I tried my hand at making a couple of cabinet doors this weekend and
they came out OK for a first try. I don't have a Rail and Stile bit
set (yet) so here's what I did, just to make a couple of protoypes to
The frame was made from 3/4 poplar, the panel was 1/4 luan.
I used a round-over bit on the inside of the 2 3/4" frame, a cove bit
on the outside and a 1/4" straight bit for the plywood panel.
I used miter joints at the corners and #10 biscuits to join them.
Things I learned:
1 - I need a new 1/4 straight bit
2 - My miter saw needs a bit of adjustment
3 - When you do an eyeball test with #0 biscuits and set the biscuit
joiner to #0, then decide that you have room for #10 biscuits, you
really should change the setting on the joiner or it's really hard to
get the miters to close fully. #10 biscuits in a #0 slot are really
tight! ;-) I guess that's why we dry fit first, isn't it?
OK, so if I decide that I'm really going to make 19 doors and 6
drawers, I need to improve my process. I'm considering using a Rail
and Stile bit set but before I invest in a set, I have 2 main
1 - Is a PC 690 (1 3/4 HP, single speed) router powerful enough to use
with a Rail and Stile bit set?
2 - What's the trick to ensure a perfectly square cope on the end
grain of the rails?
I've been checking out some videos and doing some reading on making
cabinet doors, but I'm very open to all suggestions, including books
1) Surely ought to be...
2) As said before, use stock wide enough for several rails and cut them
in one pass, then rip to width. Crosscut them square w/ the sled on the
TS first, then run them along the fence on the shaper/router table.
Cut the slot w/ TS instead of router or if going to use a router get a
slotting cutter, not a standard 1/4' bit. You have to be sure it
matches your ply thickness correctly though; the undersized/metric stuff
is a royal pita...
Again, make your sizes consistent to have only a couple or maybe three
different sizes overall and make the pieces in bulk.
And, of course, then forget about the miters--when they're square
they'll just fall together square w/ the least amount of pressure
For speed there, instead of clamps set up an assembly table w/ a rail
against which to put one side and cross pieces between as many as you
can have room for. Then a second rail on the opposite and just use
wedges to apply pressure. Or, if you want to get fancy, make the oval
cams and fasten them on one side/ends. Much faster than messing w/ clamps.
And, of course, for simple tool cabinet doors/drawer fronts you can "go
shaker" and forget the shaping entirely and also cut the end dadoes on
the TS...you can dress up the outer edge after assembly or before and if
you really, really want the inner edge rounded it can be done, too, just
set up a stop to leave the ends for the joint to not have to do the
coping cut for a matching cut/cope.
Well, I gotta admit that not one site I've visited, and I just went
through about 6, all from different sources, offers that advice. Every
thing I've read says to use a sled or a push block to keep the rails
square with the fence.
I'm not saying that your suggestion doesn't have merit, I'm just saying
that I haven't come across a cabinet door building site - video, text or
PDF - that suggests that method.
If I'm using a rail and stile bit, why do I need to cut the slot on a
table saw or slot cutter? I only used the 1/4" bit because, as I said, I
don't have a rail and stile bit yet.
That ain't gonna happen. I'm making doors for stick built cabinets so I
have to match what is already there. There's at least 5 different widths
and 6 different heights.
That's a thought. I recently picked up three flat doors that someone was
throwing out, figuring I would at some time need tables for something. I
could glue up a bunch of doors if I laid the "tables" end to end across
BTW...just ran across this free router e-book. Lots of tip and techniques.
You lookin' for how to do it quickly, weren't you? I'm tellin' ya'...
It's trivial; use scaling of cutting fewer individual pieces in more detail.
I've been doing this for some 50 yr now...the "trick" was in the
original handout on making windows/doors/etc. that Delta/Rockwell used
to distribute (like up to the '60s into the '70s) w/ their shapers
reprinted from an industrial arts text...
If you don't plan ahead and have to have all the multiple sizes, do the
best you can to make as many sets of the same as you can at a given time
but even if it's only the top and bottom rails, cutting them at the same
time ensures they're the same length.
One last comment...
Just 'cuz stuff isn't on the web doesn't mean much--it is very new
medium and very little if any that I've seen has anything other than a
single, one-at-a-time approach.
