Latest update December 28th, 2016 1:27 AM
Jun 06, 2015 Abel Longoria Vanagon 3
This is a project I’ve had on my back burner for quite some time. The main thing that was holding me up was locating a spare grey cubby hole door. I finally located a spare door so now it was time to get this project scratched off my list. This post contains a lot of photos, I tried to get as detailed as I could in order to help others that want to install a cabinet door.
First off add a few layers of Blue Painters tape to the are where you’ll be making your cuts. This tape helps minimize the possibility of the laminate chipping plus it helps protect the surface a bit once you start making your cuts.
In order to locate the door I used a piece of aluminum bar that I had left over from another project. This bar is about 1 1/2″ wide by 1/8″ thick, this served as a great spacer to help insure that the cubby hole door placement is completely square. You can use an similar item with a similar width in order to help make your door square.
With the spacer bumped to the right side of the cabinet, I placed the cubby door onto the back of the cabinet and slid it as far to the right as I could. Bumping the right edge of the door up to the left side of the spacer bar makes the door nice and square to the cabinet. You certainly don’t want to eye ball this since a crooked door would not look nearly as cool. lol. Use more Blue Painter’s tape to hold the door in place.
One thing to mention at this step is that I removed the backing of the door latch so that the door can sit flush against the back of the cabinet. The back of the latch is only held on by 3 small screws. Remove those screws and the backside of the latch so that the back side is nice and flat. You’ll reinstall the back side of the latch later.
Now that the door is spotted in place, remove the tape from the spacer bar and remove the bar itself. At this time you’ll want to make certain that where the door opening is won’t interfere with anything inside the rear closet. Main item is the shelf, you want to make sure the top of your opening will be below the bottom of that shelf. Using a measuring tape take a few measurements from out of the cabinet and then check them against the inside of the cabinet to see if its clear of anything. If everything checks out and you’re absolutely sure you won’t interfere with any covers, shelves etc on the inside then you’re ready to go.
With the door taped and held in its location I used a Sharpie black marker and traced around the inside edge of the door. You have to hold the Sharpie marker at about a 45 degree angle and simply follow the edge of the door. A good method to know you’re doing it right is you’ll have some ink on the Blue Painter’s tape as well as on the grey trim that’s sitting flush against the cabinet face. This ink can easily be cleaned off the door right after using alcohol or my favorite a MR Clean Magic Eraser.
Remove the tape that’s holding the door in place and remove the door. You can now see the cutlines you’ve traced out with the black marker. I use a 4″ hole saw in order to cut the radius of the corners. The actual true radius might be a bit smaller like a 3 7/8″ or so but The 4″ hole saw can still get the job done.
Place the 4″ hole saw on the face of the rear cabinet (not shown) and apply a bit of pressure. This pressure will leave a small indention on the laminate. Take your black Sharpie marker and mark that spot so its nice and visible. Do this at all for corners.
Come back and drill a smaller pilot hole right where the 4 marks are that you just made. This will help guide the 4″ hole saw and keep it from “walking” around and not cutting the hole in the right location.
Using an electric drill attach the 4″ hole saw to it and place the center bit of the hole saw right where one of the pilot holes was drilled. make sure the hole saw is nice and square to the face of the cabinet and not at an angle etc. There’s no need to force the hole saw through the wood or no need to apply too much pressure. Just let the saw do the work and it will walk its way through the wood. Be sure you have a good firm grasp on the drill itself since it might “bite” back and jerk a little bit.
Once the saw has cut all the way through the face of the cabinet let the drill come to a complete stop before removing it from the hole. If you remove it wile its still spinning you risk catching the face of the cabinet and chipping your laminate. Not good.
Now that the 4 radius corners are cut you now make the straight side cuts with a jigsaw. There’s one very important thing to note about the jigsaw, you will need to use a “REVERSE TOOTH” blade in order to make these cuts. These blades can be found at the hardware store and will state “REVERSE TOOTH” on the package. Reverse tooth blades have the cutting teeth pointed in the opposite direction of a standard blade. The reason for this is a Reverse Tooth blade is ideal for cutting laminate covered wood from the finished side of the panel like what we’re doing here. Using a standard conventional blade may chip the laminate.
