Thursday, July 10, 2008

Know Your Doors Before Purchasing Furniture

Case goods are "pieces of furniture, such as bookcases or chests of drawers, that provide interior storage space." ( When shopping for case goods, the doors will tell you a lot about the quality of craftsmanship.

Doors come in many shapes and sizes. Doors on fine furniture and cabinets will be flush mounted to the face frame. If the doors are mounted on top of the face frame, then it is most likely a mass produced piece.

In addition to making custom furniture, my company, Shaka Studios, will often finish custom cabinets made by other cabinetmakers with our proprietary multi-step museum painted finish. We were recently commissioned to paint a linen closet and vanity for a new bathroom by a local couple that owns many pieces of our furniture. They had purchased the furniture through a retail store. When the clients were working with their contractor, they used our furniture as examples of what they wanted the cabinets to look like. When the contractor advised the couple that he would not be able to replicate our finish, she went on a search to find us. When she called, the first question she asked was, "what kind of paint do you use?" I explained to her that our finish is a proprietary system that we do not share but we'd be more than happy to paint her new cabinets for her. Thrilled, she made arrangements to have the cabinets delivered to our studio the following week.

When the cabinets arrived, my husband immediately called to tell me that he did not think the client would be at all pleased with the cabinets as they had face mounted doors. We informed the client, whom was predictably disappointed. We offered to remake the doors for her, saving the day. You can see the transformation for yourself on our custom furniture blog.

So, what should you look for in a well made furniture or cabinet door? Taking for granted that it is solid wood, there are 3 basic inset door types. Click on the photos to see larger image.

The first is the basic plank door. Just as the name implies, planks of wood are either glued or tongue and grooved together and cut to shape. This technique requires a cross beam on the inside to keep movement in check. You will see this style of door quite often on country primitive furniture. The above example is by Buck Creek Furnishings.

A raised panel door is made by inserting a beveled plank into a grooved frame with the bevel side facing out. It is a universal style that works with every type of furniture. In the above example, the beveled section of the panel is painted green. Shaka Studios created this armoire several years ago from ponderosa pine.

A reverse panel door is basically a raised panel door installed in reverse. This style of door was used extensively in Shaker and Mission style furniture. It versatile, in that different types of trim can be added where the panel meets the rail and style for a more decorative look. The above example is also by Shaka Studios.

I hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to convo if you'd like more information. Next month, I'll be chatting about drawers. No, not the kind you wear.


Laurie Roskam said...

This was a wonderful article. Thank you! With gratitude, Laurie B.

Kandas | GratitudeGeek said...

Thank you! I am hoping that my monthly blog posts can be educational. With all the mass-produced furniture on the market today, it is nice to be reminded that you do not have to settle for poor quality.

On a Whimsey said...

Wonderfully informative article!! It is great to know that you don't have to rely on mass produced furniture.

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