How to Build a Cabinet Door

Achieve a whole new look—and score your dream kitchen—by building custom cabinet doors using these easy tips.

Sometimes the only way to create a truly custom space is to take matters into your own hands. In the kitchen, this might mean building your own custom cabinet doors. Not only will you get a look you love, but you will feel so much accomplishment knowing your kitchen was handcrafted to perfection. Check out our instructions below to learn how to build a cabinet door.

green cabinet with open shelving for decor
Jason Donnelly

But first, you need to figure out the dimensions of your new cabinet doors using the old doors as templates. Choose the material for your new doors (we used 3/4 x 3-inch poplar project boards) and your stile and rail width (we went with 2-1/4 inches). Then, subtract the width of two stiles from the width of your old door. This will equal the length of your rails.

The length of your stiles will be the full length of the door. The inset panel will be measured once the interior rectangle formed by the stiles and rails has been routed out and can accurately be measured.

How to Build a Kitchen Cabinet Door

Don't let old cabinetry doors date your kitchen. Give existing cabinet boxes an update with our how-to instructions for building cabinet doors, below.

Supplies Needed:

  • Hand saw with a miter box, or chop saw
  • Stiles and rails cut to your door measurements
  • Sanding block or sander with sandpaper
  • Kreg pocket hole kit with micro attachment
  • Kreg clamps (3- or 6-inch)
  • Wood glue
  • Kreg screws
  • Router
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • 1/4-inch Lauan plywood for inset panel, cut to your door measurements
  • Circular saw
  • Kreg rip-cut guide
  • 1/4-inch square dowels
  • Micro wood plugs
  • Wood filler
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint roller or brush
  • Kreg concealed hinge jig
  • Forstener bit
  • Kreg cabinet hardware jig
drilling wood divots using clamp measurement tool
Jason Donnelly
using electric drill and claps to drill out divots into wood corner piece
Jason Donnelly

Step 1: Make Cabinet Door Frame

Use a hand saw with a miter box or chop saw to cut stiles and rails to desired size; lightly sand all cut edges. Using a Kreg pocket hole jig with the micro attachment in place, drill two pocket holes on the back side of each end of each rail. Clamp two rails inside two stiles to create a door frame, then glue, and screw together. Repeat at all corners on the frame.

using wood filing tool to clean up cabinet corner
Jason Donnelly

Step 2: Shape Back of Door Frame

Route out a 1/2-inch x 1/2-inch area along the inner back edge of the door frame. The corners of the routed area will be rounded; use a chisel and a hammer to create a nice sharp inside square corner on the routed area. Now you can accurately measure the 1/4-inch Lauan to fit snuggly into the frame as the door inset. Use a circular saw and rip-cut guide and cut the Lauan plywood.

electric nail gun used for wood cabinet
Jason Donnelly
stainable wood filler glue cabinets
Jason Donnelly

Step 3: Install Dowels to Back of Door

With the back side of the door facing up, apply a bead of glue to the far edge of the routed area and insert the Lauan plywood board. Cut dowel pieces to the length of the Lauan board, then glue and pin-nail the dowel on top of the board along the inside edge of the routed area. Measure between the ends of the nailed dowels and cut two more dowels to glue and nail between the attached ones.

Next, fill holes using micro wood plugs. Apply a little glue inside the hole and slide a micro plug inside. Once the glue is dry, sand off any plug protruding beyond the board. Use wood filler to fill any spaces around the plug, let dry, and sand smooth.

man holding electric drill and clamp for wood cabinet project
Jason Donnelly
electric drill carving wood circle for cabinet
Jason Donnelly

Step 4: Attach Hinge

Prime and paint the cabinet door. With the back of the door facing up, measure up about 3 inches from the top and bottom of the door and clamp your hinge jig in place. There are two small holes on this jig to use as guides for screwing on the hinges. Using a Forstner bit, drill the holes and attach hinges to doors.

using tools to install handle for wood cabinets
Jason Donnelly

Step 5: Attach Cabinet Hardware

With the front side of the door facing up, use a cabinet hardware jig to attach door handles or pulls in a consistent location. Measure the distance between the screws on the door pull and set the jig to that distance. Then measure to the center of the stiles and set the jig to that measurement. Clamp the jig in place and drill the holes. Attach the hardware to the door.

Editor's Tip: Installing cabinet hardware can be a pain—and it's risky to remeasure each time you drill. If you make a mistake, you may have ruined your door! The Kreg jigs for cabinet door hardware and hinges allow you to set measurements once and repeat for every door.

Updated by
Lacey Howard
Lacey Howard

Lacey Howard is a 22-year veteran of the interior design-magazine industry and works as an editor, writer, and stylist for BH&G and many of its sister publications.

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