29 – Raising Arizona

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After months of being harassed by my mother, its finally time to finish her laundry room cabinets. With the cases already installed, all that’s left to do is make the frame and panel doors. The wood of choice here is hickory. The weapon of choice? Router bits. Big ones! So come with me on this little adventure as we learn some basic techniques for making a very important component of modern-day cabinetry, the raised-panel door.

Rockler Rail Coping Jig Rockler Rail Coping Jig
For rail and stile doors. Allows you to easily make clean cope cuts without blowouts. Perfect for narrow cross-grain rail cuts.

Rockler Rail Coping Jig

Category: Techniques


  1. Vic October 11, 2007

    you so good at teachin, I bet you could hep me wit my gramma. Another great episode! Personally, I like flat panels. Which bit set is that? Whitside? Amana?
    Weird that your Mom’s utility room smells just like ours.

  2. Jeremy (Bama5150) October 11, 2007

    And this here’s the TV. Two hours a day, either educational or football, so you don’t ruin your appreciation of the finer things.

  3. Bas October 11, 2007

    Marc, great episode, and I love the creative titles you come up with. The whole process certainly looks less intimidating now. One question – what kind of router horsepower do you need to make rails/ stiles out of, say, 3/4″ white oak?

  4. Are you like some sort of mind reading wood worker guy? I just bought a rail and stile door set this past weekend. I haven’t even had a chance to play with it yet and you are already on the interweb showing me how. This website is starting to scare me a little. ha!! Norm says hi and where’s my t-shirt!! woof woof

  5. Jeff October 11, 2007

    Marc and Nicole

    I agree – another excellent episode! Ironically, I just purchased the Rockler Rail Coping Jig today. I have read where there is a little bit of “sacrificial” edge to the jig the first time through when making a cut. It looked like that was the case on your jig, can you confirm that?

    Also, what are your thoughts about using spaceballs or foam spacers to keep the panel from rattling?

    Keep up the great work!!!

  6. Gracious1 (http://) October 12, 2007

    Once again great video Marc!

    One question though, when running the panel through the bit, it looked like you might have been doing it in one pass. Is that the case? It might just be the cheap door set I bought at a WW show, but usually find it gives a better cut if I do the entire panel raising in 2-3 passes, sneaking up on the final cut.

    If you get good results on a single pass, what bits do you use? Might be the enticement that I need to pick up a new toy.

  7. Scott October 12, 2007

    Nice job.

    One thing you did not mention, even though kind of obvious, but very important, need to make sure that all your rails and stiles are plained to the exact same thickness prior to routing them. Not as big of deal since they are all face down, but still…..

    Keep up the great work.

  8. Good video again. Like the title. You guys across the pond really should get metric. All this eights & sixteenths and a quarter plus threequarters is just so old fashioned. Go on, try millimetres. You’ll love them. They’re all the same size and so easy to use. Funny how you still use the “Imperial” system. Just can make the break after all these years!! Just teasing. Keep up the good work Marc.

  9. Frank October 12, 2007

    Great Show once again… I have had great results with the space balls. In fact, I place one in the collet of the router to keep the bit from seating all the way down. Normally this is easy to control on a handheld router, but on my router table, it seems that it takes both hands just to tighten the bit.

  10. Brad Nailor (http://) October 12, 2007

    Nice video Marc. Have you ever used Spaceballs? Little rubber BB’s that are great to keep the panels from moving when they are at their smallest and they compress to allow for expansion. Is your router vari speed or do you have some sort of speed adjusting device? And Scottish Iain, the metric system is the tool of the devil! We tried to make that work here back in the ’70’s but it was overwhelmingly ignored. Excuse me while I throw another meter stick on the fire! just kidding…now, 27 57/64 plus 43 18/32…hmmmm

  11. JoeW October 12, 2007

    Agreeing with above, talk about timely. Mine are still in the plastic. The project is: laundry room cabinet doors. I am reassured to see you are using the three-bit system (which I just bought) as opposed to the combo rail/stile and raised panel bit method. I echo the above questions and add “Why the 1/16″ (1.588 mm)?” Thanks for all your time and help.

