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The Best Tools to Make Cabinet Doors

Cabinet doors are deceptively tricky to make. In fact, it’s one part having the right tools to make cabinet doors is needed, and a second part having the experience in using them. In this article learn what tools you’ll need and some tips on how to use them.

I’ve made thousands of cabinet doors and it’s my favorite part of cabinetry.

While nailing cabinet boxes together is enjoyable, the final sanding of a well made door is mroe satisfying. 

But, without the right tools it can be frustrating. 

And, unfortunately, no other part of cabinet making requires more tools:

While that all sounds expensive, with a few tricks and re-using of tools you can start small and grow into more advanced cabinet doors.


Tools to Make Cabinet Doors

1. Plunge Router for Cutting Cabinet Door Profiles and Panels

DEWALT Router, Plunge Base, Variable Speed, 3-HP...
211 Reviews
DEWALT Router, Plunge Base, Variable Speed, 3-HP…
  • Powerful, smooth-running 15 Amp motor generates 3 HP
  • Full wave electronic variable speeds between 8,000 and 22,000 RPM
  • Rack and pinion depth adjuster; Magnified scale; Micro-fine bit depth adjuster for faster, more accurate bit depth settings

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 20:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Rail and style grooves
  • Raised panels
  • Door edges (if mounted in a router table)

For my cabinet doors I use a 3HP Dewalt plunger router set into a router table. With easy adjustment (the “plunge”) and large horsepower with variable speed it can handle router bits from large to small for all styles of doors.

I’d recommend against a smaller, hand-held plunge router if you plan on making more than a few doors. While they might be cheaper they can’t hold up to large router bits and aren’t designed for use in a router table.

The professional alternative is #13 on this list.

Recommended: With variable speed and enough horsepower to handle large raised panel bits the Dewalt 3HP Plunge Router  is a great option for your door projects.

2. Table Saw for Cutting Panels and Rail Material

DEWALT 10-Inch Table Saw, 32-1/2-Inch Rip Capacity...
3,245 Reviews
DEWALT 10-Inch Table Saw, 32-1/2-Inch Rip Capacity…
  • Your purchase includes one Dewalt table saw, 10inch 24-tooth carbide blade, rolling stand, push stick, miter gauge, rip fence, 2x blade wrenches, blade guard assembly manual
  • Other Specs: Max rip to left of blade – 22inch | Max rip to right of blade – 32-1/2inch | Max width of Dado – 13/16inch | Arbor size – 5/8inch | Amps – 15 | Depth of cut at 45inch – 2-1/4inch | Depth of cut at 90° – 3-1/8inch | No Load Speed: 4800 RPM

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 09:33 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Door styles:

  •  All door styles

At the top of the list of tools to make cabinet doors is the table saw. Without one your design choices will be very limited. How limited? Well, about the only door you could make is a flat plywood door using a table saw alternative (the circular saw).  Let’s cover that one in #12 on the list.

Why is a table saw required? Well, any cabinet door made of the traditional “stile” and “rail” construction requires quite a bit of ripping of the wood that makes the door. Three key uses of a table saw are:

  1. Ripping wood strips that will form the door panel
  2. Cutting the stile and rails to width
  3. Ripping the finished door panels to width and length

3. Parallel Jaw Clamps to Glue Doors

Jorgensen Cabinet Master 24-inch 90° Parallel Jaw...
449 Reviews
Jorgensen Cabinet Master 24-inch 90° Parallel Jaw…
  • Tips: The jaws are not parallel when opened, they are preset by an inclination of +/-0.5°, when you tight up and clamp the items, the clamps will be parallel.
  • Perfect Parallel jaw design for, 90-Degree clamping of materials, glue-ups of materials, general purpose clamping of wood, composites, plastics, light metals, and mixed materials, can be attached to work surfaces using this clamp.

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 20:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

One of the most important parts of making cabinet doors is gluing the doors together.

