Hi everyone! This is going to be a three week series on how to make doors and drawer fronts for any Ikea Sektion kitchen cabinet. Incase you need a custom size cabinet, I’ll follow it up with how to modify an Ikea kitchen cabinet. Jump ahead to the tutorial on doors here.
What if I told you that this cabinet base was Ikea?
How about this one? Would you believe me?
Ikea’s kitchen cabinet line, “Sektion” is one of my favorite cabinet lines. It’s diy friendly, comes with plenty of cabinet sizes, tons of customizations a 25 year warranty and its frame style allows you to add trim to make it look way more expensive than it actually is. The hinges they use are Blum. Blum hinges are top of the line and are very durable. They also have built in self closing features on their hinges and drawer slides. But my number one favorite feature is how easy it is to find organization components for inside the drawers. A lot of times you aren’t sure how every cabinet is going to be used. With other cabinet lines you have to search for a product that will fit. With Ikea it’s as simple as going online, clicking order pick up and showing up.
We installed Ikea kitchen cabinets in our current house. I have zero regrets. My only complaint is the limited selection of doors. Shaker doors are timeless, they go with plenty of styles and always look great. Ikea does not offer a realistic shaker door (imo what they offer looks pretty cheesy). There are door companies that will make you semi-custom doors for your cabinets (Scherr’s, Semi-handmade, The Cabinet Face to name a few). However, once you start factoring in the cost of their doors you loose the savings you were trying to capture by doing the kitchen yourself.
Some of the links I share are affiliate links, and if you purchase through them it won’t cost you any extra, however, I may be paid a small commission. That small support helps me keep the lights on and we appreciate all of it
I’m going to show you how to make a bunch of cheap shaker Ikea doors on a table saw easily. With just a saw, framing square, wood and some glue you will have shaker doors for a couple of bucks. If you don’t have a table saw, but you have a router with a router table you can apply the same principles as well. If you buy a table saw, you will still be saving money and now you will have a table saw. Who doesn’t love new tools? Not this girl.
What you will need:
- Table saw
- Miter saw
- Optional – dado blade for table saw – totally optional and I am usually too lazy to use mine
- Framing square
- Optional clamps (not optional if you are using wood instead of plywood or pdf)
- Measuring tape
- Drill – if you have two even better. I like to put my cup hinge bit in one and my 1/16″ drill bit in the other
- Kreg Jig cup hinge jig and drill bit
- 5/16″ drill bit
- 1/16″ drill bit
Now for the fun part
Step 1: Rip (that means cut along the length of the board so that you end up with long strips) the 4×8 sheet of mdf to 2 1/4″ x 8′ boards. Some people prefer 2 1/2″ rails/stiles, I like mine just a touch slimmer, and it makes the door look more custom.
Step 2: Determine the size of the doors
Example: Ikea cabinet doors are 1/8″ smaller than the cabinet. A 15″ wide cabinet has a 14 7/8″ door measurement; 18″ – 17 7/8″; 24″ – 23 7/8″. Once you get over that you will be in the 2 door cabinets. A 30″ cabinet is made of two 14 7/8″ doors. Ikea doesn’t make different doors for the larger cabinets, it’s the same doors just two of them. For the height same idea, 40″ tall the doors are 39 7/8″ tall, 30″ tall 29 7/8″ tall. I think you get the picture.
Step 3: Cut your Stiles (these are the vertical parts of your shaker doors). Cut them to the exact length of the cabinet door. So, if your cabinet is 30″ tall, you need to cut these to 29 7/8″ tall.
Step 4: Cut your Rails (these are the horizontal parts of the doors). Now this is a little bit trickier, but I am going to break it down for you. We are creating a professional looking door, because of that we will be using a joinery system called “mortise and tenon” sounds fancy, but it’s cheap and easy. I promise. Your rails will not be the width of your door, they have to take into account the width of the Stiles (2 1/4″ + 2 1/4″) and the tenon (this is the part that will be glued into the Stile). Tenons will be 1/4″ long, they will be on each side of the rail. I know this might sound foreign but hang with me.
So: 2 1/4″ + 2 1/4″ = 4 1/2″. 4 1/2″ is the width the stiles (vertical parts) will take up on the width of the doors. If you didn’t need tenons you could just subtract the width of the door by 4 1/2″ and you’d be set, however, not on my watch. You need to subtract 1/2″ from the 4 1/2″ and you will get 4″. If you don’t understand what I did, just trust me and only subtract 4″ from the width of the door and cut all of your rails.
