Flat panel thickness for cabinet door?

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Forum topic by Ben posted 03-27-2013 08:56 PM 22849 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ben's profile


442 posts in 3278 days

03-27-2013 08:56 PM

If I decide to do flat panel doors in my kitchen, and opt to use solid rather than plywood, how thick should the panel be? Would I essentially mill a backwards raised panel? Same for plywood?

I’m torn because plywood panels would make my life so dang easy, but I think it would be a noticeable contrast to all my solid drawers and face frames.

8 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3271 days

#1 posted 03-27-2013 09:18 PM

Answer to question #1: I mill the panels down to 1/2” and relieve the inside so there’s a 1/4” tongue.

#2: The plywood panel is 1/4” or, these days, 5.2mm. There is no relieve routing therefore.

As for your “noticeable contrast” comment: It would depend upon the species and the quality of the plywood. Some will match exquisitely well. Others, yes, the implication of lower quality.

In my view, the panels can be a little different in tone so long as the general grain pattern of the drawer fronts and faceframes matches the stiles and rails of the doors.

It’s your kitchen—do what’s comfortable for you.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4546 days

#2 posted 03-27-2013 09:26 PM

I think my kitchen cabinet panels end up being about 5/8” in the middle, but otherwise about the same as Lee describes. You can go thicker or thinner depending on the look you want, though I’d be concerned about too thick tearing itself apart if it warps inside the frame.

And there’s nothing stopping you from making ¼” solid wood panels.

I’d also suggest that you can put whatever veneer you want on those panels if you do ‘em out of plywood. If that’s a quartersawn veneer, then (except for grain location mismatches on the front and the back of the panel) it’ll be indistinguishable from your frame. But at ¼” veneered both sides, you might be saving some money with a rolled/sliced veneer, you’re probably not saving much money with a sawn veneer.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3691 days

#3 posted 03-27-2013 09:50 PM

There is some very nice hardwood plys out there if you are worried about using standard ply. I have made several cabinets using plywoods, ply w/vaneers and solid wood panels. All of them have their pros and cons (ease to make…etc). The thickness of the panel depends on several factors: do you want to back cut the inside and make it flush with the rails/stiles? Or you leave the offset (the panels are inset on the back). As for the fronts….you have a choice on whether to make the panel proud or very proud…all of these depending on personal preference. In other words…there is no hard and fast way to decide.

Another variable is what type of profile you will be using – Ogee, Rounded, Coved, shaker…the profile will also effect your choice. I have made cabinets using quite a few different profiles and each one does make a difference when deciding on how thick you want your panel….how proud in front and whether you want to back cut. The easiest way to decide is to make a small prototype frame and play with different panel configurations until you find one that appeals to you.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3706 days

#4 posted 03-27-2013 11:34 PM

Hey Ben,

I usually do a 5/8” solid raised panel and mount the raised panel to the inside ( a lot of old furniture was done that way). You could also do like Lee said and make it a 1/2” panel and releive the back side to 1/4”.

Here’s a couple pictures of doors I did for my desk using 1/4” plywood panels. I decided to use the ply because I liked the grain patterns.

The 1/4” panels made the doors feel quite light weight compared to a solid panel door, but then again sometimes we have to trade off.

Would I make them over using solid panels so they felt heavier? Nope; I like the overall look of the doors with the 1/4” panels. Of all the people that’s looked at my desk and opened and closed doors, nobody ever said the doors should be heavier. LOL. (Maybe they were just trying to make me feel good).

-- John @

View pintodeluxe's profile


5951 posts in 3234 days

#5 posted 03-27-2013 11:52 PM

I use 1/2” thick solid panels for my doors. You can raise the panel on the back side, or simply cut a rabbet.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View mbs's profile


1657 posts in 3361 days

#6 posted 03-28-2013 02:25 AM

I think good plywood looks fine for the panels. I wouldn’t hesitate using it.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View runswithscissors's profile


3052 posts in 2446 days

#7 posted 03-28-2013 03:55 AM

If you were to use 1/4” solid wood, I think you could avoid stress issues (shrinking, swelling etc) if you let the panel float in the frames. In other words, not glued into the grooves.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3706 days

#8 posted 03-28-2013 12:13 PM

I would recommend using “space balls” when installing your panels to keep them snug, but still allows the panels to move.

Even if you use plywood panels (especially a 1/4” plywood panel), because they will have a tendency to rattle if you don’t.

-- John @

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