Years ago, industrial production before mill shops were CNC programming
and 4-sided shapers, they were manual operations such as this. In fact,
my old Rockwell/Delta Model 13 planer came from such a mill where they
had an array of 27 of them--9 rows of 3 w/ four operators for each row.
Roughly prepared stock came in and they were preset for three passes
to final thickness and then it went to a series of lines that worked
basically as I described. I got this one when they upgraded these to
18" and cut the lines from 9 to 5 in one of the first (somewhat feeble)
attempts to reduce manpower costs. That was in early 70s.
And, if one thinks that all there is to be learned is on the web...
There was/is a whole industry of production woodworking _long_ before
internet was even imagined. There's a "veritable plethora" of
production techniques that were developed before fully automated 4-sided
shapers, etc., and mill shops were mostly handwork instead of CNC
I was fortunate to have had an instructor when still in HS who had such
experience and then to have been in VA before the last of the mills was
automated and to work w/ some old codgers down there...
There is a lot of stuff on the web, granted, but virtually everything
I've seen is new guys basically inventing on their own or copying
one-of-a-kind stick-by-stick techniques and almost all know nothing of
anything other than a router.
What I outlined turns it from doing a single rail/stile at a time into
making a set for at least a full door at a time if not for multiple doors.
I just finished last year the windows for the barn -- 20 of them suckers
4-lite each. 5/4x8 rough stock so did 4 bottom rails and 5 tops at a
time on the length/end cuts, 4 side rails and 7 muntins.
These are full length tenons w/ coping cut (stub cutter on shaper) so
one starts w/ the length, cut the base tenon w/ double-blade setup on
the TS w/ a tenon jig, then the coping cut. Follow w/ rip the stiles,
cut the mortises, then stick the inner edge.
The muntins are also cut to length in a piece of full-width stock and
the coping cut made across the end as described against the shaper
fence--since it's already square, there's nothing to deal with to keep
them that way. Then one sticks the two outer edges, rips those two
(again the TS fence doesn't have to move as one continues) off and
sticks the other edge of each and then sticking is cut on the two
remaining outside edges and process repeats.
Far, far faster and especially more repeatable than cutting out a piece
at a time as every demo I've seen on the web would have you do...
OK, I'm learning and I appreciate the time you've spent explaining the
I'm confused by some verbage...
"Then one sticks the two outer edges, rips those two (again the TS
fence doesn't have to move as one continues) off and sticks the other
edge of each and then sticking is cut on the two remaining outside
edges and process repeats. "
I'm not getting that. I don't know what you mean by "sticks the two
outer edges, rips those two ..."
I guess I don't know what "sticks" means.
Old-timer verbiage for shaping the edge, sorry...muntins, rails and
stiles were often referred to as "sticks" as a generic catchall for the
pieces. Hence, shaping them was "sticking".
So, in this case for muntins (which are, as you know, quite narrow so
shaping them if rip to width first is a pretty tricky operation) if you
start w/ a wide piece of stock you can shape the two outside edges
easily. Then, set up the TS to rip them to width and you only have the
one second edge to shape a small piece on. Now your base stock is back
with two square edges so you still have a decent-sized block to work
with for two more operations. And, having coped the end of the blank
before starting, that operation is already done rather than having to do
it on each and every one. For the 4-lite windows there were three
sticks per each--one vertical and two horizontal. That would have been
60 pieces times two ends each as individuals whereas it was only six
pieces for the horizontals and four for the verticals doing them on the
I've tried in the past to find the aforementioned Delta publication on
the web but have been unsuccessful and Delta doesn't have it any longer
as a supported part number (even before the abysmal downturn since the
P-C debacle wherein afaict they have no support whatsoever for older
equipment online :( ). Delta is now off my approved vendor list
The copy I have on hand isn't very good any longer; I'll try to scan it
and see if it is even readable. If so, I'll try to post it to the OWWM
publications section...it's valuable and I've not seen anything on the
web that really addresses these kinds of small production issues at all.
I regret I no longer have the industrial arts text that I had in HS,
either--it wasn't great but was better than much I find now. I do not
know the text from which the Delta pub was taken, unfortunately, and it
doesn't say other than indirectly one can infer it was borrowed from
some publisher and the pictures reshot w/ Rockwell equipment and then
printed for them for their use. As noted, it used to be shipped w/ the
shapers routinely but like everything else when manufacturers start
penny-pinching bad things happen...