  12. Ace HoleInOne October 12, 2007

    Do tell – Is it true? I hear hickory is rather difficult to machine, have any issues?

    Off Topic: Did ya bill Mom for an extra couple of board feet of the hickory? We won’t tellâ

  13. schmeab October 12, 2007

    sorry Scottish lain but there is no romance in the metric system…shaving a 1/32 off my curly maple table top invokes a vision of thin shavings of maple curling off my plane, the enticing aroma of sawdust intertwining with the soft magic of Hayden’s Adagio. while taking the top down 1.588mm tosses a white lab coat, pocket protectors and nerd like black glasses square into my wood shop… give me a 1\32ed or give me death…..

    I am a deeply superficial person.

  14. Tim aka Mopardude October 12, 2007

    schmeab – When it comes to cabinetry the metric system is as commonly used as standard system. Actually when you get used to using it metric system is easier and more accurate than standard.

    Spacerballs – In the cabinet shop I work in we have other companies make all our panel doors for us. Pretty much all the companies we deal with use them. I think they make the overall door seem more solid compared to doors that don’t have them.


    Jeff- yes the initial edge of the Rockler jig is sacrificial. The material is the same stuff zero clearance inserts are made of. Foam spacers and spaceballs are great. I usually dont use them but they would be excellent if you had a rattling panel. You can also get a tube of silicone caulk, squeeze out a line, let it dry, and cut your own homemade spaceballs.

    Gracious- I definitely didnt cut the panel in one pass. Thats way too much material. I did that particular panel in 4 passes. Thats pretty much what I recommended in the video as well.

    Scottish Guy- Dont rub it in. I am not a fan of our measurement system. Viva la Metric!!

    Brad Nailer- I do have a Porter Cable VS router. Pretty sure it has 5 pre-sets on it.

    Joe- Not sure what you mean by the 1/16th question.

    AceHole- Yes, hickory is a **tch. Splintery and none too happy about being routed. Many light passes is the key. And there were plenty of BBQ cutoffs. WooHOO! Time to make some more ribs

    And thanks everyone for the kind words. You keep watching, and I’ll keep making them!

  16. chadro12 (http://) October 12, 2007

    I have a raised panel set without the back cutter and my panels always seem to come out way proud. How do you recommend making the backcut?… rabbet maybe?

  17. Tom October 12, 2007

    Marc, I liked the video but did not get the closure I wanted, which was to see those doors installed and hung. No, this is no your mother typing this, it’s me, Tom.

  18. Tim aka Mopardude October 13, 2007

    Tom – I was thinking the same thing! I am thinking that will be another podcast as hardware choices and mounting could easily fill the length of an episode by itself.

  19. Scottish Iain October 13, 2007

    Two countries separated by a common language etc. Sorry to stir things up with my metre stick! Would be nice to see the doors hung Marc. And I’m sure your other would be happy too. Cheers all.

  20. spencer October 13, 2007

    I hate to add to an already open can of worms here, but I wanted to comment on metric vs. english. One advantage of the englilsh system is you can always divide by two, try going to half a mill next time you’re in the shop! Next in metric is one tenth whatever meas. you’re working with.

    Thats great for production runs and premade parts, but honestly, most of the time you take your lengths from your carcass or pieces already milled up.

    Bottom line? Each system has its uses, metric is great for moles and volume and avogadro’s number ( right Marc?!) but for most of us, english is just too useful in a shop.

    Humbly submitted!


    OH GAWD!!! 6.02×10^23

    I thought I had finally forgotten that number!!

  22. Moles use metric for digging thier tunnels? You learn something every day!
    Sorry I started this thread of discussion. Give you guys an inch……………….!
    Back to the woodwork everyone.

