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Thread: Clearance for panels in cabinet doors

  1. #1

    Clearance for panels in cabinet doors

    So I am building some bookcases for my son and daughter-in-law. The lower units will have doors on them. The panels in the doors in question are made of maple and are 15 inches wide and 28 inches tall, the stiles and rails are 2 1/4 inches wide. A larger size than I would like but thatís the way they have to be. Anyway how much clearance do I need to allow around the panels to avoid problems with seasonal wood movement. This is in Minnesota so it is humid in the summer and forced air heat in the winter. Any advice would be appreciated

  2. #2
    I use the wood shrinkage calculator at Woodweb. Based on a swing of 5% mc and a 15" wide flatsawn sugar maple panel you can anticipate 1/4" change in width. If you assemble your doors in the dead of winter at 5-6% moisture content you should leave at least 1/8" clearance.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Be sure to finish the panels before you insert them.

  4. #4
    You're on the right track thinking about the size, considering it's solid wood. I agree with all the above, and will add:
    - Use space-balls, panel buddies, or some form of "suspension" pads to keep it centered while it does the seasonal dance
    - Strongly urge you to increase width of frame stock width as much as allowable. At that size, you could easily go 2.75-3.25 and be within proportion visually. This way, you have more meat in that frame to help tame that monster panel of maple, will reduce panel width an inch or two = small but welcome reduction in width change as the seasons pass,
    and you'll have a wee bit more glue surface at your joints to help hold it all together.
    - Consider a center Muntin (splitter stile) to divide those panels in half. I know, probably discussed and got rejected for design aesthetics, but worth mentioning for sure.

    Always a balancing act between the designer and the builder.

  5. #5
    Of course for a door that size, a solid panel will add some weight. Veneer plywood will eliminate the expansion/contraction issue, reduce the weight, and since it can be glued into the door frame, will add tremendous strength.

  6. #6
    Depending on whether anticipate shrinkage or expansion, I cut them 1/4 -3/8” short and use 1/4” panel line strips. You can also use space balls.

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