Fine tune the opening and test the door to see if it fits the opening correctly. If you need to make it a little larger you can do so with the jig saw or a heavy grit sanding drum on your drill. A sanding drum works great for when you need to take a little off the edges since its a gradual change. Not drastic like with the jigsaw. Once the door fits properly you you can remove the tape. Saw dust everywhere!
Bust out the Shop-Vac!
Now for the hinges. Gowesty sells the Split Hinges on there website HERE and Item No. 255-070-924C is the hinge needed for this location. Gowesty has been sold out of these hinges forever! Don’t fret! There’s a solution. I ordered the 255-070-924B hinges instead.
You can see three 255-070-924B hinges below.The top hinge is just the way it came from Gowesty, I need it reversed in order to work for my door application here. Second photo shows the center pin partially pushed out. Third photo shows the same “wrong side” hinge now oriented the way I need it for this application. Simple! Now I have a correct hinge.
Here’s how I do it. I place the hinge casing on one of the plugs removed from drilling the 4″ holes. There’s a hole in the center, this allows you to lightly tap on the hinge pin with a hammer and start pushing the hinge pin out of the hinge casing.
Once you get the hinge pin top flush with the hinge casing you can us a smaller diameter allen wrench or drill bit in order to help push the pin out the rest of the way. Center the allen wrench in the center of the hinge pin and light tap on the top of the allen wrench with a hammer and the hinge pin will pop out of the hinge casing.
Then take the freed hinge pin and push it into the OTHER side of the hinge casing in order to complete the process. It will take a bit of pressure to do this, I place a towel on a table to protect the paint of the hinge and then press down on the hinge casing and the hinge pin will seat itself. Done deal. Do this for both hinges.
Put the hinges on the door and test fit the door into the opening. Once you make sure your door is nice and square added some blue painters tape in order to hold it in place.
Apply some more tape to just the loose hinges and the cabinet face. This will allow you to remove the door while keeping the hinges in place.
With the door removed now you can begin to drill pilot holes for the screws to attach the hinges to the cabinet face. I used my black Sharpie marker to mark where each hole is in the hinge. This way if one of the hinges falls I still have the marks to show where I need to drill.
Since the width of the door opening is very small, my larger power drill wouldn’t fit in order to drill my pilot holes. Some of you out there may not see the need to drill pilot holes but I prefer them as it makes fastening the screws much easier. I have a Dewalt short throw cordless drill which worked perfectly in this situation. You can also drill pilot holes with a regular hand drill as well. That’s an option.
I reattach the back of the door plastic latch that I removed earlier. It attaches with the 3. Place the door on it’s hinges and close the door nearly all the way. Place a piece of tape marking the center of the plastic latch on the backside. You will notice the top of the tape is at the center of the plastic tongue of the latch. This will serve as a guide as to where to place the metal door catch on the cabinet.
Here’s a metal door catch. I placed the center of the metal catch right in line with the top of the blue tape. This tells me my catch is centered with the tongue of the plastic latch. Perfect. Oh also, There is no supplier for these metal door catches. They are pretty hard to find but they do pop up on TheSamba.com Classifieds from time to time.
This metal catch is attached with 3 screws from the backside. Drill pilot holes and screw it in place.
As I mentioned I’ve been wanting to get this mod done for awhile now. Often times when I’m geareddown for camping I have the rear hatch area loaded down with gear which doesn’t allow me to access my side closet doors. This small cubby hole door will let me get into that lower cabinet area for items quick and easily without having to remove a bunch of gear from my hatch area first.
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really nice job, looks like it allows you to make way better use of the space, I love that!
Thanks Tammy! I’m always looking for more ways to make this van more comfortable and make better use of what little space we’re given. Hehe.
Oh man, taping, then marking and cutting. Can’t believe I’ve never thought of that before. Reverse blade also a critical trick. Thanks-