Wardrobe Doors

There have been several solutions on TheSamba.com to make the hanging wardrobe more practical.
One solution is to cut the lower portion off the mirrored wardrobe door so it swings over the table then fix the cut off portion into the door opening. I discounted this solution as it still means anything on the table has to be moved before anything could be removed from the hanging wardrobe.

Another was to completely rebuild the wall, installing shelves and sliding doors instead of the hinged doors. I didn't want to rebuild the whole wardrobe cupboard.

And, as we seldom use clothes that require hanging while camping, the wardrobe seems a waste of space.
So, the plan is to mount a second door in the side of the wardrobe. Inside the wardrobe will be fitted with shelves leaving a small amount of hanging space. (We can squeeze more clothes in that way, too!)

I bought a second cupboard door, trim and hardware. A new door opening is to be cut in the side of the wardrobe. The new door will be inverted so it will open easier from over the back of the seat.

Click on the image to see it full size.

Wardrobe Doors

The Markup.

After measuring the new door, a cardboard template was traced onto the wardrobe where the opening will be. The surface was covered with masking tape which prevented chipping the surface. The cut is halfway finished, being made with a fine tooth metal blade in a jigsaw.

Top Shelf.

A shelf was made out of 3/8" thick Baltic birch plywood and mounted 31" (78cm) up from the bottom. Three corners are suspended from metal brackets screwed to the wardrobe walls.

Only 3" (75mm) of the hanging space will be retained. A hanging bar is fastened to the shelf, allowing 32" (81cm) high hanging space, enough for shirts and slacks. To make hanging clothes easier, the shelf tapers narrower toward the opening.

The black bits are tape to hold things in place temporarily.

End Shelves

A plywood vertical divider of 1/8" Baltic Birch was fitted between the shelf and the hanging space. It continues above the top shelf and provides support and a back for each shelf. The top shelf will be accessable only from the end door, as shown.

The small shelves (about 6 X 6" or 15 X 15cm) will be used for cooking supplies - condiments, spices etc., and medications. The theory is that these items will be used when the table is already swung out of the way

Side Shelves

The new side shelves viewed through the new door opening.

Each shelf is 16" (40cm) long by 7" (18cm) wide and 7 to 9" (18-23cm) high. They were finished with a clear spray lacquer on both sides.

Slotting Tool

Before the edge trim and door trim could be fitted, a slot needed to be cut into the edges of the plywood. I finally found a suitable tool to cut these slots.

It is a DremelTM motor tool and a DremelTM shaping disk, PN 543. It cuts a slot just under 5/64" (2mm) wide and up to 3/4" (20mm) deep. This is too deep for the door trim, so I made an aluminum collar to fit onto the mandrel which limits the cutter depth to 8mm.

Slotting Underway

The DremelTM tool with attached router base is held firmly onto the wardrobe wall and slowly worked around the opening. I found it best to cut only about 2mm depth per pass.

Make sure the slot is centred in the thickness of the wall material.

Fitting Opening Trim

Warm the trim until it is just flexible. A hair dryer works great for this, there is no need to heat the trim till is is floppy.

Hammer one end into the slot so it will be hidden under a hinge. Then, about 4 or 5" (12cm) away, press the next section of the free edging into the slot - leaving a hump as shown. Now work from the free end (on the left in photo) towards the already fixed portion and hammer the hump down with a soft mallet or block of wood. Working in this manner prevents the trim from stretching as it is forced into the slot. If you just work continuously from the start to the end, the job will look great until the trim gets cold and shrinks away from the wood at the corners. By bunching it up a little first, you compress the trim along its length as you force it into the slot.

Trim Installed

The trim is now completely installed. Yes, there is a gap because this old trim had already shrunk. But the gap will be hidden by the hinge.

This trick can be used as a fix for old cabinet trim that has pulled away from the corners. If you simply heat the trim and hammer or press it back into the corners, it will hold until it gets cold again, then pull right back out.

Remove the hinges, warm the trim a little and pull it out past the corners. Then bunch it and hammer it back in the slot, taking care to fill the corners. If the gap under one hinge is too big, cut the trim under the other hinge and work the other end of it around the other way leaving a second gap under the second hinge. Make sure the hinges go back in their correct location because the holes in the trim where the screws WERE, aren't where they will be now.

Reversing a Hinge

Because the door will be turned 180o, the hinges will be upside down. To reverse the hinges, simply knock out the pin from the hinge frame and drive it in from the other side. Likewise, drive the plug out of the door portion of the hinge and put it into the other side.

Door Fitting

Now that the trim is installed, it is time to fit the door to the opening. In the end, I discarded the spare door I had bought (it was brown) and used the plug cut out of the wardrobe. It had to be sized down to fit the opening. This meant sanding the edges down all around until there was at least a 1/8" (3mm) on every side. 1/16" (1.5mm) will be taken up by the trim to be fitted to the door, and the rest will be needed for the hinges and latch and room for the door to swing out of the opening. The flange on the door trim will cover about 5/16" (8mm), so make the gap wide enough the first time! Otherwise you will be removing the trim out of the opening and sanding more.

Yes, there is a dark spot on the lower right corner - a 1/4" (6mm) hole where I started the jigsaw! If I had thought I would be using the cutout piece as the door, I would have used 3 small holes in line - which would have been sanded away.

Slotting for Hinges

Cut a slot around the edge of the door with the DremelTM tool and shaping disc, just as done into the wardrobe wall.

Before fitting the trim to the door, note and mark where the hinges will go. If you are using old trim, there will be slots in the trim. Deeper slots will have to be made in the door edge to accommodate the hinges.

I don't know how Westfaliawerke made those slots originally! I finally found a long shank dental burr in the DremelTM tool worked. I clamped a piece of angle iron to the door to ensure I made the slot parallel to the face of the door. Also make sure the slot is slightly off centre, towards the inside of the door, or the hinges will try to bend when the door is closed.

Warming the Door Edge Trim

Warm the door edge trim just enough to follow the curves and fit the spline into the slot.

Fitting the Door Trim

With a block of wood, hammer the spline into the slot. There is no need to try to compress it as was done with the opening edge trim.

When the trim is completely fitted, drive a staple or nail through the trim ends to hold them firmly. If it does try to shrink it will not pull away from the corners - only tighter onto the door.

Fitting a Hinge

The hinges were held in the door with one pop rivet each. I found that the hole needed to be 5/16" (8mm) from the edge of the door, including trim. Here, the hinge is not pushed right in yet, but is being used to locate where the hole will be.

When drilling, take care to drill deep enough for the head of the rivet to fit through the hole in the hinge, but NOT so deep it goes right through the door.

When pulling the pop rivet up tight, if the door surface looks like it is cracking or caving in, just break off the rivet WITHOUT allowing the tool to finish pulling it till it "pops".

Cutting the Latch Hole

I traced the hole for the latch from the old door to the new one. Then each corner was drilled with a 5/8" Forstner bit with a block of wood clamped to the back of the door to prevent chipping. Finally the hole was cut with a coping saw and filed to exactly the right size for the latch.

Only after fitting this latch did I discover there are two types of catches used on the door opening! One with a bent up bevelled edge requires that the latch be mounted further back from the edge of the door. The other, with a simple flat catch requires the latch be mounted closer to the edge of the door. Live and learn!

The Finished Project

Finally done and it looks just like the Photoshopped version! Other than the new door having brown trim and hardware (off the spare door I bought), this looks like it could have been a factory fit.

We won't know until the first camping trip how well it is going to work.

The author takes no responsibility for anyone else making these modifications.
Photos provided by owner. Contact the postmaster for permission for use.

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Last updated February 06, 2016

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