Stock width for cutting cabinet faces and rails/stiles

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by jtcarn posted 04-14-2016 04:35 PM 749 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jtcarn's profile


12 posts in 979 days

04-14-2016 04:35 PM

Hey Jocks -

Long time listener, first time caller here.

I’m starting my first cabinet build – paint grade, poplar, raised panels.

Two questions:

1) I’m getting S4S poplar from my lumberyard for the face frames and door rails/stiles. I can get up to a 12” board, and I’m assuming that width is best as I would only have to straighten one side to get 4-7 cuts out of each piece. Is there an advantage to starting with a more narrow board? Moisture maybe?

2) I’ve heard I should get a high quality mdf like a Ranger Board but can’t seem to find any locally (Indiana). How big of a deal is this versus BORG stuff? Using MLCS panel cutters.

Thanks for the help.

6 replies so far

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 1659 days

#1 posted 04-14-2016 04:44 PM

Rails & stiles are normally 2-1/4” or 2-1/2”.

MDF melts on exposure to water – not good in kitchen or bath but ok for closets & garages.

Poplar is paint grade & very soft.


-- Madmark -

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1437 days

#2 posted 04-14-2016 04:54 PM

+1 on the 2.25

I wouldnt, I just really wouldnt use MDF for raised pnl period, at all, ever, anywhere. Not to mention it will make a ton of nastydust (yes, thats one word cause I just created it) when you raise the pnl. Take your time and edge glur the pnls up, plane or have them planed to 5/8 and then raise them.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View HokieKen's profile


7201 posts in 1344 days

#3 posted 04-14-2016 04:59 PM

The only disadvantage to buying the wider boards is that often you pay a premium for boards over 8 or 10” wide. You just have to balance the cost difference against the additional waste. I’ve found that often, wider boards have clearer grain. With paint grade that’s not really a concern though.

Like Mark said^ don’t use MDF anywhere it’s going to get wet unless it’s laminated on all sides and fully sealed. I’ve only used MDF from Big Box stores because that’s all that’s available locally. I’ve used quite a bit for shop tables and haven’t had any problems. It’s been stable and flat. Make sure it’s flat when you buy it though.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View jtcarn's profile


12 posts in 979 days

#4 posted 04-14-2016 05:25 PM

Thanks guys. I’m planning to glue size the mdf panels on the cut edges, prime and paint with a target USL. That should be sufficient in kitchen cabs, shouldn’t it? Also, regardless of the panel material, what are your thoughts on painting the panel prior to assembly to account for movement? I’m guessing that’s a bigger concern with poplar vs. mdf?

View HokieKen's profile


7201 posts in 1344 days

#5 posted 04-14-2016 07:46 PM

Movement’s not a concern at all with MDF. With Poplar you should allow for panel movement so I would paint before hand to ensure no unpainted areas “peek” out. I’m not sure how paint affects moisture absorption though. Maybe with it being fully sealed under paint it doesn’t expand/contract as much??

As far as MDF, just make sure that water cannot get inside it, particularly around sink/dishwasher etc. If it does, it will expand like a seagull with Alka Seltzer and there will be nothing you can do with it but replace it.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2830 days

#6 posted 04-15-2016 05:00 AM

I’ve used MDF in kitchen cabinets for years with no problems. Cabinets rarely get exposed to water. With a painted door you will experience NO problems.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics