Fabricating and installing your own cabinet doors is a popular do-it-yourself project that's relatively easy with a few specific steps. If you have wood-working experience and some basic carpentry skills, you can make your own custom cabinet doors that are unique compared to any found in home improvement doors. The most common uses for a replacement cabinet door is for kitchen and bathroom cabinets as well as for linen storage closets. As with any carpentry project, measuring twice and only cutting once is an often-quoted piece of wisdom. To ensure your planned drawers fit correctly and hang perfectly straight, accurate measurements on all side are essential. Along with a good quality carpenter's tape measure, using a level is also highly advised for the best results.

Measuring the Inset of Cabinet Doors

Cabinets that have face frames generally have partial inset doors that need some considerations before you can measure them correctly. Whenever you close the door, the cabinet door's thickness fits inside's the cabinet's opening, and part of the door lays over the cabinet opening. To measure these types of doors for the proper hinges, you need to measure for both the lip dimension and the inset dimension.

The standard lip dimension of a cabinet door is nearly always 3/8". In some instances, you can occasionally find cabinet doors with lip dimensions of 1/2". These door dimensions are relatively rare, and you may have to special-order them if you want cabinet doors with this measurement. Finding hinges fabricated for this cabinet door lip dimension can also be a challenge. Measuring cabinet doors with 3/8" lip dimensions is a rather straightforward process. With this type of cabinet door, the possible measurements can be 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″ and 3/4″.

Measuring the Total Area of Cabinet Doors

When measuring unfinished cabinet doors, you'll need to record all measurements of each door side. Various types of cabinet doors can be adjusted to different dimensions, whether you're fabricating them yourself or working and a contractor. In either case, accurate and uniform measurements are essential.

One of the most frequent mistakes with measuring cabinet doors is a failure to include the overlay measurement. This oversight can result in cabinet doors that don't completely cover the opening. With some styles of framed cabinets, the hinges are designed to be as hidden as possible. In this case, the overlay needs to be a minimum of 3/8" and can be as much as 9/16". A few vital steps before measuring include the following:

  • Determine the inside cabinet door overlay
  • Determine the outside cabinet door overlay
  • Select the edge profile dimensions

After these initial cabinet-building plans, it's always a good idea to have a set of contingency measurement plans in place if you want to make any later changes.

Considerations for Measurement

Once you're recorded your measurements for each side, overlay and edge allowance for your planned cabinet doors, factor in any measurements you'd need to add or subtract in case of changes. Most cabinet door designs and dimensions allow for changes in increments of 1/8" at a time. Adding or subtracting these to each of your starting measurements can save you time and guesswork during this project.

When your cabinet doors will be mounted on framed cabinets with concealed hinges, you'll need to measure the width of the overlay first. If your cabinet closes with single doors, you'll need to add the overlay measurement to the width of the offset measurement. The same step applies to double cabinet doors with a stile in the middle. In this case, you'll need to add the overlay measurements to the widths of each door separately. If you're making and installing double kitchen cabinet doors without a stile, you'll only need to add one offset measurement to the total width of both cabinet doors.

If you're mounting cabinet doors on a framed cabinet with exposed hinges instead of hidden ones, you'll need to add 3/4" to the beginning width and height for each door. When measuring for double cabinet doors without a center stile, you'll need to add 3/8" to the beginning width and 3/4" to the opening height.

Measuring cabinet doors precisely requires you to take the style and basic construction of the doors into consideration. During the planning phases, make sure that you understand the function and necessity of overlay as well as edge measurements. A common mistake is to measure these inconsistently or even not at all, resulting in cabinet doors that can't be hung correctly. To save time, money and extra work, match your needed allowance measurements to the design and add them to your beginning measurements. The two main types of hinges also play an important role in determining each of your overlay and edge measurements. Unlike some styles of drawer measurements, cabinet door measurements are not quite as forgiving of mistakes. Taking time and extra attention to detail will help you achieve the cabinet design you have planned.