I want to build solid slab cabinet doors with 1x birch or maple.
The widest door will be about 18" and 41" long.
Can this be done with glued up pieces of 1x? Is it stable enough or
will it expand and crack? Is there another hardwood which is more
stable and more suitable for such a project?
This is pretty big for slab doors but it can be done. Rip your pieces
to 1.24 - 2" wide max and invert every other rip so that the end grain
creates a "wave" pattern. I would consider gluing the panels up out of
wood that is at least 1.125" thick. Let the panels stabilize for a
week or so after glue up. Then you can plane (or sand) them down to
final thickness. The extra "meat" will allow you to flatten the doors
without going under your 1" target thickness. Any panels that have
warped beyond this tolerance should be rejected.
"It's easy when you know how..."
I don't think he wants frame and panel - just flat slab door.
Since he stated doorS some questions
What wood - expansion & contraction may or may not be a big
factor depending on the wood
Doors ovelayed or inset? If inset wood movement could be
a problem for the fit.
Doors closure against each other or with stile (or is it
rail) between them?
Whatever you do, get a finish ON BOTH SIDES of the slabs
as soon after glue up as possible. DO NOT WAIT A WEEK OR
SO before getting some finish on it (DAMHIKT)
Consider at least bread boarding the ends and maybe a
sliding dovetail "cleat" in the middle of the inside.
Slab doors work fine as overlay doors or rabbeted edge doors but will
expand and contract too much for use in most inset door applications.
I wouldn't use a glued up slab without battens on the back of the
panels. The best way to fix the battens is to have the battens and
the slab form a sliding dovetail connection. You can pin one end with
your fastener of choice and a spot of glue but the rest must be left
unfastened, or fixed with screws in slotted holes, so that the slab
can expand and contract.
A less labor intensive method is to use battens applied to the back of
the slab with screws in slots wide enough to allow for the movement of
You will need a minimum of two battens, set a couple of inches in from
the top and bottom. On doors over about thirty six inches in height,
I would put in a third batten on the centerline.
It is critical to use the same finishing schedule on both sides of the
panel and particular attention should be paid to coating the endgrain.
In most instances it is better from a time and stability point of view
to use cabinet grade plywood with solid edgebanding, rather than solid
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker
Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania
Thanks to all who responded. They are overlay doors and I now have a
lot more confidence in doing them.
I had visions of the longer doors checking after a year or so. I could
live with that but not with the wailing that would emenate from the
female half of the household.
Those kind of doors are subject to twist, cup, and strange warping,
although smaller cabinet doors may be okay. Best bet is using stiles,
rails and floating panels for a tight-fitting door. What you
propose will be a heavy and you'll need to give some thought about
beefy hinges. No reason 18" wide wood will crack, nor any guarantees.
A lighter wood such as white pine or yellow popular may be better.
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