Solid Lumber Slab doors and drawer faces???????

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Forum topic by , posted 07-31-2014 02:41 AM 2578 views 0 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2387 posts in 4058 days

07-31-2014 02:41 AM

Just wanted to see what most here thought of using solid lumber for doing doors and drawer faces slab style. I have a customer who hired us on a frameless full overlay with slab doors. I had them sold on a Echowood laminate very very stable plywood edgebanded door style. It would have been beautiful actually.

Their builder convinced them to go with solid maple. The wife wants slab and nothing else. I tried to talk to her about going shaker, but no going. So it appears we will be glueing up blanks, running a small 1/16 radius, sanding them flat, etc… We actually do not stain Maple that much , but we do an excellent job at staining Alder so hopefully our Alder process will translate well with Maple.

My biggest concern is wood expansion and contraction. Since there is only 1/8” reveals without any face frames, if a pair of doors has a 1/16” expansion in 6 months, then it will be “ooooops”. Or if they have a 1/16 contraction, all of a sudden we have 1/4” gaps, what then???

The builder, whom I do not even know, has his own cabinet guys, who I understand he would prefer to work with. His cabinet guys have advised him there will be no issues with going with slab solid lumber doors/drawer faces. He has passed this information on to the customer. I have only advised the customer as to what my research tells me because we rarely ever get into any type of slab door.

Of course there is also the potential for the maple to cup or warp over time, or is this all overly exaggerated concerns on my part. I estimate there are probably 200 doors on this job, it is a large job. Any “ooops” will be large.

I am thinking about having the builder sign a document that he personally warrants the doors against expansion/contraction issues and cupping/warping issues for 20 years.

I have done slab doors on frameless cabinets in the past but always with a ply or melamine or some other stable core that remains flat.

-- .

44 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2872 days

#1 posted 07-31-2014 02:49 AM

There WILL be seasonal movement and warping/twisting. Let the builder eat it.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 2040 days

#2 posted 07-31-2014 02:57 AM

Outsource them, at least they will be warranted to be flat when you get them.
Advise your customer that there could/will be some warping and or cupping that you won’t warranty them.
200 doors, way too many to eat, way too many to remain flat. 4 or 5 of them cup and the owner flips out and wants them all redone.
Personally, I don’t think I would do it unless it was a mdf core wrapped with a wood trim.
I don’t think there is any way your going to get the builder to warranty them, he’s not going to eat it. He’s coming right back to you.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 4058 days

#3 posted 07-31-2014 03:17 AM

I actually outsource my doors, but my door shop in Austin does not do solid lumber slab doors.

I am just thinking about this, and there does seem to be a couple of different angles I can take. One of them I think I could suggest that the customer purchase their own doors from another shop, possibly the builder’s cabinet guys, and then they can warranty those doors and we will handle the rest as we always do.

The fact is, I stopped building doors a year ago, not that we cannot, but time in our shop does not permit to do so and building doors is neither cost effective or efficient for both the builder and the customer. And our door shop does not build what the customer wants, and probably for good reason. I just googled slab cabinet doors and most of what I am finding are MDF core or plywood.

What gets me is I sold the customer on a Echowood (very expensive green option, high end material) with a stable MDF core for stability and flat. It was a real wood veneer and was simply beautiful in it’s natural color. No staining would have been necessary. The color would have been consistent and perfect. The sheets were going to cost of 150.00 per sheet plus tax. Now we will have solid Maple to stain???? My experience has not been the fun when staining Maple. No doubt that we can do it well now.

I guess I am just thinking out loud here. At the end of the day I want to do what is right for my customer and for our shop. But I estimate he door/drawer face order is around 10,000.00. That is a significant issue if one were to arise.

Plus given the 1/8” reveals, that seems to spell potential disaster.

-- .

