Shaker Door becomes....Tutorial

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Blog entry by kolwdwrkr posted 12-27-2009 07:01 AM 99003 reads 37 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was out making a set of doors today and I decided that the fine folks here on LJs might appreciate a tutorial. I realize there are those of you that should be schooling me on the matter, but figured there were some that would like to learn it as well. So I will do my best to give pertanent information. Thanks for reading.

To start off you need to consider shop safety. Make sure the guards on your tools are opporational and you have the proper safety glasses, ear plugs, and dust mask.
First off you have to cut the parts. This particular door is called a shaker style door. It is a 5 piece door. That means there are 4 frame parts and a panel. The top and bottom parts of the frame are called the Rails. The left and right sides are called stiles. The joinery you will see is a mortice and tenon type of joinery.
I like to make my frames 2 1/2” in width. You can cut these to width on the table saw. You can cut them to 2 9/16” and then plain down 1/32 off of each side to remove any saw marks. On these doors I did not take that step. The reason why is because #1 I am covering one side with moulding, and #2 I am trimming my doors down to final size which will cause saw marks.
So say I have some rips that are 2 1/2” x 4’. These doors are going to be 17 3/4” x 23”. To do the math you will need to know what the groove depth is. On typical doors this groove is normally 3/8”. So you will need 2 stiles at 23”. To figure out the rails I can do 2 things. #1 take 5” off of 17 3/4 and then add 3/8” to both sides (3/4” total) or simply deduct 4 1/4”. This makes the rails 13 1/2”.
Because you have more then one part to cut of the same size it is wise to set up a stop on your saw. I don’t have a nice bench top mitersaw with a slick fence and measuring tape. So I use the stops on my dewalt stand.
Set the stop so that you are cutting the 23”. Square off one end, then slide the sqared off end to your stop. Cut to length. Once the 23” parts are cut use the same steps to cut the 13 1/2”.
You should now have your stiles and rails.
The next step is to make the groove that holds the panel. In this tutorial we are only using the table saw and miter saw to make the frame and panels. You could also use a router table. I will be using a freud superdado for these cuts.
The freud set up isn’t just cut and dry. You need to set it up a certain way. On a new set the blades say what side is out
However, on older sets, the writing may be worn off. If you purchased your blade used this is pertanent information.
The blades have flat tips and beveled tips. The highest points need to be away from each other, making the lowest point on agains each other. The high point is the outside of the blade.
Don’t mind the pitch on my blades. I cut pine with them recently and didn’t clean them.
When installing the blades on the saw make sure they are staggered. This will prevent damage to the blade.
Now you can adjust the height. There are several gauges for this task. Here are a few.
If you don’t have a guage don’t worry. You are going to make a sample piece. Set the fence so that it is 1/8” away from the blade. This will be the back of the door.
The groove is located 3/8” from the front, is 1/4” wide, and 1/8” from the back.
I put the fence so that the most material is closest to me. This is because it is safer for me to have the bulk of the material between me and the blade in this instance.
To cut you can simply run the piece through applying firm downward pressure and pressure towards the fence. If you want additional safety you can use a feather board.
The groove will be cut on all 4 pieces and is what holds the panel. Makes sure you have the good side out, and the back side of the door against the fence. This will determine the face of the door. While you cut the groove in your frame parts, cut a groove in a sample piece.
Now that the groove is cut in the long side of your parts you can cut the tenons. To do this we will use the sample to help us with the setup.
Remove the outside dado blade and slide on a 1/8” cutter, then slide the outer blade back on.
Be sure to stagger this between the regular blades.
Your dado is now 3/8” in width.
Next you will need a sacrificial fence. This will allow you to move the fence over the blade for better adjustments, and will protect your main fence from damage.
You will also need your miter guage, set up at 90 degrees.
Now you will set up the height. It doesn’t matter which you cut first, front or back. Take your sample and hold it up against the blade. You can now adjust the height of the blade to match the remaining material.
In this tutorial I cut the face first.
After I got the height I used the sample as a guage to set the depth of the tenon.
I hold the sample up against one of the main pieces, and move the fence until the depth of the tongue matches the depth of the groove.
Now I can cut the faces of my Rails only. The stiles are done at this point, so set them aside so you don’t accidently grab and run one.
Put the sample against the miter guage and the project piece against that. The sample becomes a sacrificial fence, and will aid in the prevention of tear out.
Run your rails. Once ran it should look like this.
Using the sample again, lower the blade so that it cuts approximately 1/8”. Using the same steps as you did for the front, set up and run the backs. Now it should look like this.
Now your frames are done and should fit together nicely.
Now remove the dado blades and install a blade suitable for cutting the panel material. In this case I used 1/4” mdf with alder veneer on the front and back. To get your measurements I use the following method: Measure rail and for mdf deduct 1/16”, for solid deduct 1/8”. This allows for movement. This gives us the width. Now take the height of the stile and deduct 4 5/16. This gives us the additional 1/16 space needed. Once cut sand the panels. It is easier to sand the panels before the glue up so you don’t have to struggle getting into the corners.
Once sanded you are ready for the glue up. I am using Pony bar clamps for my glue up. Put glue on the tenon and it’s shoulders.
Put one end into the stile. Expect the glue to squeeze out. Wipe off the glue with a wet rag.
Glue in one side of the top and bottom rails into one stile, making sure to flush them up to the ends. Now slide the panel into place and put the other stile on. Lay the door down onto the clamps. TIP: Use blue tape on the bar clamp to prevent the bar from causing a black spot on the door.
Now clamp up the panel. TIP: use cauls to prevent damage to the door.
To show what happens without cauls:
Once the door is clamped up you will need to check for square. Photobucket
Using a tape measure, pull from corner to corner on one side.
and then run it from opposite corner to opposite corner
If the tape read the same in both directions the door is square.
Allow the door to dry to the specifications provided by your glue manufacturer. Once dry, pull it from the clamps and sand the front and back. You will want to sand the door from 120 through 180 or higher, without skipping a grit.
TIPS ON SANDING: If you don’t have a large shop then the chances are you work at a single bench. This bench may get glue and things on it that make it so that it isn’t flat. This can cause damage to the opposite side you are sanding.
This dent was caused by unscraped glue. I purposely did this on a scrap for this demo.
A simple way to prevent any damage is to use a movers blanket, a towel, or any kind of soft surface. Card board will also work.
If you have a large dent you can try a few things, such as a damp cloth and an iron. However, for this demo I am illustrating sanding. One thing to avoid is tilting the sander on edge.
This can cause the sander to dig. You also don’t want to sand on the dent until it is gone. In this demonstration I sanded the dent out focusing on the dent itself, not on the project. Here is what happens.
The dent appears to be gone. However, upon closer inspection the sander created a low spot and took the piece out of level.
To avoid this type of damage hold the sander flat on the surface and sand a much larger area, blending in the damaged area.
Once sanded you now have a shaker style door.