Unfortunately, that experiment failed miserably...
I _think_ there must surely be an original of it somewhere around
here--when Dad redid the old farm house here I came back out one summer
(was in VA then) and brought the small 1/2" shaper and did the kitchen
cabinets for him. He like that little shaper so well that he bought one
after I went back home and did the rest of the bathroom vanities, a
large builtin in the living room, etc, etc, etc, ... I'm certain that
was still being distributed at that time and he _never_ threw anything
away so maybe if I go through the last 50=yr or the 90+ yr of
accumulated stuff I'll come across the literature from that one--my
original got "borrowed" and I only have this very poor copy left... :(
Thanks for trying!
This Google Book briefly mentions your method on page 39 right under
the picture of the casement window.
If that screwy link doesn't work, go here and click on the first book,
Windows & Skylights: The Best of Fine Homebuilding
While I'm a bit older than my tools, not much older, and I have all the
publications that came with the tools new, including, well, here's a pic
They are in pretty good shape, really, really good shape considering
they've been living with the tools for going on 60 years.
If you need a page or so, I can scan it or take a picture, but don't
think I want to scan the entire book.
I don't make stuff with the same enthusiasm as I did in the past, but me
and my tools are very old friends, and we fit together like old shoes,
very comfortable together. I think you might know what I mean.
These books make me think of better times, much better times. Note the
cost of one of them is printed on it at 25 cents...
He like that little shaper so well that he bought one
Add Life to your Days not Days to your Life.
Those are even older than mine...they date from the early to mid-70s as
beginning of the collection.
I'm not sure what's in the Shaper book; quite possibly the section I'm
describing was reprinted from it; I don't know.
The document I have is only about four double-side pages printed on
glossy stock and covers specifically windows/doors.
I did do a search thru Dad's drawer of stuff last night and did not find
another original or even copy of it. I may make one more attempt on the
copy I do have if elder son who does IT support as self-employed comes
thru w/ the other scanner we've talked of...that would ease the physical
pain significantly and also has better optics and controls than the
cheapie I have integral w/ the printer...
He didn't say not to use a push block or a miter gauge/sled. He said
use wide stock, cut it square to begin with, and rip the wide stock to
size after coping. The push block is to cut down on end chipping, but
it's not really needed if ripping to size after coping.
What he said not only has merit, it's how it is done unless you've never
made cabinet doors.
If you are using plywood, you need a slot cutter that suits the plywood,
and none of it is 1/4" anymore. If you are doing solid panels, you cut
the panels to suit the slot so it's a non-issue.
If you go to all the trouble of buying expensive cutters and making the
effort to cut cope and sticking, then plywood is pretty lame, and looks
like jr. high school shop, and raised panels are the way to go. Plywood
panels are OK for workshop/laundry cabinets but then coping is also not
a biggie. If you insist though, you can buy undersized slot cutters for
your cabinet set.
Doesn't matter, each door has at least two rails and two stiles. If you
cut one board that's wide enough for two the correct length, you are
guaranteed to have two perfectly matching pieces. If your doors are not
all the same because the openings are a bit off, then you would be best
off making overlay doors and still cutting all the doors the same.
Trying to install panels into a bunch of doors all different sizes would
suck. Even with inset doors, I think I would make them all to the
largest size opening, and trim each door to fit. I think it would be
easier to build new face frames that *are* the same size than custom fit
a slew of doors individually. Think overlay doors.
BTW, when building face frames, it is also wise to rip the stiles and
rails from correct length boards just as when building doors. This
helps insure all the door and drawer openings are the same, then making
doors and drawers is less traumatic.
That's a good book, but seemed strange to have a router book on a wine
site? Here's a link to MCLS that sells cheap bits, and this is a good
reference and the bits available for rail and stile:
or more concisely:
I never used any of their bits though, so I'm not saying they are good
or bad, but it's a nice reference anyway.
Add Life to your Days not Days to your Life.
Says who? Since when are shaker panels lame?
Have you seen the quartersawn book-matched veneer plywood panels that
are available, now? They are gorgeous and look better than most solid
joined panels I've seen.
I guess it's all a matter of taste, but I can't stomach those ugly oak,
raised panel cabinet doors that are in most kitchens. There's no
structural reason a panel has to be as thick as the door frame. I don't
know why that caught on but it's definitely a dated look.
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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