A lot of older cabinets that need updating have detailed cabinet doors. It’s fairly easy to update these cabinets and vanities by simply painting them, but often times the doors are a dead giveaway. I love the look of a shaker cabinet door and it really helps to make the old cabinet look fresh, new and updated. A lot of tutorials online utilize a router to make these doors, however, routers can be very intimidating and often not a tool that a casual woodworker or DIYer owns. This is a tutorial on how to make the grooves that hold the panel using just a table saw.
You can see how the new paint, drawer fronts and doors made this vanity look like it was replaced completely!
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- 1×3 boards
- Miter Saw
- Pocket Hole Jig
- Table Saw
- 1/4″ plywood or 1/8″ backer board
- Wood Filler
- Pocket Hole Screws
- Multi-Tool or Pull Saw
- 3/8″ Dowels or Pocket Hole Plugs
- Concealed Hinge Jig
- Wood Glue
- Pocket Hole Clamp
The first thing you will need to do is determine the size of your door. I just measured the door I was replacing and made the new one the exact same size. I cut 2 1×3 boards to height you need the door. Then cut 2 pieces the width minus 5″ (to account for the two vertical 1×3 pieces which have an actual width of 2.5″). You will set your table saw to about 1/4″ height and run all of your pieces through the table saw to create a groove down the center. They you will move your fence over one saw blade width and run through your pieces again to make the groove wider. Make sure you run your pieces through the same way to make sure your grooves is in the same exact place on each board. The best way to do this is to carefully set aside each board after running them through facing the good side of each board in the same direction and then repeat this for each board (for example, mark the front and place the front of each board against the fence for each pass). For 1/8″ backer board, you will only need two passes on each board on the table saw, but if you are using 1/4″ plywood, you will need to run your boards through a third time.
The next step is to put two pocket holes on each end of the shorter 1×3 pieces, again making sure you put the pocket holes on the back side of each piece. If you put the pocket holes on the wrong side, the grooves will most likely not line up. Then using glue and pocket hole screws, attach one of the shorter 1×3 pieces to the vertical stiles.
After you have three sides connected, measure the width and height (including the grooves) of the inside of the door so you know how large to cut the panel. Using your table saw, cut your backer board or plywood to size. Then you can slide the panel into the groove.
Next, you will attach the second horizontal piece to secure the panel inside the door. Using wood glue, attach the second piece with pocket hole screws.
Now you can insert either dowels or pocket hole plugs into the pocket holes. Cover the dowels or plugs with glue and insert them. Then wait for the glue to dry a bit and then you can cut the excess off with a multi-tool or a pull saw. After you have cut off the excess, you can cover with wood filler. Let the filler dry and then sand smooth. You may have to reapply the wood filler and sand a second time, but then you will never know the holes were there.
Then you will just need to apply wood filler to any seams on the front and to the tops and bottoms of the doors where the grooves show in the vertical stiles. If you are using concealed hinges, I find the Kreg concealed hinge jig to be the easiest way to add these holes. If you are replacing old doors, use the jig to find the exact spot on the old doors and transfer that to the new ones to make it much easier to install them. Then all you need to do is sand, prime, if necessary, and paint! If your panel is not secure tight in the boards, the best thing to do is to caulk the inside edge of the door between the boards and the panel.
And that’s all! As always, reach out with any questions! You can either email me or send me a message on Instagram.
Devin Ryan says
Thank you so much for this, my biggest fear in building these is getting the hinges correctly placed.