Making cabinet doors

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Forum topic by dakremer posted 01-22-2015 04:07 PM 1759 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2583 posts in 2510 days

01-22-2015 04:07 PM

I’ve started previous threads on my kitchen remodel. However I wanted to get some of your opinions….

I am making mission style cabinet doors to upgrade our kitchen. They will be painted white. The accuracy and repeatability of my table saw makes this process super slow.

I’m wondering instead of doing the tongue and groove – which is hard on my table saw, if dowels would be sufficient to hold the rails and styles? I’m using 1/4 MDF for the panel – If I glued that in as well, that would add extra strength.


-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

33 replies so far

View Garbanzolasvegas's profile


356 posts in 646 days

#1 posted 01-22-2015 04:11 PM

You could half lap them. and if you needed a groove for the panel you could router it out

-- If you don't Play, you can't win

View superstretch's profile


1530 posts in 2112 days

#2 posted 01-22-2015 04:28 PM

Half lap sounds like a great idea! Does away with any gaps a doweled joint might show

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View jumbojack's profile


1663 posts in 2043 days

#3 posted 01-22-2015 04:29 PM

Dak, you don’t have a router table?

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 948 days

#4 posted 01-22-2015 04:58 PM

I’m still trying to get over this statement.

”I’m wondering instead of doing the tongue and groove – which is hard on my table saw

I thought that’s what table saws were for.
I would 100% rather use a table saw over using a router. (it’s just me)

Sounds like you would be better off just outsourcing them.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View dakremer's profile


2583 posts in 2510 days

#5 posted 01-22-2015 05:03 PM

I have a router, but no router table at this moment.

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View dakremer's profile


2583 posts in 2510 days

#6 posted 01-22-2015 05:05 PM

“its hard on my table saw” because my table saw isn’t very accurate or repeatable. So I’m not getting nicely fitting tongues and grooves. I CAN, it just takes a while, making sure the saw is still setup correctly, etc

These are paint grade – just wondering if dowels are appropriate for cabinet doors, or not….

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View SPalm's profile


5249 posts in 3301 days

#7 posted 01-22-2015 05:06 PM

Is it the tenon that is hard on your saw? It seems like you are going to do a groove for the mdf, you could just use a floating tenon – i.e. a little thin piece of wood where the style meets the rail. I would not make the floating tenons out of mdf.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View dakremer's profile


2583 posts in 2510 days

#8 posted 01-22-2015 05:09 PM

its not hard on my saw….its just hard to do on my table saw because of the inaccuracy of it…..

just thinking I could save a lot of time if dowels would create just as strong of a joint – especially if I glue in the MDF panels

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View mnguy's profile


183 posts in 2817 days

#9 posted 01-22-2015 05:09 PM

How are you planning on capturing the MDF panel if you don’t make a groove in the rails and stiles? When I have made cope and stick cabinet doors, I have always used veneered MDF and glued it into the groove. I have had good luck with this technique.

I agree that a half lap could be a good solution – more glue area than a short tenon on the rails.

When you say “hard on your saw” and mention set up and accuracy challenges, are you saying you can’t run a dado set? If so, it would be harder to do grooves, but not that hard – two passes with a standard kerf blade gets you to 1/4” groove.

View jdh122's profile


878 posts in 2236 days

#10 posted 01-22-2015 08:15 PM

I would think that dowels would be strong enough to hold the doors together. I’d be more inclined to do half laps for the extra strength but your accuracy issues with the tablesaw might work against you for those.
You’ll still need to make a groove in the rails and stiles, like mnguy says. And I wouldn’t glut the panels in. MDF expands and contracts – less than solid wood across its width but more across its length and it could (worse case) break the joints or (more likely) open up gaps in the joints.
I hope you have dust collection or wear a mask – MDF dust is miserable stuff and gets everywhere.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Broglea's profile


677 posts in 2509 days

#11 posted 01-22-2015 08:45 PM

Just take the time to make a quick and dirty router table and fence. Probably will take you less the 2 hrs to do it. That will make the job go quicker and be more accurate.

View Paul Maurer's profile

Paul Maurer

162 posts in 973 days

#12 posted 01-23-2015 06:16 AM

Id do it on the TS, but suggest what ever method you think easiest for you. Since they are getting painted you can fill any discrepancies and no one will ever have to know.

-- Psalm 62: 11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, 12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work

View wbrisett's profile


201 posts in 1767 days

#13 posted 01-23-2015 09:32 AM

This really is where you should look into a router table. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I made all of my cabinet doors on a portable router table. The key is getting the right bits for the things. Watch this video. I think it may have you change your mind about how you should make your cabinet doors.

View joey502's profile


482 posts in 937 days

#14 posted 01-23-2015 12:28 PM

I would not use your table saw if you feel like accuracy is an issue. I saw you were looking into a new one and I think that is a great plan for future projects. With that said you need a solution that meets you needs now.

I make panel doors on my router table, it is accurate and repeatable. My suggestion is look into a router table for the router you already own. A good router table lift combo is capable of and excels at so many things around the shop.

Lastly, I have to respectfully disagree with Paul. I think any shop project is an opportunity to develop your skills for future projects. If you use the “no one will notice” approach to these cabinet doors then you are missing out on an opportunity to learn successful methods for making this type of joint. Your desire to make these painted doors accurately and to the standard you expect from yourself will make your next project that much better.

View skatefriday's profile


379 posts in 901 days

#15 posted 01-23-2015 09:26 PM

As a new cabinet maker, I spent two months trying pretty much
everything to get acceptable shaker style panel doors out of my
table saw. In the end I had a large pile of expensive firewood.

I finally broke down and bought a freud two piece tongue and groove
router bit and that was the key. Once I got the spacing dialed in
I was able to make some pretty nice doors.

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