Warping Cabinet Doors


I have built a few dozen cabinet doors for our kitchen, garage, and miscellaneous cabinets. Unfortunately, about half of the doors I have built over the last few years have warped slightly. So two doors that meet in the middle don't sit flat next to each other anymore. They still work fine, it just looks "unprofessional". :)
I like working with regular #2 pine, for the availability, price, and a bit of a "rustic" appearance. I've used it for cabinets, face frames, drawers, and drawer fronts. The doors are the only items giving me trouble.
The doors are simple frame and panel contruction. Just a 1/4" groove all around with a flat panel.
To make the frames, I bought 1x6's and 1x8's, then ripped them into 2" wide boards. I selectively cut between knots and chose the straightest grained lumber for the frames.
Most of the doors have solid panels glued up from individual boards, while other's have plywood panels. I've tried both 1/4" and 1/2" thick panels, and the warping is about the same with either.
The doors were flat when I finished them, so I know it wasn't a clamping problem. In fact, they were flat when installed, and only warped after being on the cabinets a few weeks.
I don't have a moisture meter, but the pine boards were kiln dried when I bought them, and most have been stored in my dry garage for a year or more.
Anyway, I'm curious why so many of my doors are warping weeks after they have been installed?
Is it because I only applied finish to the outside, leaving the inside unfinished?
Is pine just a poor choice for door frames?
More importantly, is there anything I can do to get the doors to sit flat now that they have warped?
Thanks,
Anthony
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"HerHusband" wrote in message
Assuming you are the guy who has posted here before using that handle, and not a troll ... although it is hard to tell from the below.

You got what you paid for ... one of the most dimensionally unstable woods around.

See above and below.

Taking direct aim at your _other_ foot, by not finishing both sides you have guaranteed instability with your choice of one of the most unstable species/type of an inherently unstable medium.

That type of pine certainly is.

Build new ones. As you've noted, one of the biggest mistakes a new woodworker can make is spending his time working with cheap materials and expecting it to last. Even some of us old codgers still fall into that trap. DAMHIKT
Wood is an unstable medium at best. If you want lasting results, use material, and joinery and finishing methods, that will give you a chance of not wasting your time.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 6/21/06
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Swingman wrote:

There is something "familiar" about your post, as Swing said, but, rather than letting paranoia win:
How bad IS the warping? Noticeable to you or to everyone? Just looking for scale here as to how badly the warping is.
I've found two things that can -hide- slight warping pretty readily. I assume you've used felt pads or some such to prevent the slamming sounds? Whether you have or not, they can often make up for slight warps by adding/removing them in strategic locations. That won't help of course if they're flush-fits and not overlaps, but it did work well for me. My worst critic even agreed the alignments looked fine, not that I led the question to any particular thing though; I kept it open ended to get a wider response.
Sometimes it can even be the hinges themselves; did you keep packages of hinges per door? Or just mix & match? They'll be pretty minimal misalignments though. Sometimes a very thin spacer can be used too on the hinges, in the non-visible area of the hinge.
Are you sure the doors are warped and that the frame didn't respond badly somehow? The frame has to be as good as the doors, of course. Weight, lots of things can stress the frames over time and misalign things.
If you can't find success with a bit of fudging, it might be time to remake them, and this time be certain you finish both sides, and at the same time. All 6 sides need to be sealed, BTW. Top, bottom, left, right, front and back. Pine's a poor choice but I use it too, usually effectively and I'm happy with all my results except for some tub room cabinets with wide doors; visibly warped there, but they're not getting fixed anytime soon; some of the shapes were a bitch to create in there - a very customized area<g>.
HTH, Pop
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Nope, I'm not a troll, though it is entirely possible I may have asked the same question in the past. I'm rather forgetful these days... :)
I've also asked a lot of questions about door construction over the last few years. So, it's probably all blending into one big annoyance now... :)
Most of our cabinets have been in place for nearly two years and I've learned to live with the warping. But the doors warped on a cabinet I built for my in-laws last month, so this renewed my interest in the warping situation.

I use it with great results on lots of projects. It has only been an issue with the door frames.

Yeah, I figured I probably caused some of my own problems by not finishing the back sides. Haste won out over common sense... :)

I bought a more expensive straight grained pine for some armoire doors, and they warped the same way.

