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post #1 of 16 Old 05-17-2013, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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Making cabinet doors

PLease help a rookie woodworker!

I am trying to make some cabinet doors. I am struggling with joining the rails & stiles.

I have tried a tongue & groove router bit set and a dado set and had horrible luck with both. I CAN NOT get a clean edge where they meet no matter what I do. Actually I can get a good joint about 1 out of 15 tries, but that is by pure luck.

I checked my table, my blade, my wood, my fence, my bits, you name it. Everything looks good but once Im done something is off & they never line up perfect

In fact, I dont even see how any joint could ever be perfect? There are so many variables & if anything is off- even by a fraction of a milimeter, it stands out & the joint looks terrible!

I dont get it? I have seen tips in videos to run a board through both ways when making the groove cut with a dado blade to ensure it is centered- BUT I cant see how that could possibly work. If it was off AT ALL on the first cut, when you flip it over and cut again, yes you center it- but now the groove is too wide, becuase you just ran it through twice! Making it worthless to hold my panel & line up with my tongue either.

When I tried a router bit, it was the same result, the tongue would never be perfect within the groove- always just a little off, and there is almost no way to hold it straight when making the tongue in the rail. The wood is just too narrow & it tilts a few degrees no matter what I do. Plus one time when I think I finally had it lined up right & successfully made two matching cuts, I carried on to the next board & it was back off again. I guess the vibrations of the router slowly pulled the bit out of place or something.

Yes, I even tried to make a jig to hold it straight & it actually came out worse then just holding it straight with my hands!

UGH! I'm about ot sell all my tools and give up!

Any advice? I have watched so many videos already & it looks so easy.. Cut the groove, cut the tongue, presto.. perfect.

WhAT am I missing???

Thanks for any tips
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post #2 of 16 Old 05-18-2013, 12:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbriscoe View Post
PLease help a rookie woodworker!

I am trying to make some cabinet doors. I am struggling with joining the rails & stiles.

I have tried a tongue & groove router bit set and a dado set and had horrible luck with both. I CAN NOT get a clean edge where they meet no matter what I do. Actually I can get a good joint about 1 out of 15 tries, but that is by pure luck.

I checked my table, my blade, my wood, my fence, my bits, you name it. Everything looks good but once Im done something is off & they never line up perfect

In fact, I dont even see how any joint could ever be perfect? There are so many variables & if anything is off- even by a fraction of a milimeter, it stands out & the joint looks terrible!

I dont get it? I have seen tips in videos to run a board through both ways when making the groove cut with a dado blade to ensure it is centered- BUT I cant see how that could possibly work. If it was off AT ALL on the first cut, when you flip it over and cut again, yes you center it- but now the groove is too wide, becuase you just ran it through twice! Making it worthless to hold my panel & line up with my tongue either.

When I tried a router bit, it was the same result, the tongue would never be perfect within the groove- always just a little off, and there is almost no way to hold it straight when making the tongue in the rail. The wood is just too narrow & it tilts a few degrees no matter what I do. Plus one time when I think I finally had it lined up right & successfully made two matching cuts, I carried on to the next board & it was back off again. I guess the vibrations of the router slowly pulled the bit out of place or something.

Yes, I even tried to make a jig to hold it straight & it actually came out worse then just holding it straight with my hands!

UGH! I'm about ot sell all my tools and give up!

Any advice? I have watched so many videos already & it looks so easy.. Cut the groove, cut the tongue, presto.. perfect.

WhAT am I missing???

Thanks for any tips

I'm not to clear on just exactly what you are doing/using. You are using tongue and groove bits to do both the cope cut and the stick cut? You are using them on a router table?
Same with the dado blade. To begin with, if your blade was perfectly centered, the groove wouldn't get any wider on the second cut. You are using featherboards and other devices to help control the stock.?

I like the matched rail and stile bits. I put a rubber grommet in the bottom of the collet so when I switch between the rail and the stile bit, I don't need to reset the bit height. Same thing would work if you had matched tongue and groove bits. When just starting out, the setup block for those R&S bits is a good investment.

John

If I strive for perfection, I can generally achieve good'nuff, If I strive for good'nuff, I generally achieve firewood
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post #3 of 16 Old 05-18-2013, 01:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbriscoe View Post
PLease help a rookie woodworker!

I am trying to make some cabinet doors. I am struggling with joining the rails & stiles.

I have tried a tongue & groove router bit set and a dado set and had horrible luck with both. I CAN NOT get a clean edge where they meet no matter what I do. Actually I can get a good joint about 1 out of 15 tries, but that is by pure luck.

I have done in the past and CAN do perfectly fine doors with router bits... But I 'prefer' to NOT mess with those if I can help it for many of the reasons you describe.

A dedicated shaper is mo better for doors...

A Hussey machine is a PILE of money cheaper than a shaper and will give great results as well (use biscuits for mitred doors).

IF I am doing simple 'Shaker Style' doors (simple tongue and groove with NO profiles going on) and 'need' to midstream 'replace' a screwed up crossrail or two I have no problem going over to the tablesaw to remake the messed up part and it is a hell of a lot faster than changing blades on a shaper...

