Wood Expansion

I am making a vanity for my bathroom and the center of it has 2 doors. I was just wondering how much space I need to leave between the doors for expansion so that they will close properly? Also, I know that they will still expand and contract no matter what finish I put on, but will they expand and contract less after the finish is put on as opposed to having no finish on at all?
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Could be anywhere between 1/32" and perhaps as much as 3/8", depending on: - the species of wood - whether it's quartersawn or flatsawn - how wide the doors are - the difference between winter and summer humidity levels
You might also consider designing the cabinet so that this will not be an issue, for example by using overlay doors with a center stile.

Definitely. It's hard to quantify how much difference there is, but a good ballpark estimate IMO is about half as much.

--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Thu, 08 Nov 2007 15:17:11 +0000, Doug Miller wrote:

Best results are with a few thin wiped-on coats of dewaxed shellac under the final finish. Shellac slows water vapor exchange better than any other common finish. I'd suggest poly as the final finish for durability.
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In order to get a good answer, You need to tell us what kind of doors. Are they solid? Raised panel? Also, what species of wood are you using? If they are solid, what are the dimensions? If raised panel, what are the stile widths? Is there a center stile on the cabinet between the doors? Also, what kind of hinges are you going to use? Some allow you to tweak the fit which may solve your (possible) problem.
jc
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They are a raised panel door made from Knotty Alder. There is no center stile. The width of the stiles are 2-1/2". The hinges don't allow for any slight movement. Thanks Rich

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Leave 1/8" and you should be fine.
You can help hide the space between the doors by putting in a false stile between the doors. The false style would be attached to and behind one of the doors so that it closes the gap between the doors.
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Richard J Petruso wrote:

Given that it's a frame and panel door, you really only have 5" over which expansion will be an issue.
The Shrinkulator gives a bit over 1/8" variation over 5" in red alder, using a wood moisture range of 4% to 14%.
Chris
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instantaneously. Just use a bit more if your cabinet's in the sauna.
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On Thu, 8 Nov 2007 08:41:00 -0600, "Richard J Petruso"

They will expand and contract. How much depends on the kind of wood, how the doors are constructed, humidity changes, etc. A sealing finish on all sides will help stabilize the wood. Also, install a wall timer switch on the bathroom fan and use it set at least 15 minutes after bathing.
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wrote:

You don't say where you live, and that matters too. Down heah in the Deep South, my wood shrinks quite a bit when I first take it indoors and it doesn't move much after that. I could leave a tiny gap while it's in my shop with confidence that the gap will only grow when I take it indoors. That's because the relative humidity in my shop is the same as outdoors, which hovers around 75%. The relative humidity in my house stays around 40% winter and summer. If you live in Arizona, and use a humidifier year round, you could have the opposite experience.
The relative humidity in your bathroom may vary from one part of the day to another, but I'd guess that it averages out to a fairly constant number unless your climate has huge swings in ambient relative humitity from one season to another. The finish on your doors will slow the absorption/rejection of moisture so that they eventually reach an equilibium with your average daily humidity level. They won't be swelling up everytime you shower and shrinking later in the day. Given that you're using floating panels, the amount of movement you'll experience should be limited to the growth in width of your stiles. Be sure a nickle fits between the doors in your shop, and I'll bet you won't have a problem.
DonkeyHody "In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice they are not."
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I live in the Chicagoland area, so plenty of humidity in the summer time

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On Thu, 8 Nov 2007 08:41:00 -0600, "Richard J Petruso"

I agree with Leon leave 1/8". We build our double door cabinets with 1/8" reveal between doors and have never had a call back because the doors expanded too much. Back in the old days, with surface mounted hinges, we would use an 8d nail between the doors to get the proper gap.
Mike O.
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