Archive for October, 2016

Frame and Panel Construction – Part 1: The Panel

These WordPress pages document my method of constructing a frame and raised panel door. I need to make a pair of these about 30″ x 18″ each to replace an ugly entrance to the crawl space in my home. Each door will be a single solid Pine panel, the frame will be about 2 inches wide with molding on the inside edge.

One episode of “The Woodwright’s Shop” contributed to my panel raising techniques. “Raising Panel-Zona” describes several methods, though my tools don’t match Roy’s.

I have a small panel raising plane. It is unusual in that it has an adjustable fence, there is no nicker and no flat area near the fence, the cut is beveled all the way to the edge of the work. It may have had some other use in the past but it works for panel raising. I have since added brass strips at the main wear points.

 

Making a cabinet door usually proceeds by constructing the outside frame to fit the target opening, then creating a panel to fit the frame. I have a number of frames made as practice exercises for a real job closing off the crawl space in my house. These were all based on square blanks cut from a length of 1×8 select pine from Home Depot. I used up all the spare lumber so for this weblog post I glued up some scraps and trimmed to 7 1/4 square.

Panel blank glued up and trimmed to size

Panel blank glued up and trimmed to size

 

The panel will have a quarter inch tenon all around the edges that seats inside a groove plowed around the inside edges of the frame. The first step is to define this tenon edge by measuring the frame face to groove distance so the panel  will be flush with the frame. Subsequent operations will remove wood down to these lines. I darken the marked lines with pencil.

Mark the tenon edges on the panel blank

Mark the tenon edges on the panel blank

 

The panel raising plane fence has been set to an “about here looks right” distance from the cutter tip. I’m measuring this horizontal distance carefully, maintaining the angle of the bevel.

Measuring horizontal length of the bevel cut

Measuring horizontal length of the bevel cut

 

I will be defining the inside line of the raised area using a cutting gauge. This is necessary, especially on the cross grain sides because the plane does not have a nicker. Here I transfer the measurement from the previous step to the gauge.

Transfer bevel dimension to cutting gauge

Transfer bevel dimension to cutting gauge

 

Cut the gauge lines deeply into all four sides of the panel blank.

Cutting bevel extent lines

Cutting bevel extent lines

 

Here I have darkened the lines with pencil.

Bevel lines darkened

Bevel lines darkened

 

One hand tool principle I have learned well is to remove as much material as you can with the blade that is easiest to sharpen. I block plane off wood down to about 1/16 inch from my two lines.

Removing waste wood

Removing waste wood

 

 

Now the panel raising plane does it’s work, starting with the cross grain edges. This plane works well across the grain because it has a steeply skewed blade. Which also means it is hard to sharpen.

Using the panel raising plane

Using the panel raising plane

 

Raising the center creates a shadow line which makes the panel look a bit smaller and lighter.

Panel showing shadow line

Panel showing shadow line

 

The final step is rabbiting the back of the panel to the line. This M-F 85 has the fence set to cut a quarter inch wide relief and the depth stop set to stop at my line. Since the raised portion of the panel is angled, the edge tenon is tapered so I will make this a little less than a quarter inch thick to make it easier to fit the frame groove.

Rabbiting the back side

Rabbiting the back side

 

The finished panel came out fairly well though I had trouble with the panel raising plane. I believe the blade is not bedding flat inside the body which causes the blade to flex slightly and chatter. The wedge also loosens too easily which causes the blade to fall out. I’m working on it.

Finished panel

Finished panel

 

And it does fit the frame. See how all those shadow lines make the panel look like something other than a flat board.

Finished panel fitted in frame

Finished panel fitted in frame

 

Advertisements

Frame and Panel Construction – Part 2: The Frame

These two WordPress pages document my method of constructing a frame and raised panel door. I need to make a pair of these about 30″ x 18″ to replace an ugly entrance to the crawl space in my home. Each door will be a single solid Pine panel, the frame will be about 2 inches wide with an Ovolo molding on the inside edge. An Ovolo is a quarter round with a small step. It creates a shadow line around the inside of the frame which softens the edge visually.