And while you can use bar clamps, the best option is having a few pairs (honestly, 6 is is the minimum) of parallel clamps

Here’s why I like parallel clamps:

  • Padded faces that won’t compress the cabinet door edge
  • They can be tightened snugly, but not overly tight like a bar clamp
  • Most brands have cradles that let you securely set the clamp in place while you’re gluing.

4. Drum sander For a Perfectly Flat Finished Cabinet DOor

JET JWDS-2244, 22-Inch Drum Sander With Stand...
25 Reviews
JET JWDS-2244, 22-Inch Drum Sander With Stand…
  • SPEED REGULATION: Sandsmart control continuously monitors the load on the drum motor and automatically regulates the speed.
  • TOOL-LESS ADJUSTMENTS: Conveyor bed parallelism is easily adjusted by turning the dial on the outside of the bed.

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 09:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Sanding door panels
  • Sanding finished constructed doors
  • Edge sanding stiles and rails

The premium tools for making cabinet doors are also what will make the finished product the best.

If you are making cabinet doors then odds are you have making face frames on your list. With it’s versatility the drum sander can handle all of the sanding tasks on cabinet doors but also sand wide face frames, shelf edging and toe kicks. Of all the tools on this list the drum sander will make the #1 quality improvement to your finished cabinet.

The drum sander comes in a table width down to 16″ and some range up to 25″. Because you’ll only buy this once, the wider the better and spend a few extra dollars.

Recommended: See our guide to drum sanders for the right sander for your woodworking projects.

5. Dado set For Cutting Square Panel Stiles and Rails

OSHLUN SDS-0630 6-Inch 30 Tooth Stack Dado Set...
1,993 Reviews
OSHLUN SDS-0630 6-Inch 30 Tooth Stack Dado Set…
  • Professional grade C-4 carbide
  • Full body chippers
  • Precision ground carbide tips
  • Storage/Carrying Case

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  •  Cutting door stiles and rails in mission-style doors

Did you know you can make cabinet doors without a router? With a dado set you can make the rails, stiles and cut a back “relief” in your hardwood panels and skip the router.

For an even easier door you can use plywood instead of a solid wood panel and have dozens of doors made in a day using a dado and table saw.

6. Raised panel bit to Style Panel Edges

Yonico Raised Panel Cabinet Door Router Bits...
563 Reviews
Yonico Raised Panel Cabinet Door Router Bits…
  • This 3-1/2″ bevel panel raiser has a cutting depth of 1-1/2″ and a total cutting height of 5/8″ with a 5/16″ fillet.
  • Create center panels for standard rail and stile cabinet doors
  • Premium C3 micro-grain tungsten carbide blades for a sharper & longer lasting edge
  • For use on table mount router only

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  •  Cutting raised edge in raised panel doors

Coupled with a plunge router and 1/2″ collet (in a router table) a raised panel bit cuts the panel edge. Since every door has a slightly different design you can pick these up in a variety of cutting patterns.

7. Stile and Rail Router Bit Set

SILIVN Tongue and Groove Set, Router Bit Set, Wood...
487 Reviews
SILIVN Tongue and Groove Set, Router Bit Set, Wood…
  • Solid hardened steel bodies with anti kickback design. Build up and heat resistant teflon coating. Totally enclosed and lubricated
  • Suitable for woods, mdf, particle board, plywood compact panel, avoid cutting ferrous metal and non wood materials, such as: Steel, iron, sand, etc
  • Perfect choice of professionals and hobbyists
  • Using for hand making a drawer or other woodworking

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  •  Cutting grooves for door stile and rails

Stile and rail bits make quick work of door construction. And especially in a router table with a power feed.

Ok, so you may not have a power feed on your router table (I’ll show you one later). But these bits will power through hardwoods and softwoods. Similar to raised panel bits you’ll find them in many patterns to fit your style taste.

