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mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Posted by teeski (My Page) on
Thu, Dec 18, 08 at 20:54

I'm in the process of picking out cabinets. I picked out a Dynasty cabinet (not ordered yet) but when I got home I noticed that it's not mitered.

Any pros, cons, personal opinions of going mitered vs. non-mitered? I'm getting them in a natural maple finish.

Thanks for the helpful opinions.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

I have heard that mitred joints are not as strong as mortise and tenon joints and may be more likely separate with changes in humidity etc.. The attached piece indicates that mitred joints are only used when the stiles have fancy details otherwise they may suggest cheap craftsmanship as mitre joints are easier to fabricate than mortise and tenon joints.

Here is a link that might be useful: info on doors


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

I pretty much agree with caryscott. I work for a fine cabinetmaker and I've never seen him use a mitered joint, unless it's requested for some reason.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Maybe....but I can't imagine what my doors would look like if they had any other joint...not so good, IMHO!

My Kitchen door style:

My future dish hutch door style:

I guess they fall under the "used when the stiles have fancy details"category


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Mortise & tenon is considered the strongest wood joint & mitered (version of butt) joints is considered the weakest.

A mitered joint relies entirely (or almost entirely) on glue to hold it together whereas M & T is linked structurally and glued. And the M & T joint has a lot more gluing surface. The much smaller glue surface of the mitered joint is further compromised by that surface being end grain which is the least desirable surface for gluing.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

I have 13 year old mitered doors that are painted white. They have all pretty much separated at the joints. It's not my favorite look.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Hmmm....our almost 13-year old kitchen doors were AristoKraft builder-grade doors (dead last in the CR list of cabinets back then!) While doors were not in the best shape, the one thing that was not wrong with them was the mitered joints! They were all in fine shape. The finish did not, however, hold up!


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

my cabinet maker doesn't do mitered joints. i suppose if you wanted them he would... i'm getting painted maple cabs and they are never mitered.

as in malhgold's response above, for obvious reasons. malhgold: sorry about your cabs. how are things going?


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

It's a style issue. Look at Buel's cabinets and tell me how you'd do them other than miter to get the design to frame the door correctly? In my kitchen however, the miter design wouldn't work well (a modified shaker by Omega).

I have both, and have had both. My 30 year old cabinets i the rental (quaker made) have NO cracks at the miters, in fact they're fabulous cabinets with no flaws at all after 30 years which is in itself wonderful.

I used to have a friend who was a professional picture framer. She biscuit joined her miters on larger frames. I have several she did for me, some over five feet tall, and there are not cracks at the miters.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

igloo and buehl, thanks for sharing that info. With all this
planning and decision making, that was one item I missed totally
in my thinking. When it came time to choose which doors to use,
I just looked at photos of finished kitchens using them and it had
the simple look I was going for. I got really scared that I screwed
up big time because I chose mitered doors and they are already here.
I really like the look so I just pray they hold up like yours have.
I am scared to think of what else I may have missed!
vic


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

In all fairness to the original poster if you are purchasing a door with a plain stile that can be fabricated with mortise and tenon joints and your cabinet maker is fabricating them with mitred corners it isn't a matter of style, you would be getting something of lesser quality. In this case the cabinet maker appears to be offering the OP the best quality construction for the style s\he has chosen.

In relation to framing, as an art consultant I can fairly say I certainly hope nobody's art is being subjected to the same wear and tear as their kitchen cabinets.

I think prevailing notions of quality in cabinet making need to be examined very critically I would bet that a well made mitred door will last just as long as well made furniture board cabinet - which is to say long past the point when the homeowner will be ready for a change.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Cary, I'd agree most art won't see that kind of abuse, but it does take some skill to produce large scale frames (5' x 6' with an inner and outter frame and heavy glass). You can easily stress them and loosen up miters. I often see that problem even in museaum pieces in original frames. The art is likely to last FAR longer than my kitchen cabinets (some already has) so stregnth in framing isn't a bad idea :)


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Igloo your right, I work with a corporate collection so we handle and move our works a lot more than in a museum setting and framing offers the art important protection (in addition to helping it look its best). Great framers are harder and harder to come by these days, it is a dwindling trade\art. I can install art which is a picky enough job but framing would drive me nuts - one speck of dust and you have to start over, I'd kill somebody.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Most cabinet mitred doors made today are made with a mortise and tendon. Most are stopped, or hidden. I know of no major mfg that offers a mitre door that does not make it with a tendon or spline for additional strength. It is a matter of looks not which is better. Either door can be made using machines, neither is easier or harder to make than the other. Go with whichever style you like, both will give you years of good service.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Mitered joints are not good with painted cabinetry. They will seperate over time...