Completed practice panel

Completed practice panel

 

Another goal is to, as much as possible, use only hand tools in the project. A few years ago I acquired a small panel raising plane at an estate sale and it’s time to put it to work. This photo shows some of the tools used in creating a frame.

Hand tools used

Hand tools used in frame construction

 

Three episodes of “The Woodwright’s Shop” contributed to my techniques.
Raising Panel-Zona” describes several methods of making a raised panel.
Painless Panel Doors” where Roy constructs a mortise and tenon frame.
Simple Sash Restoration” shows how to join a frame with molding around the inside.

To understand and practice the procedure I’ve made several small framed raised panels. These will find their way into a box or maybe a lamp sometime in the future. This procedure builds a frame to house a pre-constructed panel though usually the frame will be built first, made to fit an existing opening, then a panel constructed to fit.


This, the second page of my frame and panel series describes the frame construction.  It turns out that making the frame, with a molded inside edge, is harder than building the raised panel.

My practice raised panels were cut from 1×8 pine, resulting in a 7 1/4″ square panel. The frame begins with two 10 3/4″ rails and two 11″ stiles cut from a pine 1×4 ripped down the middle.The stiles are longer than needed to make them more likely to survive the mortise chisel.

The raised panels have a centerline mark so the first step is to mark a centerline as an alignment reference on the frame pieces.

Center line used as reference

Center line used as reference

 

The stiles and rails are inspected. the best sides marked as face, and a position in the frame picked and marked.

Two stiles, two rails with face sides marked

Two stiles, two rails with face sides marked

 

The panel with grain vertical, and both rails are turned bottom up and aligned with the center marks. Four tenon shoulders must be located on the rails. These are aligned with the inside edge of the panel back rabbit but an allowance should be made for the panel expanding across the grain in humid conditions. I use a thick steel ruler as a spacer which results in about 1/32 inch extra. The 12 inch ruler is flexible and bent down so it butts up tight against the rabbit. Both left and right side tenon shoulders are marked on the rails. They are knifed later.

Marking for rail shoulders

Marking for rail shoulders

 

On the face side, the tenon shoulder is a quarter inch farther out to allow for coping the molded edge. Here the back side line has been extended up the rails side and I used a 1/4″ brass spacer to locate the face side shoulder.

Quarter inch spacer defining face shoulder

Quarter inch spacer defining face shoulder

 

This shows the offset shoulder laid out. The face and rear shoulder lines will be knifed to help with accurate sawing, the short side lines are not knifed.

Rail tenon offset to allow coping

Rail tenon offset to allow coping

 

My practice raised panels varied a bit in depth so here I am checking the distance between panel top surface and the bottom of the rear rabbit. Ideally the distance between the top surface of the panel and the bottom of the rear rabbit groove will be 9/16″ which will allow 1/4″ panel raise, 1/4″ panel edge thickness, and 1/16″ for the Ovolo molding.

Measure for tenon depth

Measure for tenon depth

 

Set the mortise gauge outside pin to exactly the depth measured above.  The separation between the two pins is set to exactly the width of my quarter inch mortise chisel.

Set bottom pin of tenon gauge

Set bottom pin of tenon gauge

 

Tenons are marked with the mortise gauge then penciled in lightly. Note here the face side line is scratched shorter that the rear side because of the offset shoulder.

Tenons outlined with pencil

Tenons outlined with pencil

 

Now to cut the tenon cheeks. As Roy shows, part from one side, part from the other, then clamp the rail vertical and saw down to the shoulder line.

Sawing tenon shoulders

Sawing tenon shoulders

 

Before the tenon shoulders are cut free, a groove to receive the panel is cut with a plow plane. The depth stop is set for 5/16″ a little deeper than the panel rabbit, we don’t want it to bottom out. he plane fence is carefully adjusted so the groove runs right down the center of the tenon.

Plowing the rail groove

Plowing the rail groove

 

Once the groove is done it’s checked for depth with vernier calipers. A dry fit of the raised panel confirms the groove.

Panel dry fit in freshly cut groove

Panel dry fit in freshly cut groove

 

Next the tenon shoulders are cut off. A bench hook supports the rail while sawing.

