Cabinet Door Replacement: The steps from ordering to job completion (long post)

Now that you have made the decision to remodel or reface your kitchen, there are a few steps critical to realizing your goal of making the kitchen the show-place of your home.

Cabinet Door Replacement: The steps from ordering to job completion.

Now that you have made the decision to remodel or reface your kitchen, there are a few steps critical to realizing your goal of making the kitchen the show-place of your home.

An outline of these steps follow and are explained in detail below the outline.
1. Determine whether you want stained or painted cabinets and doors.
2. Select the replacement cabinet door style.
3. Select the wood type for your project.
4. Measure your cabinet openings and calculate the door and drawer front sizes.
5. Select the manufacturer and order your new cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
6. Prepare the cabinet boxes for the new finish.
7. Finish your new doors and fronts to match your refinished cabinet boxes.
8. Hang the new doors and attach the new drawer fronts.

Now, lets go into detail on each of these points.

1. Determine whether you want stained or painted cabinets and doors.
The decision on whether to re-stain or paint has two factors. Removing existing stain and lacquer requires several steps and is more time-consuming than prepping the cabinet boxes to be painted.
This is really a personal opinion issue and it all comes down to a trade-off between the look you are after, the time you are willing to spend, and the amount you wish to spend.
2. Select the replacement cabinet door style.
This step is actually fairly quick and easy. A visit to the local Home Depot will give you an idea of the door types available. For a larger selection Google cabinet door manufactures. The Google search will return mostly websites operated by resellers or middlemen, but you will see a few actual factory-direct manufacturers.
The oldest web supplier, and one of the largest cabinet door manufacturers in America is CabinetDoors.Com.
The factory-direct web suppliers will save you from 30% to 50% off the retail chains and offer much quicker delivery. Keep in mind that the retail chains don’t make the doors they sell, they buy them from the same manufacturers you will find on the internet, increase the price, and sell them to you.
Another step in the door selection process is to select the hinges you will use. Modern hinges are a world apart from the hinges of yesterday. Most are hidden and well made, with a few actually made in America. The Blum line of hinges are made in America and are used by the majority of Custom Cabinet Makers across the country.
The advantage of selecting the hinges while ordering the cabinet doors is that you can have the new doors bored for the hinges and avoid the danger of a drilling error. The web manufacturer will also offer the hinges at a comparable price as the retail chains, but give you a higher quality hinge made in America.

3. Select the wood type for your project.
If you are staining the doors you will want the doors made of the same wood as your cabinets. So the stained boxes and the stained doors will match.
If you are painting then order the cabinet doors in Paint-Grade. Paint-Grade doors will be made of materials that take paint best. Usually this means the doors frame will be made of Poplar and the doors panel will be made of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF).
MDF paints well and is more dimensionally stable than wood, so it is less affected by humidity swings. Because MDF is slightly brittle it is not usually used to make the doors frames, but for the panels it is superior.
A little information about staining difficult woods might help avoid some problems. Maple and Alder are not easy woods to stain because these woods have variable density across each board. This variable density causes the less dense areas to absorb more stain than the harder areas causing a blotched look. Although it is beyond the scope of this article to cover wood dyes, those wishing to stain Maple would be wise to research wood dyes.

4. Measure your cabinet openings and calculate the door and drawer front sizes.
When measuring for new or replacement kitchen cabinet doors, the type of hinge you intend to use will influence the door sizes.
If you plan to use your existing hinges simply measure your existing cabinet doors and order doors of the same sizes. Be sure to order your doors with an outside edge that your existing hinges will fit. If you wish to have us supply the hinges we will insure that the hinges you receive will fit the doors you order.
If you plan to use our Top-Quality, Blum Inserta, Clip-top hinges with 1/2-inch overlay, your hinges will ship with your order.

To insure your new doors are perfectly sized for use with our hinges, the door size measurements are figured as follows:
On single doors simply measure the cabinet’s opening size and add 1-inch to both the width and height. For instance, if the cabinet opening size is 12-inches wide and 24-inches high, the door size will be 13 x 25.

On wider cabinets with two doors (butting in the center), measure the width of the opening, add 1-inch, then divide by 2.
Height is figured the same as for single doors. Just add 1-inch to the opening.
For instance, if the opening is 28 inches wide and 30 inches high, each door width would be 28 + 1 = 29 divided by 2 = 14 1/2-inches wide.

Our Blum hinges have plus/minus 2 millimeters of adjustment which will allow enough side adjustment to have a gap of up to 1/8-inch between the butting doors. If you live in a high humidity climate you may want to subtract an additional 1/16″ from the width of your Butt Doors.

So, don’t be intimidated into thinking it’s difficult to figure door sized from openings. Just take the measurements and order the door style of your choice…of give us a call and we’ll talk you through the entire process.

5. Select the manufacturer and order your new cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
The internet has made it possible to find sources for the do-it-yourself re-modeler to buy custom sizes of cabinet doors.

The majority of Cabinet Door Websites don’t actually make the doors they sell, and because they need to make a profit, they price the doors on their website higher than you will pay if you can find the actual manufacturer.

Way back in the mid 1990′s Western Cabinet Doors, Inc launched the first website offering custom sized cabinet doors on the internet. Western Cabinet Doors is a large manufacturer of Cabinet Doors, supplying hundreds of styles of doors to thousands of Home Builders, Custom Cabinet Shops, and Furniture Manufactures across the United States.

