Repair Advice Sought for Stripped Cabinet Doors - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 09-25-2019, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Repair Advice Sought for Stripped Cabinet Doors

I’d like to get some advice and opinions on making repairs to kitchen cabinet doors.
Some of the defects appear to have been induced by the paint stripper itself.

After a brutally laborious effort at stripping the paint off twelve cabinet doors I got about 3/4 finished and took a long break … now I want to bust out the last bit of stripping, repair damaged areas, and ready the doors for finishing with primer and paint (Benjamin Moore #217 alkyd primer + INSL-X Cabinet Coat satin white … unless I have good reason to switch to an acrylic primer). The cabinets are built-in and have already been completed and painted.

Here’s the background on the stripping:
It’s Sisyphean.
I do not dismiss the idea that I am insane. Insane or not the show must go on.
It’s a little like I imagine chemotherapy to be: you remove the bad stuff but damage some good stuff in the process.

The cabinets are 90 years old and they’ve been deeply abused over the decades and covered in dozens of coats of paint, the oldest are oil and last half a century of latex/acrylic. Besides brutal scrapping the only stripper even approaching the notion of effective results has been Peel Away 1. Peel Away 1 has typically needed at least two thick applications to get much of the paint off, or to get it down where I can scrape and Methylene Chloride. Methylene chloride is slow going and it takes multiple coats with very little penetration per application. All of this in combination with a lot of scraping. The scraping is most effective after the latex/acrylic layers have been removed … as the oil layers are more brittle and scrape more easily … but is brutal work. I’m someone with strong hands but felt as if I was damaging my hands at one point from brute overuse (could be arthritis setting in?). Bottom line is that there’s no easy way to strip off that much paint for a DIY project.

Again, the Peel Away 1 was the only stripper that had a fighting chance. The problem however is that along with doing a so so job of stripping it appears to have also damaged some of the doors… it’s had an effect I’m not used to and I have to conclude that the stripper penetrated the wood and attacked the glue in the panels creating numerous checks and splits and also some rough raised areas (in some panels there are small splits all over the surface of the panel). The panels seem to have been made from thin veneer/ply … and the rails and stiles themselves seem to have been constructed with a veneer. The damage on the panels resembles forensic photos of knife wounds in flesh where both sides pull away from each other under tension and form ‘lips’. I’m thinking of using a scraper/sander to remove the high spots, then surface the panels with Bondo worked in with a plastic spreader or wide putty knife to fill the gaps, and sand it back when it’s dry. Btw a suggestion was made to use Timbermate wood filler, any advantages to that over Bondo (other than ease of sanding)?

The other damage is to the rails and stiles (art looks as if they too are surfaced with a veneer). The main damage to rails and stiles is cracks and gaps at the joints. The big wide gaps I plan to fill with Bondo, but I’m not sure how to fix areas that have split or delaminated veneers. Any suggestions? Btw, the damage to inside surface of the doors I’m not that concerned with as it’ll be out of view 99% of the time.

I’m looking for some feedback on my plan of attack (war metaphors are a perfect fit for a project such as this) and alternative suggestions. Don’t suggest throwing the doors away and fabricating new ones as it’s too late for that : )

Lastly, I have a full size swinging door that I stripped and painted three years ago. In the past year and a half I’ve noticed some splitting occurring in the panel and also in the lower rail (photos are in my following post). Apparently both of these areas look to have surface veneers … I’d never have imagined the stiles to have veneers on them. On the rail (see pic) I was thinking of cutting out the delaminated section of veneer and gluing in a replacement plug and perhaps also using some Bondo or wood filler. The door’s panel checking I’ll probably not repair at this time and wait for it to get a little worse.

Ugh!
????
: )

Thanks for any ideas.

[PS: the final thing I’ll need to do is source new hinges. I’ve looked, asked, and posted but have been unable to locate ANY leaf hinges that match the dimensions and hole pattern of the hinges on these doors. Nothing. So to increase my headaches I’ll need to perhaps redo the mortices for the hinges and also deal with the old hinge screw holes. No, it never ends!]


1st & 2nd show outside of door’s deep checks, slitting to panel veneer, plus numerous micro checks.
3rd & 4th show multiple checks in veneer on interior side of doors.
5th, 6th, 7th, & 8th show damage to joints, gaps, and some rail/stile veneer damage
9th & 10th show panel veneer’s massive micro checking and raised surface, and rail/stile veneer damage. These pics show door's interior face so it'll be hidden from view 99% of the time and thus not as critical.
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Last edited by Lovegasoline; 09-25-2019 at 10:24 PM.
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post #2 of 15 Old 09-25-2019, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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(cont.)
Following Pics
11th 12th, 13th, & 14th show damage to swinging door stile veneer (this door is painted with Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo water base paint and shouldn't be difficult to repaint any repair areas).
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post #3 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 09:48 AM
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Use a router with a guide bushing and a straight bit to remove the inner lip of the panels. Clamp a straight edge to the rails and stiles to trim the inner lip. Clean the corners with a chisel and remove the plywood panels.

