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Old 03-28-2011, 09:57 AM   #1
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1971 25' Tradewind
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Rebuilding Cabinet Doors

Has anyone tried rebuilding their cabinet doors?

We have a '71 Tradewind. The doors in ours are made of cardboard honeycomb faced on each side with a skin of plastic wood veneer and surrounded by a frame of extruded aluminum trim that fits the interior parts.

One of the cabinets below the desk is missing its door entirely. We are also interested in replacing the fake wood with real birch veneer. Do we modify, or do we create new doors from scratch?

I can build a new desk cabinet door from the salvaged trim and latch from the bathroom closet door (we're putting a shower in there). We can replace the fake wood veneer on the skin of the doors with real veneer.

We are on the fence about the functionality and attractiveness of the flush plastic cabinet latches. I haven't seen any alternatives that don't bring their own set of disadvantages.

Has anyone repaired, modified or replaced the cabinet doors on a '70s vintage Airstream? What did you do? What did you learn? What materials did you use?

Thanks for any and all input.
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:13 AM   #2
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can you post pics. early 70's are quite different. I've seen 1970 trailers with 1969 parts. 1973 did not have cabinet doors but had tambour. In the early seventies they went from wood to plastic. many variables . pics would be very helpful
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:25 AM   #3
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Cabinet Doors

If you read my blog you can see what I've done to our '74 Argosy. I built new base cabinets for both sides of the galley. There are before and after pics. Also removed all of the plastic looking stuff and made new face frames and doors for the upper cabinets. I left the original upper frames in place, just removed the doors. Then made the face frames and doors.
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:24 PM   #4
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Luckily all of ours were still intact, so we've left them alone - however the 71 tambour is horrible (being made of pressed fiber rather than wood or plastic) and we've slowly replacing it with traditional-style cabinet doors as they fail (the vertical-mounted seems to go first). Having looked at options on possibly getting rid of our aluminum-framed plastic-ness, we've actually grown quite fond of it because of it's strength and weight.
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:05 PM   #5
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These are the doors in question - the swinging ones, not the tamour uppers. We'd like the interior to be birch and have already replaced the dead and dying tambour with birch sliding doors. But the bigger doors are harder to replace. Re-facing them might be simpler.

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Old 03-28-2011, 02:17 PM   #6
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Yup -- we have the same wardrobe in ours -- I'll be curious what answers you get. Most people rip them out and replace with custom woodwork, which will be much heavier than the original units, where we've opted to keep ours the way it is and work with colors and styles that compliment the rich history of the early 70's You might be able to simply replace the missing door at one of the salvage yards, or perhaps someone doing a full monte can spare one of the originals here on the forum?
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:23 PM   #7
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Not sure if I've seen this done here, but it once struck me that just gluing real veneer over the plastic (we have the same stuff) might work.

But I'm not going to be the pioneer, first to try it...
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:29 PM   #8
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Cabinets Replaced

We were faced with a similar situation on our "78" Ambassador. Our cabinets were "dated" and worn, missing hardware, ect. We decided to replace most of the cabinets and mid-bunks with mahogany faced cabinets. I was surprised how well they matched some of the remaining vinyl veneer. I even salvaged some of the tambour to use in the galley doors to retain some of the original ambiance. This was our winter project and went together rather well. For anyone attempting this...get yourself a Kreg Jig. It makes face fronts and cabinet doors a snap.

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Old 03-28-2011, 02:35 PM   #9
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V-E-R-Y nice! Can you please tell me, is the fabric that is on the bulkhead between the sleeping area and the bathroom some kind of cane material?
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:54 PM   #10
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If the cabinet face is in fair to good shape you can use birch veneer to cover it. I used a product called Heat Lock that was sold by the veneer dealer to adhere the veneer. I roughed up the plastic with sandpaper first. You will need to put a finish on the veneer once you have applied the veneer. I use half poly varnish and half tung oil finish and apply with a cloth. Make sure you seal the edges. There is a thread regarding finishes with a lot of great ideas about finishing. I do remember the veneer as being somewhat expensive when you need large sheets.
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Old 03-28-2011, 03:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadrunner View Post
We were faced with a similar situation on our "78" Ambassador. Our cabinets were "dated" and worn, missing hardware, ect. We decided to replace most of the cabinets and mid-bunks with mahogany faced cabinets. I was surprised how well they matched some of the remaining vinyl veneer. I even salvaged some of the tambour to use in the galley doors to retain some of the original ambiance. This was our winter project and went together rather well. For anyone attempting this...get yourself a Kreg Jig. It makes face fronts and cabinet doors a snap.

Bob
That is impressive -- BTW, did you paint the front ABS cap (I can't tell if you did or if it's the reflection from the sofa)? If so, what prep did you do to it, and what paint?
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Old 03-28-2011, 03:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhilley View Post
If the cabinet face is in fair to good shape you can use birch veneer to cover it. I used a product called Heat Lock that was sold by the veneer dealer to adhere the veneer. I roughed up the plastic with sandpaper first. You will need to put a finish on the veneer once you have applied the veneer. I use half poly varnish and half tung oil finish and apply with a cloth. Make sure you seal the edges. There is a thread regarding finishes with a lot of great ideas about finishing. I do remember the veneer as being somewhat expensive when you need large sheets.
Thanks! That sounds like a fairly simple job to do. Birch veneer is fairly light in colour, but IIRC it can take a nice stain. Tung and poly varnish would go to a medium tone, wouldn't it? Lighter than walnut, say, but not like the unfinished birch, right?
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:54 PM   #13
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Cabinet Doors

As I was preparing to build new cabinet doors a friend introduced me to an outfit that only makes cabinet doors and drawers. I had all of the cabinet doors made for less than I could have purchased the wood. They are built correctly and the proper sizes. I did not have them finish the doors, just stain ready. They are made out of the wood you specify.

Home Page

You may have to have a contractor friend order them or open an account. They are much better than my attempt would have been.
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:23 PM   #14
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The varnish/tung oil finish darkens the color a tone or two but doesn't change the actual color. I was a boat builder and used the combo on all kinds of wood. It always dries hard and I think it is the most durable finish you can use. I wouldn't change to color of the birch, but if you wanted to some type of water based stain would probably be best. I think the birch would take at least 3 coats to look nice, Always try a sample! Probably semi gloss would look best, according to your taste. This site is loaded with woodworkers with lots of great ideas. Bet you get more great suggestions.
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