Today you can purchase their products on CabinetDoors.Com and choose from hundreds of door styles in dozens of wood types. You cab browse all the cabinet door possibilities and price your new doors by entering your custom sizes and choosing your wood. Even the cost of Fedex shipping to your home is shown before you enter your credit card.

Compare the prices of other websites and the big-box stores to ours. Not only will you save 30% to 50% but you will get the same quality and guarantee we supply to luxury home builders across the country.

Our quality is superior, our product is made in the United States, and our production time is between 7-and-10 days.

Whether you want traditional cabinet doors, mitered doors, Raised Panel doors, or specialty doors, we make the largest selection in the industry and we have been supplying thousands of users for over 35 years. is not just a website re-marketing cabinet doors, we are the manufacturer and we stand behind our product.

6. Prepare the cabinet boxes for the new finish.
Cleaning, sanding, and painting:
While painting existing cabinets is much easier and faster than staining, there are still some critical steps that are necessary to obtaining a professional finish.
Here are some tried and true rules of thumb that relate to painting Kitchen Cabinet Doors.

* The first is the “prep-prep-prep” rule. That means that every hour spent preparing the cabinet box or cabinet door for painting saves two hours in repainting.

* The second is the 5-F’s rule. This rule is “Fine Finishers Finish Firewood First”. It simply means that experimenting with your finish on scrap wood can prevent ruining a door with a failed finishing attempt.

* The third is always break all sharp edges with fine sandpaper before painting. Sharp edges will not hold paint and will give the dried paint an unpainted spot to absorb moisture.

* The forth is to keep in mind that all wood types will expand and contract with changes in humidity. The paint will slow these humidity-caused wood movements, but no paint is totally moisture-proof, and paint will not stop the movements. This humidity-movement of wood presents another potential issue for the painted cabinet door. When the paint dries, it will no longer have the elasticity to move with the wood; so it will crack, usually along the glue joints where the Stiles & Rails join.

* The fifth relates to the hardness of the paint-grade wood. The softer the wood, the more easily it will dent, if hit with a pot or frying pan. The dent in the wood may be slight and hardly noticeable, but dried paint doesn’t dent without cracking. The weakest link in any painted cabinet door is not the door. Regardless of the wood type used, the weakest link is always the paint.

* The sixth practice covers the method of application of the paint. The desired look from painting a cabinet door is usually a high gloss finish, similar to the finish on a piano. A finish of this quality will certainly require a highly experienced finishing professional, and a dust-free spray booth. This doesn’t mean you can’t achieve an excellent finish, but it does mean you won’t get this piano-finish with a paint brush in your driveway. To get a professional looking finish you will need to spray-on the paint. Not from a Krylon can, but from an compressed-air, or airless, spray painting system.

Now for the step-by-step process I’ve learned through years of both success and a few failures.


Lets get started by working through the process step-by-step.

This process covers both the cabinet boxes and the cabinet doors. Because the doors are more critical these instructions focus mostly on doors, but apply to the boxes as well.
Lay the door on a flat surface and lightly sand the door with a flexible-foam sanding sponge (I like the 3M sanding block sponges best) or 220-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand “with the wood grain” on the front, back, and sides.

Remove any residual grit with a clean cloth (tack cloth is best) or a vacuum.

Next comes what is probably the most important step in the entire process. Sealing and priming the wood.

The priming coat, is also called a sealing coat, or a Sealing indicating coat. These are essentially the same thing. It’s purpose is to seal the wood so that the final paint will adhere evenly and also make it easy to spot uneven areas in the wood while it’s still easy to correct the blemish. Primer can be applied by brush or roller. I like to use a roller for the bigger areas followed by a good quality brush for smoothing and painting the finer details on the cabinet doors. You won’t need the $25 brush but don’t get the $1 brush either. Expect to pay $6-$10 for a good, fine-bristle brush. Try not to get paint all over the brush, dipping only about 1/2″ to 1″ into the paint is best. Also, between coats you can place the brush in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out, and avoid cleaning it until the end of each day.

Any hardware or paint store will have a wide selection of sealer/primer and paint for your doors. Be sure and match the primer with the paint you plan to use. If you are going to use latex (water based) paint, use a latex primer. If using an oil based paint, use an oil based primer. Also try to use a primer with a drying time of 30 minutes or less. White primer works best because it will show the uneven areas of the door better. This allows you to spot (and correct) the areas that need filling before painting.

Once the first coat of primer is dry you will be able to see some small, uneven areas, scratches, or dents in the wood. Now it’s time for the filler. This is the most important step in obtaining that perfect painted finish.

All hardwoods have voids, which cannot be seen until it is primed. I use a filler to fill all of these spots. The two types of filler I’ve used with success are Bondo 907 Glazing and Spot Putty and Elmer’s Wood Filler Max White. The Bondo putty works best, mainly because it is an orange color than makes it easier to see where you have filled. The Elmer’s is white. Fillers must be sanded smooth after drying and then sealed with primer before painting to prevent the color from bleeding through.

After filling, sand the filled areas (use the 3M sponge to keep your fingers from sanding dips in the filled areas), wipe the dust off, and apply one last primer coat.

