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Installing glass to cabinet doors

From the TOH Online article Simple Kitchen Makeovers, Jen asks:

"What I'm looking for is a way to cut out some of my solid kitchen cabinet doors and install glass. I belive they are pine, but not sure. Also, to have a few cut into mullion style doors would be great. Does anyone know where I can have this done?"

shelter life alex
you'll need a circular saw

well, the best way to cut doors like that would be by making a plunge cut with a circular saw, which will come out straight and even. Keep it lined up with a straightedge as you cut. Just don't cut all the way to the corners -- you have to finish with a hand saw (I recommend a thin Japanese saw).

To put in the muntins, you'd need to find some trim that's exactly the same thickness as the door. But the joint between the opening and the new trim will be tricky to secure. Anyone have a good suggestion?

Also, usually glass goes on the door by being set into a rabbet (groove) on the back, but unless you have a router you'll probably have to find a way to hold the glass flat on the back of the door (which isn't as pretty when the door is open). Use somethng like those holders that grip mirrors to a wall.

Another suggestion would be to go to a company like quality doors and buy matching doors that are "frame only" -- they're not that expensive, and less risk of cutting off a limb!

Re: Installing glass to cabinet doors

As Alex noted, the best bet is to use a circular saw. A table saw is even better. Slowly lower the door over the blade (you're going to have to remove the blade guard for this, so be careful), then cut to a couple of inches from the corners of the new openings. This can get tricky, you need to plan the spacing on the table saw properly, and you need to make sure not to cut too close to the corners. Finish the corners with a jigsaw or hand saw. Rabbet the back of the door to inset the glass, and either use picture frame metal diamonds (sorry, don't know the official name) or small pin nails, pressed in by hand, to set the glass, then use clear RTV to seal the glass down and prevent rattling.

As for mullions, it really depends on the thickness of the doors. You may find the mullions can't be set flush to the outer door surface and still have an adequate rabbet for the glass. In the end, it may be cheaper/easier to order doors than to try to build mullion doors, but that is up to you.

Re: Installing glass to cabinet doors

Jen - If you're really just looking for a place to do this for you, check with glass shops in your area that manufacture or cut glass for this installation. If they can't do it for you, they will know who can. My local source is actually a skylight manufacturer...


Re: Installing glass to cabinet doors

I tend to agree with Chris27. Though it's possible that not all glass companies may not be able (or may not want to) route out the doors; if you do a bit of hunting, you will find one.

The mullions could be a problem. Let me suggest an alternative: have a stained glass company fabricate doors with lead or brass caming (and clear glass if you choose). I can recommend one (if that is allowed) or you can check your yellow pages.

Bob H
Re: Installing glass to cabinet doors

I disagree with the circular approach -- the idea is to remove the back part of the groove that the panel sits in -- leaving a rabbit in the door that the glass can fit into.

A router will work best to remove only that part of the groove that is on the back of the door. If you use a fence that can ride on the outside edge of the door, or a fence screwed on the panel to space the bit to just cut of the part of the groove that is holding the panel.

A chisel will get out the rounded corners left by the router bit. A circular saw will work -- but to me would be harder to get set correctly and is not really meant to cut just a small strip off and to control precisely. A table saw would work -- but the cut will be hidden -- router is the right tool for this.

Re: Installing glass to cabinet doors

It would all depend on the type of door that you have. By solid does that mean it is one flat panel? If that is the case it may be plywood that is edge banded which when you cut the inside out would have to be edge banded as well. If it is a frame and panel door it is actually a little easier to. I do cabinet and furniture building on the side and did this for some people I know. They had frame and panel door so I was able to route out the back of the door to remove the panel. I then was able to put the glass into the rabbit and put made some trim that held the glass in place. I did not however put any mullions on. This would be a little more difficult but you could consider gluing on the mullions on the inside and outside of the glass to make it look like a true divided light. They do this with some higher end windows rather than just the pop on mullions. If you are not able to do the work yourself a cabinet shop or maybe an armature woodworker may be able to do it for you. I would check with a small cabinet shop though, they would probably be more willing to do the work than a larger one. Check with friends and family too they may know someone who can do the work for you.

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