What is the best way to create custom cabinet doors?


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I'm wondering if anyone here has experience creating custom doors for cabinetry. Most of our work requires a custom door/drawer style or some special wainscot panels. What is the best way to create a custom door/drawer and use it with Chief Architect cabinets?


Thanks in advance for your help!

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11 minutes ago, Nate_M said:

What is the best way


The best way is to just do it.


Have you searched the Chief website, the Chief YouTube channel, or this forum? 


Cabinet doors are just smaller versions of passage doors so info applies to both.

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Attached is a more recent version of my door maker template plan than the one(s) posted previously. I've done lots and lots...

This is the fastest method I have found to date to make a series of doors for both glass and panel and drawers. This produces doors and drawers where the grain is always correct and will follow the plan default if done properly. If you like it save as a template for ease of use in the future and always save the finished plan when done for the future.


I used to do the panels vertically but that takes a lot of nudging. Now I use custom countertops on the floor. It makes placing moldings properly a breeze and only adds one step when converting to a symbol.

  1. select counter top of the thickness you want
  2. add molding profile and locate it vertically and horizontally.
  3. convert that to a symbol- cabinet door, advanced options checked.
  4. In symbol DBX rotate on the x axis so it is vertical, Change name for edge bead and make material use plan defaults. Change name for panel but leave material as glass. Set stretch planes so that they do not affect the molding. Give it a name with prefix to denote it's a wainscot insert.
  5. Now a cabinet, framed. I have a couple placed here, the default cabinets for this plan are set to what you would want to use.
  6. In face configuration, place your wainscot insert as a "side panel inset" (DO NOT use the cabinet as inset and insert it as a door panel or you will get a reveal around the door,)
  7. Set your rails and stiles to your desired frame width.
  8. Convert to symbol, cabinet door, advanced options-name is with Glass or similar suffix. Same as before-see that materials are set to use plan default but leave the panel glass. Change names of items if desired.
  9. Now copy your door in the library. Open the copy, rename without glass and change panel material to use default.
  10. Copy that symbol in the library. Open, rename with Drawer suffix and go to options tab, select "treat as drawer front" Now the grain "should" correct itself when used as a drawer front.
  11. You may also want to copy the wainscot symbol and change the center panel to use default material-I keep those in a library folder of there own.

Symbols are included, open them and check all the tabs. Open cabinets and check all the faces.

Mitered doors can be made flat the same way. Applied moldings can also be done with this method.


1" thick doors are more of a challenge. The easiest way to deal with them is to set a stretch plan in the middle of the door depth. Place it in plan, increase depth to 1", convert to symbol, cabinet door BUT set the origin so that it is 3/4" from the face of the door.

Similarly for cabinet doors set back in a frame change the origin so that it is closer to the face.


Lastly doors with an outside edge profile (which are fortunately rare for me nowadays) need to be done differently. For those I make rails and stiles as cabinet door symbols; use a cabinet with 0" separations. First make the face side panel inset; split vertically, change the vertical separation to side panel inset, set width you want for your stile and use one of your vertical stile symbols (You will need one left and one right AND the symbols will look backwards in the library). Change the width of the opposite SPI to suit and specify you other vertical stile.

Now split the center SPI and repeat the procedure using your top and bottom rail symbols setting the size.

Lastly specify the center SPI to a wainscot symbol, convert to door symbol and set materials.



Door maker w double.zip

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  • 1 month later...

Hey Mark,


This is incredibly helpful. Thanks for sharing! I've been tinkering with the plan file you posted and it's starting to make sense. I'm sure once I get the hang of it things will move much faster for me. Again, I appreciate you supplying the plan file and the how-to guide.

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2 hours ago, Nate_M said:

Hey Mark,


This is incredibly helpful. Thanks for sharing! I've been tinkering with the plan file you posted and it's starting to make sense. I'm sure once I get the hang of it things will move much faster for me. Again, I appreciate you supplying the plan file and the how-to guide.

One other thing to keep in mind Nate, is that Chief has a ton of cabinet libraries. Unless, you are truly creating something really unique, if you post a picture of the cabinet door, someone may be able to advise which manufacturer library to search in.

But, of course if it's really unique, then a picture of it might not exist yet;).

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14 hours ago, robdyck said:

Chief has a ton of cabinet libraries. Unless, you are truly creating something really unique

I played "go fish" for door styles when I was first learning Chief. Actually the best way to deal with it is to download a batch of style brochures for brands that are in Chief.

If you are a KD dealing with unsupported brands you know (or soon discover) that many door styles are proprietary. The best you will come up with is close enough. For myself, dealing with anxious clients I found "go fish" less than ideal.

One of the great things about Chief is that you can do this easily, make any door symbol you need (try that in 2020). For me it's saved time, improved skills, made money, & pleased clients-hard to beat.


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Thought I'd post an example of the types of cabinet door modifications I need to make. I used Mark's door tool with some of my own adjustments to create the segmented door as three drawer fronts pictured here. The actual edge profile of the door is not unlike many manufacturer profiles, however I require the flexibility of using inset panels, specialty door/drawer configurations and other details with that edge profile. Cobbling together existing elements from Chief core catalogs and manufacturer becomes time intensive and often ends in having to hack something together that is less than satisfactory. Obviously Chief can't cater to every single use case, but developing workflows and "jigs" to produce extremely custom elements can get you really close!

Segmented Door as Drawer Example.jpg

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