A Hidden Magnetic Door Catch
This subtle, magnetic method remains unseen
Synopsis: Concealed rare-earth magnets are an invisible and quiet way to hold cabinet doors closed. Joe Morgan hides a single magnet in a mortise in the door and a stack of smaller ones in the carcase, adding function to his furniture without sacrificing clean lines. Morgan explains how to cut the mortises with a plunge router and how to determine the number of magnets you need.
While there are many types of latches to hold cabinet doors in place, most don’t pull me in. I find protruding mechanisms visually unappealing, and I don’t like the sound of latches hitting each other. So I turn to another method: hidden magnets. Concealed rare-earth magnets provide a pristine look and quiet operation. When done right, the magnets have a subtle grab that makes opening and closing a door a pleasure.
For each door, you need one 3⁄4-in.-dia. and four to six 3⁄8-in.-dia. neodymium disk magnets. Each should be 1⁄8 in. thick. You will also need a plunge router. I use mine with a mortising jig adapted from Michael Fortune’s article “Try this Versatile Mortising Jig” (FWW #198). You could also simply clamp a wide base to the door and attach a fence to your router. Just make sure the router is stable.
Mortising the Doors
After the door is built and trimmed to fit, you’re ready to rout the mortise for the magnet. The mortise should be 1⁄8 in. deeper than the magnet’s diameter so you can glue in a plug to conceal the hole. On the edge of the door, lay out the mortise. Inset the mortise at least 1⁄8 in. from the inside face of the door, and mark the length to ensure wiggle room for the 3⁄4-in.-dia. magnet. With the workpiece secured and the router stable, out…