2 simple panel doors, roughly 26" x 21", made of 1/4 Birch Ply and 1x3
Oak. I guess the first question should be, are they too big for one
panel? Should I be looking at putting a slat across the middle to help
I don't have a router table, and I am skeptical of my ability to line up
tongues and grooves well enough. I wondered if I could make the rails
and stiles both with grooves, using small "splines" (if that's the right
word) to join them together. I looked online and found a video that
suggests just that.
I've got lots of puzzlements. The first is, how deep should I make the
grooves? Is 3/8" deep enough? If so, it would be pretty easy to cut
"splines" from the same Oak 1x3, since they'd need to be 3/4" wide.
Here's my "off the top of my head" plan.
Do the math, based on the groove depth I choose.
Cut the Oak rails and stiles to length.
Rout the grooves. (could it be better to rout the full lengths of the
stock, then cut to length?)
Make the splines.
Cut the panels. Should I make them a hair small, I wonder? Or is there
something to be gained by having them fit right to the bottom of the groove?
Prepare the various surfaces, BEFORE assembly. I assume that any kind of
sanding/scraping/planing will be pretty difficult once I glue up the doors.
Ease the edges and corners.
Glue up the doors, (including gluing in the panel edges I think),
clamping the rails and stiles flat on a flat surface in addition to
across the width of the door.
Struggle with finishing, as usual.
Thanks in advance.
Certainly can....a contrasting wood can even make them a feature if cut
That's plenty for a ply panel--it should be 1/16" short on each edge or
Cut them to length as wide stock, then rip to width.
Don't have TS? I'd use it instead. But, it certainly shouldn't take
more than an hour or so to make a perfectly suitable router mount for as
simple a job as this if that's what you've got to use.
Yes, no, and lots to lose, nothing to gain, respectively... :) Even ply
moves _some_ and if tight, it'll either buckle it or pop the joint(s).
Absolutely not the latter, at least more than a single point on one side
and I don't do that. You can use the panel "space balls" or some
homebrew variation of same to prevent panels from rattling around (see
Rockler catalog amongst many others for specifics if don't know what
Assemble on a flat surface, indeed. But, if stock is finished square
and true, the door should glue up flat and w/o twist. Trying to achieve
that by forcing it into a plane if it isn't will not succeed long term.
On key is to dry fit and then don't over-clamp--if it fits, all it
takes is pulling the joints together and holding them there; if it
doesn't it won't matter how hard you force it, it'll not last long.
doors. I place a clamp on the backside of the door to pull the stiles
toward the rail, and then use spring clamps to clamp the stile to the bar
clamp. I then release the pressure on the bar clamp momentarily to let the
spring clamps press the stiles to the rail and then re-tighten. I do the
same procedure on the other end of the door, but also use a clamp to squeeze
the bottom rail toward the panel, making it slightly tight.
Another helpful hint from Heloise, when I apply my glue to the rail joints,
I use cheap school watercolor brushes to spread the glue so that it doesn't
go where I don't want it, which is toward the panel. I feel like this also
spreads the glue more evenly for a better joint. I stole, shamelessly, this
from a discussion in Woodweb, where this dude was using flux brushes. He
said it really solved a bottleneck in production.
I also use wax paper scraps between the door and clamp, where there is any
glue. This prevents those dreaded black spots. A cabinetmaker who was my
first mentor in the 80's used newspaper and it seemed to work. But he
didn't use a brush to apply glue and I remember going for years having to
use a utility knife to remove the squeeze-out in those little corners.
One minor detail which is imperative to remember is to put a framing square
on the door while the glue is still wet and diagonally clamp the door if
necessary to achieve a square door.
I know you are experienced and I like your helpful attitude. I just wanted
to throw this in for the benefit of others who might benefit from my
missnakes in the past, which have been many.
Splines in grooves is a good utilitarian approach.
Yes 3/8" deep.
If you do your grooves tight to the thickness of the ply you can make
your splines from the ply too.
Cut the panels 1/8" undersize
Do not glue the panels in, let them float
Lite pressure to glue up, there is not a plane that needs pressure in
Use epoxy or poly glue if the splines are loose
No one is going to see the tops and bottoms of these doors. Still, I
think it would bug me to see that. I am also not sure I will get the
groove "tight". I've been musing on that very thing, actually. Someone
suggested using a slot cutter that is smaller than the ply
thickness(1/8" say), in two passes, experimenting on scrap until you get
a good fit. I'm not sure if I'll go to that trouble. Maybe.
Two people have suggested this so far. I tend to overtighten things in
general, so that's useful advice. I think I can see why it would be a
mistake in this case.
Hmmm. I think I can make the splines fit snugly, as I will be cutting
them myself. But do you mean that those types of glue fill gaps?
A piece of mdf and a 2x4 for a fence make a fine router table.
Using a basic slot cutter with a 1/4" cutter will work fine for
With a little practice you could even do it with a hand held
router but a simple table is much easier.
Here is a simple router table:
You can also cut your grooves with a table saw quite easily.
Here is another approach using the splines you mentioned.
On 11/3/2011 3:35 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:
All good suggestions. If you build a quicky router table you could
then use a slot (groove) cutter and partner tenon (tongue) cutter or
go with full blown cope and stick router bit set. Either way you get
to spend lots of money on router bits. ;^)
Heck, you might as well buy a whole router table setup. I can suggest
the Woodpeckers large size phenolic top with steel table, sidwinder
router lift, super fence and variable pressure feather boards. I am
Why heck! One could buy a used industrial shaper for as much. And maybe a
power feed as well with the left-over "spare change". There be lots of this
stuff floating around these days with cabinet shops closing up daily.
Shaper cutters can cost less than router bits also, staying sharper longer
and doing the job better.
I made an extension to my table saw in the 80's that has a Porter Cable base
attched underneath that has been the only router table I have needed. I've
never done sticking, coping, or panel raising with a router, though I have
done some back-cutting on panels with a router at times.
For me, I found that a 5.5 mm slot cutter is closer to the thickness of 1/4"
plywood so there is no slop. I use 1/4" cutters on raised panels.
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