From WoodworkersZone WoodWiki
Frame and Panel Door Construction
By: Joe Grout
The following dissertation is based upon my experiences and some of the rational I use for this system.
When I first started constructing doors several years ago, mostly for kitchen cabinet construction, I spent an inordinate amount of time creating cut lists for the door slabs. I had some basic concepts of the proper sizing of the unit slabs whether they were overlay or insert and the requirements of the hardware. The problem that I soon recognized was that the parts needed to be more forgiving when I got to the assembly stage. And I also figured out that cope and stick knife sets did not necessarily use a standard width depending upon the application for the door.
I make not only doors for kitchen cabinets and built-ins but also for entry doors and interior doors for houses.
And it was creating an issue for me as to how to efficiently create a cut list that included all the pertinent information and the ability to quickly manipulate the list for a different application.
The following is a description of what amounts to the inclusion of a few different versions of a cut list blended to create a list for me that is easy to understand and read from the construction phase to the final trimming of the completed slab.
First some basics:
The one thing I learned about building doors is that there is always a constant in any frame and panel door. That is the width of the face of the frame members. It matters not what type of door you are building nor how custom the door is you can be assured that the face of the stile and rail will always end up a certain width. And this has become the constant I use to create a cut list.
Now when you are making a cut list you also must take into consideration the width of the sticking you will be using and also, I have found that to create accurate and crisp joinery on material you need something extra added to allow for the occasional goof. Based upon my experience the following rules apply:
1. The rough out width of my stiles is 1" longer than the total length of the door up to 36". This gives me a tail that I can make adjustments on when I actually assemble the door. When the door is taller than 36" I add 2" for a bit more wiggle room
2. All my stile and rail parts on a door less than 36" high also have added to them a minimum of 1/8" in width to the net face value of the rail/ stile. So for instance, for a face value of 2" I expect my stiles and rails to be a minimum face width of 2 1/8".
3. As stated earlier, you must also add the width of the sticking. Most of my sticking cutters are 3/8" cut depth knives; that is they apply a 3/8" detail on the rail/stile parts. Additionally, I have knife sets that cut ½" details and 3/4" details. So in my case, I need to add the proper sticking cut depth to allow enough material to cut the sticking and leave the face value the proper width.
Based on the above numbers we already have a 2 1/8" minimum face width and will now add 3/8" (or ½" or 3/4" etc.) more to the width of each rail and stile we need for the door.
4. Arched doors are a standard for me and I have some separate rules for the arch that I will go into at a later time.
5. There is always and exception to the rule and it is not big but it is critical to this particular type of door.
If there is no sticking applied to the frame (shaker style or a tongue and grove door) then you must add the depth of the groove you are making to the width of the rails. Keep this in mind especially if you are only using stub tenons on the door
Here is an example set up based on the above rules.......
Door is 3/4"thick x 20" wide x24" high for a kitchen cabinet.
On a door this size I first look at the call out specs (if there are any) or look to see if I am matching an existing door. If either of these exists, I am going to measure the face width of the stiles and the rails and note the width of each (do not assume the stile and rail widths are the same, many times they are not.) Face width include any detail on the exterior edges of the door so add that all in. I also determine the width of the sticking if I am matching and existing door slab. Once I have these numbers in hand, I can begin to create the list.
For the above example I found the face width of the rails and stiles were indeed the same and measured 2" on the face. So right off I can do the following:
1. I add 1/8" + 3/8" to the face value of every single rail/stile part.
So 2" + 1/8"+3/8"= 2 ½"
This will be written down on all my cut list lines as the width of the part. Many times I make these parts wider if I can because it has no bearing on the end result and make the shaping much safer.
2. I now look at the height of the door and I add 1" to the length of the stiles.
So the first line of my CL looks like this:
Stiles: 2 @ 3/4" x 2 ½"W x25" L
Now for the rails
Rails in a cope and stick door have a reverse profile that overlaps the sticking on the stiles. And this is where I really save time by using face values to create a door cut list.
I take the width of the door (20") and I subtract the face value of two stiles, in this case 2"+2"=4"and deduct this from the width of the door. This gives me a 16" long rail.*
- as stated earlier, Add the depth of the grooves for shaker style doors in this case 3/8”=3/8”=3/4”
So the next line on the cut list looks like this:
2@3/4” x 2"½"W x16" L for rail and stile doors or
2@ ¾” x2 ½” wide x 16 ¾” for shaker style doors
An aside here............
