Rail and stile router bit setup for cabinet doors

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Forum topic by Vrtigo1 posted 08-11-2010 09:47 PM 10409 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 2495 days

08-11-2010 09:47 PM

I’m in the process of making my first cabinet doors for a project I’m working. I want to make raised panel doors. I have a 3 bit door set (rail, stile and raised panel), but am a little confused as to how to set them up.

For the rail and stile bits, how do I determine the proper height? I assume there’s probably a standard rule to go by, but haven’t been able to find it in my searching. I see that some bit manufacturers such as MLCS sell setup blocks which I assume are designed to simplify this process. I have a no-name bit set that doesn’t have setup blocks or any instructions. Do I just need to make a bunch of test cuts until I get something that looks right?

Also, for the panel raising bit, how do I determine how to set its’ height? I have a general idea of how the process works from watching some videos, but am still trying to get my head wrapped around the whole process. As I understand it, the stile bit makes a groove all the way around the inside of the door frame that the panel sits in, and I may have to rabbet the back edge of the panel to get it to fit in that slot. The only thing I’m unsure of is how to determine how to properly determine the height of the panel raiser.

The face frame is done from 3/4 red oak, and the doors will be the same. I assume for the panel blank, I should just edge glue boards to get the size I need. I realized that everything I’ve seen on NYW usually used MDF for the panels, so I just want to confirm that this is correct.

9 replies so far

View TomHintz's profile


207 posts in 2902 days

#1 posted 08-11-2010 10:06 PM

The bits should have some description on how to set them up but all are basically the same. I would make a few test pieces to be sure you are getting the look that you wanty. I have a story about setting up rail and stile bits at the link below. Perhaps there is some info there that will help as well.

-- Tom Hintz,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3326 days

#2 posted 08-11-2010 11:04 PM

Here is the video Raising Arizona that Marc Spagnolo produced on setting up rail and stile bits and routing a raised panel. I found it pretty helpful in getting my cope and stick joinery going.

Basically I run the rails first and then use them to set up the stile bit height. For the raised panels I make all mine from glued-up hardwood and trim the panel to fit the door opening. After the panel is trimmed to fit the door opening then it is raised to fit the groove width. Neither of my sets has a back cutter so I just either thickness the panel to 5/8”, which leaves it flush with the door rails/stile, before raising the panel or leave it at 3/4” and it will be proud. I generally like to leave it proud. The back of the panel could be rabbeted but it is easier to just take a little more off with a planer, imo.

But by all means you will have to make some test cuts and save some as set up blocks for your next set of doors.

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

View ShopDogs's profile


228 posts in 2861 days

#3 posted 08-12-2010 12:25 AM

One thing I love is a sled to help cut the rail ends. It is faster, safer and the results are wonderful.

I cut rails and styles several times a week. The sled I have is from Infinity, but there are a raft load of different ones available.

There is a learning curve on this building technique, but I agree with Scott about a back cutter. I leave mine proud.


-- ShopDogs, Tulsa, OK The tools aren't the problem-It's the organic interface!

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2495 days

#4 posted 08-12-2010 02:45 PM

Thanks Scott and Mike. I watched Marc’s video yesterday and it helped tremendously. I noticed in the video that instead of using a sled, Marc suggested using a perfectly square piece of plywood to support the rails as you run them through the bit which was very helpful to me as I don’t have a sled yet.

One thing I don’t understand after watching his video is how the sled doesn’t get torn up by the bit. It looks like the side of the sled against the fence would come into contact with the router bit. Or is it just that the bit is raised high enough to avoid contacting the sled?

View ShopDogs's profile


228 posts in 2861 days

#5 posted 08-12-2010 03:34 PM

No, the sled has a fence that runs perpendicular to the router table fence. It serves to keep the sled body itself away from the cutters. The sled also has positive holddowns that keep the rail ends from moving or kicking back.
You only use the sled for the rail ends. All other cuts you use the router table alone.


-- ShopDogs, Tulsa, OK The tools aren't the problem-It's the organic interface!

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2495 days

#6 posted 08-12-2010 03:58 PM

I get that you only use a sled for doing the rail ends, but after watching Marc’s video, I’m not understanding what you mean when you say that the sled has a fence to keep the sled body away from the bit. It looks like the side of the sled he used rides flush against the RT fence.

View mnguy's profile


183 posts in 2902 days

#7 posted 08-12-2010 04:17 PM

I haven’t seen the video, but with my Rockler sled, the base is 1/4” thick, the rails sit on this, and the sled has a fence/backer board the long edge of the rail rests against. This piece is sacrificial; it helps prevent tear out on the end of the rail. The coping bit height is adjusted so it is above the sled base and cuts only the rail.

Before I had the sled, I used an offcut behind the rail.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2495 days

#8 posted 08-12-2010 04:24 PM

Ok, makes sense…that’s what I thought. So essentially the sled rides underneath the bit and the fence/backer board on the sled is sacrificial and is replaceable.

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 2951 days

#9 posted 08-12-2010 04:59 PM

Lots of trial and error, be sure to keep some left over scraps with the desired profile so when you use it again you can use the scraps to set up the bit. I also found it easier to do the raised panel profile on my table saw. It is an easy process, it just takes a couple of simple shop built jigs.

-- RKWoods

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