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Common Mistakes Cabinet Makers Face

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DIY cabinet making is a large project that takes a lot of knowhow and the right woodworking tools and supplies. Even with past cabinet building experience, there are still mistakes that can be made that can have a big impact on the finished product if not properly fixed. If you’re preparing to undergo this major project, learn what the common mistakes are before you start and read some tips from the experts at Castle USA to learn how to fix them the right way.

At Castle USA, we want to make woodworking fun and as easy as possible. With our pocket hole cutter machine, you can begin building cabinets quickly and efficiently. And you can be confident that you’re building cabinets that will be sturdy and durable. Shop our woodworking tools and supplies and start building!

Removing Router Burn

Are you planning on using a light-colored wood for your cabinets like oak or maple? If so, be aware of router burn on the wood. Using a router to cut wood from your cabinet doors gives them a professional look, but the router can leave a dark brown mark on the wood that is incredibly difficult to remove. To remove the burned portion, adjust the depth on your router just slightly deeper than the first pass. Remove between 1/64” to 1/32” of extra wood to remove the burned color. And to avoid this problem in the first place, slow down the speed and increase the feed rate.

Tightening Mortise and Tenon Joints

We’ve all cut mortise and tenon joints and found that the tenon was too small and had a loose fit inside the mortise. Rather than recutting the tenon, which would be time consuming and maybe not even possible, or using glue to fill in the excess space, there is another method that will ensure a snug fit. Instead of using glue to simply fill in the extra space, take some time to cut a small, thin piece of wood and glue and clamp the piece to the tenon. Make it slightly bigger than you need and then cut the tenon down to size. The finished mortise and tenon joint will be strong and long-lasting.

Woodworking Tools And Supplies

Gaps in Face Frame Joints

When cabinets are made, they all begin as frameless cabinets. If you’re building “face frame” cabinets, you’re building face frames. These are made up of frame stiles, which is the vertical measurement of the cabinet. The stiles are connected to frame rails, which is the horizontal measurement of the cabinet. If your stiles are too short, you don’t need to start over. Use your pipe clamps to pull in the stiles so they have a snug fit. For added security, use ¼” dowels, drill a hole in the middle of the joint, and glue the joint together using a mortise and tenon joint.

A Hinge Pocket That’s Too Deep

This is a fairly easy mistake for any rookie cabinet maker to make, but it is also fairly easy to fix. When adding butt hinges to your cabinet doors, be wary of cutting the hinge pocket too deep. The last thing you want is to have to start over with a cabinet door just to fix a pocket that’s too deep. Instead, use thin pieces of cardboard to fill in the extra space. Cardboard from cereal boxes works perfectly. Layer in pieces until you reach the needed depth and screw through the cardboard into the door frame. Just be sure to cut the shims (cardboard pieces) to the right size so they don’t show. With the right woodworking tools and supplies, you can fix just about anything. When it comes to pockets, our Castle pocket hole machine is an essential tool to have in the shed.

Smears of Glue

Glue is a necessary part of cabinet making, but sometimes you won’t know if it’s smeared until the very end when you’re staining the cabinets. Because glue won’t absorb stain, or will do a poor job of it, your finished cabinets could have incredibly noticeable glue streaks, which isn’t what anyone wants. A simple fix for this mistake is not sandpaper like one would think, it’s a cabinet scraper.

Dents in the Wood

Did you drop a can of varnish on a piece of wood? Dents in cabinets are never very aesthetically pleasing. However the dent occurred, it can be incredibly disappointing if you’re not aware of how to fix it. The fix may seem like an unorthodox method, but it works! If the dent is small to medium sized, drip a small amount of water onto the dent and allow the water to soak into the wood. The dented wood will swell and could even rise higher than it was before. Wait a few days for the wood to completely dry and then sand down the swollen wood.

Cabinet Doors That Are Too Narrow

If you want to go all out and build inset cabinet doors, know that you’re in for a challenge. Inset doors sit snugly within a face frame, so pay close attention to your measurements or the door will be too small for the frame. You can fix this problem with a ¼” wide strip of bullnose trim. Attach the trim to one of the stiles where the doors meet.

Woodworking Tools And Supplies

Nail or Screw Split Wood

It may seem like a fatal error — pounding a nail into a joint, it misses, and goes all the way through the wood. The resulting splintered look isn’t appealing and might scare you away from cabinet making altogether. But don’t fret, there is a solution. Gently remove the nail or screw and apply some glue to the area, making sure to get some into the hole. Place some wax paper on the glue and use clamps to fasten it down tightly. Let the glue dry and remove the paper. Use sandpaper to remove the glue and any leftover paper and continue with your project!

A Board is Too Short

There’s a phrase about measuring twice and something about cutting, but we won’t rub the mistake in any further than we have to. The fix to cutting a board too short is more like a trick, but when done correctly, no one will see. If the board happens to be wide enough, cut the board diagonally from corner to corner, joint the edges, and glue the pieces back together. This will increase the length of the board and removes some of the width.

We’ve been there and have made many of these mistakes ourselves, so we understand how frustrating it can be. But we also know there are fixes for many woodworking mistakes.

One mistake that we won’t make again is cutting messy pockets. The Castle pocket hole machine uses a low-angle pocket that makes it easy to join together woodworking components.

At Castle USA, we provide woodworking tools and supplies that make the process easier and more fun! Browse our pocket cutter machines, assembly tables, and even accessories like wood plugs, drill and router bits, and more.