How to prevent panel doors from being locked to stiles and rails

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Forum topic by Richard posted 03-31-2012 10:04 PM 2672 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2930 days

03-31-2012 10:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I understand the reason to glue only the rail and stile on panel doors to prevent them from spliting from seasonal changes but I don’t understannd how this works when you put the door together and then stain and add 2 or 3 coats of of poly on to it. When you put the poly on the door dosent it lock the the panel to the door even though you did not glue the panel to the rails and stiles?

14 replies so far

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3718 days

#1 posted 03-31-2012 10:08 PM

I think most will say to finish the panel prior to assembly. At least the first few coats.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3816 days

#2 posted 03-31-2012 10:17 PM

Hi Richard
The way to stop from having problems with your finish on your panel is to prestain the edges of your panel and the groove your panel goes in. As far as gluing panels goes It helps to keep the panels in place buy gluing a small spot in the middle of the rail and panel. after it’s together stain the rest of the door and then spray the top coat.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3308 days

#3 posted 03-31-2012 10:20 PM

I’ve never prefinished my panels and believe that stains and finishes don’t really act as “glue”.

For solid wood panels, I put a dab of glue at the center of each rail. This “fixes” the panel in place but still allwos expansion/contraction.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2930 days

#4 posted 03-31-2012 10:39 PM

Ok but even if i prestain the the panel and then put poly on the complete door dont I kind of lock the panel to the rail and stile?

View waho6o9's profile


8539 posts in 2816 days

#5 posted 03-31-2012 10:42 PM

Ok but even if i prestain the the panel and then put poly on the complete door dont I kind of lock the panel to the rail and stile?

No, it kinda floats.

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3816 days

#6 posted 03-31-2012 10:54 PM

I second the no , I must have done 1000 paneled doors and I’ve never had a problem with the finish preventing wood movement. the only way I could see it becoming a problem is if you brushed on 10-20 very thick coats making sure you fill the corners of the panel with a clear coat.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View kizerpea's profile


775 posts in 2607 days

#7 posted 04-01-2012 11:32 AM

I use the little rubber balls when i put the door togather..keeps the panel floating….a1jim is right!


View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3476 days

#8 posted 04-01-2012 11:42 AM

I take a tube of silicone glue and squirt it in strips on some plastic wrap. After it dries I cut it into tiny balls, the same size as the expensive ones the woodworking stores sell. One tube of cheep silicone glue will make a lifetime supply of doors for most of us, or a couple of days of doors for a1jim.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile


139 posts in 3104 days

#9 posted 04-01-2012 03:08 PM

Richard, I think what you are getting at is the same concept as a window that is painted shut in a old house. If you put enough layers of paint, poly, lacquer, etc over the panel/groove junction, you are right, the panel will be held in place by that finish. The reason this won’t destroy the panel with movement is that the bond really isn’t that strong. If the wood wants to move, it will almost certainly be able to overcome the force of the finish that is holding it in place. I’m pretty sure the amount of finish bonding the 2 pieces is nowhere near as strong as if the bond was with wood glue.

If the wood does move, the worst problem you have is you might see where the finish “built up” at the joint and you have a ragged line showing on the panel.

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2930 days

#10 posted 04-04-2012 04:51 PM

Thanks for all the replies, I guess I was over thinking a problem that is not really a problem after all.

View Viking's profile


880 posts in 3434 days

#11 posted 04-04-2012 04:58 PM


If you apply a stain, you should stain panels prior to assembly of your door. If you stain after assembly and the panel contracts with temperature or humidity you could have a non-stained area, perpendicular to the grain, exposed on sides of your panels.

Don’t ask me how I know that. ;-)

Good luck.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2930 days

#12 posted 04-04-2012 05:00 PM

Viking , yea that part I had. It was the final finish like Poly that I was thinking about.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3887 days

#13 posted 04-04-2012 05:27 PM

Paint can seal the panel in there but you know what happens?

The panel moves anyway and stretches or cracks the paint.

Nothing you do will stop wood from moving in width… well, except
for keeping it in a bag in the freezer, maybe.

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2915 days

#14 posted 04-05-2012 02:40 AM

I agree with Loren. The panel will expand and the finish will not hold it. I wouldn’t glue it or make it fit tight. If you choose to do that then prepare yourself for issues.

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