I want to do something a little different with my kitchen cabinet
doors. Rather than a cope/stick or mortise/tenon I want to join the
rails to the stiles using dovetail joints. I visualize two dovetails
at each rail to stile junction. The rail/stiles will be about 2 1/4
inch wide. So there would be 4 female parts (pardon my ignorance,
don't know the proper terminology) on the long edge of each stile, 2
near each end. The corresponding rail would have the 2 matching male
parts on each end. Hope thats clear. What would be a good way to make
these joints. I've never used a dovetail jig and it seems to me that
such wouldn't work because of the length of the stiles. Some will be
40 inches long for the upper cabinets. Am I correct about that? Will
any brand of dovetail jig support doing what I want? If not, what kind
of jig would you recommend for doing it? I do enjoy building jigs if
there are plans or ideas for a shopbuilt solution. Open to a purchase
as well. Finally, is this idea even feasible? Some of the uppers will
have glass panels and the rest would probably be a simple flat panel
Making the joints is not a huge problem. Most any dovetail jig system will
work or you can hand cut them. The only issue I see is how would you put
the panels/glass in other than a rabbet on the backside? (Like a picture
frame) This type of frame does not make a very good cabinet door. Imagine
the door being slammed and the glass flying out the back into the cupboard!
If you do make it, post some pictures.
I was going to put the glass in a rabbet on the backside. Isn't that
how is always done? Held in place with some small molding. I thought
that dovetail jigs were limited in the length of stock they could
handle. More for drawer widths.
Normally, the panel if wood, is trapped in a grove in the stile and rail.
If its glass, the a rabbet and some kind of retainer is used. I just worry
about kitchen cupboard doors with glass. China cabinets and other such
display cabinets are not generally subject to the abuse kitchen doors get.
I did some in my kitchen but used lexan instead of real glass.
Correct me if I'm wrong but the 2 stiles and one rail could be grooved to
receive a floating panel. The last rail to be put in place would be rabbeted
and then use a piece on the back like you do for "stuck on molding" and brad
it in place - not going through the panel of course.
For a glass panel, there are fasteners designed to hold the glass in-place
so that's not a problem or a panel retainer like this from Lee Valley
As for making the dovetails, I have one of these
http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pA789&cat=1,43000 but there
certainly are lots of other methods and jigs just look at LV's site.
If you just want a decorative joint, you could use an inlay kit
and construct the doors - normally - then do a "butterfly" or "key" or even
a fake dovetail pattern. But matching the grain for the inlay to the door
rail may be a trick.
Here's some other sites
That is very easy to do. Just make a box joint jig and use a dovetail
bit and not a straight bit. On the other hand it might be better to use
a straight bit to get rid of most of the material, then use the dovetail
bit. The stile will be the length of the door plus overhang. If your
rails and stiles are 2 1/4 and you cut 1/2" deep dovetails. Take the
width of the door plus the overhang and subtract 3 1/2". Then just use a
rabbit bit if you want to do glass doors. For a panel door do a dry fit
and use a slot cutter. On the top rail you will need a rabbit. Glue the
sides and bottom. Place your panel then glue the top rail.
Should make for a nice looking joint.
The problem with this is the pins (the female part) will be running
against the grain. It would be easy for the pins to be sheared off
unless they were very wide. You could reinforce it with loose tenons.
Right - you have short grain at the "wide" part of the mortises making
these areas very fragile if they are near the ends of the rails - that's
why dovetails aren't generally used with this type of joinery.
I've done this joinery in the middle of a length of rail but not near
the ends. (I'd think you'd need about an inch or so of solid wood to the
end to make it sturdy enough.)
Just for fun I tried it. I put a pic on a.b.p.w. Yes cutting the
dovetail on the stile was the pain. It would blow out unless I used a
leading and tailing block. But it can be done. I don't think I would
like to make a lot of doors that way but it does make for a different
Okay, after all the comments here and on a.b.p.w I've decided this
might not be such a great idea after all. Still think it would look
great. I'll be using quarter sawn oak for the doors (maybe). Have to
think of something else that will be visually different. Doors will
have a kind of 'craftsman style' look. Considered m/t with a
contrasting square pin but I see that done a lot. Plenty of time,
still in the midst of tearing out/rewiring/building boxes/etc.
I believe doing the dovetail rail and stile joint would be even weaker
on the ends of QS material...
Someone mentioned doing an inlay "butterfly" - I think that could look
quite nice in a contrasting wood. You also might consider doing the ends
with a standard mortise/tenon, use the butterfly there and then do your
true dovetails on the center joints.
Here's a quick pic of dovetails in the middle of a rail:
You could "breadboard" the ends of the stiles - with protruding
ebony splines / caps and add a "chamfered edges protruding"
ebony peg or two, and perhaps add "cloud" brackets to diagonal
inside corners - assuming you're going with a flat panel or glass.
Woodline, and I assume other router bit outfits, make a special
bit for routing out the back / inside lip of rails and stiles slotted
for panels (wood or glass). It's a small round bit, the tip being
the width fo the panel groove and rounded on the end to reduce
friction, a falt "notch" that actually does the cutting, and more
+-+ | -----
| | width of panel groove
Run a stiles profile that matches the front edge profile on a piece
of scrap, rip the profile off, cut to size, mitered corners of course
and brad in place rather than gluing - you may someday need to
replace a glass panel and removing the inside strips that are merely
bradded on is a lot easier than trying to remove glued parts.
If you really want to get tricky, do some line inlays in the rails
and stiles. Here's the easy way
If you want to do wider inlays and have some bucks to spend,
the Micro Fence and the new precision plunge mechanism for
Costs an arm, a leg and an eye for the complete system but
it is, advertised a precision tool - far more precision than you
can expect from the wood itself.
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