Removing tenon shoulders

Removing tenon shoulders

 

The frame groove defines the inside extent of the tenon but the outside is marked 3/8″ in from the edge. The cut will not go all the way to the offset tenon shoulder, it stops about 1/8 inch from the shoulder to create a haunch. The haunch fills excess space in the stile groove and it will be trimmed later to fit exactly.

Gauge outside tenon edge

Gauge outside tenon edge

 

I’m using a fine tooth dovetail saw to cut the outside of the tenon. It is important that the inside and outside edges be parallel but precise width is not critical. Saw in at the haunch then cut vertically on the line.

Sawing outside tenon edge

Sawing outside tenon edge

 

With the outside wood removed, these start to look like real tenons.  In this photo you can see the offset top shoulder and the short haunch left.

Sawn tenons with haunch stub

Sawn tenons with haunch stub

 

Nobody’s perfect and my tenon sawing technique needs a lot more practice. In the meantime I made a jig so I could true up the sawn surfaces with a router plane. I cleaned each face until the tenons measured exactly 1/4″ with my calipers. This also ensures that all four tenons are the same depth from the rail faces. The jig is just two pieces of 3/4″ MDF clamped to the table top with a machine screw. They support the router plane while it’s doing it’s thing.

Tuning tenons

Tuning tenons

 

Now the completed tenon outlines have to be transferred to the rails to define the matching mortises. I dry fit the grooved rails to the panel and lay that assembly on the rails. Everything is rear side up in this photo and the rails are aligned with the panel using the center line marks.

Dry fit to locate mortises

Dry fit to locate mortises

 

The tenons lay flat on the blank rails making it easy to mark where the mortise edges will go.

Transferring tenon edges to rail

Transferring tenon edges to rail

 

Here you can see both tenon edges are traced on to the rails.

Tenon edges traced onto rails

Tenon edges traced onto rails

 

I use an engineering square to bring the marked mortise edge lines around to the sides of the stiles. Then the mortise gauge defines the sides.

Gaugeing mortise sides

Gaugeing mortise sides

Pencil in the gauge lines and the stiles are ready for the mortise chisel.

Marked mortise locations

Marked mortise locations

 

My mortise chopping technique is straight from Roy’s video. Chop from the far end to near going deeper with each eighth inch increment, reverse the chisel and chop back near end to far. Straighten the edges and in this soft pine you will be half way through. Turn the stile over and repeat, chopping all the way through.

Chopping one side of a mortise

Chopping one side of a mortise

I

I use an engineers square to check for true inside edges. Trim with the mortise chisel if not.

Checking straightness of mortise edges

Checking straightness of mortise edges

Once the mortises are cut and dry fit successfully, I plow a groove in the stile. If all measurements were good, the groove will go through the center of both mortises.

Plowing a groove in a stile

Plowing a groove in a stile

 

This is a face side dry fit of all four joints. It’s looking like a real frame now. If the tenon shoulders were carefully cut, it will be square.

Dry fit to check squareness

Dry fit to check squareness

 

Molding the inside edges starts with cutting a thin rabbit on the inside edge. I use a Miller Falls 85 for this with the fence set to a quarter inch width and the depth stop is set to 1/16″. This should leave a quarter inch square shoulder on the inside which will be rounded over.

Planing board set up to rebate

Planing board set up to rebate

 

It took about a dozen strokes with the rabbit plane to make the 1/16 inch step.

Rabbit plane defining Ovolo

Rabbit plane defining Ovolo

 

In this photo you can see the shadow line created by the small rabbit.

Small rebate defines Ovolo

Small rebate defines Ovolo

 

To begin the Ovolo round over, I chamfer the edge with a block plane. This makes it easier for the molding plane as much of the wood is already removed. It’s a woodworking principle to always use the tool with an easily sharpened blade first.

Roughing in the Ovolo shape

Roughing in the Ovolo shape

 

I have this small hollow plane, it has a 5/16 cutter. The round edge is smaller so it takes some fussing and finally a few swipes with sandpaper to get the curve correct.

