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  1. #1
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    Jan 2010
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    Default Working with veneer face cabinets

    There's so much out there about refinishing/repainting kitchen cabinets, but I haven't found anything addressing what I will call "veneer inserts." My kitchen cabinet frames are solid wood (oak, I think), but the cabinet face is a veneer. (I'm not 100% positive that the material is veneer, but it's extremely thin and has a plastic feel.) This "veneer insert" is held in place by a groove in the surrounding cabinet frame. The groove is just off center of the wood frame. (I believe this is/was a fairly common builder's grade cabinet.) I've attached a few pictures if that will help visualize my cabinets.

    What I'd like to do is either pain the veneer, or even better, replace it with something else. For example, maybe I could use a glass front, or possibly replace the current veneer insert with a darker/nicer looking veneer. Does anyone know how one would go about doing this?

    My concern with cutting out the veneer that's in there right now is that I suspect it will leave a very noticeable groove in the cabinet frame.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Working with veneer face cabinets

    I am having trouble uploading the pictures. Hopefully my description was ok.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Working with veneer face cabinets

    If I understand your description correctly, your doors are a wood frame with what sounds like a photo-finished or plywood panel. Your mentioning of a plastic-like veneer leads me to believe it's photo-finish over probably a particle board or mdf core. This is something I've never seen before, in respect to a photo-finished panel inside a wood frame, however, if this is the case, then the door should be typical in it's construction.

    This picture will help describe what to do.



    The dark portion of the picture is the panel, the cross checked portion is the rail and stile that the panel is captured in. The front face of the frame will usually have some sort of profile, shown here as a bevel. The back of the frame is usually square. To remove the panel, you cut the back of the groove off. You can install the panel of your choice, then use mirror clips or similar to hold the panel in place.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Working with veneer face cabinets

    Yes, that middle figure (flat panel) looks exactly like mine! Thanks so much!

    Two quick follow-up questions:

    1) What method/tool would you recommend using to cut out the back of the groove?

    2) Do you know who sells photo-finished or plywood panels that can be used as replacement inserts? I specifically like the idea of the rasied panel in the left picture.

    Thanks!!

  5. #5
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Working with veneer face cabinets

    Quote Originally Posted by JRuby2004 View Post
    Yes, that middle figure (flat panel) looks exactly like mine! Thanks so much!

    Two quick follow-up questions:

    1) What method/tool would you recommend using to cut out the back of the groove?

    2) Do you know who sells photo-finished or plywood panels that can be used as replacement inserts? I specifically like the idea of the rasied panel in the left picture.

    Thanks!!
    You're welcome.

    What you use to remove the back of the groove kind of depends on what you have available to you. The easiest will probably be a cordless circular saw. I say cordless because they are most often smaller and lighter weight, making them easier to handle, though any circular saw will work. The saw would make the majority of the cut, then you'd need a chisel or utility knife to finish the last 1/2" or so at the corners. You could use a router and rabbeting bit, but then you'd have to build a jig/fence to keep the router cutting in a straight line. If you're really desperate, you could use only a utility knife and a straight edge, though I would only use this as a last resort. Again, what you use will depend on what you have available.

    You won't be able to purchase any pre-cut panels, you will have to purchase the material and cut the panels yourself. The sheet goods generally come in 4' x 8' sheets. Many species of plywood are available at all lumber retailers. A broader selection of plywood can be had from suppliers that cater to woodworkers and cabinet shops. If you want photo-finish, that would be something that is likely only carried by a sheet goods supplier that caters wholesale to cabinet shops.

    Depending on your abilities and tools available to you, you can purchase just about any kind of material to replace the panels in your doors. If you're lacking in either ability or equipment, then it may be cheaper and easier to just take the doors to a local woodworker or cabinet shop and have them do it for you.

    For what it's worth, I would recommend using plywood and finishing it to match the frames. Any quality paint supplier can custom match the frame color in a stain so that you can finish the panels to match.

    You also mentioned that you'd like a raised panel. Raised panels are predominantly done in solid wood, not plywood. Unless you're a reasonably capable woodworker with the right tools and equipment, raised panels are not something for the average DIY'r. You could have a cabinet shop or local woodworker make the panels for you and you finish and install them into the frames. While you're talking with the woodworker, have them cut you some "scribe molding", which you'll use as cleats to hold the new panels in place.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Working with veneer face cabinets

    Very informative and helpful ... thanks again!

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Working with veneer face cabinets

    You're very welcome. If you have any other questions, fire away.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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