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

From Conestoga Woods (they make the doors for Candlelight among others):

Mitered doors are not warranted against joint separations that occur as a result
of high humidity or moisture conditions. Painted or opaque finishes are not
recommended on mitered designs.

They actually have an up charge for mitred doors because of the "construction complexity" so it would seem if your style does not require a mitre you probably don't want one and if it does it will probably cost you more and may not lend itself to some finshes as well as others.

Here is a link that might be useful: Northwoods Product Manual


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Expanding on Carey's post--It's because wood is always working towards achieving something called 'EMC' or, Equilibrium (with atmospheric) Moisture Content. And because end grain absorbs & loses moisture more readily, the changes are disproportionate, at least initially, along the length of a piece of wood. And, obviously, a mitered cut exposes more end grain than a 90 degree cut would. So, the sliver of exposed end grain at the skinny point of an angled cut is going to change more, sooner, more rapidly than other points along the cut.

Day to day humidity fluctuations will have very little effect but seasonal changes will. Finishes (paints, etc.) slow the rate of change but do not stop it.

Attached link to recent post that contains a couple of cut & paste links to photos of failed mitered cabinet doors. Illustrates a worst case scenario of what 'can' go wrong.

Here is a link that might be useful: Need Help Selecting Cabinet Paint


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

These may be a worst case scenario, but consider the description - 35 years old, water damage, fair amount of use damage, and unknown quality given the veneer over particle board panels. Hardly a fair condemnation of all mitered cabinet doors. I have mitered cabinet doors that are over 25 years old and look like they were installed yesterday in one of my houses. I am waiting delivery on new cabinets for a kitchen that I am renovating and ordered mitered doors and never gave a thought to worrying about joint failure. I'd be more concerned about the quality of the case construction and I'm confident if the quality is in the case, there will be comparable quality and care given to the door construction regardless of style of the frame.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

Frenchred--No one has condemned 'all mitered cabinet doors'. Frankly, I'm puzzled why you think someone has.

To remind everyone, the OP asked: Any pros, cons, personal opinions of going mitered vs. non-mitered?

'Worst case scenario' and 'what can go wrong' should have been, IMO, adequate qualifiers. In addition, I provided the link to the thread so everyone was informed of the background story to further qualify.

There are also a lot of other variables that can have impact on how any given construction will hold up over time but I'll not go into any of that lest I offend someone.


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RE: mitered vs. non mitered cabinet doors

ci lantro said: "Frenchred--No one has condemned 'all mitered cabinet doors'. Frankly, I'm puzzled why you think someone has."

Well, just a wild guess, but probably because YOU wrote a few posts earlier:

"Mortise & tenon is considered the strongest wood joint & mitered (version of butt) joints is considered the weakest.
A mitered joint relies entirely (or almost entirely) on glue to hold it together whereas M & T is linked structurally and glued. And the M & T joint has a lot more gluing surface. The much smaller glue surface of the mitered joint is further compromised by that surface being end grain which is the least desirable surface for gluing."

I won't waste time pointing out how wrong you are about almost everything you've said, but if you think the strength of mortise and tenon cabinet door joints is structural and not solely from the glue, try assembling and using one without glue. Yeah, I didn't think so...

To all of you folks considering the quality differences between different types of joints, remember that ALL cabinet door joints have essentially the same strength under the same conditions, because they are all based on the strength of the glue, which is always going to be stronger than the strength of the wood. When done properly (and we ARE comparing apples to apples, right guys?), miter joints are far more difficult to make than cope and stick joints (what some of the other posters are calling mortise and tenon, because it sounds fancier), so they require a more experienced craftsman to make them. For that reason, they are also far more expensive to buy.


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