DIY EuroKitchen, Part V

Criteria For EuroKitchen Cabinet Doors

There are an unlimited number of cabinet door styles to choose from. To get a quality look for your kitchen the choices are narrowed way down to a few styles. With a EuroKitchen you cannot put decorative edges on the doors or drawer fronts without affecting the uniform gaps between each door. Remember, all you are going to see is the Doors, Drawer Fronts, End Panels, and Fillers. No face frames here.

The best edges will be primarily squared with a very slight round over (1/8″ radius) to soften the look of the joint where 2 doors meet. The second thing that cheapens the look of a cabinet door is interior trim or certain types of raised panels. Also, if the interior panel has grooves it is not going to look high-end.

This is Part 15 in the BUDGETHOUSE RENOVATOR series that involves the search for, location of, and unique auction-style purchase of my home in the country. The series includes dealing with a foreign based auction house and escrow to help facilitate this transaction. Also, I show how I worked with a mortgage company programmed to process the “specialized” FHA 203k Program rehabilitation loans. My loan included funds to buy “and” repair my house. Part 14 is about dealing building my new kitchen with My DIY Euro Kitchen, Phase IV. My next article in Part 16 is entitled “My DIY Eurokitchen, Phase VI“. It will continue my work on kitchen cabinet building and related steps with some insights into cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts Installations.

Since I obtained my drawer boxes from Barker Door, I looked at several of their door styles before requesting a quote. The ones I liked best were as follows:

  • The Shaker
  • The Westminster
  • The Shaker Raised Panel
  • The Boise

All 4 styles have squared outside edges and minimal or subdued interior trim. They will work well with our kitchen and make nice transitions from one panel to the next.

Choosing The Style And Method Of Making Cabinet Door

Barker Door usually has a special price point for their Shaker Style Door and it is a very popular style for high-end kitchens. So I filled out a measurement and spec sheet on their website platform. The cost for my kitchen came to approximately $1,200.

I chose not to go this route and instead make my own doors. This was not a great decision. I do not have the right tools for making joints for the Shaker Door styles (outside frames of each door) since they really should be what is known as a Mortise and Tenon joint. The mortise is a slot in one piece that a precisely cut tenon fits into for a solid connection.

Instead of having doors made, I made the labor intensive choice to make my own.  I chose the mitered joint method, whereby each end piece is cut with a 45 degree angle to join with the opposing piece (See diagram). What made the joint work was use of a power tool called a Biscuit Joiner. This allows for a slot to be cut into each miter with a small horizontal circular saw blade. Then a special biscuit is inserted with glue and the 2 pieces then are locked together.

Biscuit: An oval-shaped, highly dried and compressed wooden biscuit (beech or particle wood) is covered with glue, or glue is applied in the slot. The biscuit is immediately placed in the slot, and the two boards are clamped together. The wet glue expands the biscuit, further improving the bond.

Making The Cabinet Doors

I was fortunate enough to find the door style material ready-made at Lowe’s. They had 2-1/2″ x 3/4″ Poplar in 10′ lengths, exactly what I was looking for.

I already had a number of sheets of 1/4″ lauan plywood (4′ x 8′) that covered the master bedroom walls and ceiling when I bought the house and since had stripped them off in favor of using drywall. So I used several pieces to make the center panels for my cabinet doors.

I first cut 1/4″ slots, 1/2″ deep in the Poplar 3/8″ in from the outside edge in all the pieces with my table saw. I then cut my Poplar door pieces exact size for each door. The inside flat panels were then cut to 3/4″ bigger than the horizontal and vertical measurement inside the door frame stiles and rails (See diagram). This allowed for some leeway in fitting the doors together and not have the panels keep from being too big and interfering with the joints.

I did make a critical mistake in this process. I let each door dry independently without clamping them down tight against a flat level surface. The tall wall cabinet doors turned out okay but the shorter base cabinet doors were slightly warped. No good when flat square doors are critical for this style of kitchen.

If I had to do it all over again I would do the following:

  • Have a box of kitchen grade parchment paper on hand
  • Assemble the doors as described above
  • Have a flat and level table clamping the doors to while the glue dries
  • Place parchment paper on the table first, with a layout size big enough to exceed the size of each door
  • Place the first door on top of paper on table and then some more parchment paper on top of it
  • Temporarily clamp each corner of the door
  • Make the next door (same height but widths can vary)
  • Place that door on top of the parchment paper covering first door after removing temporary clamps
  • Place another piece of parchment paper on top of second door
  • Repeat process until you have all doors of the same height made and clamped together
  • Let dry overnight and remove from table

This will allow doors to dry square and flat. The parchment paper will keep excess glue from sticking the doors together. The paper is made with silicone and will not bond to the glue or wood doors. So much for hindsight!

Finishing

After the doors were set with the glue being dry, I filled any gaps in the joints with Bondo. It is a car body filler that uses a catalyst mixed in with a putty-like material that bonds extremely well with the wood and will not crack. It dries rock hard in a few minutes so you only mix a small batch at a time. Then sand it smooth with an orbital sander.

Note: I did mount the doors to the cabinets before finishing to test fit and trim (slightly) if necessary where needed. You can finish the doors first, and trim later. This step, however requires extra finishing steps to cover the raw edges exposed when trimming after painting. The procedure will be covered in Part VI.

Next, you prime the wood with an oil based primer. I used one made by Sherwin Williams. I sprayed it on with a compressed air fed sprayer I got at Harbor Freight. Do several coats. My color was white, so I used a white primer.

Note: It is difficult to find oil based paint for cabinets or interior trim at the big box home improvement centers. Even though the Lowe’s near me carried the brand, they didn’t have that paint. I had to go to the actual Sherwin Williams store to get the oil based paint and primer.

Next, I sprayed on the white oil based finish coat in the same manner, applying 3 coats, sanding after the second coat before applying the final 3rd coat. I used the parchment paper to stack the doors on top of one another. This kept them from sticking together.

Conclusion

As you can tell by now, building a kitchen from scratch is a labor intensive process. So far we have done the following:

  • Planned the kitchen
  • Bought the cabinet box materials
  • Cut the cabinet parts
  • Assembled the cabinet boxes
  • Installed the cabinet boxes
  • Ordered the drawer boxes un-assembled
  • Assembled the drawer boxes and mounted them in the cabinet boxes
  • Bought, cut, and mounted the plywood support tops
  • Bought, cut, and mounted the tile backer board
  • Installed tile front edge trim
  • Installed the countertop tiles
  • Mounted the sink and faucet (after doing the required plumbing)
  • Bought required door material
  • Made Doors
  • Mounted Doors prior to Finishing (described in Part VI)
  • Finished the Doors

I don’t recommend that you make your own doors. Pick a cost effective door style and provide accurate measurements (shown how to in EuroKitchen, Part VI) that you provide to manufacturer . I would have done that if my budget allowed. My cost for materials was about $225.

At this point the kitchen is usable without mounting the doors. As noted earlier, however, I mounted the doors before finishing to make sure everything fit first. Drilling for and mounting concealed hinges is tricky, so I will cover the process in EuroKitchen, Part VI.

If you order doors and drawer fronts and side panels ready-made from a factory you have to know how to precisely measure the doors or you will be doing a lot of cutting and fitting on sight. Not good. I will discuss this also in Part VI. Until then!

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