8. Random orbit sander For Finish Sanding

DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
2,843 Reviews
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
  • 3.0-amp motor of the orbital sander spins the pad at 12,000 OPM
  • Shorter height of the hand sander allows the user to get closer to work piece
  • Separate counterweight design reduces vibration for improved comfort of the electric sander
  • Rubber over-mold in all of the critical areas of the sander

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 19:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Finish sanding of door panels
  • Edge and face sanding of door stile/rails

Whether you have a belt sander or drum sander you’ll need to remove the course sanding lines left by either machine. With a random orbit sander and 120-220 grit sandpaper you can make quick work of this job.

Personally, I don’t like to leave the fine lines from even 220-grit drum sander lines.

Oh, and don’t apply too much pressure on this sander or you’ll have “random swirls” in your finished work. Simply guide the machine across the surface of the wood. It will do the job just fine by itself.

Worried about dust? Check out a dust extractor that will connect to hand tools and suck the dust awa.

9. Pad sander for Final Sanding

BLACK+DECKER Electric Sander, 1/4-Inch Sheet,...
1,970 Reviews
BLACK+DECKER Electric Sander, 1/4-Inch Sheet,…
  • Provides 270 degree flush sanding clearance
  • Tri-layer filtration
  • Soft grip paddle switch
  • Paddle switch activation for easy on/off during application

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  •  Final sanding of the door frame and panel

This is the last sander on the list.  When you’re buying the best tools for making cabinet doors you’ll need to plan for a lot of sanding.

For a pad sander there’s not much to this machine other than cutting a standard sheet of sandpaper in two (lengthwise), folding it over and installing in the pad sander grips.

10. Sliding miter saw

DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw, 12-Inch...
13,216 Reviews
DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw, 12-Inch…
  • Stainless steel miter detent plate of the 12-inch miter saw blade comes with 10 positive stops
  • The mitre saw has a precise miter system and machined base fence support
  • Precise miter system and machined base fence support Cam-lock miter handle with detent override delivers quick and accurate miter angles for DEWALT miter saw
  • Tall sliding fences support 6-3/4-inch base vertically

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 23:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Cutting door stile, rails and panels
  • Trimming the finished edge of doors to length

When it comes to the miter saw for cabinet doors then go big or go home.

Since the radial arm saw and it’s aggressive, finger removing style was retired the miter saw has been the mainstay for even cabinet shops. Because doors can be up to 16-18″ wide you’ll need a miter saw that can cut out to that depth.

Therefore, when looking at a miter saw look at a 12″ blade and ability to cut a 2×16″.

11. Pipe Clamps for Gluing Panels and Assembling Cabinet Doors

Bessey BPC-H12 1/2-Inch H Style Pipe Clamps, 4...
103 Reviews
Bessey BPC-H12 1/2-Inch H Style Pipe Clamps, 4…
  • Stabilize and elevate your workpiece with the Bessey 1/2″ H-Style Pipe Clamp. Unique foot design provides dual-axis stability.
  • Long legs raise your project off the work surface so tightening is easier. H style base prevents clamps from tipping over.
  • Crank handle clears work surface when opening and closing the jaw on the clamp. 4 soft jaw caps are included to prevent damaging materials being clamped.
  • Durable powder coat finish. Zinc plated clutch components, black oxide coated threaded spindle.

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Gluing door panels
  • Final assembly and gluing of door stile/rails

High quality cabinet doors are made with real wood panels. And real wood panels require a few extra tools, including the easy to miss pipe clamp.

What’s a pipe clamp? A pipe clamp is literally that – a clamp that screws onto the end of a piece of black pipe on one end and “slides” over the other end for an infinitely adjustable clamp. And because of their design they have a massive amount of clamping force.

How many you’ll need is up to the time you have and number of doors. Since I prefer to leave door panels clamped at least eight hours, I have almost 30 pipe clamps from 36″ up to 120″ (they work great for face frames too). For most doors you’ll use two below and one on top and while clamping equally adjust pressure on the door.

