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Has anyone built cabinet door frames using pocket holes to join the rails and stiles?

I have to build a few more doors for my cabinet project, and wondering if I can get away with using pocket holes.

The existing doors are shaker-style, birch 1x3 and 1/4" birch plywood for the panels. I built the doors using tongue/groove, but wondering if I can get away with just using pocket-hole screws and glue to connect the rails and stiles. These are for upper cabinets. Wondering if I am asking for trouble.

This is for cabinets at a cottage, so they wouldn't be used as much as a normal kitchen.

Picture of the existing doors attached.

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Oh yeah, she gets into trouble for getting into trouble, and then I get into trouble for "letting her do whatever she wants."  It's not like I let her play with power tools or drive "her" truck . . . unsupervised . . . Her mother knows how to manipulate me, so I don't know why she thinks her daughter wouldn't have inherited the same ability.  I just can't say "no."  I'm sure when boys, makeup, and inappropriate clothing come into the picture I will learn to say "no" pretty easily.

I've never used a lot of Seal Coat's stuff, or 1-2-3.  They worth trying?

Yeah, tool budgets suck.  Even with that though, the Jig-It is overpriced.  It works pretty well, but you also need to buy an extra-long 35 mm bit.  And it's really only helpful if you set it up once and then use the same kind of hinge all the time.  Plus, it only drills the cup hole, not the screw holes.  For other types of hinge, I've made my own drilling jigs and just tried to hold the drill straight up and down.  Once you put in the screws, the hinge flattens out anyway, so if I had it to do over again, I'm not sure I would have bought their stupid jig!

Started out exactly like that myself with S4S.  But I figured out after a couple of projects where the glue-up/assembly didn't go that great that S4S boards are probably pretty straight when they leave the mill.  But by the time you buy them, they're not.  While the S4S high grade white pine boards at the Orange or Blue stores is nice stuff, and I still use it on occasion for making moulding (it's really great for trimming windows out) I used to pick up poplar and red oak there too . . . until I did the math and compared the poplar and red oak prices to my hardwood dealer.  Wow, my big Orange was screwing me.  If those boards were milled that morning, stacked and stickered, maybe they're worth paying THREE TIMES what the hardwood dealer sells poplar and oak for, but they're not.  When people (family) bring over lumber for projects they want built, it's often the S4S stuff from Orange or Blue.  I still face-joint it, edge-joint it, run it two passess through the planer, and rip it to size, just as though I was starting from rough-milled, because it might LOOK straight, but it's not.  As a result, their stuff comes out 5/8 instead of 3/4.  You're actually getting LESS wood for MORE money if you insist on it being straight.  

You should see how much your hardwood guy would charge to make your boards S3 -- face-joint, edge-joint, plane, then you can rip off the unjointed side on your TS when you get it home.  Bet you it still comes out cheaper than S4S at HD or L.

Russ, I think a joiner and a planer are the "next generation" for me.  With them come better dust collection, etc.

SealCoat is a great product for "thirsty" woods like endgrain, MDF, or soft woods.  I use it before primer as a sealer.

1-2-3 is a great primer, but when it's the only thing I use, then I may not be using the best product.  I used it recently on my new bathroom as a primer/sealer over sanded mud on drywall.  Afterwards I was able to peel off a big piece of the primer and the paint, which concerned me.  I know that I wiped down the walls after sanding, so it was really weird, and put a big "?" mark on the product, and that's why I asked for others' opinions.


Russ Haynes said:

I've never used a lot of Seal Coat's stuff, or 1-2-3.  They worth trying?

Started out exactly like that myself with S4S.  But I figured out after a couple of projects where the glue-up/assembly didn't go that great that S4S boards are probably pretty straight when they leave the mill.  But by the time you buy them, they're not. 

The following gets off the subject matter, however, is useful info.

After sanding, the sanding dust MUST be removed, before proceeding with sealing/priming.

Dampen a clean  "white" cloth material---

a. with clean water, when applying a water-based finish  

b. with mineral spirits, when appling an oil-based finish

c. with denatured alcohol, when applying shellac

Allow surfaces to dry before proceeding to the next step. 

