Step 1: Rout out the wood panel
A pair of glass doors can add a designer touch to
any kitchen. They can turn an ordinary cabinet
into a decorative showcase or simply break up
an otherwise monotonous row of solid doors. We recommend
this alteration only for frame-and-panel cabinet
doors (see Figure A), where you can replace the inset
wood panels with glass. Converting the two doors
shown here took about two hours.
To get started, remove the doors from the cabinets
and remove all hardware from the doors. Examine the
back side of each door; you might find a few tiny nails
where the panel meets the frame. If so, gouge away wood
with a utility knife to expose the nail heads and pull the
nails with a pliers. Look carefully; just one leftover nail
will chip your expensive router bit.
Cut away the lips using a router and a 1/2-in. pattern
bit (Photo 1). A pattern bit is simply a straight bit
equipped with a bearing that rolls along a guide. Most
home centers and hardware stores don’t carry pattern
bits. To find a retailer, check the yellow pages under
“woodworking” or order one at www.pricecutter.com. Be sure to choose a bit that has the
bearing on the top, not at the bottom.
Use any straight, smooth material (solid wood, plywood
or MDF) to make two 3-1/2-in.-wide guides. To
allow for the 1-in. cutting depth of our pattern bit,
we nailed layers of plywood and MDF
together to make 1-3/8-in.-thick
guides. Position the guides 1/2 in.
from the inner edges of the lips and
clamp them firmly in place over the
door. Support the outer edges of the guides
with strips of wood that match the thickness of the door
to keep them level (Photo 1). Before you start routing,
make sure the door itself is clamped firmly in place.
Set the router on the guide and adjust the cutting
depth so that the bit just touches the panel. Cut away the
lips on two sides, then reposition the guides to cut away
the other two. With the lips removed, lift the panel out
of the frame. If the panel is stuck, a few light hammer
taps will free it.
If your door frame has a rectangular
opening, it’s now ready for glass. If it has
an arched upper rail, cut a square recess
above the arch (Photo 2). This allows you
to use a rectangular piece of glass rather
than a curved piece (curved cuts are
Figure A: Panel door profile
Figure A: Panel Door Profile
Most cabinet doors are made like this one: A raised or flat
panel fits into grooves in the rails-and-stile frame. To
remove the panel, just cut away the lips on the back side
of the door.
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Step 2: Set the glass
Simply lay the glass in
and anchor it with glass clips (Photo 3).
Clips are available from the glass supplier
or at www.woodworkershardware.com
If the glass rattles in the frame, add pea-size
blobs of hot-melt glue every 12 in.
Most hardware stores carry clear glass
($3 per sq. ft.) and will cut it for free or
a small fee. Ask for 3/16-in.-thick
“double strength” glass. Order glass
panels 1/8 in. smaller than the recess
in the frame. To find tempered, textured
or colored glass (more expensive), check the yellow pages under
“glass.” We bought clear textured
glass and paid the supplier extra to have the two panels tempered.
Building codes require tempered glass
for locations within 5 ft. of the floor.