12. Wood Jointer for Ensuring Panel Sticks are Perfectly Flat

PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed,...
1,464 Reviews
PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed,…
  • Variable 6,000 to 11,000 RPM speed range allows the user to select the right speed for the size and hardness of material being cut
  • Two knife cutter head with jack screw knife leveling arrangement for easy replacement and adjustment of knives
  • Built-in cutter head lock facilitates knife replacement and adjustment
  • Extra large table provides ample work support and Surfacing stock up to a full 6″ wide

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Preparing a perfectly straight glue edge on wood panel door strips
  • Creating a straight line on rough lumber before ripping in table saw

If you’ve ever had a table saw blade bind on you in dry wood then odds are you didn’t run the fence-side of the wood through a jointer. Or maybe you’ve glued a wood panel together and had it split later. With a single purpose of making straight edges on wood the jointer is a must have on the list of tools for making cabinet doors.

When you are gluing wood panels every edge of the wood strips composing the door panel must be run through the jointer.

13. Shaper for Making Professional Cabinet Doors

Shop Fox W1674 2 HP Shaper
22 Reviews
Shop Fox W1674 2 HP Shaper
  • Split adjustable T-Slot fence with built in dust port
  • Heavy duty miter gauge
  • Reversing switch
  • Cast iron handwheel

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Door stiles, rails and panels
  • Door edges

While the shaper is predominately a tool you’d find in a professional cabinet shop, it has to be on the list. Because a shaper is purpose built for advanced cabinetry and woodworking it can make quick work of all door stile, rail and panel jobs.

What’s the catch? Well, a shaper is a large investment of typically $2000+ for a fully functioning machine, dust collection and shaper bits.

Recommended: A great starter shaper is this Shop Fox shaper  with a cast iron table and power for just about any door application.

14. Router Table for Hobby Cabinet Door Making

Kreg PRS1045 (KRS1035, PRS1025, PRS1015) Router...
450 Reviews
Kreg PRS1045 (KRS1035, PRS1025, PRS1015) Router…
  • The KREG Complete Router Table System
  • Includes Factory Warranty
  • ​Multi-Purpose, Self-Squaring Router Table Fence System
  • High-Performance Table Top with Precision Insert-Plate System

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 19:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Holding a plunge router
  • Provides a table and surface for milling door stiles, rails, panels and edges

While the lines between low-end shapers and high-end router tables is blurring, if you own a plunge router with the power for cabinet door bits then this is a great investment. By working in combination with your plunge router these tables will provide the fence, flat surface, dust collection and even support router table feeds for the highest quality door construction.

15. Planer for Making Cabinet Door Panels

Cutech 40200H-CT 13' Spiral Cutterhead Planer -...
23 Reviews
Cutech 40200H-CT 13″ Spiral Cutterhead Planer -…
  • POWERFUL 15 AMP MOTOR
  • Spiral Cutterhead with 26 Two-sided HSS inserts
  • Extra Large Infeed & Outfeed Tables: 14″ X 14″
  • Slide Depth Stop, Snipe Lock and Built-in Dust Port

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Rough surfacing of door hardwood or softwoods
  • Planing door panels to thickness (~5/8″)

Earlier in this list of the best tools for making cabinet doors I recommended a drum sander. Well, I still recommend a drum sander but if you are looking at a combination of a planer and a hand belt sander then you’ll have a workable combination.

16. Cordless Drill for Installing Hardware

DEWALT 20V Max Cordless Drill / Driver Kit,...
26,458 Reviews
DEWALT 20V Max Cordless Drill / Driver Kit,…
  • Dewalt drill has compact and lightweight design that fits into tight areas
  • High performance motor of the power drill delivers 300 unit watts out (UWO) of power ability completing a wide range of applications
  • High speed transmission of Dewalt 20V drill delivers 2 speeds (0-450 and 1,500 rpm) for a range of fastening and drilling applications
  • 1/2-inch single sleeve ratcheting chuck provides tight bit gripping strength

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 06:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Installing door hinges
  • Drilling door knob/handle holes

Well you probably own one, but if you don’t then plan on a cordless drill for the finish work of installing hinges and drilling holes for door knobs and handles.