But lets take this door a little further. Lets add some applied moulding.
Lets rip some strips of material to 11/16” x 1/2”
Using a push stick, rip the material to the diminsions.
To further your safety, consider using a feather board.
After your stock is ripped, set up the router table. For this demo I am using a classical ogee bit with a 1/2” shank.
Photobucket I install the bit so that the furthest point from the barring is approximately flush to the table.
Set the fence up so that when the piece is fed through it will ride along the bearing. I use a piece of material to adjust for this.
When adjusting the speed on your router, remember that the smaller the bit the faster the rpm, the larger the slower. For this demo I set the speed at about half way.
Make sure to use safety goggles and ear protection. Also use a dust collection system if available. You can set up a feather board for this application as well.
Run your moulding.
This is where you should be.
Using the same bit, move the fence forward so that it only exposes the front radious of the bit. Raise the bit so that it will create a nice 1/2 radious on your moulding. Hold you moulding on edge and up against the bit to determine how high it must be raised.
Once you are set up, run your moulding. You should end up with this.
Now miter one end of the moulding on a 45 degree angle.
Hold the mitered side up against the inside edge of the door.
and mark the opposite end.
and cut to your line with the saw set the opposite direction on a 45.
Do this to all 4 pieces. TIP: try to cut the pieces a hair large and then sneak up on the fit.

