Routing kitchen cabinet doors

slc2053March 11, 2008

I am buying some used cabinet doors that I want to paint them. They are flat and I want to add some "depth" or design to them so that when I paint and glaze them, they'll have some color and design to them. Can I just use a router on them to add an indention about 1 inch in all around the edges? Someone do something similar? I don't have the doors yet so I don't know how thick they are.


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It should probably be fine but there are 3 risks I can foresee worth investigating.

  1. If they are bored for European style cup hinges, you may not be able to go very deep without cutting into the underside of the round cup hinge bore.

2) If they are mortise and tenon joined, you may risk exposing the innards of a mortise joint cut way too deep for the tenon that slides into it, both weakening the overall strength of the door and leaving an obvious ugly hole to be filled before painting. unlikely yet still possible.

3) You may find tiny buried pin nails with the router. many cabinet factories use a headless pin nail to help set and hold their joints, in the 4 corners, to reduce clamping time. inspect the path of the router first from both sides of the door so you dont have any unpleasant and dangerous surprises.

Still, you should be able to accomplish what you're after as long as you work carefully and be flexible in choosing your final profile to accommodate what you find. It would be ideal to have an extra door as a sample to work out your profiles and depth of cut.
Good luck and enjoy!,

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 4:53AM
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Adding to webhomework's list of concerns,

4. The particular material these doors are made of matters. Plywood or particle board won't machine or finish very nicely. If the doors are MDF or solid wood, I'd say your chances of success are better.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 6:14AM
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Thanks for the advice...yes, we should have an extra door or two to practice on...;-)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 8:50AM
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The other option is to add trim---screen mold or any of several other profiles---in a pattern or design. That can be accomplished by just gluing the trim on as well as using brads to nail it on.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 10:48AM
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