raised panels (again)


Seems after several practices, I am starting to feel that space balls is more work than simply dry fit and use 2 brad nails? So far, with the space balls, I have to squeeze hard, use clamps, even band clamps too!
But, first, I should sit down and read the link David gave me (to learn about humidity with wood).
From top of my head, it appears that if I was doing raised panels during summer time (which it will mostly happen), I will have to struggle with the assembly with the space balls, to make it TIGHT, so that when humidity drops (winter), it's "OK"? In fact, I cut the space balls in halfs for the top/bottom.
Unless I get better instructions on cutting raised panel assemblies, I only have that Excel calculations, which seems good (still hard with space balls, even if I put down 1/2" for "Panel Expansion Allowance" (to fit the 1/4" space balls on each side).
I also think I need better bits since the ones I have (3-piece set) was $60 worth. I am looking into getting Freud (97-108 for $154.99) or MAYBE CMT (but they don't have a 3-piece set of roundover plus cove, will have to pay two separate prices).
I am not giving up, just want to know more or am I "worried" too much?
Chuck
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Never used space balls myself. If you are painting these raised panel doors, use MDF, thus eliminating any concern over expansion.
I have a Freud panel cutter, paid $100. I don't think a 3 piece set for $60 will include a very good panel cutter. I'm not knocking you, but I know some of the biggest mistakes I made when I got started were buying cheap router bits. The price of the wood I ruined would have probably made up the difference for decent bits. Freud & Whiteside are all I use.
I've heard of people rough cutting the panels on the TS before routing. Maybe that will get you better results.
Good luck with the panels.
Chuck
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Chuck,
Something is wrong with your setup. When dry fitting the panels, you should only need to tap them together - ideally using your hand only. At most, a dead-blow hammer may be used to *lightly* tap everything together. I have two sets of the Freud cutters and I use the space balls and never had the problem you're having. Maybe some calculation is off in the spreadsheet you're using?
Can you post any pictures (in abpw) that show a close-up of the cuts you're making? If the rails and stiles go together okay and fit as they should without the panel inserted and the outside dimensions are correct - then it's either the depth of the mortise or the width of the panel.
Without using any spaceballs, dry fit the door, put a clamp across the width to hold the stiles in place and then tap off one of the rails and see how much space is on each side between the panel edge and the depth of the mortise cut. Is the bevel (where it starts to raise) of the panel hitting the edges?
Bob S.

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I could take pictures of the assembly, but it's all glued up (this one was actually the first one I ever glued 'em together). I didn't glue the center stile (it's a two-panel assembly, 4' x 20"), should that be glued on the final project?
I don't want to pass around this spreadsheet, since I got it from someone in here (I don't want to start anything in here). I am giving him big credit for him setting all this. I will look into it along with paper and pen. I had to cut 3/8" more off side and 1/8" more off top than the calculations says.

I still can post the sample, if you want. I will take close-ups pictures of the corners, as well a whole. It's pine man, LOL.

The rails and stiles seems NOT to close tight, seems doesn't fit. The tongue goes in all the way the groove and can't go further. Again, let me order the Freud's and do it from there (plus it would be 7/16" deep).

I was hoping it would be possible to have a spreadsheet or program that would give an exact measurements, then go from there. From now on, I will only use program only for rails and stiles, then dry fit 'em, and measure for the panels.

I have yet to read that other link about moisture.
Chuck
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Put a couple balls on the bottom only and let the rest of the panel float.
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snip
I never used balls. Seems like a silly gimmick to me. A dab of glue in the very center, top and bottom only, will keep the panel right where you put it.
-- ******** Bill Pounds http://www.billpounds.com
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Ok, remember to make the panels narrow enough such that the "just touch" the space balls. It is true that you may have to use light clamp pressure to close the joints. The space balls should take up only about 1/2" of the septh of the slot.
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There's really no need to over think this. It's woodworking...
I build mine with the panels 3/16" narrower than the overall width of the groove and the length 1/8" shorter than the overall height of the groove. I set the panels in and leave them - no balls, no glue, no nails, no nothing.
The frame and panels are wainscoting in an office with a 65 gallon aquarium so it's a lot more humid than the rest of the house but the panels still move in the grooves the same as the day they were built. I've also had the tank empty for 2 months so the humidy was equal to the rest of the house and there was no change. Just be sure to finish all 6 sides before you install the panels.
Here's a pic:
http://reefcentral.com/gallery/data/500/52834Tank1.jpg
(yeah - I know it's still not completed but it will be someday)
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Yes, you are worrying too much! I leave 1/8-3/16 total in both directions, more or less and don't do anything else. Clamp up the frame dry and you can measure the size panel you need very accurately. If you leave the frame a little fat, you can trim it down when you cut the edges. You can take off a whisper with a handplane or jointer and then redo the edge without moving your fence. I actually set my shaper to eat about 1/32 each pass, so I can sneak up on the correct size with a couple of extra passes. NO ONE will notice 1/16, or even 1/8, difference among your rails and stiles, especially your wife. And if they do, you don't want them for a friend! I never cut the panel until the frame is finished. No one is watching, so use whatever tricks you need to get it done. I don't know about your fit problem, but it's important that the bit elevation be set just right. You can get close to this by using the first cut as a gage to set the bit height. If you aren't getting a full bite on one of the cuts, it will mess up the mesh. I doubt any bits are mismatched in tongue/groove depths, but if the root diameters are different (a long shot), then it could mess up the mesh because one cut may be lighter than the other. Wilson

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