DIY Glass-Front Cabinets
Treat cabinets with fresh coat of paint, masking old wood or fake wood-grain finish. Note: This style of door uses rabbeted panel moulding, which has a small groove cut into the back side, so that it “wraps” around the edge of the door. The pane of glass is slipped into the cutout in the door against the back lip of the moulding.
- Wood filler
- Rabbeted panel moulding, approximately 3/8″ thick x 3/4″ wide
- Wood glue
- 3/4″ finishing nails
- Melamine, oil or latex paint
- Glass, 3mm thick, cut to size
- Clear silicone caulking (sold in tubes)
- Tape measure
- Power drill
- Jigsaw with medium to fine blade
- Mitre box and hand saw or mitre saw
Step 1: Prepare the doors
Remove all cabinet doors. Remove existing hardware, fill holes, grooves and any dents with wood filler and sand both front and back of doors.
Step 2: Measure for placement of the moulding and glass
Select the side of the door that is in the best condition and work on this as the front face. Determine how large an opening you want for the glass. The edge of this opening is where you will attach the pieces of moulding. Ours is 2″ in from the edge of the doors. With a ruler or tape measure, measure 2″ in from either side of each corner and mark with a pencil (see photo, Project 3, Step 2). With a ruler or T-square, draw intersecting lines down the sides and across the top and bottom of the door to indicate the placement of the outside edge of the moulding. Mark out all of the door fronts in this way. This will give you the measurement of the lengths of moulding to be cut. Add up these measurements to determine total amount of moulding required. Add 20% to this measurement to allow for mitering.
Step 3: Cut centre hole
Using power drill, drill a hole large enough to accommodate your jigsaw blade, at each of the corners you have marked, drilling on the inside of the lines. This is where you will start your jigsaw cut, to cut out the centre of the door. Insert blade into drill hole and cut along the lines to remove the centre of the door. Lightly sand all inside edges smooth.
Step 4: Measure and cut the mouldings
You need to mitre the ends of each piece of moulding at 45 degrees with a mitre box, so that when nailed on, the pieces of moulding angle together neatly to join at each corner. A mitre box is simply a wooden box with grooves cut into it at different angles; the grooves will direct your saw at an angle while you cut. Measure and mark moulding to correct lengths, allowing enough extra space between each piece for the angled ends. Lay the piece of moulding in the mitre box (so that your pencil mark is at the longest end of angled cut) at the 45-degree angle and begin cutting. If using a power mitre saw, set the saw at 45 degrees.
Step 5: Attach the rabbeted moulding
Fit the pieces of rabbeted moulding against the centre hole, placing the grooved side of the moulding so it wraps over the cut edge of the door. You may need to make the hole slightly bigger, or cut or sand the moulding pieces down a little to get an exact fit. If you do need to make the centre hole slightly bigger, cut both sides and/or ends of it down, in order to keep the panel “square” and centred. Once the moulding fits satisfactorily, apply a bead of wood glue to the rabbeted or grooved side of a piece of moulding and fit it against the cut edge of the door. Using 3/4″ nails, nail on this piece, then glue and nail one top or bottom piece. Nail at a slight angle, into the edge of the cutout section of the door.
Next, glue and nail another side piece and then the final top or bottom piece so that you have worked your way around the door. The last two pieces may need a little shifting to align them with the first two pieces so that the entire panel sits squarely. Using a T-square, check to make sure they are straight as you are nailing them on. Fill nail holes with wood filler. Sand, prime and paint.
Step 6: Install the glass
Flip the door over, measure the opening of the hole cut in the door (not of the moulding) and have glass panes cut to 1/8″ larger than the opening on sides, top and bottom. Drop in the glass and apply a small bead of clear silicone all around the edge, sealing the glass to the door. Allow the silicone sealer to cure (dry) for at least 24 hours before replacing doors on cabinets.