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Cabinet doors expanding from humidity.

Perry Vavra Member

Never experienced this before. Did a job at a lake house where customer wanted 1/8" reveals between doors and drawer faces. Doors are shaker style frame and panel made from beech with 1/2" mdf panels. I returned to install hardware couple weeks later after painting was complete to find that the doors and drawer fronts were rubbing. Expanded from excess humidity.
I told the customer that we should wait till AC is turned on and see what happens. If they go back, no problem, but if not then what? Has anyone had to deal with a situation like this? If I have to go back, remove and resize,
then reinstall should it be on my dime? Appreciate any feed back.

5/4/24       #2: Cabinet doors expanding from humidi ...
Dave Edgerton  Member

Beech is notorious for rapid expansion and contraction. Did you testhumidity in your shop and of the wood before manufacturing?
Sorry you are faced with this.

5/4/24       #3: Cabinet doors expanding from humidi ...

Really, you've never experience solid wood movement? How many years have you been woodworking? It's one of the most basic rules of woodworking.

5/5/24       #4: Cabinet doors expanding from humidi ...
Perry Vavra Member

Thanks for the response. I have been building custom cabinets for over 40 years and have never seen this much expansion on cab doors. Not sure that knowing humidity in my shop would have made a difference. I made all the doors for the kitchen cabinets in my shop using cherry with no movement. I outsourced all bathroom and utility doors to help me move the job along a little quicker. The door shop I used makes paint grade doors with beech. Painter came in same day that I was finishing install to start prepping so doors were painted within a couple days. We've been getting a lot of rain here in Texas, but this is not unusual
for this time of year. I'm sure being on a lake had something to do with it. Hoping once the house is climate controlled they will shrink back.

5/5/24       #5: Cabinet doors expanding from humidi ...

Our shop is in the High desert of California. We can get as much as a 40* swing in temp. in a day. Never had much trouble with stain grade stuff just made sure to get the stain deep in between the panel and the stile & Rails. Now everyone wants paint, white to be specific. We have our door manufacture build with a paint grade maple for the stiles & rails then use a 3/8" MDF for the panel (It's paint right!). I also let the unfinished pieces sit for a couple days.
So Far so Good.
Sorry, doesn't help u much after the fact

5/6/24       #6: Cabinet doors expanding from humidi ...
Tom Gardiner

Beech is a problem wood. You probably are experiencing worst case here. Wood dried in the winter dropping to something like 6%. Fit at that or close MC, spring humidity hits and add the water based paint on site.
It won't be as extreme in the next seasonal cycle and less thereafter. But it will never not be there.
I would ask the client to hold off for a couple of weeks to see where the doors are at then make the decision on what if anything needs to be done.

5/7/24       #7: Cabinet doors expanding from humidi ...

I'm here in NE Texas as well and recent convert to beech as well, after using poplar for many years.
The architect's "designer" specifies "Beech" and specifically prohibits poplar, for reasons unknown.
Between the rain, humidity, tape/bed/slick finish walls, being lakefront, and subs leaving the house doors and windows open with the wind blowing thru the house 24/7 and now a switch to water based primer and topcoats...I have a house full of cabinet doors that are 1/8 to 3/16 oversize with most of the rails swelled past the stile ends.
I've insisted on a being operational the last several jobs, which has helped. So much so that the builder now feels its not necessary again.
Prior to my recommendation for ac, the builder lost wood floors, overlapped ceiling crown and stuck
passage doors.
I'll have to resize and edge sand every door and front in the house, and of course the painter is raising he'll about the repaint.
I'm doing time and material on resizing, but still a schedule killer.

5/13/24       #8: Cabinet doors expanding from humidi ...
Bruce H

I am in Oregon and have had issues with Beech. It moves when you least expect it. Drawer fronts that were flat and stored on paint racks with equal air to both sides, warped. I made new ones. Checked the material with a meter, 6%-7% which I thought was good. This was new material, what I have had for several years didn't move. Was thinking about buying some ahead.

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