When the primer has dried, give the doors a light sanding and wipe them clean of any dust. If the final inspection doesn’t show any unfilled scratches or small voids, you are ready to paint.

Now comes the actual painting, which is actually the easiest phase of the project. But without going through the priming-sanding-filling-priming process, there would be little chance of obtaining a truly great painted cabinet door.

Using the same technique you used with the primer–roller for the large areas, and paint brush to smooth and paint the smaller and detailed areas–apply your paint to the doors.

There is no need to sand between paint coats but it is a good idea to insure there is no dried paint on the brush that could work its way into your finish on the following coats.

Although the finish may look good after one coat of paint, two coats are normally applied to assure durability of the finish. Just follow the directions on your paint (and primer) and follow the drying time recommendations.

Here is a link to the CabinetDoors.Com Blog where you will find several other posts on finding, sizing, ordering, painting, and staining Unfinished Replacement Kitchen Cabinet Doors.

7. Finish your new doors and fronts to match your refinished cabinet boxes.
Stripping and re-staining:
Because new raw-wood cabinet doors won’t require any stripping and only minimal touch-up sanding, most of the refinishing work is avoided.
To start the staining process I prefer minwax. Minwax makes a good selection of stains which are super easy to apply. Once you have selected your stain choice just follow the directions on the can. Stains are forgiving so don’t worry about a disaster. A tip is to stain the backs of a few drawer fronts first. This allows you to experiment in an area that won’t be seen.
After the staining is completed it’s time to apply the lacquer. Again Minwax offers a large selection. Minwax Polyurethane is a good choice to go over the Minwax stains. Another tip; use the Polyurethane from a can and not the spray cans. The caned Polyurethane covers much better and makes a mush smoother finish.
It’s important when finishing the doors to apply equal Polyurethane to all sides of the doors. Unequal coverage will result in uneven moisture absorption or loss and will contribute to future warping.

8. Hang the new doors and attach the new drawer fronts.
The process of hanging the cabinet doors is actually straight forward. I’ve found it useful to attach a straight piece of wood to the bottom of the cabinet to rest the door on while aligning the hinge mounting bracket for drilling. Just clamp the straight edge so the door bottom will extend 1/2-inch below the cabinet opening. Using a long straight edge will insure all the doors are perfectly aligned.

Here is a useful video showing the hanging of canceled hinge cabinet doors.

Tips on Staining Maple, Pine, Alder, and Cherry

Staining Maple, Pine, Alder, or Cherry… How to avoid Blotches.

Staining tight-grained woods like Hard Maple is a real problem for even experienced finishers.
For amateurs the problem gets even worse.
Understand that staining–without blotches–is difficult. Not impossible, just difficult.
Now, if you still want to get a darker finish on your Maple Cabinet Doors, here are some tips.
I strongly recommend against using any kind of wood stain on Maple, Alder, Pine, and Cherry unless you are familiar with various seal-coat techniques.

This post will refer to Maple but Alder, Pine, and Cherry all exhibit the same properties regarding stain.
While the grain may appear to be uniform, it will almost never be the case. With Maple, for instance, the new cabinet door will appear to your eyes to be perfect. It may have even color, perfect grain match, and exceptional sanding. These properties will produce a superior cabinet door when lacquered, but when stained this same door qualities will result in darker stain in the less dense areas and liter stain in the dense areas. And the darker the stain, the darker the blotches will be.
This is not the fault of the wood, it’s the NATURE of the wood. And having variations in density throughout the wood is the nature of Maple, Alder, Pine, and Cherry.

Many other woods, Oak and Poplar for example, are very uniform in density and, because they are uniform, take stain very evenly without blotching.

There are dozens of websites addressing the problem of blotchy stain on Maple as well as several Youtube Videos, and I’ve linked several of those sites below.

So how do you reduce the blotching from dark stains on Maple?
If you are going to use a wood stain you will need to pre-treat the wood with something to limit the penetration of the stain. The first step should be to sand the doors to a grit well beyond what the cabinet industry uses. Sand the frames and panels to 220 grit and the endgrain to 300+ grit. This will limit the stain penetration.
The doors will need to be treated with a sealer to limit stain penetration. Minwax Pre-Stain wood conditioner is one, another is dewaxed Zinsser Sanding Sealer cut 50% with Denatured Alcohol.
Also treat the endgrain with a cote of Gluesize made by mixing white or yellow glue with water at a rate of 10 parts water to one part glue. Allow the Gluesize to dry for several hours and sand with 400 grit paper. This will seal the endgrain which, being very open, will absorb stain at a higher rate and darken noticeably without treatment.

Staining Maple is more art that science and even experts struggle with obtaining an even finish.

The best solution for the do-it-yourself finisher is to avoid using stains on the problem woods and use a Wood Dye instead.

Because maple has such tight grain, pigment type stains don’t soak into the wood, except where there is a spot with more open grain. Try using dyes, such as TransTint or Transfast. There are other brands as well often marketed as aniline dyes. You should always make a habit of trying finishes on scrap left over from your project before tackling your project.
If you are planning on using a dark finish on your new Maple cabinet doors please request in the Additional Instructions box on our order page that you would like some scrap wood samples, and we will include samples in the wood you ordered for your stain experienced; free of charge.