17. Drill Press for Drilling Concealed Hinges

WEN 4208T 2.3-Amp 8-Inch 5-Speed Benchtop Drill...
7,473 Reviews
WEN 4208T 2.3-Amp 8-Inch 5-Speed Benchtop Drill…
  • Includes a 1/2-inch keyed chuck and onboard key storage
  • Operates at 5 different speeds: 740, 1100, 1530, 2100, 3140 RPM
  • Spindle travels up to 2 inches with easy to read, locking linear depth stops for accurate and repeatable drilling operations.Cord Length (ft.):6
  • Durable 1/3 HP induction motor develops ample torque and power

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Drilling European hinge holes
  • Cabinet knob and handle holes

For depth control and accuracy with the popular European style overlay hinges you’ll need a drill press. Because the drill press can be set to a fixed depth it can drill the 35mm holes needed for these hinges without fear of drilling through the cabinet door.

Recommended: For cabinet doors the WEN 8-inch drill press  will make quick work of your cabinet hinges.

18. Forstner Bit for Cabinet Door Concealed Hinges

Freud Pb-M35 35mm Precision Forester Bit
130 Reviews
Freud Pb-M35 35mm Precision Forester Bit
  • Hardened Steel Body – warrants a longer life and sharper cutting edge
  • Ultra Sharp Spur – ensures an accurate hole and resists “walking” on material
  • Steep Angled Cutting Edges – produce holes that are smooth and flat and create “chisel-like “curls for fast, clean chip removal
  • Quality Forged Construction – instead of casting, strengthens bits for extended life

Last update on 2021-12-05 at 12:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  •  Drilling holes for European hinges

Almost all hinges are hidden European hinges that require a (very) large hole to be drilled in your cabinet doors. Just because this step is after the door is constructed doesn’t make it any less important. So, be sure to have your hinges purchased before you start making the doors and be prepared with a bit like this.

19. Tape Measure for Measuring...Everything

FastCap PSSR16 16 FastPad Standard Reverse...
3,644 Reviews
FastCap PSSR16 16 FastPad Standard Reverse…
  • Eraseable notepad
  • 16′ Standard and standard reverse rule
  • Easy-read fractions to 1/16″
  • Built-in pencil sharpener

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 19:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  • Determine door size
  • Measure overlays
  • All measurements for door panels, rails and styles

While obvious, I suppose it should be on the list. Enough said as this is a must on the list of tools to make cabinet doors.

20. Cabinet Knob Jig for Installing Door Hardware

Valiant Cabinet Hardware Jig | Drawer Knobs and...
767 Reviews
Valiant Cabinet Hardware Jig | Drawer Knobs and…
  • ✅ WORK WITH HIGH PRECISION – Install new cabinet handles with accuracy. This cabinet jig allows you to drill holes without going wrong, ever. We specifically designed it to make installations a breeze.
  • ✅ ROBUST BUILD – Our tools will surely outlast your mounting needs. The cabinet hardware jig is made from industry-grade aluminum alloy while the ruler is made from stainless steel some pvc.
  • ✅ WORKS ON MOST CABINETS & DRAWERS – Our cabinet jig can be used to a variety of kitchen drawers, cabinets, cupboards, door handles, flaps and drawer fronts while installing them 80% faster.

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 20:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Used for:

  •  Drilling cabinet knob and handle holes

After all the hard work of building cabinet doors is done the last thing you want is mis-aligned cabinet knobs. Fortunately, there are many cabinet knob and handle jigs that will let you set a knob pattern and repeat it quickly and accurately across all of your doors.

Recommended: An all metal jig like the ones found in the cabinet hardware jig guide are an affordable way to drill professionally aligned holes for your hardware.

 

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