Door and drawer construction


The cabinet door design was developed for our older 17B and will be used again for the new doors in the TA.  The door/drawer fronts are made from 3/4″ cabinet grade Birch plywood.

To begin, they are cut to finished size minus the thickness of two layers of Birch edge banding.


Depending on where I need to make the curve on the door, I ran the door through the table saw set at 3/8″ and angled at 8 degrees.



I then drew some sanding guide marks on the surface.  These are lines drawn parallel to the beveled side to help guide removal of the wood. The layers of the plywood are also used to guide the sanding process.  A variable belt sander is used to remove the excess surface material until I got the curve I want.  The narrow edge is 3/8″ and the middle is 3/4″.

Next step is adding the birch hot glue edging and trimming it flush.  Bottom edge, then sides, then top edge.  An old clothes iron works well (no water).

The paper backed red oak veneer is cut with an exacto style knife slightly larger than the door.  If you are doing doors or drawers that are above one another, you can get the grain to flow across them (see photo at top of page).  I then attached the veneer with contact cement, roll out well to eliminate air pockets, start in the middle and work to the outside.


Trimming the veneer is a bit tricky on the end grain, it needs to be sliced due to the hardness of the oak, but not with a veneer trimmer, it will make a mess.  Use a sharp exacto type knife to slice the end grain using the whole length on the blade, use a rolling motion to slice it across the grain.  After all the excess edge is removed, use a sand paper with foam backing block to sand the veneer flush, always sand away from the outside surface.  Practice and technique is important.



All the modifications that use red oak are finished with 3 coats of a tinted Minwax Polycrylic Clear Satin finish with sanding between each coat.  This finish matches the existing walls and trim very well.  The tint formula is C1, L+, U+.



For hinges, I used a 1/2″ overlay hinge, nickel plated (00w2733) from Lee Valley.  These hinges are sturdy and contain springs to help them close.   Since the some doors are thiner on the hinge side due to the curve, some hinge screws had to be shortened.  In some cases I used epoxy to help the short screws hold in the wood.



For the overhead doors, I removed the springs from the hinges as they were not needed.  If the springs were left in, the strain on the screws becomes too much (they will work themselves out)  with the addition of the spring load support.   One spring loaded door support (49541 from CW) is used for each door, two are not needed.



Door handles were also from Lee Valley, 123mm Aluminium Bow Handles (01w9723)



All the drawers sides and front/back were made from 3/8″ Baltic Birch plywood, the bottoms were 1/8″ plywood.  The sides were rabbeted and glued, the bottom was left loose in a rabbet.  The top edge was covered with Birch hot glue edging (put on with an iron) and trimmed.


The drawer fronts were constructed in the same way as the doors, they are attached with screws after the drawers have been mounted and adjusted.  The drawers are finished inside and out with the tinted Minwax Polycrylic Clear Satin.



15 thoughts on “Door and drawer construction

  1. So that’s how you made the doors !!!. Why plywood + cuts and bending + veneer ? Did you consider solid board sanded to shape ? I would think it would not weigh much more. What is a sanding guide mark ?


  2. Yup, doors are cabinet grade plywood. Beveled on a table saw, finish sanding the curve with a belt sander. The veneer is paper backed, quite cheap considering the quality of finish and easy to apply and finish. The plywood is easy to machine and is dimensionally stable. A solid board has too many variables, especially in a damp environment. The sanding marks are pencil lines to help guide the belt sander.


    1. Thank you Chris, you are correct, boards are not stable. Additionally, your method will ensure that by veneering you will have a uniform look. Fantastic. When you say beveled 8 deg, you mean you bevel multiple times to simulate curvature ? then sand away to give curved appearance ? if so that is brilliant.


      1. Confused now. the 3/8 deep cuts tells me you will be bending the door ? by slitting. A table saw can only do what I thought you were doing near the edges as the blade only comes out so far.


  3. I did a single 8 degree bevel on each of the long sides or opposite sides, mark the guidelines, then sand to make the curve. The plywood is held vertically in the table saw.
    The plywood is 3/4 inch thick, after the bevel is cut, 3/8 remains at the edge, does this make sense? I will add a photo.


    1. Thank you Chris, yes it makes sense. The doors are not that high so a pass on each long side would cover a good portion of it. You must be good at sanding smooth curves by now.


  4. I did not use a template, just practice and eyeball. Using the guides, and different layers within the plywood was enough to get the curve correct.
    Note: the quality of the plywood makes a difference. One sheet I got had small gaps at the edges between the wood ply making up the layers which meant I had to fill them with epoxy after sanding. I did not want air pockets under the veneer.
    I have updated the page with addition comments and clarifications.


    1. Very clear now, thank you. The worst part I see it veneering the edges. Worth the effort as the standard doors while sturdy and well made, for a camper, are not to my liking.


      1. You could come up with you own design. I like the one I use because it is simple and matches other elements in the trailer. I find the stock door too busy for such a small place.


      2. I like your design very much, it’s what we see in European caravans and “high end” campers here in the US. I agree the standard factory door frame is not proportional to the cabin size. It will look better in a much larger camper better yet in a home. Your fill in pieces between doors shows you wanted a clean, uninterrupted, linear look.


  5. Actually, the glueing on the edging is quite easy. The edge banding comes in pre-glued 100 foot rolls x just over 3/4 wide, birch is recommended and is stains well and is easy to trim (you can get larger and smaller rolls). To install, all that is needed are scissors, clothes iron (no steam/water) and sandpaper. Cut a piece slightly longer than you need, heat up the iron, place the edging on the plywood, align one edge and apply heat, keep the iron moving. Trim off the excess and sand flush.


    1. Ah yes, the heated strips, forgot about those. I have cut thin strips from stock and glued them to 3/4 edges, 40 years later and lots of use, still there and good as new. Book cases. Me thinks ironing strips sound better as I am not as hung ho as I used to be.


  6. Way easier than the old method. There are several wood species made into the edge banding, but they recommend Birch to go with oak, stains and finishes well. Those plastic veneer edge banding trimers work well, you just have to watch which way the grain is going when trimming and stop when you come to a joint. I usually watch for the joints before attaching so I don’t have to worry so much when finishing.


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