Homeowner Makes Lemons into Lemonade by Recycling Cabinet Doors

Kitchen Cabinets Make Great French Doors

by Bill and Kevin Burnett, Inman News

LemonadeQ: I removed my old kitchen cabinet doors and bought new ones — natural maple, RTF — via the Internet. I am happy with them, but I mistakenly bought two extra doors that are much too big and two doors that are barely too small. I can’t return them.

So here’s what I want to do:

1. I plan to have one of the big doors cut in half and wish to have each half bored with two hidden hinges. I will use them as French doors in a spot where I forgot to order a door. I don’t know how to use power tools other than a drill and electric screwdriver. Is there someplace where I can take the door to be sliced in half? Where or how can I drill the proper size circle for the hidden hinge, just like the other doors’? Is this something I can do myself with the proper drill bit?

2. I am considering cutting one of the smaller doors down so that I can make a lazy Susan set for a corner below my counter. I would require only one hidden hinge for this. Each panel of the lazy Susan would be about 5 1/2 inches high by 11 inches wide. Is this too narrow to create a small lazy Susan with one hidden hinge?

By the way, I painted all the boxes myself, a nice red color that my family likes. I think I did a pretty good job.

A: Congratulations on entering the world of home renovation. The last line of your e-mail tells us you got a good deal of satisfaction from doing the job. For us, that’s what it’s all about. We’re sure the kudos from your family felt good too.

True, you made a mistake in ordering some of the doors, but stuff happens. More important, you’ve got a plan to fix it. Making lemonade from lemons is great fun. If your plan doesn’t work out, just reorder the correct doors and all you’ll be out is the cost of the replacements.

Finding a place that will slice the doors should be easy. Any lumberyard should be happy to do it. However, we suggest that you take the folks at Home Depot at their word. Their slogan, “You can do it, we can help,” is made for your situation.

From experience, we know they cut sheets of 4-by-8 plywood into more manageable pieces on request. There’s no reason they could not use the same saw to halve your doors. There may be a small cutting charge, $1 or so, but a manager can waive that if you ask. This is especially true if you purchase the tools and material you’ll need for the rest of the project at the store.

Drilling the holes for the European-style hinges is something we encourage you to do yourself. The drill and screwdriver you already own are most of the tools you’ll need. You’ll just have to buy the proper-size Forstner bit. A Forstner bit produces a round hole with a flat bottom and a very shallow pilot hole. For a definition and more than you probably want to know go to links.sfgate.com/ZPV.

The hinges you buy will include installation instructions specifying the correct-size bit. If you use the hinges provided with the door, measure the diameter at the base of the insert of the hinge. That’s the size you’ll need. You must set the depth of the bit so you don’t drill through the front of the door.

To avoid this, measure the depth of the hinge. It should be about 3/4 inch. Transfer that measurement to the drill bit by placing a piece of tape around the Forstner bit. Blue painters’ masking tape works well for this. When drilling the new hole, go no deeper into the door stile than the bottom of the tape.

To locate the hole on the door stile, use the paper template included with the hinges. If you already have hinges, remove an existing hinge from one of the doors and measure from the side and top of the door to the center of the hole. Transfer these measurements to the stile to be drilled.

Finally, install the Forstner bit and drill the holes. Make sure to keep the drill bit perpendicular to the stile surface. Install the hinges, hang and adjust the door.

We encourage you to use two hinges on the proposed lazy Susan. Maple is a heavy wood, and one-hinged doors, regardless of the size, can easily get out of balance with use.

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Copyright 2008 Bill and Kevin Burnett

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