Kreg Owners' Community

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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Rick said:

 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.

I use Waterlox a lot because I love how it looks on maple, and I do a lot of work in maple -- it's my favorite species.  But yeah, it's super expensive, which is another reason I mix my own now.  Waterlox is just tung oil, BLO, varnish, and mineral spirits.  Of course you have to play with it a bit until you get the proportions down, but you can mix your own Waterlox for a tiny fraction of the cost of a quart bought with the Waterlox label on it.  And your run-in with Rockler's TO is another great indication why mixing your own is a good idea -- it says "Tung Oil," which it is.  Which is why it doesn't harden -- it's just an oil.  But people are so used to things labeled as TO not really being TO, they're more often an oil-varnish blend.  The Minwax TO hardens -- because it has polyurethane in with the TO!  I love oil-varnish blends, they're a great way to add a little color, pop the grain, then have the finish harden to a nice sheen and level of protection.  But I don't think something that isn't TO should be marketed as TO.  The TO in my shop is 100% pure TO, nothing added.  Just like the BLO -- nothing added.  When you want just plain TO on something, you can put it on, but if you want a hardened finish, Arm-R-Seal, pure TO, and mineral spirits.  Just be sure to mix enough for complete/multiple coats -- unless you're using a scale, it's nearly impossible to recreate the exact finish every time, especially when you figure in evaporation, etc.

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. 

Leesburg is beautiful -- great historic downtown.  That area is really developing quickly, new housing developments and an outlet mall.  But compared to NYC he must feel like he's in the boondocks!

These doors were a great learning for me, since they were my first attempt at frame and panel.  After I got them installed on the bath cabinet, I quickly learned the difference between frameless full overlay and frameless half overlay, and obviously I had the wrong ones.  Fortunately Rockler exchanged them for me or I would have had to trim both doors, reroute the edges, re-prime, and re-paint.

And I added a third hinge to both doors.

I'd have to say that the whole process was a tremendous confidence builder for me.

Thanks for all the help!

Russ Haynes said:

Nice doors, Rick.  Yeah, pocket holes would be easier, but they wouldn't have that nice inside profile.  If you want an inside profile on pocket-hole-joined-doors, you'd have to make a stopped cut on the router table, then cope the joints with a 45 router bit or on the table saw, get them EXACTLY right, then put them together with pocket screws.  Or, you put them together without the panel, rout your profile around the inside, which makes a curved profile in the corners at the joints, disassemble, put in your panel, then reassemble.  If they're plain doors, yep, pocket holes are way easier.  If they're some kind of profiled door, cope and stick glue joints are still the way to go.  The complimentary router bits are expensive, but eliminate the need for making mitered cuts on your inside profiles.  I'm the biggest Kreg fan on the planet -- have at least one of almost everything they sell and swear by it all.  I use pocket holes in almost every project I build.  But some things are still best done the "old" way because there's no other way to do it.  Again, sweet doors.  Make sure you put three hinges on those!

I started using Formby's Tung Oil years ago when the only alternative I had was brushed poly.  Then I discovered Waterlox which I thought was an enhanced version for floors. The literature says they have to "cook" the product so that it hardens and dries quickly.  It has other issues though, like congealing over time even with Bloxygen added.

I know what you mean about TO on maple -- its beautiful.  I found a nice old piece of maple counter almost 2 in thick at the used material shop, and used it in my new family room.  The whole room is painted flat panels with a touch of maple on all the horizontal surfaces -- mantle, c'tops,  window seat and sill. Really nice.

I think I stole all my design ideas from this forum.  It looks great -- exceeding all my expectations.  I probably should post some pics.  The fireplace surround was my first Kreg project, then kept going with the rest of the built ins.

Russ Haynes said:

I use Waterlox a lot because I love how it looks on maple, and I do a lot of work in maple -- it's my favorite species.  But yeah, it's super expensive, which is another reason I mix my own now.  Waterlox is just tung oil, BLO, varnish, and mineral spirits.  Of course you have to play with it a bit until you get the proportions down, but you can mix your own Waterlox for a tiny fraction of the cost of a quart bought with the Waterlox label on it.  And your run-in with Rockler's TO is another great indication why mixing your own is a good idea -- it says "Tung Oil," which it is.  Which is why it doesn't harden -- it's just an oil.  But people are so used to things labeled as TO not really being TO, they're more often an oil-varnish blend.  The Minwax TO hardens -- because it has polyurethane in with the TO!  I love oil-varnish blends, they're a great way to add a little color, pop the grain, then have the finish harden to a nice sheen and level of protection.  But I don't think something that isn't TO should be marketed as TO.  The TO in my shop is 100% pure TO, nothing added.  Just like the BLO -- nothing added.  When you want just plain TO on something, you can put it on, but if you want a hardened finish, Arm-R-Seal, pure TO, and mineral spirits.  Just be sure to mix enough for complete/multiple coats -- unless you're using a scale, it's nearly impossible to recreate the exact finish every time, especially when you figure in evaporation, etc.

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