Hollow plane smoothing Ovolo molding

Hollow plane smoothing Ovolo molding

 

When all four pieces are molded, the frame is dry fitted and the edge of the rails Ovolo step carefully transferred to the stile.  I also transfer the outside edge of the rail to the stile but since the end (horn) of the stile will ultimately be cut off, that’s not really necessary. The molded edge between the two marks is removed.

Marking stile molding for removal

Marking stile molding for removal

 

I carefully chisel out the molding of the stile between the marks. The rail’s longer tenon shoulder will fit into this recess.

Removing stile molding

Removing stile molding

 

The next step is to cope the rounded molding on the rail. It will fit over the stile molding and give the illusion of a 45 degree miter. This procedure is right out of “Simple Sash Restoration” and begins by using a template to precisely miter the corner of the rail molding.

Trimming rail molding with miter template

Trimming rail molding with miter template

 

A close up of the mitered rail molding.

Mitered rail mouding

Mitered rail molding

 

Now the mitered bit is coped. a small scribing gouge is used to remove the wood visible when you look straight down at the miter. This gouge is a little too big for this job but it’s all I have.

Coping the rail molding

Coping the rail molding

 

This photo shows the coped corner.

Close up of coped Ovolo

Close up of coped Ovolo

 

The coped joint is dry fit and trimmed to fit closely. Trimming might require fine tuning the cope, planing one of the tenon shoulders, and trimming the haunch. Sometimes it helps to undercut the shoulders a bit. If the shoulders were planed, check the assembly for square afterwards.

Dry fit coped Ovolo

Dry fit coped Ovolo

 

Success is a dry fit of all four joints with no gaps.

Dry fit all four pieces

Dry fit all four pieces

 

With the panel inserted you can see what the final product will look like. Since the whole reason for separate frame and panel construction is to allow the panel to move a bit, the panel must be finished before the assembly is glued up. Finishing the glued up frame would be easier but would risk an unfinished line appearing at the panel’s long grain edges in dry weather.

Panel inserted - front

Panel inserted – front

 

The back side doesn’t show anyway but the rear of the assembled frame and panel should be flat if everything was done correctly. The protruding horns on the stiles and tenon stubs will be sawn off and planed smooth after the final glue up.

Panel inserted - rear

Panel inserted – rear

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frame and Panel Construction – Part 3: The Real Thing

Parts one and two of this series showed construction of a small frame and panel assembly. I made a half dozen of those as learning exercises for the final project, rebuilding the entrance to the crawl space in my tri-level home. This may be way over engineered but the old doors are truly ugly, made from thin paneling covered with contact paper, and besides, I wanted to learn how to make raised panels with hand tools.

Most of the techniques I used came from the Woodwright’s Shop episodes mentioned in part 2, this part 3 will document differences needed to complete the larger scale crawl space entrance.

I built a new outer frame from 2 inch pine to fit the existing opening.  I have to admit not using hand tools for that as I recently acquired a Kreg K2 jig and wanted to try it out. Also the rails on a butt jointed frame would be four inches shorter than a mitered corner frame which worked out much better with the 72″ stock I had.

Pencil study for cut list

Pencil study for cut list

The outside dimension of the doors is determined by the inside edges of the outer frame so I propped up the outer frame and centered the stile pieces leaving about 1/16″ gap at the sides.

Outer frame with door stiles

Outer frame with door stiles

Each pair of stiles was checked for parallel with pinch rods. Everything came out OK with very little tweaking. Stiles were marked top and bottom where they touched the outer frame.  Then I centered the rail blanks on the stiles and marked where they touched the rails left and right. Those four lines define the dimensions of the doors.

Checking stiles for parallel

Checking stiles for parallel

Here you can see tenons laid out on the four rails. These were sawn, tuned, and outlines transfered to the stiles as in part 2. Mortising the stiles, then grooving and molding the inside of each piece proceeded as in part 2.

All four rails with tenons laid out

All four rails with tenons laid out

I glued up two panels a couple months ago but had to square them for fitting in the frames. Could not hold the panel steady against the miter gauge so I built a miter gauge helper from a piece of heavy aluminum angle and a toggle clamp, should have done that years ago. The panel surfaces were planed with a Stanley 4 1/2.

