Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

In my latest project, a built-in bookcase for the living room, I made my first attempt at building shaker cabinet doors. I went back and forth on how to do it, but finally decided on a combination of groove joints and pocket holes. The more traditional method is full tongue and groove joints, but I figured I could come up with something in the middle ground. This method with grooves and pocket holes was super simple and effective AND the doors turned out great! What more could you ask for!?

This tutorial is written for ONE 11″ x 21 1/2″ door.

Enjoy the free plans!

Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

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Tools & Supplies


  • 1  |   1 x 3 @ 6′
  • 1  |   1/4″ Plywood project panel


  • 2  |   1 x 3 @ 21 1/2″ (stiles)
  • 2  |   1 x 3 @ 6″ (rails)
  • 1  |   1/4″ Plywood @ 6 3/8″ x 16 7/8″ (Center panel. I cut it 1/8″ narrower than the width of the grooves to allow the panel to move as the wood expands or contracts)

Step 1.

Route a 1/4″ groove along the center of the rails and stiles. Cut a stopped groove about 2″ from the top of the stile to 2″ from the bottom of the stile. This prevents any unsightly gaps in the top or bottom of the cabinet door once it’s assembled. For more information on how to cut a stopped groove safely, see this great video from Rockler.

Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

Cut a 1/4″ groove along the full length of the rails.

Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

Step 2.

Insert panel into the stiles and bottom rail. Adjust until the stiles and rail are flush. Clamp in place and attach with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.

Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

Step 3.

Repeat for the other side of the door. Clamp the rail in place and attach with wood glue 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.

This is the back of your door:

Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

Wood glue does not take stain, so make sure to remove any wood glue from the surface of the wood.

Flip it over and admire your masterpiece!

Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

Once the wood glue dries, sand and finish your door as desired.

I stained the doors with Varathane Weathered Wood Accelerator in brown (available at Home Depot) and attached them to my brand new built-in bookshelf!

Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

Easy Shaker Cabinet Doors

Reader Interactions


  1. Julie Allen says

    I love doing DIY projects, especially on wood furniture. I had a bookcase hutch not too different from yours that I was going to make shutter cabinet doors for- seriously! Just like this. I ended up doing something else that was easier for my situation. But I love how yours have turned out.

  2. John Wells says

    Your your rail is 6″ wide but your plywood is cut 4-1/2″ x 22″?
    How does that work?
    Wouldn’t you need a 6-1/2″ wide plywood?

    • tylynn_sattler says

      Wow … not sure what kind of math I was doing. Yes, I made a mistake with the plywood dimensions – should be 6.5″x17″ for the size doors I made. Does that sound correct?

      • tylynn_sattler says

        Cut the first pass at 1/8″ and the second pass at 1/4″. Don’t route the full 1/4″ on the first pass or you risk binding on the bit.

  3. Dave says

    You shouldn’t glue the grooves to allow expansion and contraction between the wood and plywood

    • tylynn_sattler says

      Thanks for the tip. I’ll make that update to the tutorial. Still learning over here!

    • tylynn_sattler says

      I used birch since it’s the cheapest of the nice plywood. If you’re painting, you could also use MDF since you won’t see the wood grain at all.

    • tylynn_sattler says

      I didn’t have any glue run off with these doors, but if you do – use a damp rag to wipe away any excess glue while it’s still wet. If you let it dry, you can scrape it off with a chisel or sand it off.

  4. Sarah says

    I had all my kitchen cabinets redone by a cabinet painter a few weeks ago, and ever since I’ve been itching to do a DIY and build new cabinet doors for my mudroom. I’m a home improvement newbie, but your process seems totally doable. I think I’m going to tackle it one of these weekends, and hopefully, it turns out as good as yours! Wish me luck!!