  23. Tim aka Mopardude October 13, 2007

    Spencer – your arguement makes no sense. You can divide any metric number by 2 and it works out just as well. Take this example you have 9 11/16 inch span now divide that in 2 in your head. Now take this example you have 246 mm which is the metric equivilant. Technically it is 246.0625 but in metric the .0625 is so small you don’t need to worry about it in this case. But which number is easier to divide in your head? Now I stage these examples to work in my favor of the arguement with that said I do have to say I use both systems of measurements daily and both do some what have there own place. I personally think knowing both systems and when to use them and for what is just makes you a better woodworker overall.

  24. mdhills October 13, 2007

    you got pet sheep in the pen outside the workshop?


    lol. Just dogs. No sheep. That was my best sheep impression. Convincing?

  26. Mom October 14, 2007

    Well Mom here…..the doors are hung and operational and my laundry room is finally complete after a FULL YEAR’S WAIT! I love them and they match so perfectly with the ready-made sink base the builder installed. And as far as the kitty litter smell….well that’s what you get Mr. Wood Whisperer for keeping me waiting so long!!! And a big thank you to the fans who requested a video on raised panel doors, otherwise I’d still be waiting. LOL TWW’s Mom

  27. kevin October 14, 2007

    haha 1 year that is naughty….. as i am English mm or cm are defo easier to understand :) what size thickness of wood is recommended for making raised panels. or/and whats the min 18mm basically (3/8″)? nice video. would like to see the clamp rack a bit closer to see how you made yours seen a couple different ways but not so neat and tidy

    • Dave Stanton June 26, 2011

      Kevin. 3/8 ” is just shy of 10mm, 3/4 ” is 19mm.

  28. David (runningwood) October 15, 2007

    Another great video Marc, two questions for you:

    Can you say a word or 2 about the panel thickness in relation to the rails and stiles. Is it the same thickness ? A brief survey of cabinet doors in my house has some totally flush with each other on the back , some (probably cheap construction) with about 1/4 inch indentation of back panel to rails/ stiles.

    Also when you are making a series of doors, do you rout all pieces at once then assemble, so that no bit changing needed or do you assemble one set, see how it fits , then do next door. What is best approach ?


    Hey Runningwood, the thickness of the panel is the same as the rails and stiles. It usually comes out flush. And to be honest, I dont usually sweat the details there. If its a little off, thats ok fine with me. But usually its very close to flush.

    I do indeed rout all the parts at once. This limits variability and allows all the parts to be interchangeable from one door to another. And it does take some time to set up each bit. Not something I want to do more than once. :)

  30. JoeW October 15, 2007

    (from a little more than mid-way through the session) Could you expand on why, when setting the height of the bit, do you like to keep a +/_ 1/16″ lip at the bottom of the piece? I think I’m missing something. Thanks, Joe

  31. Byron October 17, 2007

    Just the video ive been waiting for..I’ve been playing with raised panels for a few years now and still find it kinda fun but the 3.5” raised panel bit is still pretty intimidating that close to my fingers!! I got a set of bits from WoodCraft for somewhere around $260 and the joints are soo tight I can hardly get them apart after dry fitting..Anyway great video but when are you going to add the part about hindge mortise and placement? also how do I get your videos to go full screen so that i can see some details!

  32. Tony V October 18, 2007


    Great episode! I gotta admit, though, that I like your router table set up! Is that a home made fence or did you buy that? I noticed you were doing above the table bit changes; is there a lift in there? If so, what kind?

    Keep up the good work!

    Tony V


    Hey Tony! The table is a Jessem and the lift is a Jessem branded Master Lift. Highly recommend it. Will save you loads of time.


    Hey Joe. The 1/16″ lip is required by design. The inside edge of the rails and stiles have a decorative roundover. That roundover actually sits 1/16″ below the surface of the rail. It basically gives it extra dimension. Remember that the pieces are milled upside down. So that might be whats confusing you.