Some links to useful sites for tips on staining problem woods are listed below.

Staining Maple Doors

Understanding and using Dyes

Coloring/Staining Blotchy Woods

If you have any questions about staining please email us at or call 800-342-1010 and we will be happy to help.

Another article we published is How to overcome staining problems on Hard Maple.

All Cabinet Doors made by can be priced and ordered Online.

The Do’s and Dont’s of Staining Maple Cabinet Doors

The Do’s and Dont’s of Staining Maple Cabinet Doors will help you finish your cabinet order from The Door Stop.  We provide the high quality unfinished maple cabinet doors for your kitchens and bathrooms.  This post will help you choose your your stain, or your dye as the case will probably be.

Maple Stain vs. Maple Dye

Staining tight-grained woods like Hard Maple is a problem for finishers. For DIY homeowners the best advice is to avoid staining Maple, Birch, and Cherry.

Understand that staining–without blotches–is difficult. Not impossible, just difficult.

Now, if you still want to get a darker finish on your Maple Cabinet Doors, here are some tips.

  • Tip Number 1, Do not stain! If you want a darker finish on Maple, use a Dye.
  • Tip Number 2, Always start staining on the backs, so if you hate the stain experiment, you will not see it every day.

Additional Maple Staining Articles & Resources

Following are several web posts covering the Maple Staining Problem and just as many solutions, including some helpful Youtube Video links.

Here is a Link to Family Handyman article on staining maple…

Here are links to several good Youtube Videos…

Staining Maple Doors

Staining Maple Cabinet Door

Understanding and using Dyes

Understanding and Using Dyes

Coloring/Staining Blotchy Woods

Coloring Staining Blotchy Woods

Maple Cabinet Door Staining Problems & Solutions

When staining soft maple Kitchen doors and drawers from a millworks shop the painter applied a special walnut stain directly to the raw wood. The stain did not take well on wood milled with the grain, and on cross cuts the stain soaked into the wood giving a dark black color. How do we prevent the cross cut problem and promote a uniform acceptance of the stain.

This week the question comes from Robert. He writes:

When staining soft maple Kitchen doors and drawers from a millworks shop the painter applied a special walnut stain directly to the raw wood. The stain did not take well on wood milled with the grain, and on cross cuts the stain soaked into the wood giving a dark black color. How do we prevent the cross cut problem and promote a uniform acceptance of the stain.

And here was our reply:

Hey Robert. Uneven staining can be a real pain. There are a few things you can do to even things out in the future. First, you should sand the end-grain to one or two grits higher than the rest of the piece. So if the piece is sanded to 180, you should sand the endgrain to 220 or 320. The finer sanding will help prohibit stain absorption. Another technique is to apply a glue size to the endgrain. Make a 10:1 mixture of water and yellow or white glue. Brush this solution onto the endgrain and give it several hours to dry. Once dry, sand lightly and proceed with staining. The embedded glue will prevent excessive stain absorption. You can also use a light coat of shellac or any sealer to the same end. And remember to always test on scrap or inconspicuous areas to ensure you get the look you are after. Hope these ideas help.

If you use oil based stains, you cant beat MinWax Wood Conditioner on Maple. It totally eliminates the blotchyness and makes the color very even.

Maple Cabinet Door Staining Q&A

Here is an internet post about problems staining maple and 15 suggestions from readers…

“I really need some advice on staining maple. I just finished an entertainment center built out of maple and birch ply. I only discovered the difficulties of staining these woods after the fact. I want a dark color that wont appear black when I finish. Just a standard darker color like cherry or something similar.

Please help! thanks, Jonathan Dean”

15 replies so far

#1 posted 10-07-2010 04:03 AM

It almost sounds like you have discovered the difficulties be staining it already. I would practice with some stains on scrap pieces the check for the results you want. Also, you might want to consider giving it a coat of Zinsser sanding sealer and lightly sanding or steel wooling it before staining to help prevent blotchiness. But always practice first on scrap. You might want to try a couple of colors of gel stain to see if you like the way it applies. -SST

#2 posted 10-07-2010 04:15 AM

Maple is hard and dense, so the relatively large pigment particles can not penetrate the wood very well. They even highlight the sanding scratches.

Try some dyes instead, like TransTint, a concentrated dye that you mix with water.

#3 posted 10-07-2010 04:22 AM

Why would you use maple if you want a dark finished product? I dont understand. If you want figure, thats OK. But you will have to use a sealer if you want some sort of uniform finish on maple. Dye is a better bet, but only if you want pop.

#4 posted 10-07-2010 05:04 PM

Both your woods are notorious for blotching.

Minwax makes a product for this: Minwax Pre-Stain wood conditioner.

Application tool: cloth or brush

Dry time: 15 minutes

Stain Application: after 15 minutes, but no more than 2 hours

Cleanup: mineral spirits or paint thinner, following manufacturers safety instructions

Coverage: 125 sq. ft. per quart

Coats: normally 1, but additional coats may be applied on highly absorbent woods

Recommended uses: any soft or porous woods. Common examples include pine, fir and spruce or maple, alder and aspen (porous)

I have used it but not with astonishing success. It was an improvement over not using it.

