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Replacing Wood Panels With Glass


Replacing Wood Panels With Glass 

Q. I'd like to replace some of the paneled wood doors in my upper kitchen cabinets with glass. Is it possible to use the existing frames?

PHOTO 1: Remove the wood panel remnants from the door frames with a pair of pliers. Make a few relief cuts in the panel to aid removal. A blanket keeps the door-frame finish from getting scratched. 

Rout a rabbet in the back of the door frame. The bearing rides on the front lip of the groove. Use a chisel to square the corners after routing.


Nail in retainer strips to hold the glass in place. Pre-drill holes and tap in 18-gauge brads with a hammer. A piece of cardboard protects the glass from damag

A. Sure, the trick is to remove the wood panels without disturbing the integrity of the frames. Start by drilling four holes in the panel corners. Use a jigsaw to cut out most of the panel, then pull the remnants from the frame (Photo 1). Sometimes, panels are spot glued or tacked in place. In that case, you'll need needle-nosed pliers or a “beater” chisel to dig out the brads or glue. Next, use a rabbeting bit to remove the back lip of the panel groove (Photo 2). Bring the frames to your local hardware store and have glass cut to fit. Make retainer strips out of the same wood as the door. Finish the strips and the newly machined rabbet to match the door, because they will be visible through the glass. Finally, install the glass (Photo 3). Now your plain old kitchen uppers are elegant display cabinets (see below), all for the cost of a couple pieces of glass.

Lee Valley, (800) 871-8158,, Rabbeting Bit Set, 16J32.20, 1/4” shank, $30, 16J32.70, 1/2” shank, $30.


Q. I've found 1/16-in. pilot holes are too big for 18-gauge brads. I bought a set of those tiny wire gauge bits only to find my drill chuck can't tighten down far enough to grab them. Now what? 

A. What you need is a micro-chuck designed to hold miniature drill bits. We tried a number of these little bits. The one we liked best sells for under $7 (see Source below). It held the bits firmly and it had a large chuck with a knurled surface that was easy to tighten by hand. For $7 you're not going to get precision machining. All the chucks had some wobble yet we didn't break a single bit, even when we drilled the almost-invisible No. 80 into solid oak. Just take it easy; it takes almost no pressure to drive these bits.

Rockler, (800) 279-4441,, 3-Jaw Micro Chuck, #69023, $7, 20-Pc. Wire Gauge Drill Set, #69946, $7.

Is It Okay To Store Wood in an Unheated Space?

Q. I only heat my garage shop when I'm using it. Is it okay to store my kiln-dried hardwood in my unheated garage?

It's okay to store wood in an unheated garage for short periods of time. However, after only a few months, you could end up with significant changes to the moisture content of your wood. If you must store wood in an unheated space, you can do a few things to slow the moisture uptake: 1. Flat stack the lumber to minimize exposure of the boards to the air. 2. Seal the end grain of the boards. 3. Use blocks to keep the stack off a concrete floor. Be sure to bring your wood into a heated space a few weeks before you use it. As crazy as it sounds, I know woodworkers who stack wood under their beds before they build with it. As always, it pays to check your wood with a moisture meter before you use it.

Can I Use White Glue for Woodworking? 

Q. In a desperate moment, I grabbed some white glue to finish a glue-up. I've heard white glue works just as well as yellow. Is this true or am I going to regret my rash act?

A. White glue is plenty strong for woodworking. Yellow glue has certain advantages:?It's thicker so it's less messy and it has a higher melting point so sandpaper won't gum up as fast. Also, cured white glue is more flexible than yellow, which can lead to a condition called glue “creep.” As solid wood expands and contracts, the flexible white glue can push up in visible ridges. For this reason, white glue is best used where glue creep won't matter, like on interior parts of a cabinet, inside a dado or rabbet or with manufactured sheet stock where wood movement is not an issue. Avoid using “school” glues, because some brands have about one-third the bond strength of yellow glues.