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How To Fix Warped Cabinet Doors

January 20th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

In the kitchen cabinet manufacturing industry craftsman don’t always produce quality workmanship. Learning how to repair (or, “fix”) warped cabinet doors is one of the areas that I had to become familiar with, when I began to learn about manufacturing kitchens, bathrooms, and Laundry rooms.

Obviously, there is no one method that can be applied to every situation. In the next few paragraphs I will attempt to educate you as to why these doors get curves in them and how to straighten out a curved Formica cabinet door. You can straighten out base, upper and tall pantry doors using two methods that are described in the video below.

Let’s first look at some of the reasons that cabinetry doors get bent out of shape.

Why Cabinet Doors Warp

The reasons why cabinet doors have a tendency to warp are numerous and directly related to the type of materials that they are constructed of. Let’s start with the most obvious reason, the cabinet maker was using crooked or warped material when they were fabricating the product.

Temperature changes, humidity levels and direct sunlight effect cabinetry parts. When there is direct sunlight on a particular wood type surface there is always a chance of it changing shape. Extreme temperature changes or humidity levels can affect the doors in such a way as to cause them to get formed out of shape. Straightening out a cabinet door that is warped can be challenging.

Mica (or, plastic laminate) doors that are crookedA Formica door that is warped is either due to the original material not being straight that the part was fabricated from or the pressure on the board is not equal. If a raw board is laminated only on one side with plastic laminate and on the other side it is painted it will warp because the pressure is different on each side.

Manufacturing true Formica cabinet doors properly requires that the craftsman start with a raw board that is straight and then both sides are covered with exactly the same thickness of plastic laminate.

Traditional 5 piece raised panel wood doors that are not straightHere again, if the finish man puts more coats of paint, stain or clear coat on one side of the door, than the other, the door will eventually warp. Some other factors may be that the hard wood that the part was assembled with was crooked to begin with. One other possibility is that the center panel glued in place rather than allowed to be free floating during humidity and temperature changes, which causes expansion and contraction of the real wood.

Why do MDF doors warp?
These type doors are generally balanced very well by the manufacture. They do have a maximum size recommendation that is suggested to stay within when the doors are ordered for fabrication. Usually a Thermofoil cabinet door company will have a tolerance level of 1/16 to 1/8 inch variable in there guarantee against door warp.

A Melamine door is crooked because the material was that way when it was manufactured.

Why do flat plywood doors become out of shape

Same reasons as previously mentioned, unequaled pressure on the board, it may have been crooked to begin with or the natural elements are effecting the wood.

Repairing warped cabinet doors

I will now take each of the previously mentioned styles and explain some possible ways of straightening your warped cabinet doors. These methods may or may not repair the crooked parts. The end results will depend upon the extent of the curvature in the piece before you start. The necessary tools required are going to be a table saw, Jorgenson clamps, bar clamps, skill saw and all the tools that are needed for doing Formica lamination work.

Fixing a warped mica door
On the backside of the door grooves can be made ½ inch to ¼ inch apart with a table saw or skill saw, deep enough to weaken the structure, so it will become bendable. Do not cut through the mica edges or face when doing this. Once you have made several groves, depending upon the size of the door, you can mica then sand and laminate over the groves with mica. As you are rolling the new laminate on the door place sticks underneath so that as you apply pressure during the rolling process you can shape the door into being straight. Then, clamp the door between to perfectly straight boards and let it set over night.

How to fix a five piece hard wood door that is crookedYou can try using blocks of wood in combination with clamps to remove the warp. This usually takes an extended period of time, several days to get the bend out of the board.

Taking the curve out of a plywood door
Try the same methods that were previously described above. I certainly would try clamping the cabinet part first before curfing it with a saw blade in many places. If you do make cuts with your skill or table saw cover over them with some type of real wood veneer and then stain and finish it to match the original color.

Warped Melamine doors
A melamine door can be clamped for a while this usually takes the cure out. Patients and time are the two main ingredients in this process.

Fixing a Thermofoil door that is bent out of shape
Clamp the warped thermofoil door the same way that was described for the plywood and plastic laminate suggestion.

The process of repairing a warped door in your kitchen, bath or laundry room will vary. I learned how to fix them by trial and error. Hopefully you can learn from this article rather than having to figure out how to do the warped cabinet repair on your own. Now that you understand why they get bent out of shape perhaps you will apply some common sense to the repair on the doors so that the problem won’t happen again. Straightening out the bend can be done with some patience and hard work.

  1. Nino Zappia
    December 27th, 2009 at 04:46 | #1

    Good info and good advice.
    When you say use blocks of wood and clamps, I presume you mean to use them in such a way as to bend the curve or twist in the opposite direction to the original bend and let time do it’s job. A similar thing is to lay the door flat and using blocks underneath and weights on top you should achieve the same thing. I’ve done this in the past coupled with wetting the door to speed things up. Good luck.

  2. admin
    January 12th, 2010 at 06:05 | #2

    Yes, bending the door by applying pressure from the clamps is what I am talking about. Very much like when you place the wood underneith and then polace weight on top of the door to cause it to bend in the opposite direction.

  3. admin
    April 14th, 2010 at 06:43 | #3

    Nino, yes, I do mean that the blocks of wood go underneath the door and the clamps are used to bed the door in the opposite direction of the warp or bow.

  4. k d speaks
    January 12th, 2011 at 11:08 | #4

    Hi. I have an old desk which has one of those old time typewriter compartments on the left side. The door to the compartment is warped, curved on the inside part by about .5 to .75 of an inch. PLease advise me on this. Thanks for your expertise!!!!!

    K D Speaks
    Highland IN

  5. July 10th, 2011 at 11:12 | #5

    Hi, we have warped dresser drawers, can they be fixed? Thanks, Carol

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