How to Make Shaker Cabinet Doors

Shaker style cabinet doors are a timeless and versatile choice to use in any kitchen. Characterized by their simple, flat panel design, Shaker doors have a clean and understated aesthetic that works well with many decor styles. While Shaker cabinet doors may look straightforward, making them properly does require some woodworking skill and attention to detail. With the right techniques and materials, you can make custom Shaker doors for your kitchen cabinets yourself. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of how to make Shaker cabinet doors, from planning and design to final installation.

Choose the Right Materials for Shaker Cabinet Doors

When embarking on a Shaker door making project, selecting the appropriate materials is an important first step. Here are the main options for materials to use when making DIY Shaker style cabinet doors:


  • Plywood – Most Shaker cabinet doors are made using plywood panels. Plywood provides stability and helps prevent warping. Opt for cabinet-grade plywood with no voids in the inner plies. Hardwood plywood like birch is a popular choice.
  • Solid wood – You can also make Shaker doors out of solid wood boards. Poplar, maple and oak are good wood species to select. Pay attention to the wood grain orientation when milling boards.
  • MDF – Medium density fiberboard (MDF) is a stable, smooth composite material. Paint grade Shaker doors are often constructed using MDF. Use thick 3⁄4″ MDF for the best results.

Door Styles

  • Slab doors – A single flat panel makes up the door. Easy to construct.
  • Five-piece doors – More intricate build with four frame pieces around a center panel. Provides a true Shaker look.
  • Coping techniques – Door frames can be joined using simple butt joints or more advanced cope and stick joints.


  • Hinges, pulls, knobs – Get all necessary cabinet door hardware before starting the project.
  • Allow for reveals around doors and space for hardware.

How to Make Shaker Cabinet Door Frames

The door frame establishes the overall size and look of a Shaker cabinet door. Here are some tips for efficiently constructing strong Shaker door frames:

Cut Frame Pieces to Size

The frame of a Shaker cabinet door consists of two vertical stiles and two horizontal rails. Cut these frame components to size according to your door dimensions from 1×4 boards. For five-piece doors, you’ll also need a center frame divider.

Mill Frame Pieces

  • Run all frame pieces through a table saw to square up edges and bring to final width and thickness.
  • Cut grooves, rabbets, and/or dados to accept panel inserts. Use a stacked dado blade for efficiency.
  • If coping joints, cut rabbets on ends of rails and vertical grooves on stiles for jointery.

Join Frame Pieces

  • Construct frames using pocket screws, mortise and tenon joints, or simple butt joints.
  • Glue and clamp frames until the adhesive dries fully. Check for square.
  • For cope and stick doors, mill tongues and grooves and cut profile details.

Creating Shaker Cabinet Door Panels

The center panel is what gives a Shaker cabinet door its distinctive recessed look. Follow these tips to make panels that fit perfectly into your door frames:

Select Panel Material

  • Plywood, MDF, solid wood – Use material that matches the door frames.
  • Cut panels slightly small to allow expansion and contraction.

Cut Panels to Size

  • Crosscut panels to correct height and width to fit into grooves and dados.
  • Panels typically float in the frame and are not glued.

Add Panel Details

  • Cut chamfers or roundovers on inside panel edges for a smooth profile.
  • Router decorative edges like ogee or bead detail if desired.

Insert Panels into Frames

  • Dry fit panels first before gluing frames. Make adjustments as needed.
  • Once frame joinery is glued, slide panels into place. No glue needed.
  • Use plastic panel clips or wood buttons to hold floating panels in grooves.

How to Install Shaker Cabinet Doors

You’ve built the doors, now it’s time to hang them. Follow best practices for installing Shaker cabinet doors:

Door Hinges

  • Use concealed European style hinges. Cup hinges like Blum Compact are a great choice.
  • Place hinges consistent distances from door top and bottom. Usually 3-4” from top/bottom.

Spacing and Alignment

  • Install doors with even 3-4mm spacing between adjacent doors and drawers.
  • Set doors slightly proud of cabinet face frames. Quickly check for level and plumb.
  • Align doors flush with each other along fronts. Consistent spacing is key.

Door Hardware

  • Install pulls, knobs or handles centered horizontally on doors. Position vertically based on look and function.
  • Ensure hardware backs clear framework inside cabinets. Avoid hitting shelves or obstructions.
  • Follow manufacturer templates for accurate sizing and screw placement.

With care and attention to detail, you can install DIY Shaker doors that look factory made. Fill nail holes, finish with trim, and stain or paint as desired.

Frequently Asked Questions About Making Shaker Cabinet Doors

Making your own Shaker cabinet doors for an upcoming kitchen remodel or cabinet build? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the process:

What tools do I need to make Shaker cabinet doors?

You’ll need a table saw, miter saw, router and router table, clamps, drill, chisels, and other common woodworking tools. Specialty tools like cope and stick cutters allow you to make intricate rail and stile frames.

What size should I make Shaker cabinet doors?

Standard kitchen cabinet doors are generally 24″ wide by 30-36″ high. Measure existing doors or consult cabinet manufacturers’ sizing charts to determine the optimal size doors for your cabinets.

How thick should Shaker cabinet doors be?

3⁄4” is the standard thickness for Shaker cabinet door frames and center panels. Thicker 1” doors are also an option if you want a more substantial look.

What wood should I use to make Shaker cabinet doors?

Hardwood plywood like oak or birch works very well for Shaker doors. Solid oak, poplar and maple are other good options too. Use MDF for painted cabinet doors.

How much does it cost to make custom Shaker cabinet doors?

The cost depends on door size, materials used and labor. On average expect to pay $50-150 per door to have Shaker cabinet doors professionally made. DIY doors cost $20-50 in materials.

Can I make Shaker doors without fancy joinery?

Yes, you can make Shaker doors using simpler butt joints secured with pocket screws. Traditional cope and stick joinery does provide stronger, more attractive frames however.

How do I get the center panel inset look on Shaker doors?

Use a router with a rabbeting bit to cut a groove in the back of the frame pieces. The panel floats in this rabbet to create the signature Shaker inset look.

Making your own Shaker cabinet doors is an ambitious but rewarding woodworking project. With proper planning, materials selection and execution of joinery techniques, you can create beautiful custom Shaker doors for your kitchen. Take it slow, double check measurements, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from experts when needed. Your new Shaker doors will provide many years of reliable service and timeless style.


Creating DIY Shaker cabinet doors for your kitchen remodel or custom cabinetry project allows you to control quality and match your unique decor. While not the easiest woodworking project, making your own Shaker doors is very doable with the right approach. Use high quality materials, allow time for meticulous joinery work, and follow installation best practices for doors that function and look perfectly integrated. Whether producing simple slab style or intricate rail and stile Shaker doors, you can achieve professional results with attention to detail. Take pride in crafting quality cabinet doors yourself, showcasing your carpentry skills for years to come.