Frameless Cabinet Door Dimensions and Tolerances

Of cabinet door gaps, wiggle room, millimeters, and math. June 28, 2007

How much of a reveal do you usually leave between a pair of frameless cabinet doors? I'm using a 1.5 reveal on the sides to maintain a 3mm reveal between cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Do you deduct an extra 1mm so that the doors don't bind?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
What you're doing is common. I leave 2mm for a 4mm reveal, though. The math's easier and I like that little bit of extra wiggle room.

From contributor F:
Thanks for responding. So if you had two doors to place on a cabinet 304mm wide, you would order/build two doors 150mm?

From contributor B:
I use 1.5mm reveal on sides (3mm between doors), 0mm on the bottom and 3mm on top. I have not encountered any binding with hinges 4-5mm from the edge of the door.

From contributor O:
I like contributor J's idea of 4mm between doors. As a lot of us outsource doors, the wiggle room really can make a difference. A friend of mine ran into that problem with doors he ordered that were pre-finished, and slightly oversized, and not by much.

From contributor M:
I also use 3mm between doors and drawers. AWI calls for 3.2mm (1/8") with a variation of +/- .8mm (1/32") for Premium, +/- 1.6mm (1/16") for Custom, and +/- 2.4mm (3/32") for Economy.

From contributor J:
I'd order them at 148mm to get 4mm between the split doors.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for your responses! I am asking because I just built a bunch of doors for a couple of frameless built-in floor-to-ceiling units, only to discover on installation that the doors wouldn't close properly, since I had originally designed the doors slightly oversized to be trimmed down later. Well, you can guess what happened... Anyway, I trimmed down the doors to allow for 1.5mm on each side of the doors and 1mm in between. In the future I'll make sure to size a pair of doors: (width of cabinet-4)/2 and for a single door: width of cabinet-3 to allow for the 3mm reveal.

From contributor M:
3mm between double doors is a safe distance for European hardware. Less than that, as you found, and you have issues. More than that is just too much.

From contributor B:
Standardize your products. Subtract 3mm from the width of single door cabinets and divide a double door cabinet by 2 and subtract 3mm. In that way, a 381 cabinet has the same size door as a 762 cabinet and everything in a perfect world has a 3mm gap. If you have double drawers over double doors, the drilling for the drawer front is the same as a single door/drawer cabinet. In my opinion, 4mm is too much gap. Face frame converts usually are more comfortable with a larger gap, but once you are familiar with tight tolerances, it is easier to construct.

From contributor S:
Contributors M and B, I think I got it. So you are saying that on a set of double doors, there would be a 1.5 reveal on each side of the door as well as 3 reveal between the two doors. How did you know I used to build face frame? :)

From contributor J:
I'd wager 3mm reveals came about because of old school Imperial mentality that can only understand 1/8th inch and 1/16th inch. There's nothing in the "old world" that easily translates to 2mm and 4mm. Also, in defense of 4mm reveals, I do a fair share of solid lumber fronts that move a bit, and can use that wiggle room. That little .5mm to 1mm extra space can be a life saver, the math's easier, and bottom line, in the overall scheme of things, you can't see the difference.

From contributor B:
Well... 3mm is not 1/8", just like 32mm is not 1 1/4". Close but no cigar. I can't see where subtracting 4mm is any easier math than subtracting 3mm and yes, I can see the difference. To each his own - doesn't make it right, just different.