Example: If your door needs to be 14 7/8″ wide. You will cut your rails to be 10 7/8″. Every time. Just subtract 4″. That’s it. You got this.
Once you’ve cut all your rails and stiles, mark every board with a “front or F” on the prettier side of the board. Use a pen or pencil that won’t bleed through your primer. You can even get really organized and put the width/height they correlate to: “f15”, “f24”, “f40”, “f30”.
Step 5. Once you have all of your rails and stiles cut, you will now cut dados in your boards. What’s a dado? Simply explained it’s a groove or channel cut into a board. It’s also the nickname I gave our dog Shadow. These dados will be on the inside of the boards, the part where the panel of the door will be.
***Do not cut dados on both sides, you only need them on the side where the panel is going.
How in the heck?
1. Set the fence on your table saw so that the blade will cut at 1/4″ thickness we are going to use the table saw to cut a dado in our boards. You will measure from the fence to the edge of the blade closest to the fence and it should be 1/4″. Do not measure to the outside edge of the blade, this will make your cut off. Then, raise or lower your table saw blade to 1/4″ high.
You will be cutting your boards on the 3/4″ long side. Cut one of your scraps on the table saw to test the cut depth. Measure the cut depth with your measuring tape. Make sure it is exactly 1/4″, it can be a hair more, but it can’t be a hair less. 1/4″ is ideal but I’ve give you your guidelines. Raise or lower your blade if necessary.
2. Once you’ve got your depth perfectly set up, grab your rails and stiles, and cut every single one along one of the 3/4″ long side, making sure to have the “f” side against the fence. Each board will get run through the table saw. Sometimes I will run them through twice just to be sure I’ve got a uniform cut depth through the whole board. Make sure you keep the boards perfectly flat against the fence as you go, giving counter pressure down onto the blade from the top. It shouldn’t be any where near your fingers or hands, but you know, be careful.
If you used a dado blade you can stop here and move on to cutting your plywood panels.
3. Now, move your fence to 3/8″ away from the blade. Run your boards through again, same direction, “f” towards the fence. This is making your dado/channel/groove wider.
4. Move the fence to 1/2″ away from the blade and run your boards through again, same as before “f” towards the fence.
Once you have cut your dado, measure the gap and make sure it is 1/4″ wide. Then, take a scrap of 1/4″ plywood (if you don’t have a scrap you can just use your 1/4″ sheet for this) and see if you can slip the 1/4″ into the groove easily. If it goes in nicely with just gentle force you are golden, if slides right on in you are golden. If you have to force it, in any way and you are afraid you might break your board, you need to make one more pass on the table saw, just adjust the fence a hair back, away from the blade, 1/16 of an inch will do and run your boards through one more time.
Test to make sure your boards fit. Make adjustments if necessary or move on if you’re good.
Okay, so we’ve got rails, stiles and dados, what’s next?
Tenons. Tenons are next. Separate out all of your rails (remember, these are the horizontal parts of the doors) and set your stiles off to the side for later.
Now, here’s the great news, you do not need to raise or lower your table saw blade. Just keep it right where it is. Move your fence back to the 1/4″ spot away from the blade like in the first pass of your dados (when you have done this a few times, you can cut your tenons first before you cut your dados, I just find teaching it this way makes the most sense since you have to test fit everything first). The easiest way to do this is to place one of your rails on the blade with the blade inside the dado, “f” towards the fence, then draw the fence up snuggly to the board (but not enough to cause the blade to shift) and lock it. Remove the rail, and measure the gap, it should be just what you need.
1. Take a rail, and lay it perpendicular to the fence, “f” side down. We are going to “cross cut” another groove into our rails. Run it through the table saw so that you have a groove cut 1/4″ in from the edge of the board on the short side. Flip it over and do it again, Turn the board around and do the same thing on the other side of the rail to the front and back of the boards. Make sure with each pass you are not angling the board in any way and that the short end stays perfectly flat against the table saw fence as you move the board along it.
2.Now, this is the tricky part, take the same board you just cut the grooves into and line it up against the fence the same as before. You will be making another pass through the table saw like you just did, except with a little extra somethin’ somethin’. The groove you just cut will help you guide your blade, as you push your board, slowly – I mean like slowly, listen to your saw, you should feel just a slight bit of resistance but you should not force this, shift the board away from the fence, moving back and forth so that your blade is removing 1/4″ of “meat” from the groove to the edge of the board. When you are done, the edge of your board should look like a sideways L. Flip the board over and do the same thing to the backside of the board. Now the edge of your board should look like a sideways T.
