Cabinet Door Tooling Questions

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Forum topic by Ben posted 12-23-2012 05:43 PM 1738 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ben's profile


376 posts in 2885 days

12-23-2012 05:43 PM

OK, so I’ve officially decided to do raised panel doors in my kitchen and will build them myself.

I rather like this raised panel profile from MLCS:

However I don’t see any specs on it as far as the panel thickness it is designed to cut.

The only bits I have for rail/stile, that are actually “sash” bits are from CMT, just a simple ovolo profile sticking bit, and a matching coping bit. I bought this set because the coping bit is flat topped without a bearing, enabling me to do extended tenons easily. I also have a hollow chisel mortiser, so this joint is a not a big deal for me.
However, the bits do not have a slot cutter, so it would mean another setup for the 1/4” grooves in the frame.

Here’s a picture of some storm sash I mad with the bits:

The sash are 5/4” pine with 3/8” tenons. I’m wondering if I can use these sash bits in 7/8” stock in conjunction with the MLCS raised panel bit, and an additional slot cutting bit to make my doors.
If the sash bits are too big for 7/8”, any reason to not just use 5/4” for my doors?
Or do I need to/should I invest in another rail/stile set that designed for cabinet doors with a slot cutter also?
I don’t want to just do cope and stick, though.
My CMT bits are only 1/4” shanks, so slightly annoying, but I haven’t had a problem with them over probably a dozen windows.

Many thanks to you all.

8 replies so far

View Stargazer's profile


49 posts in 2967 days

#1 posted 12-24-2012 02:53 AM

I’m not sure which style/rail bit you have but there are those made specificly for panel doors. They leave a 1/4 wide by 3/8 deep dado for the panel lip to fit in.

Most all rasied panel bits as the one pictured are for single sided cabinet doors. All mine fisish out at 3/4” and any thicker puts undo extra weight and strain on the hinges. You just adjuct the proper depth on your shaper and make the cut. I personally make several cuts so I’m not taking too much material off at one time, the last cut being just barely removing material for a smooth finish cut.

Once you have the top cut to the correct depth, use a undercutter bit to make the lip exactly 1/4” to fit in the frames dado.

I cut the panel 1/4 smaller than the dado dimension and use little rubber balls to take up the expansion and contraction of the inner panel and to stop panel rattle. These little rubber balls, called “space balls” at Woodworker Supply, are imperative for building panel doors.

Panels must be completely flat, no cupping, before you run them throug the shaper. If not you’ll get some mismatched corners. I’ve ripped cupped panels down and reglued them before shaping many times. I make everything about 7/8” when building the door and run the completed door through the drum sander for final finished thickness of 3/4”.

Make sure the doors stay square when you clamp them up, keep them laying flat at all times to avoid any warping. Oh yea, sand your shaper cut before you assemble the door. On a concave cut I use a piece of 1 1/2” PVC wrapped in sandpaper, for flat cuts, a sanding block ripped the exact width of the cut. Use 180 grit or lighter for sanding the crossgrain or you’ll see the scratches after staining.

Good luck, post pics !


View runswithscissors's profile


2768 posts in 2053 days

#2 posted 12-24-2012 07:04 AM

This brings up something that baffles me. Used to be panels were planed to 5/8” thick. When the profile was raised, you would have 1/4” inch left over to go in the groove. Now that everybody and his dog has his own planer, panels have to be 3/4”, which requires an undercutting bit. Some of the panel raising bits i see wouldn’t leave you enough wood for the tongue if you were to have a 5/8” panel. Seems like our timing is off somehow. I really prefer having 5/8” panels, and don’t like the undercut panels very much (if at all). So what am I missing here?

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

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3313 days

#3 posted 12-24-2012 03:46 PM


I believe your doors will appear quite heavy looking if you make them out of 5/4 stock. I would recommend you buy a set of regular door bits and make your doors from 4/4 stock. I would also recommend you get those bits with a 1/2” shank, especially since you will be working with cherry. That’s a lot to ask of a 1/4” shank bit.

I’m with runswithscissors, I’ve always planned my panels to 5/8” thick so I didn’t have to back cut the panels to fit in the groove. Stargazer also makes a great point about making sure your panel is smaller so it has room to expand and using the “space balls” to keep the panel centered and snug, but still alow the panel to move if it has to.

Be very, very careful using the raised panel bit in a router. A speed reduction for your router would work better, The tip speed of that size bit in a router is usually more than recommended by the manufacturer.

-- John @

View Ben's profile


376 posts in 2885 days

#4 posted 12-24-2012 03:58 PM

Thanks guys.

I have a Delta shaper from the 50s for running the panel bit in. But I don’t believe the speed is adjustable.
Is this OK? I’ll have to check the motor speed.

Looks like I’ll buy a new stile/rail set (maybe the Amana historic shaker) and use the cheap MLCS panel raiser bit.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3313 days

#5 posted 12-24-2012 04:02 PM


Your shaper should be fine. They RPM on a shaper is slower then a router and definitely your shaper is set up to handle that type bit a lot better.

good luck and keep us posted.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

-- John @

View Ben's profile


376 posts in 2885 days

#6 posted 12-24-2012 04:04 PM

Thanks Huff.
Happy Holidays.

My only concern is relying entirely on the stub tenon with the cope and stick bits.
It might be possible to remove the upper portion of the coping bit on the Amana set, and be able to do a real M&T. I know a lot of guys say that the stub tenons hold up fine long term, but it would make me worry, and a real m&t is fairly easy to do.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3313 days

#7 posted 12-24-2012 04:27 PM


If you’re referring to the regular stile and rail cutters for a raised panel door, you don’t have to worry about a joint failure as long as you have a good fit and glued and clamped properly. That would also hold true for a regular m&t joint.

-- John @

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#8 posted 12-24-2012 06:00 PM

An easy way to do it is make the frames with no profiles
using loose tenons or bridle joints or whatever you prefer,
then rout a rabbet in the back of the frame. You can
put the panel in from behind and use applied mouldings
to cover the gap. I do this from the front too, with
wainscott style mouldings.

Another way to do it is with mitered door frame corners.
In this case the grooves don’t interfere with loose tenon

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