Wednesday, February 24, 2021

How To Build Flat Panel Cabinet Doors On A Budget


 Nothing!  And I mean nothing will give you more return on investment in regards to home value than remodeling your kitchen.

Arguably the most important part of that kitchen are the cabinets.  

You could spend thousands of dollars hiring someone to tear out all those cabinets or you could save yourself thousands of dollars by simply refacing them yourself.

What is refacing?

It simply means to remove the doors and refresh them and the carcasses hanging on the walls in some manner.  That could simply mean applying a fresh coat of paint.

However, the doors on my kitchen cabinets are pretty far gone.  They are delaminating and swelling.  Plus some of them are damaged.

So for me I need to rebuild my doors.

I have chosen a flat panel rail and style design.  It is actually going to be an upgrade to the one piece MDF melamine doors that were originally there.  

Flat panel doors consist of five pieces.  2 styles and 2 rails along with a center panel.


If you have your existing doors you can simply measure your existing doors.  This will give you how wide and how tall the final dimensions that your new doors need to be.  However, you can not just go and cut the pieces to those measurements.  

You have to back into them.  If you notice in the photo above the stiles go the entire length from top to bottom.  The rails however, do not.  

They are short by the width of the two side pieces plus any joinery you may be using.

In my case I have decided to use tongue and groove joinery.


Anybody with a so-so table saw can make these happen.  You can watch my video and get a pretty good idea on how to accomplish a nice fitting joint.  I always start by cutting the groves first.


Because every piece needs a grove cut in them.  That is not true for the tongues.  So to keep things as simple as possible at first I always cut the part of the joinery that every piece needs, the groove.

How deep and how wide those grooves have been cut will then dictate the size of the tongues.  Whittling down tongues to fit grooves is a lot easier than trying to do it the other way around.

The only pieces that get tongues cut are the rails.  

I usually like to use a half inch tongue.  So the length of the rail will be the total width of the door minus the width of the two stiles plus two half inch tongues.


Door width = 20"

Door length = 30"

Tongue length = .5"

Rail and Stile width = 2.5"

20 - 2.5 - 2.5 + .5 + .5 = 16" or 20 - 5 + 1 = 16"

So in this example the length you want to cut your rails would be 16" for your doors to be the proper width.

The center panel follows a similar formula.  Using the example above, the width of the center panel needs to be 16".   (Technically I undersize my panels by a quarter inch to allow for expansion and contraction but if you didn't you would probably be fine.)

The length would follow the same formula as for the rails above except to use the doors length to work back from.

30" - 2.5 - 2.5 + .5 + .5 = 26"

So a 26" x 16" panel will need to be cut in order to get the final dimensions we need for our door.

NOTE:  Be careful not to over size the panel.  You can under size it but do not over size it. 

Now that we have the technicalities out of the way it's time to assemble our doors.  Here is a pretty nifty video, if I do say so myself, show exactly how I go about door assembly.


If you are a visual learner then this is right up your alley.

If you're interested in what to do after you've mastered the building part of the process then check out the next step.

Don't forget to visit my YouTube channel for more videos on simple and easy DIY projects.  Be sure to hit the subscribe button and click the notifications bell so you don't miss a new project. 

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Happy DIY'ing!

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