[Maker’s Note] Sliding Door Cabinet! Research Before Production

by Yun-Han Lin

There are common cabinet models such as open shelves, drawers, hinged doors, and sliding doors. The slide doors model is the only one I have not tried building before, but we tried to imagine building one though, where there should be a gap between the sliding door board and the cabinet structure, so that there is a guide rail, but it cannot be too loose, or the board will fall off. For this reason, this project requires fine size matching, and the following is the information we have collected before we got started.

First, there are some terms to know, so that you may find it easier to understand the following contents. “Tongue and groove” refers to the guide rail groove and the part of the door that fits into that groove. It is funny that the word “tongue” has no word-by-word translation in Chinese, probably because the sliding door design is rarely seen in traditional Chinese wooden furniture.

Wikipedia reference:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongue_and_groove

The first model features a piece of board inserted into the sliding rail groove. It is a rather simple design, and the following are a few key points:

  1. The groove should be 2 mm wider than the thickness of the board to be placed in that groove.
  2. The spacing between the two grooves should be at least 6 mm.
  3. The upper groove should be carved deeper than the bottom one, so that the door board can be installed by sliding the board into the upper groove before it goes into the bottom one.
  4. The depth of the groove is usually 9 mm for the upper groove and 3 mm for the bottom one.
  5. Recommended height for the door board: 10.6 cm (Picture 1)

The next is the model with tongues. Although the production is a bit difficult than the previous one, there are some merits. The first is that a thick door board can go with narrow rail grooves, which looks more beautiful. Secondly, the sliding becomes smoother, because there is less area at the bottom that creates friction. Thirdly, that tongues both at the top and the bottom of the door board can be thicker, because the wood pieces crumble easily if they are too thin. The production of this model is outlined as follows with Picture 2.

  1. If we set the height of the cabinet at 10 cm, the upper groove can be 9 mm deep, and the bottom one 3 mm.
  2. First, cut out a 11.2 cm tall door board (10 cm + 9 mm + 3 mm)
  3. Cut out the tongue below, which is recommended at 4.5 mm. In this way, the height should be slightly more than the depth of the bottom groove, so that the door board does not create extra friction.
  4. Measure the front of the door board, which is the height of the entire board deducting the length of the upper and bottom tongues. Do not go with the exactly same height of the cabinet, such as 10 mm, for it will not be installed, due to the extra 1.5 mm of the bottom tongue, so it is recommended to reduce by 6 mm extra.
  5. Next, we have to cut out the height for the upper tongue.
  6. The board we cut out turned out to be a bit bigger than the intended fit, so we tried to fit in the door piece and making adjustment to the upper tongue at the same time, before the door piece could slide into the grooves entirely.
  7. The recommended thickness of the door board is 1.2 ~ 2 cm, so 18 mm plywood should be just about right.

The above information was abstracted from the video 8 Tips for Perfect Sliding Doors without Hardware by Chris Salomone. We have converted the imperial units in the video to metric, coupled with a bit of our own reflections.




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