Reply by MikeJ70

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Posted on Cabinet door/face frame questions - sanding and material

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84 posts in 1022 days

#1 posted 03-03-2021 05:06 PM

KvG, As you can see you can get varied opinions, and none of them are wrong. There are many ways to do things so you have to find which one works best for you. The following are my opinions gained from my experience so take them with a grain of salt:

1. S4S boards will vary in thickness from board to board and even within the same board so stock preparation is key. Make sure it is the same thickness and is square and true. This will alleviate a lot of frustration down the line, but is not always possible if you aren’t equipped to do so, so just do the best you can.

2. I usually sand after assembly, but sometimes it makes sense to sand before. It’s easier to sand the inside profile of your door rails and stiles before assembly, but you need to be cautious not to over sand where rails meets stile.

3. I tend to get tear out when routing the long grain of a rail and stile. To prevent this, pay attention to the grain and rout with it. Take multiple light passes instead of hogging it all out with one pass. I’ve even gone as far as leaving the boards about an 1/8” – 1/4” wide so if I get bad tear out I can rip it off with the table saw and then pass it through the router 1 final time. I’ll then cut to final width on the table saw. For Inset doors leave them wide and cut to fit after assembly.

4. 1/4” MDF is perfectly fine for your door panels. My experience has been their thickness varies widely from sheet to sheet so bring a sample rail or stile with when purchasing to find the sheet that fits it the best. I also like to sand with 220 to clean it up and I always pre-prime the panels before assembly. The BIN primer will most likely “raise the grain” so to speak so you might need two coats with some light sanding in between. If the top coat is a darker color, it is good practice to paint the border of the panel before assembly to prevent any reveal lines during seasonal wood movement. Can you glue the panels in like some say? Well I did on the built-ins I made last summer, but it went against my instincts so I am still nervous about it. A little dab will do ya so use it sparingly to avoid squeeze out. So far no ill affects.

5. You can probably get by sanding up to 180 and then use 220 or even 300 between coats. I would sand all sides regardless of if it is seen or not, but that is me. You do what ever you feel comfortable with.

Good luck

-- MikeJ

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