#5 posted 10-07-2010 05:57 PM

I have had success using a dye as mentioned above and then put a spit coat of shellac over that, then when dry a light sanding with 0000 steel wool or a buffing pad (gray). Then apply a coat of Gel stain to get the color and tone you want. Hope this helps.

#6 posted 10-07-2010 06:41 PM

Two parts to this post.

First; Preventing this in the future.
The technique I use for getting dark stains in Maple is based on instructions graciously posted by M. Spagnuolo on his site ( and the technicial musings at woodweb. It is not perfect, but It will get closer to a piano finish given time.

1. Moisten maple with damp cloth, you are only looking to raise the grain not force enough water in to warp the wood

2. Sand to 120, 180, 220, with preferred method, you are looking to prep an even and smooth surface, knocking down all the raised grain

3. Coat with dewaxed 1lb (Zinsser Sanding Sealer cut 50% with Denatured Alcohol) thinly

4. Mix Analine–TransTint dye with water, apply by rag with a light hand. You have some protection from oversaturation from the shellac sanding sealer, but even with dye you can cause slight blotching with maple/birch ply. You will not get the color you want in the first coat, for darker applications it is more like five to ten.

5. Once dry at the right hue you will want to apply a tinted dewaxed shellac (2lb) using a slightly more warm shade than used in the water based dye. Analine dyes are remarkably flat, the shellac overcoat is intended to warm the color. Again a light hand since the dyes will react with the alcohol, not enough force to move them around

6. Top coat with your preferred finish. Oil and Urethene will provide a very durable finish, poly will also work if you want a bulletproof finish.

Second, dealing with the situation of a blotchy entertainment center sitting in your shop

If you have time you can strip the surface using a dichloromethane based stain/varnish stripper. Please note, it is very caustic, will cause a first degree chemical burn if applied to skin. Wear gloves, wear goggles, work with plenty of fresh air. For the solid wood parts an alternative is to sand, but on ply parts you will have to be careful. Once you have removed the stain you can go ahead with a coloring/finishing routine

If you are out of time on the project then you will have to use a tinted shellac/glaze method that will obscure the grain. You are looking to create a smooth finish by applying full strength tinted shellac and glaze coat. Stick with dewaxed to avoid topcoat problems, and apply enough coats to hide the blotchiness.

Best of luck

#7 posted 10-07-2010 07:17 PM

Thank you everyone! Atomjack, I really did not plan on staining this piece dark to start with. I thought about some sort of clear coat but my wife changed her mind and thought it would better match our den with a darker color. The advice has been very helpful. I will try a few such as the dyes and gel stain with of course the prestain before going through with anything.

#8 posted 10-08-2010 12:50 AM

I use dye stains from Mohawk or Behlen or M L Campbell has stains that will wipe and or spray well. I have found these methods produce the best clarity with no blotching. No mixing or sealer coats before staining. Good for toning uneven color also.
The reason to choose maple and stain it dark is that it is a wood that is relatively cheap with nice tight grain features that can be made to look like a variety of woods.

#9 posted 10-08-2010 03:11 AM

The only thing I would add to the above is about the min-wax stain conditioner. I have had much better luck letting it dry overnight. Then wipe with a rag damp with mineral spirits. If an area soaks in/dries much more quickly than the surrounding area, coat that area again and repeat the overnight dry. The soak-in area is where you will have a darker blotch in your stain. When it is even, then lightly scuff sand before applying your stain. If the stain will not penetrate, use a higher grit sandpaper with a block and with the grain. The more porous wood should still stay sealed unless you over-sand.

The spirits wipe also will work with the Zinsser, (overnight dry not needed) altho I have not tried the cutting the 2# mix to 1#, which I will in the future. Thank you Nathan Allen for the tip.

#10 posted 10-08-2010 05:31 PM

Gofor, exactly, technically we should be using flakes, but having dewaxed #2 that can be cut to #1 and sit on the shelf about a year is too convienent.

And thank you for the tip on Minwax, I have avoided staining maple because I could never get the samples right even with conditioner, but mineral spirits should help identify those spots.

#11 posted 10-15-2010 09:03 PM

I am sure by now you have decided on a process, but I thought I would throw this out. I use Seal Coat cut 50/50 with alcohol as NathanAllen described. I, however, favor gel stains for these types of hard to stain woods especially if trying for a dark color. I have had really good success with them. The General Finish products seem to work the best for me but I have used other brands with good results too. Charles Neil also sells a water based product that does a great job as a seal coat. Using it or using the shellac method described above I have been able to get excellent looking results using pine and popular in addition to maple.

#12 posted 10-19-2010 02:44 AM

Ron thanks for the advice! Do you have a recommendation for which general finish gel stain to use. I was thinking the antique walnut but I want a dark color but not so dark it looks black! I want to see the grain patterns and bring out my work. Let me know if you have a suggestion. Thanks!

#13 posted 10-20-2010 03:26 AM

I did a recent project out of maple ply and had no problem with any blotching on the plywood (the solid hard maple is another story for a different time). I used minwax pre stain conditioner with minwax red mahogany oil based stain. It is my only project posted on here but you cant really see the plywood. All you can see is the solid drawer fronts and they turned out horribly blotchy but it was because of my own error. I had no blotching what so ever on the plywood using this method though and the grain pattern shows pretty well also.

