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Thread: Solid wood "slab" cabinet doors

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Los Angeles

    Solid wood "slab" cabinet doors

    I'm bidding a kitchen that calls for solid maple "slab" cabinet door and drawer fronts.
    Real wood all the way through, no veneering over a substrate.

    I can imagine these doors warping, and cracking from being banged shut.

    Has anyone experience of making or using these door? And what can you tell me?

    Thanks, Mark

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Longmont, CO
    I would guess they would not like stretchers on the back?

  3. #3
    Any chance the builder just isn't clear on the language and really means something else? Any chance you can see a rendering of what the designer is going for? I agree that it makes on sense as it is worded now.

    Felder USA Territory Representative: Central & South Texas

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    Do it all the time-I do have had to remake a couple. My only stipulation is clear finishes only-that way itís a breeze to match.

  5. #5
    I think you already know the answer. You can explain to the client why this is a bad idea, and how you would meet the design intent with a different construction method. If the specs can't be adjusted, walk away. You could submit a bid with an explicit disavowal of guarantee, but do you really want your name on something so likely to have problems?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    I run into that occasionally. The inexperienced buyer thinks solid lumber must be better. If you canít educate them, build them what they want, and charge them for it.
    Use quartersawn lumber if you can. If the customer wonít let you do that, use straight-grained wood - that is try to get each piece to cup, not twist. And then do the pith-in, pith-out trick.
    Allow for wood expansion. That usually means overlay doors.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Itapevi, SP - Brazil

    Slide dovetail reinforcement

    I made our kitchen cabinet doors and front drawers from solid wood and I have had no problems at all... after 27 years.

    I construct typical raised panel doors as I see them structurally sounder than a simple slab. If I had to go for a simple slab I would use sliding dovetail reinforcement back of each door panel.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    Banging shut is easy to solve with soft close hinges. I've built solid wood furniture for 47 years, not had one crack yet. Suggest rift or quarter sawn for more stability. If they don't want that and you are worried, don't use a board over 3" wide in the doors. Flip the boards end for end to alternate the growth rings. Finally, charge the money to cover any rework and for all the labor involved. If they baulk at the price, tell them it's the solid wood and suggest an alternative. If they really want the solid, they will pay.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    New Brunswick, Canada
    I’ve had solid cherry slab cabinet doors and drawer fronts for about 5 years. They have been trouble free and look great. Easy to keep clean too! I ordered soft-close hinges and drawer slides so no banging.

  10. #10
    I have a kitchen full of exactly what's described: slab doors and drawer fronts made from solid maple, manufactured by KraftMaid--put in probably ten years ago by the prior owner. It's not what I would pick style-wise--overlay doors on face frame cabinets--but has held up fine. Doors are dead flat and nothing has checked or cracked. FWIW, the slabs are made up of strips about 2 inches wide, glued up without any apparent concern for grain orientation and certainly not quarter sawn. ...I do wonder if this kind of construction is more practical in a factory setting where the drying of the lumber and moisture content at time of fabrication could be far better controlled than I could ever achieve in my shop...IMG_2499.jpg
    Last edited by David Stone (CT); 05-07-2020 at 5:05 PM.

  11. #11
    Banging shut won't be a problem, save for the noise. Cupping absolutely will be a thing. Include the cost of headaches and callbacks in your bid. I would let that one pass.

  12. #12
    I would insist on wood battens with elongated holes .

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Los Angeles
    David Stone, thanks for the photo and your description of how well the door have held up.
    David Publicover - any chance of a photo of your doors?

    The contractor is very experienced, and if they want to get these doors I'll give them solid wood doors, but yes I'll point out my concerns, and I think a batten on the back is the way to go as Adam suggests.

    Thanks for all the info, gents.

  14. #14
    Just a hobby guy here, not a pro. I would think dovetail battens would be the way to keep the slim, sleek profile owhile helping prevent issues. If they don't want those to show (even on the inside) what about internal, hidden, battens? I might think about using my domino joiner to make mortises through all the individual strips for each door (not all the way through on the edge pieces). Then I would make my own very long loose tenons (or use the Festool pre-made tenons that come in long strips) such that each tenon goes through each board, hidden inside. Two of those for each door.

  15. I would give them a crash corse in wood stability and explain the hidden dangers of doors cupping, twisting and bowing due to being (unnecessarily) made from solid wood. I would then explain the benefits of using something like an edge banded MDF core ply. The edge banded MDF core ply will be much more stable over the long term and yet still hold up just as well as a solid wood door with out the probability of it warping or cracking or worse. Also explain the price and weight differences.

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