NOTE:  DO NOT apply oil-based or shellac-based material over water-based material.

Water-based material may be applied over oil or shellac base material---NOT the reverse.

Zinsser Bulls Eye SealCoat Sanding Sealer--- a wax-free shellac sealer

Zinsser B-I-N Primer/Sealer---shellac-based white-pigmented primer-sealer

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer/Sealer---a water-base primer

Zinsser Primer-Sealers and Stain Blockers--- an oil -base

NOTE: Refer to the OEM's applicable directions, applications and uses.

Interesting -- I'll have to give the SealCoat a try, although I have used shellac to seal various surfaces before in the past.  I usually take some of Zinsser's regular clear shellac and cut it in half with denatured alcohol, which from what I've read is pretty much what SealCoat is anyway -- a really light cut of dewaxed shellac.  But with projects I'm going to paint, I stick with the Kilz primer.  I use the shellac to even out the color of projects I'm going to stain usually.  

I've never had a problem with Kilz not adhering to drywall compound.  I've seen the water base not stick to a stain of some sort on the wall -- it kept running and leaving bubbles where no primer would adhere.  I wiped the primer off that spot, sanded it with some 120-grit, wiped it down with some lacquer thinner, then switched to the Kilz oil-base, and it covered it right up.  I've seen paint come off in sheets like that, but it's often sprayed on by the builders and very often latex paint/primer in wet environments like bathrooms.  When I paint a bathroom, I tell my wife -- no baths/showers for 24 hours, then I open the windows and put a squirrel blower in there in the morning, then slap the first coat on in the afternoon -- you have to get the excess moisture out of the walls or the paint won't stick.  But I hear ya -- you get a product that you use by habit because you know how it performs.  It gets hard to switch.  And sometimes it's not worth it.  Even if it turns out to not be the best product, sometimes predictability is more important!

It's a slippery slope buying bigger tools, that's for sure.  A few years ago, I had a DeWalt jobsite table saw and a Craftsman shop vac.  Didn't even own a router.  Now I've got a jointer, planer, SawStop table saw, router table, trim routers, oscillating sander, band saw, and 2-stage dust collector.  I look around sometimes and think "damn that happened fast!"  And I have to say -- I went to HD yesterday to get a piece of drywall and stopped in the "premium pine" section to get a decent piece to make some trim out of.  All of that lumber is S4S and the only 1x10x8 I found that wasn't twisted, cupped, or warped was the 12th board into the stack, and it still has some cup in it.  I wasn't worried about the cup because it is getting ripped down into pieces for moulding, but without a jointer and planer, I'd have no way to get it straight other than to glue the crap out of it and nail it up in such a way that it straightens out over time.  But making tight joints and straight lines with crooked lumber is like trying to drink your way out of a bar without telling the barkeep to stop pouring them!  It's still fun, but you don't really get anywhere and you're not super-happy about the results the next day!

Cupping:

A common occurrence in wide boards.   

It’s rare to find a perfectly flat wide board.

 

The preferred method, to make a flat panel, is to edge join narrower pieces.

 

EX: join ¾ x 1-1/2” strips to make a 1-1/2” thick worktop, or the like.

I heard SealCoat has a longer shelf life than waxed shellac.  Just seemed like a more useful product to have.  Great to seal before priming, great as a "tweener" when changing finishes.

The 1-2-3 primer does not have the predictability it once had.  The coverage and hiding seems terrible.  They now have 3 types of 1-2-3, like a good, better, best.  And I hear great things about Kilz ...

I have a little lumberyard by my house.  They have a bunch of nice S4S lumber inside in the dark section of the store back.  Some of it appears to have been there for decades.  They have 3 grades pine, poplar, oak, and even some rough-sawn cyprus.  The prices seem to be a decade old too!  They even had some nice 1x12 by 16ft.  Last Sat. they had their 20% off sale, so I stocked up on 1x12, 1x8, and 1x6.  Most of the wood I got is flatter than Lowe's plywood, if that says anything.  And $4/bf is better too.