#14 posted 10-20-2010 05:29 PM

For the table I think I used GF Candlelight but my wife wanted it still darker so I used another shellac wash coat followed with a final coat of GF Java which is really dark which is why I used the wash coat in between. The table is on my project page if you want to have a look.

#15 posted 10-20-2010 05:36 PM

Just my two cents. I vote for Zinsser over Minwax.

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A good article on how to Avoid Color Mistakes and Learn How to Fix a Blotchy Stain

To price and order Custom Cabinet Doors online from the webs leading manufacturer visit our website, CabinetDoors.Com.

Step-by-step instructions on how to finish new cabinet doors…Easy, Attractive, and Long-lasting.

Even if you have no experience with finishing wood products, you can stain and lacquer new Oak Cabinet Doors
with results that an expert will admire.

I’ve personally used this method on hundreds of cabinet doors and hundreds of other door customers
have followed this method with truly professional results. Continue reading

How to stain or paint Replacement Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Today cabinet remodelers and refacers are able to produce a do-it-yourself finish on new cabinet doors that will compare favorably to that of an experienced, expert cabinet maker.

There are different methods of arriving at this superior level of finish, and those methods depend upon whether you intend to stain and lacquer the cabinet doors or paint them. Continue reading

How to locate sources for Replacement Kitchen Cabinet Doors

July 2014 by Jim Hill

There are two distribution channels for most manufactured products. One is directly from the manufacturer. The other is from the manufacturer, through a distributor, and finally, through a retailer, before reaching the consumer.

Distributors and stocking representatives are simply middlemen who buy directly from manufacturers. They must increase the price to cover their expenses and obtain a desired profit. They then sell to retailers. The retail store again adds his expenses and profit to arrive at the price the retail stores charges the consumer for the item.

In the pre-internet times the middleman assumed the marketing function for the manufacturer. This marketing and sales function being handled by the assorted middlemen allowed the manufacturer to concentrate on engineering and production issues while avoiding the expense of maintaining marketing and sales staffs. But today, the internet has dramatically reduced the costs of marketing and sales to the point where many manufacturers are reconsidering their sales strategies. Every year more manufacturers offer their products to the public through websites, which not only reduces marketing and sales expenses, but also passes significant savings to the consumer.

Before the internet, the only choice a home-owner had to buy cabinet doors was from a retailer like Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards. These big-box stores didn’t actually make the doors they sell, they contracted with manufacturers and middlemen to supply the doors for them.

Also before the internet came into existence, the home-owner or small remodeler would be unlikely to even find a cabinet door manufacturer, so the possibility of buying direct from the manufacturer just didn’t exist.

The internet has broken through that barrier for remodelers, home-owners, and do-it-yourselfers, allowing small users the opportunity to buy direct. A quick Google search for “cabinet doors” returns several sources. The top returns are the big-box stores, Ikea, and Ebay, and other large retail outlets, but following those listings you will start to see some actual manufacturers. While several of the manufacturers sell only to the cabinet trade, some others will sell to the public.

CabinetDoors.Com, a division of The Door Stop is one of those manufacturers that make custom cabinet doors available to everyone.

The Door Stop was the first cabinet door manufacturer to offer cabinet doors and drawer fronts factory-direct on the internet (that’s why our internet division is was able to register the domain name

Our manufacturing efficiency and cost structure has not gone unnoticed by other internet entrepreneurs. Many internet websites offering cabinet doors are actually purchasing our products and simply re-selling them on their websites…with an additional markup as their profit.

The internet is still evolving but it’s impact as of today is clear. Customers now have access to manufactured goods without the requirement of buying those goods from the end-of-the-chain retail store. Like many manufacturers, The Door Stop is offering our products directly to the consumer.

Our internet division,, offers far more choices than any retail store can carry and at prices they just cannot march.

How to finish Paint-Grade Cabinet Doors and get a finish you can be proud of.

June 2014 by Jim Hill

So you just received your new Paint-Grade Cabinet Doors and are ready to start painting. Here are a few tips to get an attractive and durable finish on those new doors.

Don’t stress-out about the painting process, even if you are an inexperienced painter.
Painted doors are not like stained doors where a disappointing stained finish can ruin your day. If you don’t like your painted finish just scuff the doors a little by re-sanding and paint them again.

First, unpack the new doors and inspect them front and back for any scratches caused by shifting during shipping. Smooth these scratches with 180-grit sandpaper and brush off the dust with a fine brush. Sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid making cross-grain scratches on your doors.
The better the prep-sanding the better the painted finish will be so take some time making sure the sanding is as good as you can make it.

Next, lay the cabinet doors flat and either wipe them with a clean cloth or blow them with compressed air to remove the last traces of dust. Laying the doors flat makes paint runs less likely and makes it easier to see your progress from the same angle.

Now the painting process starts. Raw wood needs a primer coat before painting and there are a few primer tips that will be helpful: Always match the primer to the type of paint you plan to use.
If you intend to use water-base (or Latex paint) then use a water base primer and if you are using an oil based paint then use an oil based primer.
In my experience Latex paints have advanced over the past decade to the point where they produce both appearance and dependability equal to their oil based counterparts, especially for indoor applications.
These advancements coupled with the water clean-up and environment-friendly disposal are worth considering when choosing your finishing materials.
While buying your primer and paint, also get a brush or two. You don’t need to buy the $20 super brush, but don’t get the $1 special either. A 2-3″ fine brush should be about $5.
You may also want to buy a small 3-4″ fine roller.