Cut new plywood panels to size and glue small square dowels to replace the removed lips and to lock the new panels in place. I've glued plywood panels in place and had not issues, but accepted practice is to only glue the square dowels and let the panels float.

If you are planning on painting the cabinets, then paint the panels prior to installation with a primer and one coat of paint. Add the second coat of paint after assembly. That way you won't see any unfinished areas due to seasonal movement of the rails and stiles.
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 11:20 AM
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Personally I don't think they're saving, but you're invested. In many cases, for the amount of work required new doors often make more sense.


That said, I do agree with Packard re: replacing the panels with ply or MDF. The dents, cracks, splits, etc. can be dealt with by cutting away any loose wood and filling with Bondo. This can be done on top of primer.
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input.

You'll get no argument about the benefits of making new doors but at present that's just not in the cards. OTOH, the doors are pretty much stripped so the only thing left is to repair damage (much of it caused by the stripping itself), prime, and paint. I'm looking for a quick and dirty solution that provides a pleasing look after the primer and paint goes on. (Sourcing hinges is going to be another challenge as I've looked all over and not found anything with the same dimensions and hole pattern).

Panel replacement is way too much work to contemplate. I can see how it could be appropriate but not for this application.

By resurfacing I meant in the manner of using a filler then sanding the surface smooth again (not in applying another surface veneer or new panel). Patching the exterior faces of the panels so they appear as an integral flat plane is the main concern. My plan was to scrape/plane/sand the high spots on the panels that show large checking and then spread a thin layer of Bondo over the panel and working it into the gaps in the checks then sanding it back to a smooth surface.

What about Bondo? I’ve got a lot of it on hand and used it successfully on other parts of this project and have enjoyed its toughness, have liked working with it, and have faith in its durability. I'll use it for filling big gaps (like the 5th photo in my OP). A concern is the panels with the various big checks may be susceptible to tensions (ex. 1st & 2nd photos in my OP) and Bondo seems so tough that it may withstand any additional splitting/cracking in the future? I’ve never used Timbermate wood filler, which has been recommended ... it might be easier to work with and sand(?) but would it be tough enough for this application ... any opinions?

There’s also a question of what adhesive to use in repairs to the delaminating stile veneers (ex. the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th photos in OP). Yellow wood glue first then fill in the gaps with Bondo? Or something less viscous than yellow glue to penetrate deeper down … maybe something like Zap-A-Gap cyanoacrylate glue (unfortunately I just checked and a little bottle of the latter I have is dried out, but I never really got a chance to see how this glue type performs) or something that winks deeper into the gaps?

Once I formulate a game plan I'll have my marching orders and can patch, sand, prime, and paint and hopefully end up with presentable doors that will fit in with the character of the kitchen. They don't need to be absolutely perfect, there are going to be areas with some quirks and that's fine. If they end up looking hideous and/or performing poorly then there's always the option somewhere further down the road of fabricate new doors.

Last edited by Lovegasoline; 09-26-2019 at 04:29 PM.
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 04:44 PM
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All of the areas that have delamimated and curled up have to be addressed. First, cut off the areas where the delamination has curled up. Then, figure out how you can inject some form of wood glue underneath. Some places the old ply would have delaminated and lifted. These areas must be slit with a box cutter and sometimes it will have to be trimmed at the split because the wood has expanded and warped. The inject some form of adhesive. If you cant get wood glue under the laminations then CA glue (Super Glue) can be injected under the delamination and some form of weight can be used if clamping is not possible. Many states wont allow you to get a Hypo needle in a drug store. Not to worry, go to an Aggie store and buy all you want in various sizes. They are very inexpensive and no paperwork required.

After everything than cane be re-glued down has been done, now consider the filler. Epoxy would be the best choice and troweled down. next choice would be Bondo. I have used bondo before for a filler but not in a single layer that you might need.
Anyway, that is all I have to offer.

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post #7 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
Personally I don't think they're saving, but you're invested. In many cases, for the amount of work required new doors often make more sense.


