The making of wall mounted cabinets for storage in utility areas, hallways, the bathroom, or the home office is within reach of the do-it-yourselfer with basic woodworking skills. The more advanced do-it-yourselfer could tackle a corner cabinet or the refurbishment or complete rebuild of the kitchen cabinets. The workshop would need to include at least a table saw, a random orbit sander, a good collection of clamps, linear bearing, and a basic assortment of hand tools. A radial arm saw jointer, thickness planer, table-mounted router, drill press, belt sander, and biscuit joiner are also very desirable equipment for home cabinetmaking. A band saw scroll saw, and miter saw is also handy accessories and would complete a fairly nicely equipped home cabinetmaking shop. All of that equipment won’t pay for itself on one job, but amortized over all the jobs that will employ them over the entire time of homeownership could make the investment profitable for the serious do-it-yourself homeowner.
To professionally dress a homemade cabinet a raised panel door is the perfect crowning touch. Professional shops are likely to use a wood shaper for the job, but raised panel doors can be made with the table-mounted router. A decent amount of router power is highly desirable – at least 1.5 HP. A matched rail and stile cutter set and a panel raising bit will be required.
The raised panel door consists of the panel surrounded by a frame. The vertical members of the frame are called the stiles. The horizontal members are called the rails. The rails are machined so as to interlock with the stiles. A dado cut along the length of all rails and stiles accepts the panel. The matched rail and stile cutter perform the machining so as to achieve the interlock of rail and stile and cut the dado. The panel is “raised” using the panel raising bit. The operation produces a sculpted edge on the panel making it thin enough on the edge to be inserted in the dado cut on the rails and stiles. If the panel is the same thickness as the rail and stile frame members, then it’s central portion is raised above the frame when the assembled door is laid flat on the bench, hence the origin of the name raised panel.
When raising the panel, a series of light cuts are best used to avoid tear-out. The end grains should be cut first so that any splintering at the end of the cut is removed by the subsequent cut of the edge at right angles. The work should always be fed against the direction of rotation of the cutter to avoid the effect of “climb milling”, which would draw the workpiece into the cutter.
To assemble the door, a light application of wood glue at the joints is used. The panel is not glued. It should float freely to allow expansion and contraction that will occur with changes in humidity. Bar clamps are ideal for clamping while the glue is left to dry. The door is most conveniently checked for square by measuring the diagonals.