Cabinet Door Art

Think twice before you throw out an old kitchen; upcycle the cabinet doors into fabulous cabinet door art!

When Hubs mentioned to a friend that I was looking for a classic panel door cabinet to upcycle into cabinet door art, he went dumpster diving for me! By classic, I mean the kind of thick raised panel door made from real wood. A rarity these days and too good to waste in my humble opinion!

oak cabinet in trunk

Despite having injured his finger (and requiring surgery, no less!), Hubs’ friend came through with this oak cabinet. I really don’t know how he did it; as you’ll see later, I too ended up hurting my finger and couldn’t do anything for weeks!

pulling kitchen cabinet out of trunk

Just a little bit of cleaning and a new paint job gives us the perfect starting point for cabinet door art!

oak kitchen cabinet

Watch the Video

If you’re a visual learner, watch this video!

IBC – Door Do Over Challenge

It’s time for another International Bloggers Club (IBC) challenge and this month our theme is Door Do Overs.

The IBC is a group from all over the world who challenge each other every month to make something using a common theme. You’ll find our friends’ Door Do Over ideas at the very bottom of the post. So don’t forget to check them out before you go. And if you don’t have time to browse today, pop back in later in the week to pick up where you left off. Last time we participated in the IBC was the Ceramic Craft challenge and we made this ceramic tile mosaic.

Before we get into the tutorial, don’t forget to get your craft mojo on at Birdz of a Feather and subscribe to our newsletter:

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Upcycle It!

Here’s a before and after; we’re using a beautiful blue paint as the background to our cabinet door art. I didn’t realize it until after we hung it, but it’s almost identical in colour to this project where we showed you how to hand paint furniture designs. I guess I’m drawn to blue.

oak door an painted door side by side on table

We’re also upcycling drink cans. While the weather was still nice, we cleaned them outside by filling a bin with soapy water. drink cans soaking in water

For the lowdown on how to break down the cans and punch the circles, check out our post on aluminum can art. It explains everything you need to know to create this beginner aluminum can art piece before you move on to working with this more challenging oak cabinet door.

round aluminum can art

Cabinet Door Art Supplies

 [If you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered (disclosure): As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Clicking on the links in this post means we may receive a commission. But don’t worry, you don’t pay a cent more. Thanks for helping to support our blog!]

For troubleshooting (i.e. when a drill bit breaks in the pilot hole)

Cabinet Door Art Template

It really helps to print out a template of your artwork.

paper template on top of door for cabinet door art

Tape it down well for the next step, which is drilling pilot holes. hand placing tape on template of cabinet door art

For our initial beginner project, we used birch plywood which is much softer than the oak door we’re upcycling today! So that means you can’t simply use an awl to mark the pilot holes for the nails. After much trial and error, we found the best solution for drilling the all-important pilot holes which we only discovered after I had an unfortunate accident.

Drill Pilot Holes

Use a Dremel rotary tool with a 1 mm drill bit.

dremel beside a row of tiny drill bits

At first, I drill each hole manually. It’s very tricky to drill the holes at a perfect 90 degree angle.

Hand holding dremel as it drills a pilot hole into cabinet door art

As a matter of fact, drilling manually can cause the drill bit to snap off leaving it behind in the wood. Moreso, I also had a terrible mishap with the Dremel and accidentally drilled through my pinky. Not an ideal scenario when you’re recovering from an acute illness and on blood thinners! Funnily enough, even though I was the one with a broken drill bit in my finger, I remained the calm one as Hubs’ freaked out.

Anyway, just a little PSA here before we move on to a better solution for drilling the pilot holes. Keep a bottle of Liquid Bandage in your craft area for just such an emergency. Clean the wound well before applying. It not only stops the bleeding, but acts as a barrier to help with healing.

Everything is A-OK!

The doctor insisted on an X-ray in case I drilled through the bone. Luckily everything was intact and A-Okay!

In retrospect, when recovering from any illness, it’s probably a good idea to lay off the power tools until you’re fully recovered. But who am I kidding? Crafting is a creative outlet I can’t stay away from. So this is a case of do as I say, not as I do!

x-ray of a hand with a-ok sign

Photo Source: Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

Options for Drilling Pilot Holes

If you happen to have a drill press, by all means use it! This particular press holds a regular drill.

drill press with cabinet door beneath drill bit

However, you’ll be limited by the depth of the spacing between the drill bit and metal column at the back. Unfortunately, it can only drill so far from the edge of the door as you see below!

Drill press with arrow showing short distance between drill bit and column

Because of that limitation, we were only able to drill the outermost holes around the perimeter with this one.

close up of drill press

The SAFE way to Drill Pilot Holes

The best solution is this Veritas plunge base. Although primarily made for routing, we’re using like a drill press! It’s waaaay better than either manual drilling or a drill press because you can use it anywhere on a piece of wood. Hindsight is 20-20, but I wish I bought this brilliant piece of equipment sooner :).

Dremel set up for drilling pilot holes for cabinet door art

It’s made especially for a rotary tool, like the Dremel. Since it plunges straight up and down, your hands are safely out of the way as you drill, keeping your fingers safe!

Another safety feature we added is combining the Dremel and Veritas Plunge Base with a deadman’s foot switch to turn it on and off. When I had my accident, a big drawback of the Dremel is that it remains on until you physically turn it off. So, while I was flailing around trying to find the off switch, the bit broke while still in my finger and Hubs had to turn the Dremel off. A foot switch ensures that the machine turns off immediately as soon as you step off and release it. Even if you don’t buy yourself a plunge base, for that reason alone, you may want to invest in a foot switch when using a rotary tool.