Now for the priming: Lay the doors out flat on some kind of dropcloth. Newspaper works fine for this. It will reduce your anxiety to start with the doors face down. That way you will be finishing the backs first so as you get better at painting your best work will be on the fronts, and your learning experience won’t show.
Use the roller to apply a lite coat of primer to the panel and the inside detail of the stiles and rails. Now use the brush in those deep recesses to get the primer to cover all the machined surfaces. Use the roller again to coat the flat surfaces followed by the brush to give a smooth, even coating. After the primer is dried (follow the drying time instructions on the primer can) sand by hand gently with 220-grit paper, just enough to remove any fibers the primer raised, and to restore the smooth finish. Now turn the door over and repeat on the front.
After the primer is dry and lightly finish sanded, repeat the process with a second coat or primer.

Once the primer is dry you are ready for the paint.
The paint basically follows the same steps as the primer operation. Follow the instructions on your paint can to determine if you should sand between coats or not.
After the paint is dry you are ready to install the hinges.
If you are using hidden hinges, like our Blum Clip-tops, try not to get paint into the 30mm hinge cups. The hinges will be a snug fit into the cups and if you get paint into the holes you may need to sand it out to get the hinges into the cups.

Once you get started you’ll see that the process is really not difficult at all, and you will be able to obtain results that will impress your family and friends.

So, get started and if you haven’t ordered you new Paint Grade cabinet doors yet, now may be the time. has been manufacturing custom cabinet doors for 34 years and we’ve been offering doors on the internet longer than anyone else in the country. We have shipped hundreds of thousands of doors to every region and our customer reviews are a consistent 4+stars.

If you have any questions just visit our website at, our Blog at, or call us. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have. We also have extensive posts, advice, and how-to’s on our Facebook page and our Google+ page.

How a do-it-yourselfer can stain and finish replacement kitchen cabinet doors

Jume 2014 by Jim Hill

There are as many ways to apply a finish to cabinet doors as there are custom cabinet shops, but this post will focus on a method of finishing that can be applied by an amateur woodworker with limited staining or finishing skills.

Airless spray guns and $10,000 dustless spray booths and not required for this method. A beautiful and lasting finish can be produced with one $50 visit to Home Depot or Lowes.

The first step is to consider the region where the red oak used in your cabinet doors was grown. Southern Red Oak will have the widest color variations and Northern Red Oak will be the most uniform in color.

Wide variations in color, which is common in Southern Oaks, will be made to appear even wider if finished with light stains of lacquer only. If attempting to make wide color variations seem less pronounced, a darker stain will help.

Less pronounced color variations are found in the growing regions of Northern Red Oak, with the “Wheat Color” of Glacial Northern Red Oak being the most color uniform.
Cabinet Doors made with Glacial Northern Red Oak can be given a light stain, or even no stain and simply finished with polyurethane with excellent results.

Glacial Northern Red Oak is used exclusively by The Door Stop in all our Select Red Oak Cabinet Doors, and this post will focus upon finishing these doors.

Below are examples of a few cabinet door styles made from Glacial Northern Red Oak and stained with differing amounts of Minwax Golden Oak.

The top row of Cabinet Doors are stained with two coats of Minwax Golden Oak. Each coat was allowed to soak-in for 15 minutes than wiped dry with a clean rag. The first coat was allowed to dry for an additional 6-hours then the second coat was applied.
The bottom row of Cabinet Doors were finished exactly like the top row, with the exception of each coat of stain was wiped off after being allowed to soak-in for only 5-minutes.
Golden Oak, like most wood stains, will provide a darker finish if stain is allowed to soak longer before wiping. It will also provide a darker finish when more coats are applied.

It’s very important to not let any stain dry on the surface, and as stain seeps out of the wood, to keep it wiped off.

After 24 hours 2 coats of Minwax Polyurethane (brush on, not spray) was applied following the instructions on the can. In areas of low humidity, the drying time prior to applying the polyurethane can be shortened to as little as 8-hours between coats.

In the sample pictures above the Maverick Cabinet Door is built in Knotty Northern Red Oak (Knotty Oak). All the other doors are shown in Glacial Northern Red Oak (Select Oak).

Minwax Golden Oak Stain is an Oil Based stain that is easy to use and produces exceptional results. It will provide a rich and even finish when used on cabinet doors manufactured with color-matched oak components.

If you are considering Custom Made Cabinet Doors in Oak, you will not find better color matching, higher quality, or better prices than at The Door Stop. We have been offering our products on the internet longer than any other cabinet door manufacturer,

Visit our website at and get instant pricing, including shipping costs on any of the hundreds of door styles we make. We are America’s supplier of Custom Cabinet Doors!

Triple-head Widebelt Sanders


New Triple-head widebelt sanders

IMG_1013 Our old widebelt sanders are being sold to smaller cabinet door manufacturers around the country.

