The Truth about Painted Cabinets

PrimerPainted woodwork conceals some flaws, and reveals others.  Notably, it will reveal poor painting skills.  I’m not a big fan of painted cabinets, I suppose not many woodworkers are, but in this case they fit in with the existing design.

With painted cabinets, you can use lower grades of wood, but you still can’t go too cheap because you need a smooth surface and you need sharp corners where you make your cuts.  Even painted, any tear-out or splintered edges will be obvious flaws.  And if your holes and gaps aren’t adequately filled, they will forever be a glaring defect that everyone will see.  So you still have to take care even if you’re going to paint what you’re building.


The door frames are pretty narrow (1 1/2″ wide), and as such I felt the need to join them by mortisse and tenon.  They need all the strength they can get.

DangerSo, above is a pic of me cutting four tenons at once.  I taped all four pieces of wood together so they all fit in the jig, and in one pass I made the exact same cut on all four pieces of wood.  This may seem foolishly dangerous, but these pieces are so small that they would not fit into the jig one at a time.  Normally when they’re this small I’d just hand cut them, but this seemed to get the job done.


Here’s the frame being assembled.  Note the absence of blood; I haven’t lost any fingers yet.


I had to cut out a groove for the mirror.  The mirrors are 1/4″ thick glass.  I think they’re stronger than the frame I’m putting them in.


It fits well.  I hope the paint will conceal that tear-out in the wood.  (It won’t.)


I’ve had these mirrors over a year.  They’re finally going to have a home.


The fit is great.  About 1/16″ between the glass and the wood.  I’m going to put a bead of silicone gel around the inside of the wood frame and just rest the glass onto it.  I have some plywood backings that will go onto the back of the glass.  This should be a really solid door for a medicine cabinet.


Now I’m just waiting for the paint to dry.



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