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I'm in the design phase for some kitchen (wall) cabinets, to replace the nasty ones that came with my house. I want to go all the way up to the ceiling, so the doors will be 48 inches high. The way I have it drawn up, I'll have one door that's 23w 48h, and two more 25w 48h.

Is there anything special I have to do when building doors this size?

I built my lower cabinet doors with 2.5" rails and stiles, and 1/4" plywood center panels glued into those. I'm wondering if I should use wider stock for the rails and/or stiles, or whether I should add a third rail in the center.

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  • What wood for the rails/stiles? Sep 30, 2023 at 23:01
  • And is it aesthetically displeasing to have a center rail? Sep 30, 2023 at 23:01
  • Maple. A third rail is not displeasing, it's just more work. Oct 1, 2023 at 4:06
  • "Should I use three hinges per door instead of two?" This is the easy part, just weigh the materials and check against the hinge spec. BTW this should have been a separate Q, remember the ideal is one query per Question on SE... there are four question marks here.
    – Graphus
    Oct 1, 2023 at 5:14
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    "Is there anything special I have to do when building doors this size?" Within reason the answer to this is generally no, and here I don't think the doors are so large as to warrant separate considerations — mainly, you aren't using stock that's too skinny (although thickness isn't specified and is a key factor), plus decent quality 1/4" ply isn't exactly weak and floppy :-) But for the much longer stick lengths the quality of the boards becomes more critical, and you want to be selective about the wood you use, perhaps even going with QS or RS wood specifically for stability.
    – Graphus
    Oct 1, 2023 at 5:27

1 Answer 1

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If I was building this, my major concern would be maintaining flatness in the doors.

To that end, a few things to pay attention to:

  • stock choice: dry, even grain, free of defects, straight
  • additional rail: can help with stability, so (personally) I’d do it
  • joinery: you didn’t specify, but the more substantial (dowels, m+t) the better
  • panel: I wouldn’t glue it; rather capture it in a groove and use something like spaceballs or caulk to keep it from rattling (edit: see comments for a compelling argument to gluing the panel and thus stiffening up the entire door)
  • hinges: at least 3 and maybe 4 if the weight calculation suggests it
  • rail/stile dimensions: 2.5” (assuming 3/4 thick) would be fine, though you might consider embiggening the bottom rail by an inch or two for additional sturdiness
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    embiggen is one of those secret woodworking terms, so be careful who you share it with.
    – Ashlar
    Oct 2, 2023 at 15:56
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    +1. The only thing I'd disagree with is specifically choosing not to glue in the panel, since OP is using ply. I think of glued 'floating' panels as starting on the path towards a torsion box; and technically even this construction does make a type of engineered material.
    – Graphus
    Oct 2, 2023 at 18:19
  • @graphus, that’s a fair criticism. My concern was with the expansion/contraction of the rails&stiles. Oct 3, 2023 at 1:57
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate, understandable, but for context we don't worry about the change in board width on table apron pieces...... neither the tenons in the mortises nor the total width change which might push up the tabletop. Using the figures available online, and assuming the worse case — maximum movement due to flat-sawn wood being used, and a very large MC change of 6% — expected movement is still on the order of only 5 hundredths of an inch per stile (2.5*6*0.00353). If OP goes with RS or QS wood as advised this figure drops to a mere 0.024".
    – Graphus
    Oct 3, 2023 at 7:44
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    <sigh> why is this Answer still sitting at +1??
    – Graphus
    Oct 5, 2023 at 6:15

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