The 'toolage' you 'need' depends on the doors you are trying to make...

With the proper skill level you may not 'need' as much 'toolage' to get the job done. Depends on what you are trying to do.

Please post pictures of what you are dealing with so people can better understand your problem and offer you advice.
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post #4 of 16 Old 05-18-2013, 04:12 AM
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For the tongue on the end of the rail, push the rail through with a perfectly square piece of plywood about a foot long. Hold everything tight to the fence and the rail tight to the pusher.

If the tongue is too short, set your router table fence back a touch, if it's too long set it forward to bury the bit a little more.

Do a lot of practice pieces, when you get both rail and stile where you like them, mark and save the parts for setups.

A sled of some sort is better but you can sure do it with a square piece of material
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post #5 of 16 Old 05-18-2013, 04:25 AM
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here's a video on "how to"

On the table saw:


Or with a router:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 05-18-2013 at 04:28 AM.
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post #6 of 16 Old 05-18-2013, 09:08 AM
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Are you using tongue and groove bits or rail and stile bits?







.
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post #7 of 16 Old 05-18-2013, 09:38 AM
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If you are having that kind of results from your tongue and groove set, either there is something wrong with the set or you are not holding the wood down with enough pressure. For tennoning, I mounted a toggle clamp to my miter gauge to firmly hold the wood. Then for the groove I made a hold down similar to what I have on my shaper that has considerable pressure. The vibration alone is enough to screw up the cut when milling these parts so you need a lot of pressure on it.

You can also make a tongue and groove joint on a table saw, cutting the tennon with a dado set running it on each side. Then just run the groove with the two outer blades of the dado set.
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post #8 of 16 Old 05-18-2013, 11:35 AM
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I made a coping sled for my shop made router table - which has produced many raised panel doors, by the way - in order to make clean straight cope cuts on the rails.


Making cabinet doors-image-2155435653.jpg



Works for shaker doors too. You don't need big expensive machinery. A shaper would be nice, sure. But there isn't much you can't do with a router table, some patience, and a little creativity.

Brian
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post #9 of 16 Old 05-18-2013, 11:53 AM
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Always cut your groove first (flipping the board as you mentioned will guarantee it's centered), then sneak up on the final tenon/tongue thickness on the router or table saw (with a dado stack) until it's perfect. Make sure you're using a miter gauge to keep the board perpendicular to the blade or router bit when making the tongue
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post #10 of 16 Old 05-20-2013, 01:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Upstate View Post
Always cut your groove first (flipping the board as you mentioned will guarantee it's centered), then sneak up on the final tenon/tongue thickness on the router or table saw (with a dado stack) until it's perfect. Make sure you're using a miter gauge to keep the board perpendicular to the blade or router bit when making the tongue
+1 for this method.
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post #11 of 16 Old 05-21-2013, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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keep trying

Thanks for all the tips, though it looks like i have been doing everything suggested already.

I cant get straight tongue cuts on the rails- even when I keep it next to another board or use a sled that I made. It is never perfectly straight & when I mate it up against the stile there is always a gap somewhere

I also can almost never get the groove cut perfectly center- unless I flip it over & run it again of course, but then it ends up being too wide a cut to hold the panel just right.

I guess I just need to keep trying!
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post #12 of 16 Old 05-21-2013, 02:19 PM
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How thick is your panel? If its over 3/16" thick then you shouldn't have an issue. If you center the saw blade on your stile and make a pass and then flip the board you should have a 3/16" groove. By bumping the fence 1/32" out, you will increase the width of the groove by 1/16" until you reach the exact width needed.

I fail to see the problem.

Still Got ALL my Fingers!!!
********* *********

Last edited by MissionIsMyMission; 05-22-2013 at 11:41 AM.
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post #13 of 16 Old 05-21-2013, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by sbriscoe View Post
Thanks for all the tips, though it looks like i have been doing everything suggested already.

I cant get straight tongue cuts on the rails- even when I keep it next to another board or use a sled that I made. It is never perfectly straight & when I mate it up against the stile there is always a gap somewhere

I also can almost never get the groove cut perfectly center- unless I flip it over & run it again of course, but then it ends up being too wide a cut to hold the panel just right.

I guess I just need to keep trying!
if you are using a dado blade, it must be setup for narrower than your final groove width. flipping over is a standard practice to ensure groove center.
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post #14 of 16 Old 05-24-2013, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I finally made some good looking doors!

I went back to using the router and am getting better results now.

My problems were my router, it was a plunge base which would not stay put at the right height after each use. I got a new porter cable fixed router that is better and higher poiwer & is easily adjustable & securely locks in place. I also tried a completely square board like plainolebill suggested and held it tight- I think my last jog and board was just not quite perfect.

Now im just going to keep practicing!

thanks again
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post #15 of 16 Old 05-24-2013, 11:36 PM
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Good for you man! Doors take practice. Trial and error is a solid way to figure out what works and what you should do differently. Keep at it!

Brian
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post #16 of 16 Old 05-26-2013, 01:24 AM
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Great!
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