Rail and stiles by hand , What tool?

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Forum topic by ChrisCarr posted 09-13-2012 12:26 AM 6188 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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196 posts in 3076 days

09-13-2012 12:26 AM

Is there such a HAND tool to cut rail and stile cabinet doors, so a router is not needed? What tools would it be?

I have searched google but the only method i can find is with a rail and stile router bit.

20 replies so far

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2464 days

#1 posted 09-13-2012 12:28 AM

Saw, chisel, mallet… am I missing anything?

-- John, BC, Canada

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15659 posts in 2796 days

#2 posted 09-13-2012 12:31 AM

Stanley #148 tongue and groove plane comes in awful handy for that kind of work…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Don W's profile

Don W

18992 posts in 2745 days

#3 posted 09-13-2012 12:58 AM

Stanley #45, or #48 would work as well.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3826 days

#4 posted 09-13-2012 01:48 AM

The way it is done is all the stock is profiled the same and then
you miter the molded portion. So you need a plane to excavate
a 1/4” channel for your panel and another plane to make
an identical profile on all parts on the front inside edge
of the frame. You can make them square like the shakers
if you like, but you still have to miter the insides of the frame.

It’s not that hard to do the mitered inside corners on a frame
by hand. A lion miter trimmer or a miter jack is nice to have.
The trickiest part is cutting the tenons accurately by hand.
The stiles are usually left long when mortising and then
the “horns” cut off after assembly.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3176 days

#5 posted 09-13-2012 03:21 AM

There is a whole range of hand planes to cut these profiles. Panel raisers, plows, rebates, molding planes, tongue and groove, match planes, weird multi-iron planes. They were making them for hundreds of years before they had routers.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View dnick's profile


986 posts in 2560 days

#6 posted 09-13-2012 03:34 AM

I have an old Craftsmen combination plane, my Father handed down to me. It’s a wonderful tool. If you want to use hand tools, this would be invalueable. Numerous profiles, about the only thing it doesn’t cut is a cove. I know some companies still make this plane, but you’ll have to search.

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

View knockknock's profile


456 posts in 2351 days

#7 posted 09-13-2012 10:57 AM

I used Roy’s method that he did a WoodWright’s show on, here’s what I used:

trusty rusty back saw: rip stock to width, cut stock to lengths/pieces, cut tennons
, cut off horns

small bevel up smoother: joint rip cut, clean up stock, size/square pieces after cutting, clean up and size frame after assembly

1/4” mortice chisel: cut mortices

1/4” plow plane: cut grooves

butt chisels: pare tennons, make chips to fill voids around tennon tails (which fill the exposed groove end)

shoulder plane: even up tennon shoulders across pieces, shave cheeks

1/4” drill bit and cordless drill: drill holes for dowels/pins

flush cut saw: cut off dowel ends

low angle block plane (purchased after frame assembly): chamfer frame edges

-- 👀 --

View poopiekat's profile


4384 posts in 3912 days

#8 posted 09-13-2012 12:53 PM

It’s the reverse-profile cope cut that I find to be the real problem for hand-tool users. Unless you can grind your own profiles, or settle for Shaker non-profiled edges as Loren mentioned, the options are scarce.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View ChrisCarr's profile


196 posts in 3076 days

#9 posted 09-13-2012 07:44 PM

What about moulding planes? Is there anyone who still manufactures those? (just came to mind)

View tirebob's profile


134 posts in 3032 days

#10 posted 09-14-2012 01:34 PM

The Veritas small plow plane with the T&G adaptor kit would be exactly what the doc ordered if buying a modern made hand tool…,41182

View poopiekat's profile


4384 posts in 3912 days

#11 posted 09-14-2012 01:54 PM

Tirebob and others: Chris Carr is obviously trying to figure out how to cope a profiled rail into a stile. For that, a mirror-image profile cutter is necessary in order to match the rail and stile joint. Indeed, a wooden molding plane would work, but they are exceptionally rare. There might be a reverse-profile cutter for a Stanley 45, but that would be a tough cut to make with that plane on the end grain of a narrow stick.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

394 posts in 4146 days

#12 posted 09-15-2012 04:53 PM

Hi Chris

I have a series of pictorials on my website demonstrating building beaded and framed doors with raised panels, all using handtools. Here are a selection:

Just look at the “Armoire Project” in this index:

Regards from Perth


-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at

View ChrisCarr's profile


196 posts in 3076 days

#13 posted 09-17-2012 01:14 AM

Hey just thought of an idea.

What about using a Stanley no. 55 with a custom cut iron to match the profile i need?

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3176 days

#14 posted 09-17-2012 03:10 AM

The #55 is an option. The down side is metal multi-planes pretty much suck compared to wooden planes. They are the epitome of “jack of all trades – master of none.”There is no support ahead of the iron and they tear out. They also have poor guidance. I have a #45 and I can attest to that. They had some extra soles that you could add to a #45 for hollows and rounds that supposedly did better but they are pretty rare.The one exception is the absolutely gorgeous little multi-plane that Bridge City Toolworks sells. It has replaceable soles to match each profile. Not cheap but a beautifully made tool… as usual for them.

If you contact some of the tool pushers, you can get wooden planes in the profiles you are looking for. There are a lot of different profiles around in different styles and sizes. This was how things like that were made before routers. Generally, they are not made from only one plane except in the smallest sizes. You make several cuts with different planes until you have the desired profile.

If you are not making a lot of it, you can also do it with your own made scratch stocks. Basic idea is that you rough out the shape and then use a scraper cut to the profile to finish up.

Unfortunately many of these planes are no longer made. Your alternatives are: Buy vintage, get some from the few makers that are still making them, or make them yourself. The making it yourself can range from working from scratch or you can accelerate the process by picking up old molding planes and re-shaping them to what you want. This is primarily done as above with a scratch stock to shape the plane and then grind the iron to match.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View rshaker's profile


7 posts in 2256 days

#15 posted 09-17-2012 03:20 AM

Mike Dunbar wrote an excellent article called Colonial Cupboard on how to practice using hand tools to make 9 kinds of joints by building a simple cupboard with a dovetailed box, frame and floating raised panel door, coped thumbnail profile at the mortise and tenon joints, crown molding, ship lapped back, dadoes, etc. He describes the hand tools used with step by step instructions and a detailed drawing. I used it to make the cabinet; works. The article is in the collection Handtool Skills published by Fine Woodworking in 2008 but the article I believe appeared earlier in the magazine. You should be able to google it and download a PDF.

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