TIP: Sand the moulding after cutting them to length. You want to consider this because if you make a mistake then you had wasted time sanding an unusable piece.
You should have a nice fitting miter
Now to attach the moulding to the door run some glue on the bottom and on the miters, as well as some along the back of the moulding where it meets the frame. Photobucket
Put all the pieces into place. From here you have a few choices. You could pin the moulding into place or clamp them. I chose to pin them using 1” 23gauge pin nails. Photobucket
These pins are hardly noticeable
However, if you forget to turn on the compressor the head may not sink and will need to be set. This will lead to a larger hole that needs filled.
I used famowood for this.
TIP: Use compressed air to blow out the dust before applying any moulding
From simple to elegant. This simple little detail can bring your project to the next level.
Add some color of choice and finish and you can call it a job well done.
TIP: When routing your mouldings be sure to cut off any material that could potentially explode when going through the router. This knot could have busted off and shot across the garage. I cut it off to prevent this.
TIP: When cutting parts always cut the longest lengths first, then the small ones. This way if you make a mistake, the mistake can then be cut down to make the smaller part.

I hope you enjoyed the blog and hopefully it was educational. As always I welcome constructive criticism, positive or negative. Happy woodworking.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

26 comments so far

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3422 days

#1 posted 12-27-2009 07:33 AM

there are a lot of useful tips in this tutorial, thanks

-- San Diego, CA

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4031 days

#2 posted 12-27-2009 07:34 AM

kolwdwrkr, this is great. I read the whole post and enjoyed seeing your techniques. Your attention to details is particularly nice. Thanks for taking the time to post.

View a1Jim's profile


117061 posts in 3541 days

#3 posted 12-27-2009 07:53 AM

Hey Keith
Super tutorial ,very good details and super photos exceptional blog very well done. A couple questions ,
I’ve never seen a push stick like yours do you have another photo of it? and I was wandering what you used as a finish.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View degoose's profile


7228 posts in 3318 days

#4 posted 12-27-2009 10:07 AM

I am sure that there are a lot of folks out there who will get a lot of good info from this … me included… not just the newbies but some of the older hands , who also find easier or better ways to do some thing.. and a reminder of safety is always welcome… good job Keith…
Kind Regards
Larry from the land downunder…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View woodworm's profile


14462 posts in 3554 days

#5 posted 12-27-2009 10:33 AM

Great tutorial.
Thanks for sharing many tips on working with wood.
Keep posting this kind of tutorial Kolwdwkr!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View SPalm's profile


5317 posts in 3846 days

#6 posted 12-27-2009 02:53 PM

That was a nice read. Always looking to see what I can learn.

Thanks for all the hard work,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3785 days

#7 posted 12-27-2009 03:09 PM

Keith, this is a nice tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to photograph the different steps of the door construction. This can be a challenge, especially when in the middle of a sequence to constantly start and stop the process. But the time and effort that went into this is both informative and helpful.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3305 days

#8 posted 12-27-2009 03:50 PM

great tutorial ,

many useful tips !

a door for the ’ shaker ’ in all of us !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3522 days

#9 posted 12-27-2009 04:14 PM

Great tutorial Keith. I could not have done it better myself. You build yours the same as as I do mine. You hit on all the basics too. The door wood have really looked nice if you had used that weave from an earlier post. Try it sometime.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3661 days

#10 posted 12-27-2009 04:20 PM

Great job and I like the way you explain step by step, a lot of time consuming for you but very instructive for us. Thanks

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3926 days

#11 posted 12-27-2009 05:01 PM

Great tutorial! Lots of good info here for all of us. Thanks

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4063 days

#12 posted 12-27-2009 05:10 PM

I must be doing something right, my operation is very similar to yours:)

Great tutorial. If pictures are worth a thousand words then you just wrote volumes of information here.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3903 days

#13 posted 12-27-2009 05:19 PM

There’s a lot of information there and great pictures of the process. It’s good to have this in one place, from start to finish.

-- Working at Woodworking

View mikethetermite's profile


593 posts in 3230 days

#14 posted 12-27-2009 06:52 PM

great tutorial, and very helpful. thanks and keep them coming

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3510 days

#15 posted 12-27-2009 10:09 PM

I am really glad you showed this to me. I have that same router bit and have done a few shaker doors in the past few years. That bit really dresses that shaker up a lot. Very nice looking. I actually have a flat panel door job coming up in January but we were looking at using a Ogee profile, not nearly as nice as what you have done though.

-- .

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