Building Beautiful Cabinet Doors Only Using A Table Saw

Some new to woodworking don’t know what raised panel doors are, but it won’t take long in this hobby to come across these beautiful additions to any cabinets. And like many woodworkers, before going out and purchasing the proper door and panel bits for your router/shaper, you can actually make them on your table saw. It takes a little longer, but if you can’t afford new bits at the moment, or want to experiment first, then this is a great route to take.

Keep in mind it takes a little longer to make them this way. But before we get to the video below, here are some things you may want to know about building cabinet doors, raised panel or not:

SELECTING THE LUMBER:

The lumber type is going to depend on what finish you will be applying to the cabinet door. I helped out in a buddy of mine’s cabinet shop many a times, and one thing that amazed him was high-end customers would pay ridiculous money for lumber on their cabinet doors that were going to be painted.

Nobody knows what is under the paint unless you tell them. He said they just wanted to tell their visitors that these cabinets were made from this exotic or expensive wood. His point was if you are going to paint the cabinets, use paint grade lumber, and nobody will ever know the difference. Finishing the woodstock with stain and oils is a different animal though. You will have to see what the grain pattern and other features of the material looks like and see how well it will match your style that is trying to be achieved.

Some stock has knots, others are clean with tight grain. Typically a tighter grain means aged and pure lumber. Hybrid trees tend to be weaker, more prone to cracks and dings. A harder lumber cold help against dings and scrapes, but essentially it’s fine with poplar on the doors, pine for the cabinets if that’s all you can get your hands on for paint grade. Heck I have used that cheap fir stripping on cabinet trim for our kitchen one time to give it a rustic appeal and it worked great.

COMMON CABINET LUMBER:

Part of selecting the lumber as mentioned above is choosing the type of tree it came from as well as the grade. Here are some of the more common cabinet grades if you aren’t paining them:

Cherry:

Cherry will have red overtones, but can even be deep brown and white. They have a smooth appearance with close grain. Typically the texture is uniform and have random markings. Cherry is used often when staining by cabinet shops and woodworkers because the finish is even and goes on smoothly.

Maple:

This is standard for many cabniet shops. Maple will have different white appearances from stark white to even a cream color. Within the door panel you will occasionally have red and brown tones, and the grain is subtle in appearance. Oils and stains go on smoothly and easily when applied to this great material.

Oak:

Though oak type will vary in color, especially red oak is extremely robust. Red oak is what the cabinet guy I know uses as standard for a good bulk of his cabinets, but it just depends on what you can afford and what you are going to do with it.

Hickory:

When using hickory no telling what the color will be. It depends on so many factors from where it grew, if it is sapwood or heartwood, and a variety of other factors. Colors range from reddish-brown to even what is considered “blonde.” So you will have to just see what is available if you go with this woodstock.

Those are more common lumber types, but I have seen cabinets built from lumbers you may not have thought of. Some can’t afford anything more than what they are given, what they can find at the local lumberyard and even at the landfill. So if you want to create cabinets in the shop, don’t feel you are limited to certain species if you can’t access them due to whatever reasons you may have.

LUMBER GRADE:

It will be good to remember that though grade does matter to a degree, it is going to depend on what you want to accomplish. A grade is awesome but even if you have a B face and a D back, just put the D grade on the inside or put the B grade facing out.

Another factor is knots. Knots are always going to downgrade the lumber, and if you like knots or want them on the cabinets, that will be cheaper for you then. Just be sure when selecting the material IF POSSIBLE and depending on if you are buying it or given the stock, that you make sure the knots are either not broken on the face or just not broken. They can fall out over time and then again, some even like that so it depends on you.

Below is the video on creating the doors with your table saw. Hopefully it will help those that have been wanting to create their cabinets but don’t want to spend the money on the bits or if you don’t have a router/shaper to even make them on. Enjoy:

Updated: June 20, 2017 — 12:35 am
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