Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Upcycled Shaker-Panel Cabinet Doors

I am big fan of Shaker style.  I love the versatility of it's simple and clean detail.  It can be traditional, it can be modern - it goes with everything.  It's fantastic, timeless style.

My studio renovation had 2 main goals:

1) To be as economical as possible.
2) To have as low an impact on the environment as possible.

I desperately needed more closed storage and devised a plan to use salvaged kitchen cabinets, but I wasn't just looking for any salvaged kitchen cabinets.  If I could've found salvaged cabinets with shaker-panel doors that would have been great, but was unlikely.  So instead, I sought out cabinets with basic, plain, flat cabinet doors (which were easy to find) and devised a plan to turn them into shaker-panelled cabinets.


- Salvaged kitchen cabinets with flat panel doors
- 2.5" wide, flat casing (wood or MDF)
- Measuring tape
- Pencil
- Mitre saw
- Wood Glue
- Micro pinner (fine gauge brad nailer)
- 3/4" pins/brads
- Table saw (optional)
- Fine sandpaper
- DAP (interior latex silicone)
- Painting equipment


*This works best on older cabinets that use a classic hinge, not a euro-hinge. Because I was working with cabinets I acquired I did not remove the doors while doing this and found it easier to just leave them in place, but if I were doing this on already installed cabinets, I would remove the doors*


Remove any handles from your cabinet doors.  Lay your cabinet down on a firm, flat surface with the doors facing up.  Measure the length of the first cabinet door.

Mark and cut 2 lengths of casing according to your measurement to fit the length of the cabinet door.

Check to make sure you have cut your casing accurately by placing the length of the casing you have just cut on the edge of the cabinet door.  The edges of the casing should be flush with the edges of the cabinet door.

Sparingly brush the back-side of your cut casing with wood glue.

Position on the edge of the cabinet door and use a micro-pinner to secure in place.

*Tip* Angle your pins for a more secure attachment.    

Measure the width of the top and bottom of the cabinet door in between the 2 pieces of casing that you have applied to either side.

 Mark and cut 2 lengths of casing according to your measurement. Check to make sure you have cut your casing accurately by placing the lengths of casing you have just cut on the top and bottom of the cabinet door.  It should fit snugly between the 2 pieces of casing you have applied to the edges of the door.  If it fits right, proceed with step 2 to secure in place.

Repeat steps 1-3 on all cabinet doors, and let the glue dry for 24 hours.


You may find that the edges of your cabinet doors look something like this:

If this is a problem for you and you would like smoother, consistent edges release the door from the cabinet (removing the hinge from the door), and trim all of the edges of the door using a table saw.  Be careful not to take too much off, and know that you may have to adjust the position of the hinges when you replace the doors on the cabinet.

Lightly sand all the edges and surfaces of the cabinet.

Clean off dust and fill and cracks and holes with DAP.

Allow to dry.

Paint with 2 coats of your favourite paint in a semi-gloss finish and allow to dry.  Install door handles (you will probably need to buy longer screws that fit your handles to compensate for the additional thickness of the door).

Install your "new" cabinets wherever you want them!

In my case, I purchased steel cabinet legs from IKEA which I installed on the bottom of the cabinets, and then topped the cabinets off with recycled shelving material to make a counter space.


Q: I want to give my current kitchen a face-lift. My cabinet doors have older-style hinges, but the doors aren't flat.  Can I cut flat panels out of plywood that are the same size and thickness as my current cabinet doors and use them to make new Shaker doors using this process?

A: I haven't done it, but I don't see why not! As a matter of fact, I think I would like to try this out in my kitchen. You'll need a table saw to make sure your cuts are straight and square. I would suggest testing it out on one door and see if it works.  If you're happy with the results, apply it to all!


  1. It looks soooo good. I love the gray color you chose for the cabinets. Fabulous!

  2. It's gorgeous! What a great makeover! I love how it ties in with the gray from your shade. So beautiful :)

  3. They look fantastic and I love the color, so I hate to rain on your parade.....BUT.....we did this to our flat fronted cabinets in our kitchen 3 years ago....they have not held up at all. I would suggest not using mdf but a real wood and the thinnest profile you can find - like 1/8th inch. We use our kitchen heavily and there are more dings and bumps in the mdf then I would like. The 1/2 inch profile catches everything and they are a pain to keep clean. In fact, we just ordered custom made new doors to replace them.

  4. I would love to do that as well :)

    Melanie ♥ ~ www.shabby-memories.blogspot.fr

  5. what is the color/brand of gray paint you used. I lov eit.

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