Mistake with Stile and Rail bits

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Blog entry by Blake posted 03-17-2008 02:59 AM 12237 reads 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I did a little trading at work a while back and ended up with a nice pair of “Stile and Rail” router bits. They are identical to these only they were Freud brand:

I was really excited about these bits because my kitchen cabinets are a project that has been put on hold for over a year and these will really help me finish the doors. I had never used these bits before.

I did a test cut of both joints and it fit together so sweet:

I measured twice and double checked everything. Here is how my thinking went:

  • The overall finished height of the cabinet door is equal to the stiles (vertical sides)
  • The overall finished width of the door is equal to the rail length plus the width of the two stiles (2” each)

So I set up my new router bits with plenty of feather boards on my beautiful new router table. I double-checked all measurements and bit height and ran all of my pieces through.

I formed the edges and then the joints with the other bit. I was so happy. The router, table and bit performed beautifully and it took no time at all to make the profiles and joinery of all my pieces for the entire kitchen. I don’t know if you are familiar with these bits but they are really cool. I started fitting them together and they joined together flawlessly

And then I started measuring my dry-assembled door frames. Something just was not right.

Look again:

I had failed to account for that 1/2” that you loose in the joint!!! So each cabinet came out one full inch too narrow. And there is one section where a large cabinet has double doors, where the span ends up being 2” short.

All in all It was a very expensive lesson on how to properly use those bits. Well, not that expensive, but to me it is a lot. Luckily I am only using pine, for two reasons. 1: We are cheap and this is a rental that we may not be in for long. And, 2: The “rustic” look is perfect for our tiny ‘cabin in the woods.’ The worst part is that I had already cut the expensive pine-veneered plywood to fit the too-short panels. So I will need to re-buy more off all materials.

I was SO exited because the cabinets that I had started over a year ago were finally almost done. But I went from elation to horror as I realized the time and money I had wasted for a lousy half-inch. Now I have to wait for the next paycheck or two before I can afford the materials again.

Hopefully you can learn from my mistake if you use these bits in the future. The other lesson learned: Don’t get cocky and finish your entire production run before you have tested your first piece. It’ll bite you in the butt.

-- Happy woodworking!

19 comments so far

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3881 days

#1 posted 03-17-2008 03:11 AM

plenty of bite marks on this old butt !! lol if you havent profiled the outside edges yet how about wrapping them with 1/2 in. of a contrasting wood ??

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3875 days

#2 posted 03-17-2008 03:13 AM

Blake – how about considering some kind of fix rather than re-making the whole job? Maybe adding 1” strips to the stiles of your face frame?
Add Strips to Stiles
If you did it right, it could look like trim or a detail, rather than a fix.

By the way, those are some shiny router bits!

-- -- --

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3936 days

#3 posted 03-17-2008 03:17 AM

Blake, Sorry to hear. Got to say though I have been there as well.
mrtrim’s idea sounds like a possible save though.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 3763 days

#4 posted 03-17-2008 03:28 AM

I did the very same thing just last week, except I didnt measure before I went to hang my doors. luckly it was on my own project, to keep from making more doors i added styles to separate the doors on each cabinet. But one time I mest up a hole set of bottom base cabinet doors because I forgot to add the 3/4” hang over. ouch
I myself tend to get in a hurry and wind up measuring once and cutting three times, some day maybe i`ll learn

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3786 days

#5 posted 03-17-2008 03:46 AM

I purchased the exact same bits and love them. Cost was very low and they work very well. I have been making new doors for a cabinet restro I am currently working on. Although I did make sure the finish product would come out to the exact mesurement after I made that same mistake on a practice door. I’m so glad I got impatient and used the bits before I cut up the expensive maple!
Thanks for the post Blake

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Thuan's profile


203 posts in 3818 days

#6 posted 03-17-2008 03:48 AM

There’s still the possibility of making these cabinets with inset doors (placing the doors flush with the face frame). The skill required is higher, but you’re up for the challenge right? Assemble the doors, run it though the table saw so that the doors will fit inside the face frame with a 1/16th inch gap around, mortise a butt hinge to one side, cut a slight back bevel on the handle side and you’re done with one door.

-- Thuan

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3745 days

#7 posted 03-17-2008 04:04 AM

I like Peter’s idea. You could put maybe a decorative trim around the inside and make them inset as Thuan suggested. If you’re painting the doors or cabinets either add the strips to the inside of the face frame or to the edges of the doors, sand and paint.

View Praki's profile


199 posts in 3997 days

#8 posted 03-17-2008 04:14 AM

FWIW, I try to run everything through SketchUp before I cut anything. And it has saved me from some of these very mistakes. The downside of course is, I end up doing a lot of virtual woodworking than the real kind :(

-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 3959 days

#9 posted 03-17-2008 05:15 AM

Blake, I am sorry to hear about that for sure. I hate to say it, but thanks for sharing. I’m going to have to remember this on our new kitchen.

If you’re painting, I like the guys ideas for fixing. No need spending any more than you have to.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4315 days

#10 posted 03-17-2008 05:29 AM

If you just make the stiles 1/2 inch wider you will not have to cut new panels, nor recut the rails.

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3992 days

#11 posted 03-17-2008 05:43 AM

Doh! That sucks so bad, and such an easy mistake, argh! I feel your pain Blake, I truly do… But like the other folks have said it’s definitely salvageable, might look cool to add that extra half inch back with a bead piece, i.e a super small round over where the piece you’ll need to glue on meets the stile. You want it subtle enough that you don’t really notice it, but for it to also look intentional. Sure you’ll figure something out, keep us posted.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View grovemadman's profile


556 posts in 3772 days

#12 posted 03-17-2008 06:44 AM

I think Dennis is right Blake. While I’ve never made cabinets for a home, I have messed with those bits trying to make picture frames. His Idea not only seems the most logical, but the least expensive and the least hassle.
It is easy to make a mistake without a pretrial run. Working with glass has forced me to slow down when measuring and laying out ALL types of projects. Once the glass is tempered I bought it and there is no turning back, so I better be right. I can tell you I feel your pain and that glass is harder to digest than Food – and it don’t taste good either! Sometimes an order of glass for a really complicated shower install can run well over a grand. That doesn’t include my time, and the cost of new materials. It only happened to me once and fortunately I was able to salvage it, But I learned my lesson and slowed it down a lot.

-- --Chuck

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3875 days

#13 posted 03-17-2008 10:58 AM

Sorry to hear about your miscalculation Blake. Thanks for being man enough to post it. You probably will save someone from a similar error.

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4066 days

#14 posted 03-17-2008 11:33 AM

Been there, done that. They do take a lot of concentration and “pre-calculation” to pull of a perfect door. I am proud to say that I’ve done it though :-))

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3940 days

#15 posted 03-17-2008 12:07 PM

ARGH ! ! ! I’m pretty sure most of us have had the same experience where you pat yourself on the back and then smack yourself in the forehead. Yep, I can’t count the number of times I said to myself, “Good job” followed immediately by, “You idiot”. I feel for you Blake, but part of me takes great comfort knowing that I’m not the only one.

-- Working at Woodworking

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