Every few years the manufacturers of sanding equipment make major improvements in the Widebelt Sanders. These new sanders are Triple-head, 43-inch wide unite with computer control of the wood removal and built-in dial indicators to allow for sanding-thickness tolerances of a few thousandths of an inch.
The Panel Sanding has a 43-inch helical-head knife planer to clean the glued-up panels followed by two additional sanding heads. Continue reading

Not All Red Oaks Are Created Equal

Red Oak Cabinet DoorRed Oak is one of the most popular woods for cabinets and it’s reliable, it’s durable, and it’s beautiful when used for cabinet doors. But, not all of the Red Oaks are equally beautiful.

There are many varieties within the Red Oak families and this discussion is limited to those more commonly used in the manufacture of Cabinet Doors.

Red Oak is divided into three main growing regions, Southern, Appalachian, and Northern. Each of these regions can be further sub-divided based on the color and quality of the Red Oak that grows within the sub-regions.

As a broad overview, Oak from the southern regions has a faster growth rate and tends to have the widest color range of the regions. Oak from the Appalachian regions grows slower than the Southern Oaks with a color range somewhat more consistent than the Southern Oaks.

The Northern Oaks are generally considered to be the highest quality. The Northern Oaks have a shorter growing season and therefore have a slower growth rate. The color is much more consistent, and the mill prices are higher than the Appalachian or Southern Oaks.

The best of the best is a sub-group of the Northern Oaks which grows in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Red Oaks from this region are commonly referred to as Glacial Northern Red Oak. The growth rings tend to be very tight indicating the very slow growth rate, and the color consistency is exceptional. The color is a Light Wheat Color.

I’ve visited many mills in each region and most mills can supply limited quantities of Wheat Colored Red Oak by performing a color sort, but the wide color spectrum of Red Oak from the Appalachian and Southern regions makes color sorting labor intensive.

Red Oak sorts from the Glacial sub-region of Northern Oak are easy as the majority of those Oaks are naturally Wheat Color, so the pricing tends to reflect the Grading Rules more than the color sort labor constraints.

Cabinets used in higher-end housing tend to be made by local Custom Cabinet Shops while cabinets used in more affordable housing is more likely to be “Modular Cabinets”. The Modular Cabinet industry, for the last decade, has been hard pressed to match the costs of Chinese manufacturers and many have moved their operations to China, or started using the lower cost southern oaks.
Those Custom Cabinet Shops that supply custom home builders are expected to supply a product that is noticeably superior to the Modular Cabinets, and part of that “superior” requirement applies to a very uniform and consistent color in the Red Oak doors.

That is why CabinetDoors.Com uses Glacial Northern Red Oak in every one of the Red Oak doors we make.

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Moulder Knife Marks Per Inch

Proper Moulder operationImproperly set moulder feed rates can cause a Washboard finish that is often invisible until stain is applied.

Here is a table published by Wisconsin Knife Works, Inc. summarizing the results of their study on the number of knife marks per inch required to produce a stain-ready finish on various wood types.
This table shows the Knife Marks per Inch ranges generally recommended for wood species commonly used in manufacturing Cabinet Doors. Continue reading

How to store Unfinished Cabinet Doors to minimize warping

Prevent warping in unfinished cabinet doorsAll wood products need to be finished quickly but if you just can’t here are some things you can do to reduce the chance of damage until you can finish your new cabinet doors.

Cabinet doors, like any wood product, need to be sealed and finished as soon as possible.
Timely finishing will prevent several problems that humidity and temperature changes will cause to unfinished wood products.
A cabinet door that has been properly finished will react to climate conditions much more slowly than the same door in an unfinished state, and it is the speed of the wood’s reaction to these climatic changes that can cause adverse reactions.
For instance, the moisture gain or loss from an unfinished cabinet door exposed to wide humidity changes can be so rapid as to actually cause splitting or excessive warping.
In many cases the unfinished door may be ruined while the finished cabinet door reacts so slowly to the moisture change that damage to the door is avoided.

There are ways to minimize the damage possibilities if the doors cannot be finished quickly.

One method is to store the doors indoors in an area out of direct sunlight and away from sources of excessive heat, cold, and at a constant humidity.

Another critical method of avoiding warping is to un-wrap the doors and stack them with spaces between each door allowing air to circulate freely on all sides of each door. This method will usually eliminate the warping and keep the doors on the top and bottom of the stack from twisting due to uneven moisture between the door’s front and back. If doors are kept stacked, one on top of another, the top door will almost certainly warp in reaction to the difference between your humidity level and the door’s internal moisture content. So, it’s important to un-wrap the doors and separate them allowing air circulation around the doors.

Humidity caused warping is easily determined by looking at the doors on the outside of the stack. If the humidity is increasing the top door in the stack will warp in a concave shape with the panel raising up. Decreasing humidity will cause warping in a convex shape with the panels bending down. Allowing equal air circulation around the front and back of all the doors will prevent this warping.
The more serious problems are caused by humidity changes accompanied with high temperatures. The high temperatures increase the speed of the moisture gain or loss and can actually cause the panels and stiles to split. Very high temperatures like those in a closed-up car in the sun are almost always catastrophic.

The best method of preventing problems with cabinet doors is to finish the doors as quickly as possible. This finishing process should include sanding sealer coats followed by several coats of urethane or lacquer.

Kitchen cabinet doors that have been properly finished can be expected to last decades and increase the value and appearance of any kitchen.

If you need cabinet doors, CabinetDoors.Com can help.

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