Easy Frame and Panel Doors

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About Project

Easiest way to build your own frame and panel cabinet doors - from Ana-White.com

We've got the first piece of of furniture moved into the Momplex - the bath vanity - a little while back 

plans are here

And then we shared how we built pull out drawers behind the smaller outer drawers.

And I promised you I'd share with you how we built those doors.

Because without doors, this vanities is just an empty shell.

But when you add doors ....

A shell turns into a ton of functionality!

There are a zillion different ways to build doors - and some ways could be argued better than others.  This is simply my way of quickly, easily and precisely building doors that are structurally sound and will resist warping and otherwise behaving like wood sometimes does over time.

For this vanity - and for lots of projects I build - and especially paint grade ones - I simply take a piece of 1/2" hardwood plywood (I like to use PureBond whenenver possible because it's Formaldehyde Free and North American made) and attach it to a frame made of 1x3s with pocket holes.

Because the center panel is plywood, it resists shrinking and growing, but the wood frame helps keep the panel structurally strong and covers up the plywood edges.

These type of doors are more suitable for paint grade projects or projects where the back of the door is hidden because there's a ton of pocket holes on the back, that of course I fill with plugs or wood filler.  

I love this type of door consturction because it's so quick and easy to build a precise door with minimal tools - no router and expensive bit required!  But you must be able to make very precise and square cuts on your plywood panels to make these doors.  A table saw, rip cut, or using a square edge to cut with is highly recommended.  If your panels are small enough, you may even be able to cut them with a miter saw.

Detailed plans on how these doors are made follow - hope this helps you in your projects!

XO Ana


Shopping List

1/2" hardwood plywood
1x3 boards (measuring 2 1/2" in width) preferably hardwood - I use poplar for paint grade
1" and 1 1/4" pocket hole screws

Cut List

PANEL - 1/2" hardwood plywood cut 5" less in height and width than desired finished door dimensions

RAILS - 1x3 hardwood boards (measuring 2 1/2" in width) cut 5" less in length than the desired finished door dimensions

STILES - 1x3 hardwood boards (measuring 2 1/2" in width) cut to desired finished door dimensions

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

It's super important to get this plywood panel cut square and straight. If you can, cut with a miter saw or other fixed saw, or a table saw. If you are cutting with a ciruclar saw, use a straight edge or rip cut to guide you.

Then drill 1/2" pocket holes around the four sides of the panel, about every 8" or so - use your best judgement here. You should do at least two pocket holes per side of the panel.

Step 2

Next, attach your rails to the top and bottom, through the 1/2" pocket holes with 1" pocket hole screws. The back will be flush and all outside edges must be flush.

Drill 3/4" pocket holes on the ends of the rails for attaching the stiles in the next step.

Step 3

Finally, attach the stiles to the rails and panel, using 1" and 1 1/4" pocket hole screws as noted in the diagram (1" for 1/2" pocket holes, 1 1/4" for 3/4" pocket holes). All outside edges and back are flush.

Fill pocket holes with either plugs or wood filler.

And that's it!!!

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.



Sun, 01/18/2015 - 19:24

To get it flush. Add one more panel below to raise it level with stiles and rail. Then screw in the pockets. Then remove extra piece of panel. It will be level from the back and the front will look clean with no filler.


Tue, 02/24/2015 - 03:51

Gdisalvo, when making my cabinet doors I thought of the same idea, however instead of wasting the money to cut extra unneeded plywood I used some corrugated cardboard I had laying around. Man, it works perfectly! The compressibility of the cardboard allows you to get the fit exactly right (and it was much easier to cut). On the sides that are extra tight simply use an additional piece of cardboard and gently tap it with your hand to get it exactly flush.


Mon, 08/03/2015 - 06:39

I'm trying to make myself some drawers to go under my bed. Could this technique to make panel door be use to make the drawer face of my drawers? It's the style I'm looking for, and I could adapt the measurements no problem, but will I be able to fix it to the drawer box? What do you think?


Wed, 12/23/2015 - 21:57

What type of hinges do you recommend?  Any tips for accurately placing them? Also, any advice on getting knobs in the same location on each door?


Fri, 12/09/2016 - 14:12

How do you figure out what size to make the doors? I have the measurements for the gap where I need to place the door, but I'm not sure how much smaller than the hole I need to make it to account for hinges and ease of movement.