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Build and Install a Medicine Cabinet

Step 5: Cutting the Doors

With the carcase done, it's time to start work on the door. The doors are built of hardwood, in this case red oak. I bought the “S4S” variety, meaning surfaced, or planed, on four sides. S4S is easily found at lumberyards.

Using a push stick for safety, cut the door sides and tops. If you buy 1 × 3 (actual size 34" × 2 12"), you can skip this step.

Each end of the door parts gets a 45° miter, or angled, end cut.

If you don't have a miter box, a table saw will make reasonable miter cuts.

Building Smarts

To make a square door, the sides must be identical length; ditto for the top and bottom. If the saw manufacturer says it's safe, miter the ends of the top and bottom in pairs, stacked together. If you're using a power miter box, a clamp is critical for this cut.

Using the same kind of dado cutter as before, cut a stepped dado on the back inside of each door part. First cut a dado 38" wide by 14" deep. Then cut a second dado 14" wide by 1 4" deep, as seen in the drawing.

Step 6: Finishing the Doors

Now it's time to glue and sand the doors, and then install the mirror and mirror backing.

Glue the Doors

The glue joints on the door frame are miter joints. Because they involve end grain, which glues poorly, we need to use a trick to get a strong joint. If you have a plate joiner, also called a biscuit joiner (a tool that cuts slots for biscuits—flat, rounded pieces of plywood), follow the tool's directions. Make two slots in each end of each frame piece, sized for size #0 biscuits. Larger cuts might come out the side of the frame.

Don't have a plate joiner? Screw the miter joints. Clamp the joint in position to a scrap of plywood. Predrill countersinks for one 2 14" trim screw on each side, making sure the screws will pass each other. Drill a second hole for the screw shank. Use urethane glue, such as PL Premium Construction Adhesive or Gorilla Glue, for a strong joint. Clean spilled glue with mineral spirits. Hide the screw heads with wood filler.

With the door assembled, you can dress it up by using a router on the outside edge. Routers, which spin a router bit very rapidly, can put almost any shape on a wood edge, depending on your choice of router bit. When routing, always make several shallow cuts, not one deep cut.

Don't have a router? Here are other options for dressing up the door front:

  • Cut shallow parallel grooves with a table saw.

  • Hand plane a bevel, a slanting edge.

  • Saw the bevel.

  • Cut a stepped decoration using multiple passes on a table saw.

  • Leave the edge square.



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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