I'm in the process of building kitchen cabinets. I'm at the stage of
building doors and have a problem. I'm using a frame and panel design for
the door. The panel was intended to be 1/4" maple plywood. The rail and
stile cutter set I have cuts a groove expecting 7/32" (actual thickness)
plywood. This will come as a surprise to very few people, but the 1/4" ply
is well short of 7/32". I can think of some ways to keep the panel from
rattling around, but I'm curious about how other people deal with this
I was under the impression that the Space Balls were designed to take up
space around the perimeter of the panel to keep it from rattling up and down
and sideways. I'm thinking more along the lines of in and out, if that
makes any sense.
You could glue in small wood wedges on the back side, cut off flush. If
you dislike whatever empty space shows use tapered splines rather than
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There is a large cabinet plant in my town.
They use a small, spongy, highly compressible, inserts in the dados. They
look like neoprene rubber weather stripping pieces to me. (I don't know
that they are actually neoprene, but for a very small project, I'd probably
look for a small neoprene "rope" and just cut the inserts about an inch
long.) The inserts keep the panels centered, but still allow expansion and
contraction. They insert the things about every 12-18 inches.
I'm guessing, if I knew what the were called, you could probably order a bag
of them, online.
Space balls will keep the panel centered however you still have the problem
of the panel moving front to back and you see a gap at the front. Cut thin
long shims to slide into the slot behind the panel.
If you've ever used properly sized twine, it will also keep the panel from
moving front to back ... I know, I didn't believe it either. ;)
That said, I've also used plane shavings for shims on the backside, and as
far as I know they are still doing the job years later.
I use a brad nailer on all raised and flat panel doors. After
centering the panel I put one brad top and bottem center and two or
three on the stiles. Position the nailer on the panel and againest the
stile with an outward angle of about 45 degrees. Works good and lasts
a long time. Keeps panel in place and even the solid panels can move
since the brads are at an angle. For the last 15 years I have not seen
a brad work lose or a panel crack.
"Rattling" will not be the only problem. Because the panel is too
thin, in addition to "rattling", there will be a visible gap between
the panels and the stiles, and this will look sloppy. The solution
I've used is to run a bead of quarter-round around the inside perimeter
of the door, gluing only to the door frame, not the panel itself.
In a class I took with CH Becksvoort, making a Shaker clock, we used
1/8"x3/16" quarter-round around the door panel. This works very well in
that when you install it, you can press the panel against the back,
thus taking up any slack. The panel will not rattle at all and looks
However, having quarter-round around the inside of each panel will
change the look, so that's always something to consider.
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