on the doors becomes too much, we just unscrew the strips, take out the panels, wipe everything down and re-assemble.

Looks a little goofy when the door is open, but the only people who’ve commented so far have said “that’s a really good idea!”

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2459 days

#4 posted 10-17-2012 10:47 PM

Hmmm…. I don’t have a rabbeting bit. I wonder if my bottom bearing flush trim bit has a skinny enough bearing that it might ride the bottom of the groove. I’ll have to check into that

Dan Lyke, very nice doors! You don’t happen to have pictures of the backs do ya? :)

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 10-17-2012 10:51 PM

Dan did it like I’d recommend. Think of the doors like picture frames.

-- jay,

View Dan Krager's profile (online now)

Dan Krager

4180 posts in 2407 days

#6 posted 10-18-2012 12:39 AM

Charlie, you might be looking for something like this. I’ve used this type of joint for over 35 years and love every second of it!


-- Dan Krager, Olney IL Now there's a face that would stop a clock! And seriously mess with small watches.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2459 days

#7 posted 10-18-2012 01:40 AM

Dan I looked at that, but it has too much profile for these doors. The doors are VERY plain shaker or mission style doors. There is no fancy edging on them anywhere.

View waho6o9's profile


8480 posts in 2750 days

#8 posted 10-18-2012 01:44 AM

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3142 days

#9 posted 10-18-2012 04:16 PM

Offset mortise and tenon, hold the panel in with slips, like you would a glazed door.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4298 days

#10 posted 10-18-2012 10:46 PM

I’m amazed at how bad a picture this is, but I just snapped a picture of a back of one of my kitchen cabinet doors with my cell phone.

Looking at this, I’m realizing two things: First, I need to take those sticks off and set ‘em in the sun ‘til they age and color to the same color as the doors (I built the frames which then sat around for a year or so before I finished and installed them). Second, I can do better milling them, which I probably will and make replacements at some point.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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