    Byron- I did cover this type of hinge installation in our Assembly Table series. And for full screen video, you can download the High Def version of the show available right above the video on our site.

    Thanks everyone.

  35. Chaim (http://) October 26, 2007

    I realy enjoy your show! Who does your intro music? does it Take a long time to produce each show?
    Keep up the good work!!!


    Our intro music is actually royalty free music from Apple. So there is a chance you can hear it somewhere else.
    And the episodes can take anywhere from 3 days to a few weeks to produce, depending on the project.

  37. SARGE (http://) October 29, 2007

    Marc, I too just got the panel set and have not used them yet. Question, should you first finsh the panel before glue up? That way if there is some expansion or contraction there won’t be a line where the finish stops.
    Great video, thanks


    Hey sarge. You are absolutely right. Its always a good idea, when feasible to finish the panels first.

  39. Sandy (http://) February 15, 2008

    Hi Marc.

    New to woodworking, but, having watched every one of your shows, Im ready to tackle anything.

    I want to make a new pair of windows shutters to match exisitng shutters (dating to about 1820) for a flat in Edinburgh, Scotland. The existing shutters use exactly this technology, rail, stile and raised panel, which must have all then been cut with hand tools.

    Question. Can you get rail and stile router bits that work with 1.5″ (38 mm) thick styles and rails?

    I can’t find any on line. The specs for any that I have come across say max wood thickness is 7/8″. Is there a different way of setting this up?




    Hey sandy. I am glad you are so confident. Thats awesome!

    As for the bits, I have never really seen anything for that thickness either. Most likely, its because that would really push the limits of what our standard routers can handle. I think at that point we are getting into shaper territory. I did a little digging about found these:

    These are special shaper cutter heads that can certainly handle anything you throw at them. But you need a shaper to use them.

    Is a shaper in the budget??? The other option is to make the rails and stile manually. But the grooves with a straight bit or tablesaw. Make a mortise and tenon joint where the rails and stiles meet. The but whatever profile you want on the outer and inner edges of the door.

  41. Sandy (http://) February 19, 2008

    Thanks for this Marc

    I think that a shaper is called a spindle moulder over here.
    Sadly I cant accomodate one either in my budget or workshop. So I am going for your second suggestion.

    I had a good look at one of the existing shutters. The stiles and rails have a “classical” profile along one edge on one side only. This is 1/’2″ deep and could be made with a standard router bit. The rails connect to the stiles with a mortice and tenon joint, as you suggest.

    I have ordered up the router bits and will let you know how it goes….

    All the best


    Keep those podcast coming !!

  42. Abel October 21, 2010

    Great advices. I`m just waiting to reveice a full set from MLCS and can`t wait to see how they perform. Sure I will take another look at your video before I plug in my router and ruin some nice stock.
    Thanks from Argentina.


  43. Marc Rogers October 31, 2010

    Thinking of building my own kitchen cabinets and found this video. This was very informative and well put together. Thanks!

  44. laundry room cabinets November 3, 2010

    Very cool – I thought hickory was kind of difficult to work with, but you can’t argue with the end result!

  45. paul January 1, 2011

    fine woodworking will tell you that cope n stick has insufficient strength for a raised panel its ok for a flat ply panel that can be glued in solidly i always use mortise & tenon to build solid panel doors


      FWW will tell you many different things depending on which author is writing the article, :). I have built many cope and stick doors with raised panels and have never had a failure. Of course a full tenon makes for a stronger door and might be a necessity with really large panels. But to make a blanket statement that cope and stick is inadequate for the average raised panel door is just inaccurate.

