Sliding versus Opening Cabinet Doors - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 Old 01-19-2010, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Sliding versus Opening Cabinet Doors

I live in a compact and efficient (okay, small) mid-century modern house and noticed that many similar homes have built-ins with sliding doors as opposed to the normal hinged doors. I was wondering why they are so much less popular? In small spaces it seems like they would work a lot better. This is a photo of a desk / storage combo that a very talented acquaintance, Jerad Foster, built:



I love the clean lines and I'm hoping to build something similar (though I'd like it cantilevered from the wall) in my dining room. In that situation, there's not a whole lot of clearance between the dining chairs the planned unit so being able to access what's inside without pushing aside chairs to make room for a swinging door would be a real plus.
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post #2 of 5 Old 01-19-2010, 04:38 AM
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What's pictured can be very easy to make. The bottom would get a shallow groove - 1/8" - 1/4", and the top piece would get a deeper one 3/8" +. The doors look like 1/4".

There are several ways to do sliding doors with simple hardware using thicknesses up to 3/4" for large openings. Sliding doors work better when they are wider than they are tall.






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post #3 of 5 Old 01-19-2010, 05:37 AM
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My guess as to the lull in popularity of sliders is 2 part: first, debris accumulates in the bottom groove and if it's not cleaned out, it can get gross, but it also inhibits the smoothness of the sliding action. Lack of occasional lubrication also contributes to this problem, and the fact is, as a whole, Americans have become a somewhat lazy lot, so it seems more often than not, they're not maintained as they ought to be.

Secondly, this is just my guess, but woodworking styles are a fashion, and styles go in and out of fashion. Unless it is for a really practical reason, few people opt for sliders if they don't need to. But give it time and they will regain some popularity again.

But also, the look of cabinets with sliding doors is not as appealing to many people. And aesthetics are a subjective thing. So while you happen to like that look, few people I have ever done work for would want to pay for custom work and end up with that style of cabinet. Maybe it's because so many of that style were made in the 60's & 70's from hardboard, which was cheap, & it warped and wore out if you opened and closed it very much. So maybe it has a stigma. I know that those cabinets are what I envision when I think of cabinets with sliding doors. I grew up with a few of them around.
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post #4 of 5 Old 01-19-2010, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmwood_1 View Post
So while you happen to like that look, few people I have ever done work for would want to pay for custom work and end up with that style of cabinet. Maybe it's because so many of that style were made in the 60's & 70's from hardboard, which was cheap, & it warped and wore out if you opened and closed it very much. So maybe it has a stigma. I know that those cabinets are what I envision when I think of cabinets with sliding doors. I grew up with a few of them around.
BTW, your work is beautiful! I've noticed anything made of hardboard tends to feel cheap, warp, and not work for very long. When I think of sliding door cabinetry I think of stuff like this:



or this (which is the original birch stuff from his 1950s house he refinished):



Both are a little too retro but I really like the functionality. Especially in my buddy's narrow galley kitchen -- two people can work with ease. I'd really like to make some things that a bit more updated...I was thinking frosted tempered glass for the sliding so they can be lit from behind for my dining room application.
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-19-2010, 03:50 PM
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It allows only half the opening to be used at any one time. Limiting
access to larger items. It also requires closing one side to open the
other.

I had these type doors in a study once and found them to be very
unhandy.

They were of good quality and worked fine, just unhandy when looking
for things.

They had metal runners on the bottom with a very thin spacer between
the doors and looked very nice. I think they had nylon buttons on the
bottom of the doors to make them work smoothly.


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