When I rough cut my rails for length I also add 1" to the length at the rough out stage. This allows me to cut stock to very accurate and square lengths after I have completed all the flattening, thicknessing and ripping the rails parallel. It also facilitates ease in gluing up parts that are not wide enough to be made with one board. I also cut panel stock for raised panel doors the same way. I rarely if ever have a problem with non square ends by doing it this way.
Also, if you are using cope and stick router bit sets there is a bearing that runs in the center of the set on the cope. In fact many shaper knives also use a spacing bushing or bearing to create the tongue on the cope cuts. This is not a problem; I just need to point out that some sets have a tongue cutter that actually trims the end of the tongue as well. If you are using a set of knives that do not have a tongue cutter in them you will trim the parts to the actual length of the rail (when you actually size the length of the rails) based on the above calculations. If you do have the tongue cutter and want to trim the parts square on the shaper then you can add a 1/16" to the length of the rails. This is optional but I recommend it if you are able.
The last part of this door is the Panel.
Two different situations exist for panels in doors flat panels and Raised panels. If you intend to create a door with veneered 1/4" plywood or MDF panels you will cut the panel very close to the right (actual) size of the panel opening. This is due to the fact that with a veneered panel you should be able to glue the panel in place as it is a stable unit not subject to seasonal movement.
If you are creating glued up panels from stock material then you need to make an allowance for panel to “float” within the opening, so it can expand/ contract due to seasonal movement. I generally allow for the panel to move about 1/4"" within the frame. I live in a pretty dry climate so movement is not usually a problem here but you may need to allow a bit more based on your experience and the amount of humidity and temperature swings from season to season.
I also use Spaceballs in the construction of my frame and panel doors on the smaller units. They keep the panel centered and allow for movement in the frame without affecting the panel.
So if you are creating a flat panel the following applies:
The length of the rail (16") is the width; the length of the panel is the height or the door minus 4"
(24"-4" = 20")
So for a flat panel the callout is: 1@1/4"T x16" w x20" H
For a raised panel the calculation is as follows
Width of the panel is the rail width less 1/4". The length (height) of the panel is the height of the door less 4" less 1/4" (this keeps the reveal on the raised panel equal all around the frame of the door).
So for a Raised panel, the callout is 1@ 3/4" T x15 3/4" W x 19 3/4"
A complete cutlist for this door looks like this:
1-3/4" x 20" x24" single panel door
2@ 3/4"x 2 ½"x 25" Stiles
2@ 3/4"x 2 ½"x 16" Rails
1@ 1/4"x16"x 20" flat panel or,
1@ 3/4"x 15 3/4"x 19 3/4" <11/16”> Raised panel
Now, I am ready to rough out my stock for the door and prepare it for shaping of the cope and stick cuts.
This is a fully functional cut list for me. I have used this system for many years and have never experienced a problem as long as I followed the rules. It is fast for me and doing 1 door as in the example to doing multiple door widths in as many as 100 doors per order is just a matter of accurate inventorying of the doors to be made.
A few rules here for review and to help to understand why this works so well.
1. When roughing out the parts for the door add 1" to the stiles and rails and panel lengths if doing raised panels. This allows you to glue up parts for width and to leave tails to trim off at the appropriate time. Also, always try to allow more than 1/8" to the width of all parts so you will be able to properly create four square stock. Four square stock is material that is square on all four sides prior to cutting to length. That is to say that you need to allow enough thickness and width to get the board (s) straight and true and ends up at the widths and lengths called out for in the above cut list.
Once you have all your parts roughed out (this is a single door mind you when you are cutting out multiple doors you are going to have to pay attention to what pile of stock is what and when you are creating 30 or 40 + doors at a time this can be an issue, especially when you have several different sized doors in the order. Come up with a plan to keep rails and stiles separate from panel stock.
For the sake of efficiency, I try and cut my stile parts first, then my rail parts then the panel parts. This allows me to create the glue ups of panels while I work on the rest of the frame parts.
this is an ongoing project that I started on Galen's site a few years ago.
thanks for a place to post it and hopefully for me to finish it.