Russ Haynes said:

I usually take some of Zinsser's regular clear shellac and cut it in half with denatured alcohol, which from what I've read is pretty much what SealCoat is anyway

But I hear ya -- you get a product that you use by habit because you know how it performs.  It gets hard to switch. 

All of that lumber is S4S and the only 1x10x8 I found that wasn't twisted, cupped, or warped was the 12th board into the stack, and it still has some cup in it.

That does look like some nice lumber.  I love the old stuff because it's moisture content has reached the point where it's going to be and if it's going to move, then it's moved.  That all looks like plainsawn pine, but since it's not stickered up, the wider boards will have a tendency to cup a bit in the direction of the grain once the weight of the boards on top is removed.  You can see the bottom three boards have started to cup a bit already despite the weight.  Wood movement is a powerful force.  I hear ya on Lowes' plywood -- some of that stuff is NASTY.  Any they leave it there on the shelf waiting for someone to buy it.  I guess people do eventually.  That 1x8 (fourth board down from top) looks nice -- has most of the grain pattern running across.  That should be a pretty stable board.  Nice stuff, looks pretty knot free.  Just make sure if you stain it you useCharles Neil's blotch control pre-stain.  Yeah, Minwax makes a prestain conditioner . . . trust me, they're not even close.  If you're staining pine, it's well worth it to use CN's stuff.

Yeah man, try the Kilz -- I swear by that stuff.  I've used it in places where the previous resident has smoked like a chimney and the Kilz just seals everything up nice and tight -- you can't even tell.  Best way to preserve shellac is to either use it quickly if you buy it in cans or buy the flakes.  I buy dewaxed shellac in flake form now and mix it with denatured alcohol I buy in gallons from the Orange Store.  It's a lot cheaper and the flakes don't degrade like pre-mixed shellac does.  The other nice thing is that the pre-mixed shellac always seems to me like a pretty heavy cut.  To spray it on or put it on more gradually in order to get a more even finish, I almost always wind up cutting the pre-mixed shellac anyway.  When I shellac furniture now (which I haven't been doing very much of -- been on sort of an oil/varnish blend kick lately), I french polish, for which a lighter cut seems to work much better.  There's also a much wider variety of colors available in flake shellac.  Just pick your color, decide how heavy you want the cut, mix it up in a little squeeze bottle, and you're off.  If it congeals a bit in the bottle, put in some more alcohol.  I don't even clean my shellac brushes anymore -- as soon as you reintroduce hardened shellac to alcohol, it dissolve all over again.  That's why multiple coats work so well, the new coat actually dissolves the previous coat a bit, then binds itself all together.

Thanks for the tip on CN's Pre-Stain.  Looks like a garage operation though, with limited availability.  Looks like he is using a diluted glue wash.

Think I'll try the Kilz on my next project.

I have used the Minwax pre-conditioner, and thought it was a joke, like I got some bad product.  That's why I usually paint pine, even the select stuff I got. 

I'm not sure if I'm ready to mix shellac flakes.  ;-)

Russ Haynes said:

 Just make sure if you stain it you use Charles Neil's blotch control pre-stain.  Yeah, Minwax makes a prestain conditioner . . . trust me, they're not even close.  If you're staining pine, it's well worth it to use CN's stuff.

Yeah man, try the Kilz -- I swear by that stuff.  

Best way to preserve shellac is to either use it quickly if you buy it in cans or buy the flakes.  I buy dewaxed shellac in flake form now and mix it with denatured alcohol I buy in gallons from the Orange Store. 

LMAO - that's funny. Charles Neil is a true master, a local hero asking WWrs here in VA, and more than a bit of a personal hero. His work is truly amazing. We're all lucky that he's also willing to share his experience with us. He's a much sought after resource on finishing and one of the few guys I've ever seen make a pine project look like high-grade hardwood. I know the prestain is some concoction of CA glue, but I'm more than happy to use what he's developed and support his work.