After completing the rest of the pilot holes, we lift the paper template and vacuum away the sawdust. For small projects like this, we like to use a keyboard vacuum attachment with a brush end on our vacuum system.

Cabinet Door Art – Chevron

Now, use the template to play around with the aluminum punch colours to create a chevron pattern. I can’t wait for you to see this design pop on the painted blue background!

But before proceeding with nailing the pattern, install your hanging hardware on the back. Our hanger of choice on heavy pieces like this door is a metal french cleat.

Measure, predrill, install and then uninstall so the door will lay flat as you are working. Doing this first is just easier; trust me!

Assembling Cabinet Door Art

All you need is a nail guide to keep the nails straight as you hammer each circle (but a needle nose plier will work too). Hubs also made me a ‘height setter’ out of a scrap piece of white plastic that’s 1/4″ thick.

Four discs nailed onto cabinet door

Lastly, you’ll need a hammer.

Nail guide, spacer and hammer on top of cabinet door with 12 rows of aluminum can discs to the right

First, put a punch onto a nail and hammer the nail into the pilot hole using the nail guide to hold it.

Then swap for the height setter. Slip the slot around the nail to hammer the rest of the way; it keeps the height of each nail consistent as you see below. If this sounds confusing, you’ll see exactly how assembly goes on the video.

close up picture of even spaced nails with aluminum can discs and drill press in background

Troubleshooting Broken Drill Bits

When you’re working with tiny 1mm drill bits, chances are they are going to break. The frustrating part is when they break off in the wood leaving some behind.

To remedy that, you can buy a special tool that drills around it so you can remove it. But then you have to install a wood plug to hide the hole. Instead, we chose to punch it deeper into the panel of the door.

Hand holding a punch to hammer in broken drill bit

Then we mix up two-part epoxy and fill the hole.

Using an orange stick to put epoxy glue into the pilot hole

Thread the nail through the punch, as usual, and set it into the glue. Use the 1/4″ spacer to set the height and tape it down while it dries.

Trouble shooting; setting the nail and disc in epoxy glue

Back on track! It’s so satisfying to hammer in that last nail!

Nail guide holding the last disc for the cabinet door art

We never want to forget the humble beginnings of the upcycle materials we use so we’re installing the knob back on the door again.

Hand holding cabinet knob above cabinet door art

Add a few felt pads on the back.

Felt pads for back of cabinet door art

Lastly, install the french cleat on the wall and reinstall the other half on the back of the door.

The level that comes with this particular kit is handy to ensure it hangs straight (although with our walls out of whack, you’ll see that it actually doesn’t look level further ahead).

hands screwing in metal french cleat with a screwdriver

Ready to hang!

Man hanging cabinet door art on wall

Now, step back and admire saving that oak door from landfill and the beauty of all those colourful drink cans.

Although this project took literal blood, sweat and tears to compete, it was all worth it. Why? Because for us, creating is fun and upcycled cabinet door art can be stunning.

Angle view of cabinet door art chevron pattern

Don’t those colours pop against the blue background?

By the way, there’s also a tutorial for painted end table you see under the cabinet door art.

pinnable image for cabinet door art

Now, just when you think it couldn’t be more striking, let’s see how it shimmers in the breeze!

Our newest project is this geometric wall art; perfect for winter decor or to hang in any space you want a touch of modern flare.

Pin Cabinet Door Art

Pinning is always welcome and appreciated!

pinnable image for cabinet door art

Door Do Over Challenge

Be sure to check out these creative door do over projects from the rest of the IBC team!

  1. Magical Upcycled Faux Wood Fairy Door
  2. Wooden Steampunk Christmas Tree
  3. Cabinet Door Art (that’s us!)

Handmade monday featured.jpg

10 thoughts on “Cabinet Door Art

  1. Oh my word, where do I start. Sorry about your pinky. That must’ve hurt. My hubby passes out at the sight of lots of blood so I think I’ll invest in one of those switch off foot plates (just in case I make a oopsie).

    Thanks for the brilliant tip on using a Veritas Plunge Base, BTW. I have one of those gathering dust somewhere.

    Now onto your gorgeous work of art. Wow!!! Sara, it looks amazing. The photos don’t do it justice like the little video. When the disks move it’s magical. What a great way to repurpose so many things.

    • I guess we have the advantage over the guys; we’re so used to seeing blood every month lol.

      I’m always so tickled when I can upcycle more than one thing and it comes together just like I imagined it! It’s so worth the blood, sweat and tears 😉.

  2. This looks amazing!!! Really love the colours of it

  3. Sara, this is very beautiful!! I love the colors and I can see why it’s your favorite. I still can’t believe you drilled through your finger and you were so calm! I would’ve been freaking out. I’m glad that it wasn’t more serious and I guess at least now in addition to a stunning piece of DIY art, you also have a good story to go along with it!!

    • Thank you Kim! I don’t know how I stayed so calm either but I suspect it was the adrenaline that did it! Not only do I have a good story, but I guess I can truly say now that I’m an artist that suffers for my art 🤣.

  4. This is so beautiful. What a gorgeous piece of art. This is a feature at Handmade Monday this week 🙂

    • That’s awesome Julie; thanks so much for dropping by to let us know!

    • Aw, thanks so much Sara! Ironically, that injury led to a much better – and safer – way to execute can crafts so I consider it a silver lining 🙂

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