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Making Curved Doors Revere MA

Curved doors and panels add elegance to any project, especially kitchen cabinets. Making these complicated parts requires careful planning and building. The task can be made much easier by using a flexible panel product called Kerfkore (see photo, below left).

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Making Curved Doors

Making Curved Doors

Kerfkore flexible panels handle curves with ease.

by Brad Holden

Curved doors and panels add elegance to any project, especially  kitchen cabinets. Making these complicated parts requires careful planning and building. The task can be made much easier by using a flexible panel product called Kerfkore (see photo, below left). It follows the same principle that cabinetmakers use when they saw multiple kerfs on the back of a piece of plywood to make it flexible. A disadvantage to this saw-kerfing method is the risk of the face veneer cracking or kinking at the kerfs, spoiling the curve’s smooth surface. Kerfcore’s advantage is that that the kerfing is done for you. Its flexible paper backing provides a smooth surface to attach your veneer. 

There are several important tricks and techniques to working with Kerfkore but it’s a surprisingly easy material to work with. I’ll walk you through the main steps of making a curved door with Kerfkore from layout to final trimming. Information on using Kerfkore in other applications can be found at the Web site www.kerfkore.com.

What is Kerfkore?

Kerfkore is a very flexible panel made of 3/8-in.-wide ribs spaced 1/8 in. apart on a paper backer sheet. The spaces between the ribs allows the board to flex. The flexible backer sheet provides a smooth surface for veneering. The ribs in different Kerfkore products are made of particleboard, luan plywood, poplar plywood, MDF, fire-rated treated particleboard or lightweight styrene foam. These different cores have different weights, strengths and screw-holding characteristics. The particleboard core works well for general-purpose doors, such as those for kitchen cabinets. 

Kerfkore with paper backer on both sides is also available. This makes the material more rigid and somewhat easier to handle and enables you to create a curve that turns into a straight run. To make the two-sided variety bend, you cut the backer on one side with a utility knife where you need the bend to occur. 

Kerfkore comes in 4-ft. by 8-ft. sheets in 1/4-in., 3/8-in., 1/2-in., 5/8-in. and 3/4-in. thicknesses and costs between $40 and $125 per sheet (see Sources, below). 

Pick Your Veneer

Photo 1: Your three main veneer choices are two-ply wood veneer (shown here), phenolic-backed (plastic-laminate) wood veneer or vertical-grade plastic laminate. The two-ply veneer is the most flexible of the three and is easily cut with a utility knife or scissors. The phenolic-backed veneer and plastic laminate must be sawn or scored and snapped. The cut edge of the two-ply veneer leaves a dark line that may show on your finished door, depending on the wood species and the finish you apply. The phenolic-backed veneer and plastic laminate both leave a black edge line. 

Make a Full-Size Drawing

Photo 2: Use a top-view drawing to determine the size of the Kerfkore panel and the angles at the edges. T...

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