That said, I do agree with Packard re: replacing the panels with ply or MDF. The dents, cracks, splits, etc. can be dealt with by cutting away any loose wood and filling with Bondo. This can be done on top of primer.
I agree. If the boxes are in good shape then replacing the doors makes sense. If these are inset doors you may need to do some fine tuning, or you can order overlay doors and use modern soft close hinges which are easy to adjust.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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I understand that the go to reply is going to be 'replace the doors'. However, as I've already stated, I'm not replacing the doors : )
From my original post, "Don’t suggest throwing the doors away and fabricating new ones".

I am not ignorant to the cost/benefit/time/effort/money/appearance/performance/pleasure aspect of replacement vs. repair, nor was I before embarking on this project, so I do not require - nor am I requesting - any input related to that whatsoever.
If - having read all of that - and for whatever reason someone still feels the need to post about replacement anyway, it's simple: just please don't. It's unproductive to the thread and at a certain point it's just rude. Simply move on to another thread and invest your energies and expertise elsewhere. This isn't meant as an admonition to those who've posted already but to those who having read this think it's wise, useful, or prudent to dog pile on anyway.

No offense taken or given but I don't wish to have this thread's discussion of technical procedures obscured and derailed by a succession of replies and arguments over door replacement, so I'd appreciate a modicum of respect for remaining on topic.
Thanks for your cooperation.

Last edited by Lovegasoline; 09-26-2019 at 06:08 PM.
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
All of the areas that have delamimated and curled up have to be addressed. First, cut off the areas where the delamination has curled up. Then, figure out how you can inject some form of wood glue underneath. Some places the old ply would have delaminated and lifted. These areas must be slit with a box cutter and sometimes it will have to be trimmed at the split because the wood has expanded and warped. The inject some form of adhesive. If you cant get wood glue under the laminations then CA glue (Super Glue) can be injected under the delamination and some form of weight can be used if clamping is not possible. Many states wont allow you to get a Hypo needle in a drug store. Not to worry, go to an Aggie store and buy all you want in various sizes. They are very inexpensive and no paperwork required.

After everything than cane be re-glued down has been done, now consider the filler. Epoxy would be the best choice and troweled down. next choice would be Bondo. I have used bondo before for a filler but not in a single layer that you might need.
Anyway, that is all I have to offer.
Hi Tony,
What's an Aggie store?
I hadn't;t thought of slicing through the veneer and cutting away the curled areas, it's another way to remove them. I like the hypo needle and superglue idea.
What's the benefit of epoxy over Bondo? Does it take primer as well as Bondo?
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 06:29 PM
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Epoxy will bond better than Bondo which means less chance of a thinly covered area to break loose as a small sheet. Epoxy is a much harder surface area as far as wear and tare goes. On the down side, epoxy is very expensive.

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post #11 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovegasoline View Post
Hi Tony,
What's an Aggie store?
I hadn't;t thought of slicing through the veneer and cutting away the curled areas, it's another way to remove them. I like the hypo needle and superglue idea.
What's the benefit of epoxy over Bondo? Does it take primer as well as Bondo?
An Aggie store is a store that sells farm and ranch supplies also known as co-ops. Also try a veterinary supply store.

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post #12 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
Epoxy will bond better than Bondo which means less chance of a thinly covered area to break loose as a small sheet. Epoxy is a much harder surface area as far as wear and tare goes. On the down side, epoxy is very expensive.
I see.
How does it accept primer/paint?
Any recommendation on epoxy type for this application? Some years ago I used to have some West Systems 2 part epoxy but it had hardened in the bottle before I had an opportunity to use it.
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post #13 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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An Aggie store is a store that sells farm and ranch supplies also known as co-ops. Also try a veterinary supply store.
Not many ranch or farm supply stores in Brooklyn ... maybe a veterinary supply.
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post #14 of 15 Old 09-26-2019, 11:50 PM
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I lived in the Boulevard Projects while growing up. It was at the end of civilization across the street from the Jamaica Bay swamps. There was actually a horse stable that rented out riding horses, which we could never afford, and a small dairy farm. I guess they gone now. Anyway, try a veterinary suoply place.
I also find it hard to believe in Brooklyn you cant buy needles. Things couldn't have changed that much. LOL
Most paints will stick to Epoxy if a primer is applied first. Just to be sure, call up Gougeon Bros . (989) 684-7286 and ask. They make
West System epoxy..

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post #15 of 15 Old 09-27-2019, 10:07 AM
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In my opinion, repairing the delaminated plywood areas will be a wasted effort. The panels are old, and more areas may begin to delaminate, especially with the application of your finish. It's possible that just enough moisture may creep in from the primer/paint to cause more delamination. Good luck, though.
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