Making Cabinet Doors with Rail and Stile router bit

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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 show SWMBO:
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 questions:
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 or websites.
Thanks!
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On 12/12/2012 2:44 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

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 assembling.
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.
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On 12/12/2012 3:18 PM, dpb wrote: ...

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.
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On 12/12/12 4:18 PM, dpb wrote:

...

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 my basement.
BTW...just ran across this free router e-book. Lots of tip and techniques.
http://torbwine.com/ww/routerbook.htm
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On 12/12/2012 6:38 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

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.
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On 12/12/2012 11:06 PM, dpb wrote:

+1
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On 12/12/2012 11:06 PM, dpb wrote:

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.
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On 12/12/2012 6:38 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote: ...

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 programming.
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...
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On 12/13/2012 12:25 AM, dpb wrote:

+1
Take it to heart, OP! :)
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OK, I'm learning and I appreciate the time you've spent explaining the process.
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.
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On 12/13/2012 10:42 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

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 8" blanks.
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 entirely, sadly.
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...
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On 12/13/2012 12:02 PM, dpb wrote: ...

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... :(
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Thanks for trying!
This Google Book briefly mentions your method on page 39 right under the picture of the casement window.
http://books.google.com/books?id=_-F9Ni7rg04C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
If that screwy link doesn't work, go here and click on the first book, Windows & Skylights: The Best of Fine Homebuilding
http://books.google.com/books?id=_-F9Ni7rg04C
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On 12/16/2012 10:41 AM, dpb wrote:

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 of them:
http://jbstein.com/Flick/P1050779.jpg
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

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On 12/18/2012 4:00 PM, Jack wrote: ...

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...
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On 12/13/2012 9:42 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

get a wide piece. put the correct profile on the 2 outside edges. rip those pieces off resulting in a narrower piece. repeat until the piece left is thinner than your target size.
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On 12/12/2012 7:38 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

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:
http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/smarthtml/graphics2/TM04-11railstile0911.pdf
or more concisely:
http://tinyurl.com/b62x5s9
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.
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On 12/13/12 11:21 AM, Jack wrote:

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.
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On 12/13/2012 12:11 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

Hell yeah ... I like my homemade humble plywood panel doors:
https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopACCornerCabinet2007#5656820178785694354
:)
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On 12/13/12 12:27 PM, Swingman wrote:

https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopACCornerCabinet2007#5656820178785694354
I'd like to see a closer look at the panels. They look better than rotary cut ply.
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