Straighten and square the panels

Straighten and square the panels

Each completed door frame was laid over the square glued up stock. I aligned left and bottom panel edges with the inside of the frame, marked the top and right edges of the inside opening on the panel stock, then ruled a line one half inch farther out on the top and right. This allows room for a 1/4″ tenon all around the finished panel. I then trimmed the panel top to my ruled line on the table saw using the miter gauge as in the previous photo.

Next, the panels had to be trimmed to width. They are too tall to use the miter gauge, so I got out my standard homemade saw fence, a four inch oak timber. I used the line on the cut off top piece to adjust the fence to the proper width.

Setting fence to rip long side of panel

Setting fence to rip long side of panel

A deep breath moment.  I had been putting off cutting these panels to exact size because I was afraid of screwing up the measurements. In the end, they fit well.

Panel ripped to final width

Panel ripped to final width

As in part 1, I struck a line with a cutting gauge to define the panel step, then removed wood with a block plane to 1/16″ of the line.  Raising the panel actually means lowering the edge. It depends on your point of view. In this photo, the cross grain ends have been lowered and I’m ready to work the long grain edges.

Roughed in panel bevel

Roughed in panel bevel

The panel raising plane lowered the bevel to the edge line and created the top step as in part 1. This took a while as the panel raising plane was acting up and I took time to tune it. I believe the bed under the blade is not flat so the blade doesn’t fit properly.

Completed raising of both panels

Completed raising of both panels

There were a LOT more shavings than in part 1. Working the two panels took most of an afternoon.

Shavings from panel raising

Shavings from panel raising

The last operation on the panels is creating a rabbit all the way around the rear side. Always cut the cross grain ends first then the long sides. Knifing the cut line with the gauge is mandatory on the ends, the spur on this MF 85 sticks out way too far. I also used a sharp knife to relieve the wood at the left end of the rabbit before planing to reduce tearout there. There was a small amount of fuzz which I cleaned up with the wooden shoulder plane.

I had more trouble with the sides than the ends, the grain was not with me. Home Depot pine does not have a strong grain pattern and it’s hard to see how it’s running. Waxing the plane about every fifth stroke helped.

Rabbit the back side of panels

Rabbit the back side of panels

Checking the tongue for fit in one of the rail piece grooves. I want a good fit to keep the panel from rattling around if it shrinks. I found a web site that calculates wood movement, these 14 inch wide panels could move with humidity variations as much as an eighth of an inch.

Test fit of panel with one of the rails

Test fit of panel with one of the rails

Finally, the completed panels fit with very little tuning. I sawed off the frame horns and am happy with the results. This photo shows the back side of the assembled doors.

Rear view of panels assembled into frames

Rear view of panels assembled into frames

And this is the raised panel side.

Front side of assembled doors

Front side of assembled doors

The sawn off horns were rough so I converted my workbench and planing fixture into a shooting board.

Shooting a top edge

Shooting a top edge

Checking the frame and panel doors for fit in the frame is awkward as I don’t have an area in the garage that I trust to be flat. I had to trim 1/16″ from the left bottom, the rest fit well. There will be a final tweaking after the hinges are installed, and a final-final tweak after the glue up, and a final-final-final after it’s nailed onto the crawl space.

Checking the doors for fit

Checking the doors for fit

Hinge position is somewhat arbitrary. I used the bottom of the panel field as a reference. A steel ruler is held against the raised line and the outer frame marked. This sets the outer edge of the hinge gain.

Marking hinge position on outer frame

Marking hinge position on outer frame

Laying the hinge on the marked frame defines the inside of the hinge pocket. Both marks were squared across the inside with a knife and deepened with a chisel. I chiseled every quarter inch along the area to be removed then used a Stanley 71 to remove wood. Clamping boards to the sides gives the router plane has something to sit on.  A Stanley 71 1/2 that doesn’t have the wide gap at the front would work better for this.

The hinge plate measured .060″, I cut the pockets to about .080″deep to narrow the gap between door and outer frame.

Routing a pocket for the hinge

Routing a pocket for the hinge

I use a small Vix bit to establish the hinge screw position then pilot each hole with a 1/16″ drill so the screw doesn’t wander in this soft pine grain.