Yeah I usually use pine for stuff that is going to be painted too. I was apprehensive about mixing my own finish but it's actually really easy and much more adjustable than pre-mixed. After I did that I started mixing my own tung oil varnish blend too - just tung oil, varnish, and mineral spirits. Way cheaper than pre-mixed and you know exactly what is in it!

Let me know what you think of the Kilz. And if you're ever feeling adventurous, msg me with your address and I'll send you some garnet shellac flakes you can mess around with.

I saw some of Neil's work on the gallery slideshow -- just beautiful.  The website indicated that after his magic potion is applied, you are actually staining it, and not the wood, which is quite ingenious.  Hopefully his pre-stain will become more readily available.  He really ought to patent it and then allow Rockler or others to market it.

I hear what you are saying about Tung oil.  I did my floors in Waterlox.  After the EPA regulations hit us, Waterlox is only available in quarts, costing almost $30 each.  I had some of Rockler's Tung Oil but it never hardened so I pitched it.

My brother just relocated from NYC to Leesburg area and loves it there.  Never seen anyone so happy.  Must be a great place to live. 

Russ Haynes said:

Charles Neil is a true master, a local hero asking WWrs here in VA, and more than a bit of a personal hero. His work is truly amazing. We're all lucky that he's also willing to share his experience with us.

After I did that I started mixing my own tung oil varnish blend too - just tung oil, varnish, and mineral spirits. Way cheaper than pre-mixed and you know exactly what is in it

HANDY TIP:

Surface Prep:

Use a card scraper, without a burnished edge.

Hold the card scraper at about a 85 degree angle from the surface, and make light repeated passes, 'til the imperfections have been removed.

Cleaning the surface, using a "card scraper", to remove any surface imperfections---

such as paint, clear coat runs/drips/bubbles, and any minute particles that may have settled on the surface.


Ken Darga said:

The following gets off the subject matter, however, is useful info.

After sanding, the sanding dust MUST be removed, before proceeding with sealing/priming.

Dampen a clean  "white" cloth material---

a. with clean water, when applying a water-based finish  

b. with mineral spirits, when appling an oil-based finish

c. with denatured alcohol, when applying shellac

Allow surfaces to dry before proceeding to the next step. 

NOTE:  DO NOT apply oil-based or shellac-based material over water-based material.

Water-based material may be applied over oil or shellac base material---NOT the reverse.

Zinsser Bulls Eye SealCoat Sanding Sealer--- a wax-free shellac sealer

Zinsser B-I-N Primer/Sealer---shellac-based white-pigmented primer-sealer

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer/Sealer---a water-base primer

Zinsser Primer-Sealers and Stain Blockers--- an oil -base

NOTE: Refer to the OEM's applicable directions, applications and uses.

There is nothing wrong with a Kreg screwed joint in a cabinet door as long as it is properly done.  Personally I do not use them due to the pocket holes left in the back of the door are objectionable to the customers that I have in custom cabinets work.  The Kreg joints are strong, easy and fast to do and a great method for beginning wood workers who do not have the tooling to build other types. 

When doing the Kreg screw doors, the stronger are the ply wood panels as they can be glued to the frames since plywood does move from humidity changes.  However I would not glue a solid wood panel into the frames as they will expand and blow the door apart due to the humidity changes. 

The danger is doing the dado's or grooves for the panels require the lowering and raising of the stiles onto a table saw cutting blade or a slot cutter on a router table, at a precise point so that the groove will not show on the ends of the doors.  It would require plugging the ends of the doors where the stiles joint the rails if you choose to run the stiles all the way down the stile length.  The rails can be cut the full length and the only problem here is the positioning of the pocket hole in the rail as you need to bore the pocket hole in a location that the groove does not comprise the strength of the joint.

The heavy raised panel door will be the weakest of the two when compared to the flat panel door due to the weight of the panel material.

I have seen several kreg joint doors of which are actually beautiful and from the front of the door look the same as a cope and stick door.   There is one Kreg community member whom makes all of his doors using the Kreg screw method and they are outstanding examples of craftsmanship.  This would be David Dean.  Since his doors have lasted several years, he should be considered an authority on building this type of door.   

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