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Constructing a Large Inset Cabinet Door

      An oversize plywood slab is likely to warp, but there are alternatives. December 30, 2005

I'm building a cab unit into a wall for a client. He wants a very clean look and wants an inset door. The issue is that the door is 30"w x 50"h. If I put 3 hinges on the door, do you think 3/4" ply will warp at that size? I think that a solid wood slab would be a danger.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
I would not consider a solid slab door. I would use 3/4 MDF, not ply, for the door.

From contributor C:
A door this wide will be problematic in this application. I would push the client toward two 15" doors instead. If he insists, inset the door 1/2" from the face to allow for slight warp. What species are we talking about, and is a frame and panel design an option?

From contributor M:
A 30" wide solid stock door inset into a face frame? That would be a disaster by definition unless there was enough gap on the two sides to allow for considerable expansion due to humidity changes. A 30" wide door could expand almost 1/4".

From the original questioner:
Oops, damn fingers. Typo. It is 20" x 50" - not 30!

From contributor C:
Even at 20" wide, you're still into frame and panel territory.

From contributor K:
You can make a hollow-core door with a 3/4" frame and contact cement 1/8" plywood on both sides. Distribute some 3/4" thick scrap blocks around inside the framed area to stiffen up the 1/8 ply. Use contact cement on the blocks as well. Saw trim the four outside edges and apply solid banding if needed for aesthetics. These doors are lightweight and stable. You can make it the way the customer wants it. The net thickness will be around 15/16".

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