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Raised Panels: how tight should they fit?

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Forum topic by GregD posted 07-18-2011 03:22 PM 2443 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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GregD

622 posts in 1824 days


07-18-2011 03:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question mahogany traditional

How tightly should a raised panel fit into the slots of the stiles and rails? What I have now requires firm pressure and maybe a bump or two of the palm to seat the panel into the slot of the frame, and it takes a firm grip to pull them apart. My caliper tells me that the thickness of my panels is a nearly 0.01” thicker than the slot opening. Too tight?

I am making an interior passage door – a 48” wide pocket door similar to a 6 panel frame-and-panel door but I designed it with 9 panels that are 9 3/4” wide. The door is 1 3/4” thick. Each opening in the frame will be filled with 2 panels, 13/16” thick, back-to-back. It would have been much simpler to get wide 8/4 stock and mill up solid 2-sided panels. Instead I resawed narrower 8/4 stock and made bookmatched panels that are single-sided. Many of my panel blanks were too thin to finish out at 7/8” thickness, so I ended up at 13/16” thickness.

In order to keep the surface of the panels flush with the surface of the frame the “slot” for the panels in the stiles and rails is a pair of 3/16” slots separated by 1/8”. I plan on using space balls in these slots.

Below are two of the finished panels (Waterlox – 2 coat of the standard stuff and 1 coat of gloss)

-- Greg D.


14 replies so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13342 posts in 2361 days


#1 posted 07-18-2011 03:47 PM

I would think it should fit lose in the rails and stiles. The rails and stiles are the parts that get glue, not the panel.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 2054 days


#2 posted 07-18-2011 04:15 PM

The panels should fit into the rails and stiles without pressure but not so loose that they rattle.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow -- www.BarnhillWoodworks.com

View GregD's profile

GregD

622 posts in 1824 days


#3 posted 07-18-2011 05:04 PM

Just snug but not tight?

It doesn’t take much to go from a bit too tight to way too loose. In principle the spaceballs should keep the panels in place even if the fit is a bit loose.

-- Greg D.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7734 posts in 2336 days


#4 posted 07-18-2011 05:04 PM

I would go for looser than a friction fit. Sanding and waxing the
insides of the grooves can help the panel ease in.

You can use “space balls” to leave plenty of room for movement, yet
control rattling. I usually put a single nail through the top and bottom
of the panel at the center. This keeps the panel centered and
mostly controls rattle.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View GregD's profile

GregD

622 posts in 1824 days


#5 posted 07-18-2011 05:16 PM

So on the sloppy side? I know how to do sloppy 8-)

The nails are in place of the spaceballs? I don’t see how I could get a nail in that wouldn’t show since both sides of the door are “good” sides.

-- Greg D.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1381 days


#6 posted 07-18-2011 05:20 PM

I’ve used pipe cleaners in place of space balls. Depending upon the thickness, I’ve shot a tiny brad into the center like Loren describes and just hidden it with a dab of putty. I made some panels too snug in my old kitchen. When the weather changed, I could literally hear them clicking and groaning. It was weird, but none of them exploded.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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Loren

7734 posts in 2336 days


#7 posted 07-18-2011 05:33 PM

I sometimes shoot an air nail, but often I’ll drill a hole and put in
a little round-headed brass nail. Looks nice, and a brass nail head
can be set flush with the surface and sanded too – but it does
show to somebody looking close.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1381 days


#8 posted 07-18-2011 06:13 PM

^ I would actually prefer that look. Shows the thought. I may try this.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3182 posts in 1363 days


#9 posted 07-19-2011 12:04 AM

you can make your own spaceballs using silicone caulk. make little dabs on waxed paper. Cut them with a box knife and you have them. Without clearance you will push the joints apart at the corners. I have always believed in the 1/16” rule. 1/16 in each direction. Loose fit and the space balls keep them from rattling.

View fussy's profile

fussy

980 posts in 1739 days


#10 posted 07-19-2011 02:12 AM

What Loren says. Too tight and something will break or warp. Space balls, little chunks of scrap foam, ear wax (just kidding) to take up the slop. Those qare too pretty to risk destroying them. Good work.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1538 days


#11 posted 07-19-2011 04:03 AM

Here’s something that’s not intuitively obvious but affects your question: When finish is applied, it will not only make the tongue thicker, it will also make the slot narrower!

So to put it to words the best I can, the panel should fit in effortlessly or slightly easier, but definitely not snuggish.

Thanks for all the recipes for spaceballs!

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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Grandpa

3182 posts in 1363 days


#12 posted 07-20-2011 11:15 PM

These doors are simply beautiful. Do it right please…...
CR1 is correct. not too tight, not too loose but just right. I have a friend that was given a large chest with raised panel doors. It was nice but the panels fit tight. the doors were large so there was probably more expansion. This was a gift his mother-in-law had built for them. Evrytime they went home they carried a different door to have the corners repaired on the stiles and rails. It was a sad deal but the panels weren’t right. I think there should be a formula for larger or smaller doors.

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GregD

622 posts in 1824 days


#13 posted 07-20-2011 11:41 PM

Thanks for the comments.

I picked out two of the best panels just for some eye candy. Waterlox is great stuff. The grain that I ended up with was dumb luck. Never made bookmatched panels before. Never made any sort of frame-and-panel door before either, for that matter.

I’m planning on widening the groves for the panels so they aren’t too tight. If some panels then fit too loose I’ll put tape on the back side to snug those up. I’m also planning on using Spaceballs.

I followed the instructions that came with my Amana stile and rail bits: slots for the panels 1/2” deep, and panel dimensions 3/4” larger than the panel opening.

-- Greg D.

View Domer's profile

Domer

248 posts in 2054 days


#14 posted 07-21-2011 02:41 AM

Charles Neil suggested a dab of glue in the center of the panel in place of the space balls.

If you have a 23 gauge pin nailer you could do that. Someone would have to get down really close to see that.

I have also used toothpicks. If the wood is light you can’t see them. If the wood is dark, you could make a tooth pick out of the wood you are using. Or just let them show. The ones I did looked decorative. Also if you stain them, they should disappear as well.

Good luck,

Domer

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