Are inset cabinet doors really that tough? -- current FWW

Is it really that tough to make and install an inset cabinet door?
Granted, I've not yet done any inset cab doors, just overlay. Yet, I am puzzled by the detailed article in the current FWW (176) on how to install an inset cab door. It looks more like "How to fix a bad inset cab door situation".
The author starts out saying, "As with any door fitting, the process is easiest if the door and the opening are reasonably square and free of twist to start with." That makes sense, even to me. He goes on to say, "I build the doors just a hair (no more than 1/32 in.) larger than the case opening." Considering that he wants a finished 1/32" gap all around, that means he builds a door 3/32" too large and works down from there.
For those of you w/o the mag, the 6-page article and photos show him using a TS sled to trim the bottom of a cab door at a very slight angle to fix for square w/ the opening, using shims to determine how much needs to be trimmed for size, and then trimming the other sides with a jointer and TS for fit.
(BTW, did you ever think that maybe Formica started out as a shim company and one day someone said, "Hey, y'know if we made this stuff in large sheets maybe we could sell it for countertops."?)
Considering that the author says that he has hung "hundreds of inset cabinet doors" and that his article is in FWW, I figure there may be something to his methods. Yet, he seems quite clearly to be saying that he cannot build a "square" cab opening and door. OTOH, that seems like a heck of an admission. OTOH, I can imagine that even a small out-of-square on the door or cab can make the gaps uneven -- and the key is the gaps.
Is it really this tough? Is this why most cabs have overlay doors? Is it really good SOP to construct panel doors oversized? What about a double-door cab?
I may have to rethink my new kitchen plans. Either that or start getting in shape for lots of running up and down the stairs from the kitchen to the basement shop. Comments solicited. TIA. -- Igor
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
igor wrote:

the problem is that ANY out of squareness is readily magnified by the fact that the gap
Think of this. Let's say your cabinet door is 20" high, to be out of square by 1/16" you only have to be off 0.2 degrees.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

This is kind of weird but I've never made anything but an inset door. I read the fww article and thought they were pretty anal about it. I guess it isn't anal if you build your face frame out of square and need to fit the door to the frame. I guess I haven't had the issue surface yet. SH

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Igor, IMHO these doors arnot hard AS LONG AS the opening and door are square. A few hints I have learned through the years.
1. Like the article says build the door slightly over sized. I do this on over lay doors also as I prefer to recut all four sides again to clean up glue squeeze out and make the door the perfect size after glue up. 2. As we all know sometimes the stiles and some times the rails tend to warp a bit. If the offending rail or stile bows outward I like to back bevel the offending outer side edge a couple of degrees such that the door stile front edge to side angle is less than 90 degrees. This leaves an edge on the corner that is easily hand planed slightly to remove any less than perfect clearances and give a consistant width shadow line.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Leon wrote:

I learned to do the same thing from a very good eastern European cabinetmaker when I was a kid, but on drawer fronts. Bevelling makes it easy to fit the drawer and also eliminates binding as only the very front surface of the drawer front touches the case.
I read that article, and I suspect he doesn't have to do much 'fix up' on most of his doors, but on the few that require it, his method is good to know. Also, I thought his work was quite beautiful and obviously he strives for very tight tolerances.
I have a question for anyone who has read the article. Look closely at the rails/stiles. Do you think they were cut with rail/stile bits on a router or shaper, or could the same be achieved with a table saw?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'll have to look for that issue, Thanks! I allow anywhere from a 1/16 to an 1/8 over finished size on my stiles and rails (partly so I don't have to worry so much about dinging an edge during glue up or whatever). One thing I wonder about, did the article talk about tolerances in the gap varying by season? You have to allow a little extra in the Winter where I am or else in the Summer you'll be called back to try out your new plane !
Lenny
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Lesson learned at little cost to me ... before I started doing any woodworking myself, I asked a friend to build me a potato/onion bin as a Christmas present for my partner. Sure enough, the inset doors swelled beyond opening in summer time. Since fixed, and I make my own stuff now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not that I noticed, though I can miss such things. Since the inset door is a panel door, the expansion concerns only deal with the rails and stiles. I think each rail (maybe 2 - 2.5" wide?) can expand almost 1/8" in width before there is a problem with them (assuming the expansion would be somewhat equally outward and inward). He back bevels the edge opposite the hinges. -- Igor
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi Igor,
Just another thought. Sometimes I think that it is easier to build the face frame around the door. I built a storage cabinet for the shop that measures about 72" H x 96" W. After attaching the face frames and fitting the first 64" x 22" inset door, I thought to myself that it would be a lot easier to hang the doors first and then fit the face frames around them since the doors were so large and hard to handle on the jointer (or plane).
On normal cabinet sized doors, I don't find it too difficult to fit the inset doors, but I do have trouble with getting the hinges placed exactly where I want them. Using the Euro type hinges help, but if you want the classic look with a mortised hinge set into the door and face frame, it is time consuming IMHO. I usually attach the hinges first, making the door as snug as possible, then back off the door size with the jointer until all reveals are equal - I use a 3d nail for my "spacers". This method involves quite a few intstall/remove/joint operations, so it does get to be tedious after a few doors!
Lou

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.