Options for nice looking cabinet/desk doors without a router table

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Forum topic by lightnb posted 12-20-2012 03:15 PM 12109 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1983 days

12-20-2012 03:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: desk door cabinet doors desk doors question joining

I’ve built a desk and need to make two doors for it. The desk will be stained a dark color. The top is made of a single sheet of plywood cut in an irregular shape and has a routed round-over edge. There are two cabinets on either side, one for a computer and one for storage. The computer monitor and the persons legs go between the two cabinets.

Almost all the tutorials I’ve found for raised panel cabinet doors require a router table. I’ll buy one eventually, but not in time for this project.

I do have:
A small table-top table saw
A circular saw
A compound mitre/radial arm chop saw
A 2 1/4 HP router with straight, Roman ogre and round-over bits
An 18 gauge pneumatic brad nailer

I’m willing to buy up to $50, as long as it can be purchased locally (ie. a router bit from Home Depot). It’s a gift and needs to be finished in 5 days.

I can’t believe there’s no way to make nice looking cabinet doors with the tools above. So here’s my ideas:

1. Use the same 3/4” birch plywood I used for the cabinet bases. Use a single piece per door. Use the Roman ogre or round over on the edges. Question: You’d see the layers of the plywood exposed under the round-over since its not solid wood, would that look silly?

2. Use solid wood for the frame, mitre the corners at 45 and assemble with wood glue and pneumatic nails. Its the same as what you’d do with the router table, except the joint would be a mitred butt joint instead of a tongue and groove (or whatever its called). Then I’d need to cut a groove inside the frame for… This is where it’s confusing because some designs use 1/4” ply on the inside, but it looks like its got an inverse round over (round under?) which you couldn’t cut into 1/4” because its not deep enough. Some designs use 3/4” ply, but how do you get a 1/4” edge to fit the frame?

Thoughts on either of the above or alternate suggestions?

8 replies so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3744 days

#1 posted 12-20-2012 04:10 PM

The doors on this sideboard are made entirely on the table saw. I rarely use a router for doors. Just cut the grooves for your panels and tenons on the table saw. Use stub tenons on the rails of your doors. Everything can be done on the saw. Use hardwood for the stiles and rails.

View Loren's profile (online now)


10401 posts in 3648 days

#2 posted 12-20-2012 05:03 PM

I suggest you try a recessed panel door with applied moulding.
It looks nice and is easy to make. You just build a door
frame and glue it together, then route through the front
with a rabbeting bit, square the corners, drop in a 1/4”
panel and finish with mitered wainscott mouldings.

You can raise panels on the table saw but be prepared
to do a lot of sanding if you do.

View MNgary's profile


298 posts in 2417 days

#3 posted 12-20-2012 07:39 PM

Lightnb, you mentioned the top is plywood with round-over edges. I don’t see a problem with doors that also have exposed plies.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4125 days

#4 posted 12-20-2012 08:29 PM

If you wanted to stretch (a lot), you could cut your raised panel using the standard “cut a cove on a tablesaw by sliding the piece diagonally across the blade” technique. There’s a video linked off this LumberJocks entry, a little bit of discussion here, a review of the Rockler jig, a project with tablesaw cut cove molding, a Wood Whisperer episode on cutting coves on the tablesaw, and, finally, some raised panel doors with the coves cut on a tablesaw.

Disclaimer: I haven’t done this, I don’t have a tablesaw, but it’s always seemed like a really cool abuse of tools to me!

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View runswithscissors's profile


2752 posts in 2025 days

#5 posted 12-20-2012 09:15 PM

Roman ogres are extinct, along with Bavarian elves and Norwegian trolls—or do you mean “ogees”? A built up plywood door with applied moldings is certainly a legit way to do this. Also consider a vertical panel cutting bit for your router (I’m assuming it has a 1/2” collet). A 2 1/4 h.p. router should be able to handle it. These get the profile the long way instead of horizontally. Horizontal panel raisers need a powerful router and router table. If you want to try the vertical panel raiser (Rockler has them), you could build a makeshift router table out of plywood, because even a vertical bit isn’t something to try freehand. For one thing, you have to use a tall fence. Hope that all works out okay.
Sorry for the wisecrack. Sometimes I lose self control. Ogee is pronounced “Oh gee.”

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3285 days

#6 posted 12-20-2012 09:18 PM

How about doing a perfectly flat door (more modern)? Make your doors from your 3/4’ plywood and edge it with 3/4×3/4 solid stock. Your solid stock can be glued on and sanded flush. Just be careful not to sand thru the veneer of the plywood. Run your round over bit around the edges and you have a good looking modern style door.

-- John @

View Austons_Garage's profile


41 posts in 2030 days

#7 posted 12-20-2012 11:28 PM

You can do doors without a router table. Cut toungue and groove rails and stiles on your table saw and rabbet the edges of your door panel. If you want to make it look more finished use a bearing guided 1/4 inch roundover or campher.

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2969 days

#8 posted 12-20-2012 11:38 PM

A router table can be as simple as a piece of mdf with a hole in it and a bit of 2×2 and g-cramps for a fence. You’d have it made in 15 minutes. If you haven’t got a door making cutter set, you could always do shaker style (flat panel) and cut everything on the saw, or you raise panels by cutting bevels on the saw.

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