5 Piece Door Construction Method


From original questioner:

I am interested how shops build their 5 piece doors. I had a subcontractor helping me out this past spring and he commented on how strange my method was and i wondered how others do it.

I mill my stile rail material a 1/16" wider than finished width(example, if i want 2 1/2" wide stiles, i make them 2 9/16"). I mill everything from rough stock and keep the stock as long as possible. When I'm cutting the stiles to lenght I add 1/8". Rails are cut 1/16" longer, so when they are coped i take 1/32" off each end. When the door gets glued up its 1/8" wider and longer than it needs to be . I then finish size after the glue dries. This allows me to get a perfectly square door and trim off and dents from the clamps.

Just wondering if there is a better way. Thanks, Matt

From contributor Ma

That's pretty much how I do it too.

From contributor Ti

Yup, same here

From contributor An

My main cutter sets also take a small amount of the ends of the rails off when tenoning. And, since I run the profile on the shaper, using an aux fence with the power feed forcing the stock away from the hood, any varience in width doesnt matter (although I mill the door stock 4 sides anyhow).

The only thing I do differently than you is I generally cut the stock up into shorter lengths before jointing, as I find leaving the frame stock in longer lengths still allows some less than perfectly straight stock after milling. I used to try and mill 8 and 10 foot lengths but I prefer to rough cut to shorter lengths now. Takes a bit more time in handling, but everything is arrow straight.

From contributor An

Sorry if I was unclear - what I was referring to in my 1st paragraph was I too leave the lengths slightly longer, and after milling - the door is very close to required size, and then finish size after assembly.

From contributor Br

Your subcontractor doesn't understand what it takes to get a perfect product and/or why. I do about the same except cross cut rough stock (stile parts) before ripping. What is left I make rails from. I cut my doors 1/8" oversize all around. In this way I don't have to fuss around trying to make them fit my euro cabinets.

From contributor Je

If your method is so strange...what is his?? He's probably never made a door. Most people have no idea how much work is actually in a door to do it the right way.
Sounds like your methods are fine to me.
The only thing I would add is I sand and stain my raised panel and stick profiles before glue up to avoid glue spots. I understand this may not be practical for everyone but it sure saves alot of fixing those damn glue spots in the corners.

From contributor Ad

He makes his doors a little too big or a little too small and while he's at it he makes them out of square with a bunch of clamp marks.

We like you cut them square and to size after glueing them together.

From contributor JR

S4S 1/16" over width
Crosscut saw calibrated to 0.025" over
Cut all parts to length
Cope rails to exact length (remove 0.012 ea end)
Sticking cut to exact width dimension
Doors assemble to 0.025 over height, exact width
Bump ends on sander to remove saw marks = exact height
Guarantee doors within 1/64th
Inset is just made 1/16" over both dimensions

From contributor Mi

I do it like JR Rutter.

From contributor Ka

I rip stock an 1/8" over sized. I do my sticking cut first removing a 1/16" using an outboard fence with the shaper, then using a straight cutter I finish sizing the material a bit less than a 1/32" over sized. Rails are cut an 1/8" long, taking a 1/16" off on each coping pass. Stiles are cut about a 1/32" long. Doors are brought to finished size on the edge sander.

From contributor Ma

Thanks for replying Karl. I was wondering how you maintain accuracy when you have to rely on the sander to remove so much?

From contributor Ka

I do it mostly by feel on overlay doors. I can hit all four edges and just pull a tape quick when done to see if anything needs to be hit a bit more. It takes a while to get good at it. If I haven't built overlay doors in a while, it certainly goes better at the bottom of the pile than the first few. If you're rusty or impatient, it can get frustrating. I'm removing about a 1/64 off the top and bottom of the door, and about 3/64 from the width. With a 100g belt it goes quickly.

On inset stuff, which is the bulk of what I do, I buzz the hinge side on the edge sander to clean up that edge, fit the bottom of the door to fit the adjacent rail perfectly, then I use a scriber to mark the top of the door at the corners, and the top and bottom of the other stile to get my desired margin. Then I just sand to my marks.