Can I replace the panel insert with glass?

Sharon E. Hines
by Sharon E. Hines
I want to take the panel insert out of the cabinet doors above the fridge and replace it with leaded glass. One repairman told me that the insert is too flimsy to hold glass. (referring to the routered edge that the glass would rest on) I really want the glass look. I'd love a second opinion and/or suggestions for other options.
q can i replace the panel insert with glass, kitchen cabinets
  15 answers
  • Maria S Maria S on Nov 13, 2012
    I don't know about the structure but I saw a tutorial on HGTV doing the very same thing here.

  • Sure you can. However some of these types of cabinets are constructed in a fashion that will not allow for a simple change out. Basically there are two ways to hold the panel in place. One which is done by cutting grove in each board that surrounds the door panel, then the panel is placed into the grove as the edge boards are glued into place. The other type is door that have the frame put together, then the panel is placed into a notch that was cut during the construction phase. once panel is placed into that notch, a small trim board is tacked into place to keep the panel from falling out. Much like a picture frame that holds the glass and photo, but can be taken apart to change the photo. If your cabinet is like the latter, then simply and carefully using a putty knife and small hammer remove the trim to release the wooden panel. Then cut glass to fit, and replace Ideally a 1/8 or thicker glass is suggested for strength. If your door frames do not allow that release of the panel by removal of trim, you can carefully using a small router cut out the top half of the groove to release the panel. Once out, cut glass and using a very tiny 1/4 round molding tack it into place to hold the glass. No router? a Super sharp wood chisel and knife can remove this sliver of wood that holds the panel in place. It is just a bit more difficult to accomplish, but it can be done. The HGTV link is good also shows you how to remove the tiny amount of board that is holding the door panel in place, however unless your really handy with a circular saw, I would not even attempt to try to do it in this fashion. Way to risky and you chance to hurt yourself or the cabinet.

  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Nov 13, 2012
    @Woodbridge Environmental It looks like the door is the latter type of door as the panel is inset into a groove in the door frame. But, the panel insert is held in by something metal rather than a piece of trim. I can't tell if it's a nail, clip or what. But it does remind me of the way a picture frame holds glass/backing etc. Do you think I can remove the panel by clipping the metal out? If so, how will the glass fit into the door frame?

  • You may be able to pry the clips out. They may not allow the thickness of the leaded glass insert though. I have use glazing points and clear silicone caulk to secure glass in place if there was not room for molding.

  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Nov 13, 2012
    Thank you, @Brian Campbell, Basswood Artisan Carpentry . I meant to say seeded glass. Will that make a difference? So, If I can get the panel out and take the door frames to a glass company to measure and cut the glass, they will also silicone the glass in the door. If I add glazing points, should everything be secure enough?

    • Barb Burnham Barb Burnham on Feb 07, 2015
      The silicone is enough to hold the glass holds solid glass shower panels up and they weight up to 350 lbs each.

  • The seeded glass is likely thinner, which gives you more room to work with, otherwise, not so different.

  • Can you take a close up photo of the back side of the door to show the type of clips you have? The wood panel should be around 1/8 inch thick so that will be fine with the glass. A glazing point should be fine to hold the glass in place. As Brian Campbell said clear silicon will also help secure as well. You do not need a lot of that also. Just a tiny bead will be fine.

  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Nov 14, 2012
    Yes, and thank you @Woodbridge Environmental . I took these photos with my cell phone...if you need better ones, let me know.

  • Yes the photos appear to be blurred, there should be a setting on the phone for close up shots. My question is the panels set into a grove or is the panel being held into place by these metal clips. I am wondering if they were put in to just keep the board from making noise when the door is open or closed?

  • Jaye L Jaye L on Nov 14, 2012
    The previous owners of our house did that to one of the kitchen cabinets but using plexiglass. You wouldn't know the difference.

    • Barb Burnham Barb Burnham on Feb 07, 2015
      Plexiglass is not good in this application. Too easy to scratch; too hard to clean without permanently scratching.

  • the only issue using plexiglass is that it scratches over time. A good quality 1/8 inch glass would be fine, you can also get tempered glass, but much more expensive.

  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Nov 14, 2012
    @Woodbridge Environmental , I believe the panels are set into the groove and the metal clips appear to be an extra measure.

  • Then you would need to cut out one side of the grove to release the panel out of the frame. Sharp chisel or utility knife should do the trick. Just be real careful so not to cut yourself.

  • Karen Karen on Feb 07, 2015
    A large panel of stained/leaded glass will be quite heavy. Be sure to consider that.

  • Swinnen Lisette Swinnen Lisette on May 22, 2016
    I would double the frame with hardboard to hold the leaded glass. By cutting the inside square out in the hardboard, slight smaller than the outside frame, you create a groove where the inside panels were in with a good back to rest the glass in. Then be sure verify the hardware. The doors are then a bit thicker than the rest..