Alternate Rail & Stile Configuration - Anyone Tried This?

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Forum topic by Peter Oxley posted 12-19-2007 06:18 PM 2861 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4016 days

12-19-2007 06:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question rail stile door construction

The traditional rail/stile layout for doors is with the verticals (stiles) to be the full height, and the horizontals (rails) to go between, as in the sketch on the left. For a job I’m working on, it would really help if the rails were vertical, and the stiles were horizontal, like the sketch on the right.
Rail & Stile Layout
I’ve seen this done occasionally. Does anyone know of a reason why it shouldn’t be constructed this way? Is it weaker? More prone to warping? Or is the traditional way just tradition?

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5 replies so far

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4054 days

#1 posted 12-19-2007 06:35 PM


I have seen this done many times. It is usually done to highlight some aspect of a design. James Krenov has definitely done this in his designs so, you’d be in good company! At first glance, there should be no structural reason to avoid it.

When you have two doors next to each other, with vertical stiles the deign tends to accentuate the height and make the design look taller and slimmer. When the stiles are horizontal it tends to make the design look shorter and more stable. Of course, these features could also be used to build on other elements in the design of the piece. So, I’d say to go for it!

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4035 days

#2 posted 12-19-2007 07:12 PM

As mark said, krenov has done it albeit the whole style of the furniture and cabinets he made was different as was the wood specie ( a lot of spalted wood )

I see no structural/engineering reason why one is better over the other.


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View gbvinc's profile


628 posts in 4088 days

#3 posted 12-19-2007 07:17 PM

I’ve done this to make the doors look more ‘woodsy’. I haven’t run across any problem with stability of the doors.

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4104 days

#4 posted 12-19-2007 07:28 PM

My thought on it would be to do with expansion and contraction. Wood expands and contracts across the grain but very little length wise. I was under the impression that the reason the stiles were on the long side had to do with moisture issues. We leave 1/16 on a solid raised panel to allow for that. If a solid panel expands and so does the stile there is no noticeable difference. If done the other way it could be like a breadboard end on a table where the top and the breadboard are never the same size. All that said, in a cabinet door there probably isn’t going to be a noticeable change so I was just airing out my brain and thinking out loud. If you can think out loud on a computer.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4266 days

#5 posted 12-19-2007 08:12 PM

I don’t think you’re going to have issues across cabinet doors, but I’ve been looking at making an entrance door recently, and played with that rail configuration, and then thought that the most critical “it has to be straight and flat” edges are the sides of the door, so it makes some sense, even if it’s no longer a function of the materials or the manufacturing mechanism, that those edges be the continuous pieces.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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