Turn the board around and do the same thing to the other side.
Congratulations, you have created a tenon. Take that brand spankin new tenon and test fit it into the dados on one of your stiles. It should fit. If it doesn’t I will be shocked.
However, maybe it doesn’t fit. Adjust your blade upwards if you need to, just a hair and only cut the tenon so that the “f” side is down. This will make any adjustments to the tenon so that the face of the door will still have all the boards line up nice and flush.
Ok. Rails, tenons, dados, check. Beautiful.
Time to cut your 1/4″panels. If everything was cut right all you have to do is rip your 1/4″ panels to the width of your rails. The rails and panels should be the same width. A 10 7/8″ rail = 10 7/8″ panel. Rip your 1/4″ according to your needs and how many doors you need panels for. Once you’ve ripped all of your panels it’s time to cut them to length.
Very similar to the rails, where you had to subtract 4″ from the final width, the height of the panel is very similar. Think of your panel as one giant tenon and that should help. Subtract 4″ from the height of the door and cut your panels to that height.
Example: 30″ door is actually supposed to be 29 7/8″ tall right? So, cut your panel to 25 7/8″ tall. 40″ door = 39 7/8″ tall, cut the panel to 35 7/8″.
Dry fit (this means without glue) your panels into the rails and stiles. make sure everything fits like a puzzle making a door. Make any adjustments to the panels you need to. You want everything to pull together nicely without too much force.
I’m up to my ears in door pieces now what?
Time to glue them up. I like to put the nose of my glue into the grooves and just put a nice, steady bead of glue along the whole groove. I like to do one stile first, (usually left), insert the panel, then the bottom rail, then the right stile, then the top rail. Lining everything up so that the tenons sink into the stiles nicely and the panel sits in the groove. Some people only like to glue the tenons into the grooves and leave the panel floating. You can do this, just put glue on the tenons instead of the grooves. Using your framing square, place it on the corners of the door, making sure each side is square. Place the door on a flat surface to dry.
Special considerations: using mdf and 1/4″ plywood generally doesn’t cause any bowing when I’m building doors, sometimes you will need to clamp the door down onto the flat surface so it dries perfectly flat. Sometimes you will need to put clamps along the width of the board to draw the sides together – especially in the middle of really long doors. If you do clamp along the width you will also probably need to clamp it down onto a flat surface. This is so the side clamps don’t bow the stiles up. Often, I will use the clamp to pull the sides together, clamp down on to a flat surface on all four sides, hold for 5 – 10 minutes for the glue to set, then release the clamps and move on to the next door. This uses between 4-8 clamps. While the glue sets up I am already glueing together the next door.By the time I have it all square it’s usually time to remove those clamps from the last one.
Once all your doors are made, now it’s time for the hinges.
Go watch my cup hinge tutorial highlight on IG then come back. Using a Philips tip screw driver, position the + marks on the cup hinge jig to “5” on the bottom edge of the jig. Put a piece of tape – I use washi tape and painters tape, but you can use any tape to mark where the jig should be positioned on your door. One tape edge should be 1 5/8″ in from the left and the other edge of tape should be 1 5/8″ from the right. *There will be a separate tutorial on the taller Ikea doors with three hinges.
Drill your cup hinges and pilot holes. Clamping the jig to the door so it doesn’t shift around. Make sure you drill your pilot holes with 1/16″ drill bit before you remove your clamps. Mark your 1/16 & 5/16″ drill bits at 3/8″ so you don’t drill too deeply. Once you’ve drilled all your holes, go back and drill your 5/16″ holes using your 1/16″ holes as a guide.
That’s it. Congratulations! You’ve made your first Shaker door using the same joinery a professional would use and you did it for a fraction of the cost! They will mount to Ikea cabinets in the same way that their store bought doors would. Each door probably breaks down to $5 or less. It’s really incredible. One you start building doors this way you won’t do it any other way.
Did you know you can buy just the hinges from Ikea? Or just the cabinets? Everything can be bought separately. I love the Blum hinges Ikea uses and they’re cheaper than I can find at most big box stores. I often stock up on them when I’m in their store and I use them even if I’m building my own cabinet.
Check back next week when I explain how to make a drawer front for Ikea sektion drawers. I have some secret measurements you are going to need!