Shaker door method - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 01-19-2020, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Shaker door method

Long story in a nutshell....I went to a DIY cabinet shop where you basically pay for the CNC and edge banding rental and they'll cut and predrill the plywood panels for cabinets and they sub out the door work. The cost is not what I wanted and I have a pocket hole jig so I thought I'll make the frames myself. When it came to doors, I was going to sub those out because the wife wants french glass panes. I did some online searching and the cheapest I could find was about 1200. Geez. So I'm going with shaker doors (which was going to be the bottom anyways). I read up on how to "properly" make shakers...I would make life easier and buy the matching rail/stile router bit set, use 1x3 hardwood, 1/4" plywood panels or if available 1/4" hardwood sheets for the middle glued up.

But then I saw an interesting cheater way. using 3/8" plywood as the middle panel, this time tongue and groove joinery being unneeded as they pocket holed the plywood to the rails and stiles (and of course the rails and stile together at the corners with pocket joinery too). 3/4" stock with 3/8" ply flush to the back makes a 3/8" inset panel. Plus it's stronger than 1/4". That would save me $70 in router bits, unsure about the plywood upgrade cost from 1/4 to 3/8 yet.

But my question for you seasoned wood workers is....

Are they both legit, sound, durable ways to make doors? Ignore the "purist" gene for now and just think strength and durability. They'll both look the same at the end of the day. I love the idea of traditional joinery but I've got lots of projects so any time I can save I'm interested.

I'm not in a rush as I have to make my outfeed table and re-arrange the shop first anyways.
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-19-2020, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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OK I did my math.

2 doors 12x31, 8 doors at 12x41...I could get all inset panel dimensions from about half a plywood sheet.
2 drawers at 15 9/16"x21", 2 at 14 3/4 x 21, 2 at 9x21, 2 at 6 1/4x21. The insets will come from slightly less than the remainder of the sheet.

1/4" costs $23, 1/2" costs $36. Definitely cost effective to do the bigger panel considering the router bits are $70. Drawer fronts don't have to me super strong I know. I'm thinking of workshop efficiency here. Plus I can use the 1/2" ply for the bottoms of the drawers too, sides made from 3/4.

I'm planning these to be frameless cabinets and for slides using undermount. if that matters with your advice.
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post #3 of 12 Old 01-20-2020, 01:01 AM
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Do you have a decent table saw? If so, you can do the stiles and rails with grooves and stub tenons out of 1x stock. I would still use 3/8" veneer grade ply for the fields, but rabbet the back creating a tongue to fit into the 1/4" grooves on your stiles and rails. It gives a heavier, more solid feeling door. I like pocket screws, but not for that. Save the pocket screws for attaching the face frames to the carcasses.
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post #4 of 12 Old 01-20-2020, 02:03 AM
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I have never done it that way and have no firsthand experience as to its durability. What I will tell you is that, as a furniture and cabinet maker for nearly 30 years, I have done my share of replacing or repairing broken doors. Most of the time, the issue centers on the torque which is applied to the rail and stile joints closest to the hinges. And invariably, these breaks occur with joints made with the rail and stile bits, using 3/8" long stub tenons. Theoretically, you would think that these are a good joint. In reality, they are mediocre. Considering the torque applied when opening and closing them hundreds or thousands of times, that 3/8" tenon has its work cut out.



So, my point in this is that you need to consider the torque which will be put on the joint. Granted, when you open a cabinet door, it does not feel like much at all. But it has to endure a lot of repetition, and occasional hard closures. Also consider the hinges you are using. If the hinges have a spring action which closes the door firmly or with a bang, as many of them did 40-60 years ago, they have a much greater torque on those R and S joints. A softer closing hinge action may be easier on the joints.


This is not exactly an answer to your query, but lacking first hand experience with pocket jointed door construction, It's the only useful information I can offer on the subject.
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-20-2020, 02:35 AM Thread Starter
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I do have a table saw to rip stock down. I guess that would be cheaper than buying 3" wide strips. So you're saying to rabbet the back of the plywood panels so that it slides into the groove in the rails and stiles? It would give two gluing surfaces of the groove and the back of the rail.
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post #6 of 12 Old 01-20-2020, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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And these will be soft close Euro hinges. And it's gonna be frameless, flush doors
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-20-2020, 05:51 AM
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Easiest door to make is tongue and groove. ..
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-20-2020, 09:21 AM
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If your wanting flat panel shaker style doors I'd do it all on the table saw. I'd sure hate to put door frames together with pocket screws. Face frames maybe but not the rails and styles of a door. A dado head cutter is all you need for some good looking shaker cabinets.

A handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains...
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post #9 of 12 Old 01-20-2020, 07:01 PM
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Agree with Maintenance Man. Get yourself a dado set and cut everything on the table saw, much easier, quicker, and more consistent cuts. When I build shaker style doors, I use 1/2" birch veneer plywood for the panels and rabbet the edge so it fits into the 1/4" slot with the excess towards the backsides of the door. Makes for a solid door without that lightweight panel feel or rattle.
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-20-2020, 08:12 PM
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No. You never want to glue the field into the stiles and rails. Plywood does not move much, but the wood in the stiles and rails will expand and contract slightly with temperature and humidity. You and the fields to fit snug, but have a little room to move with expansion, and never glue. Some people put small rubber balls, called Spaceballs in the groove to hold the panel centered and still give room form movement. I have also seen guys use nylon or cotton cord. But with plywood that should not be a concern. You want to glue the tenon, and where it enters the groove only. On the rails I would suggest wiping glue on the end grain and letting it dry before gluing. This will help prevent the glue from being absorbed into the end grain resulting in a joint failure like mentioned by the poster above.
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post #11 of 12 Old 01-21-2020, 04:09 AM Thread Starter
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I do actually have a dado set. The guy I got my saw from threw it in the mix. Never used it in the last 3 years. But...it's there. I did look up how to make them on dados. I guess in my mind it was easier on the router with trying to figure out the tongue cutting especially. But I suppose I can do that. I did read about not gluing the field as well, although the only example I have is my current cabinets and those things must definitely be glued as there's no rattle or flex at all.

But I guess that saves me more since I already have it. My jointer has a rabbeting ledge too, but I need to look up how to use that part of it.

I'm a little lost on the glue bit...Let the tongue side of it dry before inserting it?
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post #12 of 12 Old 01-21-2020, 11:30 AM
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There is no issue gluing ply panels. In fact its the best way to go. There are no realistic issues with stiles moving & if it was the joints are going to crack anyway. Spacers are obviously not used & they don't prevent rattle anyway. Rattle is caused by loose fitting panels.

@mendoza - Definitely check out using a dado for tenons. It is not difficult, but there are serious safety issues if you don't do the set up correctly.
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