All four hinge gains were cut in the outer frame, hinges screwed in, then the doors were re-inserted and marked where the hinges touched. Those marks were knifed square across the outer stiles and incised with a chisel.

Preparing to seat a door hinge

Preparing to seat a door hinge

I was able to clamp my router support fixture on the doors. It forms a reference surface for the router plane and also furnishes a square outer edge to locate the hinge.

Router support fixture

Router support fixture

Here the hinges are seated and the doors dry fitted back in the outer frame.  The doors closed OK with a small amount of planing on the inside vertical edge. There will be a final fitting after the door frames are finished and glued up.

Completed frame with doors dry fitted

Completed frame with doors dry fitted

Tenon cheek cutoffs are perfect for trying out different finishes and I have 16 of them. I made several samples using Minwax Jacobean, Dark Walnut, and English Chestnut stains plus a few samples with various mixtures. I also experimented with Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner which produced much more even results. Most of the wood in the house near the crawl space entrance is very dark and I thought the Jacobean would be the best match, but the wife overruled and picked the English Chestnut sample which is much warmer.

The doors were removed and completely disassembled for staining. A raised panel can not be finished in place because if it shrinks, an unfinished area would appear at the edge. So at least the stain has to go on with the panels outside the frames.  I did separately the door frames, then the panels, then the outer frame as I did not want to let the stain set too long without wiping off. The Chestnut stain did not color evenly though the conditioner did help. This photo shows the two door frames, one of the panels and the outer frame.

Stained doors

Stained doors

With every frame piece stained and both panels stained all the way to their edges, it was finally time to glue up the doors. I dry fitted the everything together again, reattaching the doors to the outer frame with the four hinges for a final fitting.  I noticed the hinge screws were loosening up after being removed three or four times so following a tip in a recent magazine, I drizzled super glue into the screw holes. It seems to help quite a bit.

I propped one door open, removed the center stile, pulled out one rail at a time, applied liquid hide glue to the hinge side tenon and plugged the rail back into the hinged stile. Because I did one rail at a time, the panel could remain in place. Both rails then got the inside tenon buttered with LHG, and the inside stile installed.

Since the doors were still hinged to the outer frame I could check for racking before the glue set up. I clamped the doors in the outer frame, using thin wedge shims inserted under the hinges to even the pressure.  After 2 hours for the glue setting, I did the second door the same way.

Clamping the glued up mortise and tenon joints

Clamping the glued up mortise and tenon joints

The next day, I removed the doors yet again and took the outer frame to the crawl space for a fitting around the opening. A little dry wall trimming was all that was necessary. Minwax semi-gloss poly was next, two coats applied to each door and to the outer frame.

Panel with Poly applied

Panel with Poly applied

Check out the shadow lines in this photo.

Detail showing frame molding

Detail showing frame molding

There were a bunch of cutoffs from ripping original stock down to two inches. I planed, stained, and varnished some of them.  These will form a lip around the inside of the crawl space opening. One of the original specifications was that the doors be insect proof.

Cutoffs to be used as seals

Cutoffs to be used as seals

Finally it was time to install the frame and assemble the doors.  There are only four 8d finishing nails, one at each hinge, holding the frame on in this photo. I may put more nails in the top and bottom rails after the wood acclimates but for now the doors close without rubbing anywhere. One of the finished strips was screwed to the inside edge of the left door with a quarter inch protrusion, so the right door holds the left door closed and theres no visible gap. The old doors had two magnetic catches, I reused one at the bottom of the right door.

Installed!

Installed!

This is what it used to look like.

Crawl space entrance Before

Crawl space entrance Before

This has been a four month long project with much of the time spent learning how to use hand tools to create the raised panels. I couldn’t have begun without inspiration and education from Roy Underhill. Three episodes of “The Woodwright’s Shop” contributed to the project.
Raising Panel-Zona” describes several methods of making a raised panel.
Painless Panel Doors” where Roy constructs a mortise and tenon frame.
Simple Sash Restoration” shows how to join a frame with molding around the inside.