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18672 posts in 4187 days

#4 posted 07-31-2014 03:38 AM

I’m not even a cabinet maker and I know better than to try to met and maintain those tolerances with that material. Sometimes knowing when to just say “NO” is the best option. Looks like an endless warranty issue. You do not need an unhappy, ignorant customer bad-mouthing your business. Let his cabinet guys do it. You will be grinning ear to ear in the end ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View HerbC's profile


1801 posts in 3371 days

#5 posted 07-31-2014 03:38 AM


I’d run away from this one as fast as possible.

Let the builder and his “buddy” deal with the problems that WILL happen.

You’ve done due diligence in trying to properly advise the customer. You will regret proceeding as that customer desires.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View waho6o9's profile


8770 posts in 3088 days

#6 posted 07-31-2014 03:46 AM

” but my door shop in Austin does not do solid lumber slab doors”

There’s your answer ^

Great responses BTW

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 2032 days

#7 posted 07-31-2014 04:07 AM

Tell the customer there is a good reason why you can’t find slab doors. Have you thought about veneering an engineered core to make it look like a slab ? ..Or using hardwood plywood to make doors ?

Sorry .. please ignore. I misunderstood. I thought we were talking about entry doors. I wish there were a way to delete posts.

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 4058 days

#8 posted 07-31-2014 11:46 AM

No problem Yonak, thanks for posting.

-- .

View AlaskaGuy's profile (online now)


5354 posts in 2820 days

#9 posted 07-31-2014 12:27 PM

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3796 days

#10 posted 07-31-2014 01:14 PM


The builder, whom I do not even know, has his own cabinet guys, who I understand he would prefer to work with. His cabinet guys have advised him there will be no issues with going with slab solid lumber doors/drawer faces. He has passed this information on to the customer.

RED FLAG!!!!!! Do you really think this builder is looking out for you? Sounds like he has a bent nose and setting you up for failure in the customers eye.

No way should you do 200 doors in a solid wood flat slab. Think about it; how many of those doors that are 15” or wider are going to stay perfectly flat for the next twenty years and who will have to keep going back?

All it will take is for one door to fail and you will get thrown under the bus by the contractor. He’s already set your customer up for that.

This is one of those jobs it may be better to “gracefully” back away from. You can check with some of the largest cabinet door manufacturers in the country and I doubt you will find any that will do it.

I’d much rather lose a job than lose my reputation.

Good luck!

BTW; just my 2 cents worth! : )

-- John @

View CharlesNeil's profile


2496 posts in 4382 days

#11 posted 07-31-2014 01:26 PM

Been making a livng doing woodwork for 40 + years , Im with the first response, Clint has it right

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4159 days

#12 posted 07-31-2014 02:46 PM

Ouch. I would not do it I don’t think. Board and batten is
the correct approach and would control cupping but
the width expansion is going to happen.

Look at the US Forestry service’s wood engineering
handbook. There’s a seasonal movement chart
in there you can send to the client.

View bondogaposis's profile


5542 posts in 2862 days

#13 posted 07-31-2014 02:52 PM

Slab doors, that’s just crazy. Let the guy who say’s there will be no issues build it. At the very least I would use quarter sawn material only and there still will be seasonal movement across the width of a door, how could there not be?

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4159 days

#14 posted 07-31-2014 02:58 PM

I am not sure, but I think you can demonstrate too.

Glue up a 15” slab and pour water on it. It should
cup… but will it go back to how it was?

Fun opportunity to make a little video and maybe
close a sale.

Everybody has seen a warped cutting board. Same

View Ocelot's profile


2356 posts in 3149 days

#15 posted 07-31-2014 03:06 PM

I have no experience to offer any opinion on this, but I would gracefully bow out. It may be a $10K order, but if it costs you $15K in the end, it’s not good business.

But… have you considered PEG impregnated slabs? What’s the timeline on this? There might be time to do it if you can outsource the processing. I understand that gunstock makers often do this to control wood movement.

If you can find somebody who has actually done it and had good results…
Here’s a patent on the process. Somebody owns that patent. Maybe they can do it.



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