Fix a Cabinet Door

Fix , Cabinet, Door


After years of use, cabinet doors sometimes begin to sag, stick and gap. Dents and scratches happen. If you’re having problems with a cabinet door, don’t hire a professional to repair the problem. Cabinet doors are easy to fix, and you can do it yourself.




Wipe away excess mineral oil and debris with a clean dry rag, and apply a coat of matching varnish that blends in with the sheen on the rest of the door.;

Remove the cabinet door and lay it on a flat surface.;

Take the door or a wood sample to your local home improvement or hardware store, and choose a shellac stick that best matches the color.;

Protect undamaged wood surrounding the dent with a thin layer of petroleum jelly.;

Heat a burn-in knife with a lighter or the flame of a candle, and press the hot knife against the shellac stick.;

Begin adding melted shellac to the dent, and reheat the knife as often as necessary to fill the dent just above the surface of the wood.;

Smooth the filler with the hot knife as it cools, and create the appearance of wood grain using a graining tool or toothpick.;

Once the shellac is cool, sand the patched dent with 360 �¯�¿�½ 600 grit sandpaper and mineral oil.;

If you don’t have a burn-in knife, a grapefruit knife works just as well.;

If you’re worried about how well you’ll do when you fix your cabinet door, practice filling dents in an old piece of wood before tackling the real thing.;

Don’t apply varnish to anywhere other than the repaired area, and be certain the sheen is an exact match before applying it to a visible location.;


If scratches are in a hard to reach location, remove the cabinet door.;

Apply paste furniture wax to a clean soft cloth.;

Buff the area using circular motions. If the scratches are still apparent, proceed to the next step.;

Sand along the grain using superfine sandpaper lubricated with mineral oil.;

Follow up with superfine steel wool and oil soap.;

Wax and buff the repair to attain a brilliant shine.;

Almond oil sticks are great for covering light scratches. They blend well with almost any color and type of wood.;

Iodine can effectively fix scratches on cherry or mahogany stained cabinet doors.;

A little olive oil or peanut oil can effectively cover scratches on light colored wood. Simply rub it with your finger and polish it to a brilliant shine with a clean soft cloth.;

Mineral oil can be substituted with baby oil. It’s actually the same product, but baby oil contains added fragrance.;

Always test scratch repair methods and finishes in inconspicuous areas first.;

Don’t use sanding methods to repair scratches on old veneer. High spots can be a problem and result in permanent damage to the finish.;


Remove the screws and hinges from the sagging cabinet door.;

Use a one-eighth inch or larger drill bit to open the existing holes.;

Insert one-eighth inch or larger dowel rods covered with wood glue into the holes.;

Once the glue has dried, cut off the dowel rods so they’re even with the front and back of the cabinet door.;

Drill shallow pilot holes into the centers of the dowel rods.;

Re-install the hinges using the original screws.;

If your cabinet hinges have seen better days, fill the screw holes as instructed above, and replace them with new self-closing hinges that match your cabinets. Self-closing hinges are made from heavier steel than standard hinges, and cabinet doors are less likely to sag when equipped with heavy self-closing hinges.;

To avoid further problems with sagging, consider installing a catch to keep the cabinet door properly aligned. It will help prevent the weight of the door from pulling on the hinges.;

Don’t try to reinstall hinge screws into dowel rod plugs until the wood glue has dried completely. It may take up to 24 hours.;

Don’t allow kids to hang or pull on cabinet doors. Even the strongest hinges and cabinetry can’t withstand excessive weight.;


When the top or bottom edge of a cabinet door has a gap, loosen the screws in the opposite hinge.;

Make a small shim from a piece of cardboard or part of an emery board.;

Place the shim beneath the hinge opposite to the end with the gap. For instance, if the top of the cabinet has a gap, place the shim beneath the bottom hinge or visa versa.;

Tighten the screws, and the gap should be gone.;

If there is still too much space, make the shim thicker until you fix the gap.;

Try putting a little pressure on the opposite side of the gap. Some types of hinges will easily readjust with a little help.;

To avoid breaking off brass wood screws while installing brass hinges on a wood cabinet door, make small pilot holes with a drill, and create threaded holes with steel screws of the same size. Remove the steel screws and replace them with the brass screws that match the hinges.;

Don’t waste your time trying to shim a door that’s warped. Your best bet is to replace the door with a new one. Try to order a matching replacement door, or take it to a cabinetmaker who can try to match the door as closely as possible.;;;;

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