Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Doors

When we last met, I had just finished making & applying all of the molding to the carcases. Since then, I've either been sick or on the road, and I just haven't had a lot of time to post anything. I apologize for taking over two weeks to make this post, but sometimes life gets in the way.

The time has come to start work on the doors. I'll take you through some of the planning I had to do for the doors in this post, and we'll get into the actual woodworking next time.

The dimensions of the doors are determined entirely by two factors:

  1. The size of the opening
  2. The style of the door: inset or overlay.

Overlay doors are larger than the opening & so lay over it when closed. The edges of overlay doors are rabbeted, forming a lip that so that part of the door fits within the opening. Overlay doors are easier to hang, since you can't see the opening & can't tell if any of the corners are out of square or not, and you can't tell if the door is perfectly centered within the opening.

Inset doors fit entirely within the opening. Inset doors usually have a uniform space between them & the opening for the best look. The size of this space is usually determined by the hinges that you use to hold the door on to the cabinet. Since the opening in the carcase is actually visible, its corners must be perfectly square to each other. If the spacing between the door & the opening isn't uniform, you can easily tell that the door isn't centered properly in the hole.

The doors for this cabinet are inset doors, since all of the doors on the rest of the pieces in our dining room set are inset doors. The door hinges I am going to use are the same as used on those pieces, and are a morticeless type that are 1/16" thick. Due to the hinges, there will be a 1/16" space between the door & the face frame on the hinge side. For these doors to look right, this 1/16" space has to be consistent all the way around the door. This means that the height of the door has to be 1/8" less than the height of the opening, and likewise, the width of the door has to be 1/8" less than the width of the opening.

In addition, the doors are actually wrapped by a 1/4" thick bead molding. So the lengths of the rails & stiles for the door frame need to be an additional 1/4" smaller than the opening size.

Now, one of the things I've learned is that when it comes to fitting things like doors, the best thing to do is to actually measure the opening the door will fit into & use those dimensions to size the door parts. No matter how well you follow a plan, there are always little errors made in measuring & fitting things together. According to my plan, the width of the two door openings should be identical. Well, it didn't turn out that way. The bottom opening ended up being about 1/16" wider than the top opening. It's no big deal, but actually cutting to fit will keep the gap around the doors consistent.

Below is a screen capture of a spreadsheet I put together that computed the dimensions of the parts I need to make for the doors. When I make the parts, I won't just rely on these dimensions. The idea is to start here and make sure that everything fits properly before glue-up.

Now, as luck would have it, I made some mistakes when originally measuring some parts for the doors when I was putting together my SketchUp drawing. When I measured everything then, some how I came up with a width of 2" for the rails & stiles, and the bead molding being 1/8" thick. I had originally plugged these dimensions into this spreadsheet and had cut everything to length based upon the assumption the bead would be 1/8" thick.

I was having a very difficult time finding 1/8" diameter beading bit. I thought I found one, but it turned out to be a 1/4" diameter bit (I guess I misread the package). So I went back to one of the pieces in the set & measured again. It was then that I found somehow I had mismeasured. The rails & stiles are supposed to be 1 3/4" wide, and the bead 1/4" thick, making for a finished dimension of 2" on those parts.

At this point, I decided I could go ahead & use the 1/4" diameter beading bit, but I had to change the dimensions of the rails & stiles so the finished doors would fit in the openings properly. I couldn't change the length of the rails or the width of the panels, because you can remove material, but you can't add material back. So I had to rip 1/8" off the width of each rail & stile, and then cut the stiles 1/4" shorter to get everything to fit.

As a result the actual dimensions of everything differ from those in the spreadsheet by 1/8" to 1/4". So long as the final door dimensions match those shown in the spreadsheet, the door will fit and no one will know. It's a pain to realize this late in the assembly that you made a mistake so early in the planning, but that's life.

Next time, I'll detail the adventures I've gone through getting these doors built.

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