4.) Functional Refinishing
Since you already have the cabinet doors off, you might want to make sure everything slots together properly.
Frequently, cabinets will be as old as the house itself. Over time, hinges will rust, squeak, loosen, and do all manner of interesting things that make your life just a little bit more difficult.
Even if they don’t, take the opportunity to add a few drops of oil to each hinge before you reattach them to sort out any squeaks before they happen. The smoother action is a bonus, and will allow you to sneak into the kitchen for midnight snacks without worrying about anyone waking up.
You might also want to take this opportunity to either change or polish your hinges and knobs. Brasso works great for stainless steel and brass, but don’t use it for copper, iron, or any metal you’re not sure of.
Metal polish will sort out quite a bit, but if you’re going to oil the hinges do it afterwards.
The mechanism that holds your doors shut will vary from cabinet to cabinet, but make sure they’re in good working order. Sometimes they’ll loosen up and have to be replaced entirely, but more often the failure to close is just caused by slight repositioning caused by the wood “migrating” due to temperature changes and can be undone with a screwdriver.
For the most part, cabinet mechanisms are amazingly simple and you’ll be able to figure out any flaws with a couple of hand tools and taking a close look at how they’re working.
Honestly, it can be kind of embarrassing to have a brand new looking set of cabinets with doors squeaking and flying open so just set aside a couple of hours to troubleshoot and fix anything that needs to be taken care of.
The main things to look at here:
- Knobs can get loose over time. If they’re not tightening up with a couple twists of the screwdriver, try pushing a small bit of wood putty into the hole with a toothpick and then putting the screw in again once it’s dry. This should let the screw bite again. If you have wooden knobs where the screw comes through the back of the cabinet you can do the same thing but put the putty in the hole in the knob itself.
- Hinges are the usual suspect. If they squeak, oil them, and if the door seems off balance or isn’t sitting properly in the hole then reattach them to compensate. If the hole is stripped out, either on the face of the cabinet or the door itself, then try the wood putty trick.
- Closure mechanisms vary widely and a one-size-fits-all solution isn’t really possible to describe. For the most part, you can fix them by repositioning. If they’re the metal “clasp” type, try moving the clasp inwards with a pair of needle-nose pliers before you commit to replacing it.
Once you’ve got all that finished, and you’ve set the cabinets back up, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the results of your handiwork.