I've toyed with the idea, but I'd have to rebuild 20 or so doors. It's not a big enough problem to warrant all that work.

By "warping" I mean more of a "twist" to the door. The hinged side sit's flat, of course, but either the top or bottom corner of the opposite side sits above the door frame.
The severity varies from NO warping on many doors, to about 1/8" off the cabinet frame on the rest.
Ironically, the worst warping occurred on the newest doors I built for my in-laws. Those sit about 1/4" off the door frame. There are only two of those doors, so I could rebuild those easy enough. But, the cabinet is only temporary until we do some remodeling, so it's not worth the effort at this point.
I don't think most people notice the warping, as I'm usually the one who points it out. :) Even my wife didn't seem overly concerned. But as the builder, I think it makes an otherwise perfect job look bad. :)
I think it's more pronounced because the doors warp in opposite directions. In other words, the left hand door warps out at the top, while the right hand door warps out at the bottom.
On my daughters armoire's, the doors are large enough that I use magnetic catches to "hold" the doors shut flat, despite the warping. But, the smaller doors are too stiff to force flat that way.

Yep, top and bottom of each door. They came with the hinges I ordered.

Yes, I used variable overlay hinges I ordered from Rockler. One package per door.

The frames are in great shape, nice and flat. It's clearly limited to the door frames.

We did five... :) Live and learn...

Our house is filled with pine walls, cedar ceilings, and pine furniture. The pine was a natural choice to go with the "rustic" nature of our house.

Same here. The warping is annoying, but not worth the trouble or expense to rebuild. Otherwise, I'm happy with the way the cabinets and doors turned out. Here's a few pics of the cabinet doors in question.
www.mountain-software.com/door1.jpg www.mountain-software.com/door2.jpg www.mountain-software.com/door3.jpg www.mountain-software.com/door4.jpg www.mountain-software.com/door5.jpg www.mountain-software.com/door6.jpg
The last cabinet is the one I built for my in-laws. Quick and dirty construction, nothing fancy. I actually made it out of scraps I had laying around, sized to use the lumber I had on hand. :) I had to tear out their old carport cabinet when I was doing some electrical work, so I banged this one together as a quick fix for the short term.
The panels for my garage cabinet doors were made from T&G cedar scraps left over from our house ceilings.
The rest of the cabinet doors use panels made with T&G pine scraps left over from our master suite. Rip off the tongues and grooves, glue into panels, plane smooth, and cut to size. Nothing goes to waste around here. :)
Anyway, it sounds like my biggest mistake was not finishing the backs of the cabinet doors too. I'll know for next time...
Thanks,
Anthony
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HEY! You stole my designs!! Except for the vaulted ceiling and corner window, those first three could be my own house! OUT, OUT DAMNED SPOT! :-} Oh, and our floors are a little lighter. Even the same drawer fronts, for cryin' out loud! Then again I guess it's pretty "standard" stuff, eh? You can't buy quality like that, even with a couple extra felt pads to align them. Under that corner window: Any chance that's a tilt-out waste bin? If it is, then I KNOW you stole my designs! ;0 Too bad we're not neighbors<g>.
Regards,
Pop
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Pop,

Too funny... We designed and built our own house after years of scribbling different plans on paper. As far as I know, the design came from my own mind??? :)

Our floors are prefinished Australian Cypress. Beautiful wood, kind of smells like lemon when you cut it, but it dulled my miter saw blade quickly. It also has a tendency to split.
Our ceilings are 1x6 T&G cedar. We bought #3 lumber to keep costs low, cutting out the loose knots and splits. Pieces that were too short for the ceiling became door panels in our garage. We used the rest as firewood for a couple of years.

Yep, cut a #2 pine board to width and length, then round over the edge and sand it down. Doesn't get much easier... :)

Nope, just space for the garbage can, and dish soap. :)
Take care,
Anthony
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You might try dampening the unfinished side and twisting them back into compliance. Then finish the backs. A friend did this when he made some doors in my shop here in SoCal them moved them to Arizona. He had some success and some just were too stubborn.
Dave
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Interesting... I'll keep it in mind, though at this point, it's not worth the trouble. :)
Anthony
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