      • paul January 2, 2011

        april 1999 issue#135 author steve latta and i quote “low budget doors that you need to get done in a hurry” to strenghten the weak stub tenon glue a plywood panel in the frame


          I can’t disagree with that. Gluing in a plywood panel would certainly increase the strength of a door made with cope and stick joints. But I think its a significant stretch (and inaccurate) to make the blanket statement that cope and stick is insufficient for a raised panel door.

  46. Andy Moravec January 14, 2011

    Just a great video. Went on You “Tub” to get this info, but your video surpasses anything out there. Thanks for your sharing knowledge.


  47. Alex B. January 21, 2011

    Hi Marc,

    Awesome video segment, always a joy to watch and learn. The whole process certainly looks less intimidating now.

    I do have a question as to router speed and horsepower. My current set up is a PC690LR 1-3/4hp 11-amp without the softstart circutry. So I in theory I could add a speed control to my current set up. Would this be powerful enough to do a cope and stick set-up?

    Any advice? Thank you and keep the video segments coming.

    • Alex you could do a rail and stile with the router you have if it’s in a router table but I WOULD NOT do a raised panel with it. Instead use a 1/4″ plywood for the center. I did this all the time until I purchased a more powerful router for my table.

  48. I was having a problem with my raised panel doors. I?m making them with miter corners. The thickness is

  49. Raj December 3, 2012

    Marc, you have really explained in detail. Very inspirational and encouraging. Great work. Keep it up.

  50. Larry October 13, 2013

    I have watched more than a dozen of these and your’s is the first to go into such detail. Thanks to your demonstraton, step by step, I will have no trouble building these. Thank you so much for your time in developing this.

  51. Bob Sintzel October 19, 2013

    Your lesson provided the level of detail I have been searching for. Being a novice woodworker, I very much appreciate the level of detail you went into. Many others skip over the ‘little’ details that are often the important facts one needs to be successful. I look forward to more of your videos.

  52. Fred Freitag October 21, 2013

    Great job. However, recently I discovered a simpler way – a great way – to set the height of the panel bit.

    All one need do is place a piece of 1/4″ scrap stock in the stile groove where the panel goes and extend it to the panel bit.

    One just needs to raise or lower the panel bit up to the 1/4″ scrap stock.

    This can trick or tip can be used for either a solo panel bit or a panel bit with a back-cutter.

    Too, this can be used if one wants to make the panel proud of the rails and stiles.

    This was such a simple tip – I’m actually ashamed I didn’t think of it myself.

    One could even use a gauge block if they didn’t have a piece of scrap stock handy.

    I have “eye-balled” getting the panel bit height correct and was always off. Now, doing it this way – I can’t be off more then 1/64″.

  53. Shay (http://timingcharts.com) December 31, 2013

    Excellent Marc! I’ve looked at cabinet router bits before and never understood how they worked. Thanks for the lesson.

  54. John January 23, 2014

    This made everything make sense. Thanks so much for the info!!!!

  55. tyler February 3, 2014

    thank you for the video! very helpful! what router table and router are you using?

  56. Art March 1, 2014

    Marc, because of your great video, I was no longer nervous about giving this project a shot. Can you explain how tightly the panel should fit in the styles (thickness wise)? Should the dry fit go together loosely? I made the panel 0.010 undersize of the grooves but they are still a tight fit. Thanks

  57. Art March 1, 2014

    Hi Marc, once again great video. I can’t find info anywhere on how wide a panel can be as 1 piece of wood before a glue up is required. How wide can it be and when doing glue ups what is a good board width to go with. Thanks

  58. Hi Marc. Thanks for the great video. I’m about to do this for the first time, though my panels will be flat (1/4″ MDF) and frames will have an ogee profiled inner edge. Been going slow and careful. One concern I have is glue-up. I’m worried about buckling. Any tips?
    Also, in the case that doors are not dead on flat (these are full inset doors on a face frame cabinet), can you usually adjust them satisfactorily with Euro-style hinges? In other words, In your opinion, how much error in terms of flatness, can you get away with? None at all would be ideal I know.

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