Jointing Door Stock Twice

Is a shop worker being too careful and creating double work? How much trouble is it worth to be extra sure that door parts are precisely milled? January 19, 2012

We do a lot of built-in and small cabinet jobs and make a lot of our own doors. Mostly paint-grade projects so our wood of choice is soft maple and we build raised panel and flat panel doors.

My newest and best employee likes to mill the parts oversized and then re-joint and plane them individually to ensure that they are straight and true. This also helps to counter any internal stresses that occur when a larger board is ripped and cut into smaller pieces.

From a woodworking perspective there is no better way, but from a business perspective I'm not sure if there is much that can be gained by spending double the time to cut and mill parts, especially when the movement is usually slight and/or does not occur. Not to mention, we're using adjustable hinges that can also help control less-than-perfect doors. I like to make nice products but most customers are oblivious, the hardware is geared for this, and I'd like to control my cost as much as possible. Is anyone else making doors this way? I assume the large door shops are not.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor G:
Buy your door stock as s4s through a molder. Then all he will be doing is cutting it to length and shaping it. I do my doors the same way. The only way to get nice flat doors is to have true stock. Any variation in the straightness or flatness of the stock will produce a door with some sort of a twist in it.

From contributor C:
I run all my rail stock across a router table sandwiched between the bit
and a 4' long straight edge. I know it's not suppose to be done that way but it's worked for me the past 20 years. Every piece is perfectly straight and all
are exactly the same width. I cut my stock 1/16" oversize first. My straightedge has a fine tuning adjuster on it so I only take less than 1/32

at a time. Never been a problem. It always comes out better than a jointer.

From contributor Y:
To the original questioner: I think like you. Let the hinge adjustments do their thing. We don't have door twist problems, not even with inset. In situations like this I hate to overrule a well meaning employee but you have to make money off him to keep his paycheck coming.

From the original questioner:
I'm not arguing the merits or methods of getting dead, flat stock - I'm more curious to see who is taking the time to make things perfect. I always shoot for perfection but Iím not sure if Iíve ever accomplished this goal (and not that most people not in this business would be able to tell).

From contributor H:
A little extra time up front will save you/me many headaches later. I rough rip, face joint, and plane for thickness. I have a Weinig molder bit it is not as accurate so don't run door stock through it. I build a euro style cabinet and expect my product perfect regardless of the customer. I bet in the long run I spend less time than a more sloppy process.

From the original questioner:
Just for the record - his process is as follow:

1. Cross cut rough lumber oversized so it joints quicker.

2. Joint.

3. Plane to 7/8", or thickest possible.

4. Rip 1/4" oversized (most pieces are already crosscut +/- 1" over).

5. Re-joint.

6. Finish plane to 3/4".

7. Rip to final width.

8. Cross cut to final length.

For me it is okay to eliminate the doubled efforts on the jointer, planer, and tablesaw. Iíve experienced little warpage in the final product and don't often see pieces go crazy when ripping from board form. Obviously, I can make the call if a piece does get twisted and redo that piece(s), but Iím not going to re-joint a piece because it bows 1/16". Using his method, and mind you, we have one shaper so we're not set up for door production, he readied pieces from 7/8" milled stock (by another employee the previous day) for about eight doors and assembled half of those in about six hours. Only half of the raised panels were cut and these panels were also prepared the day before.

He's not totally to blame for the slow pace but I think we could cut some of this process out and not really notice any difference, or at least the customer wouldn't really notice the difference. We don't even think of outsourcing for two to ten doors as it is more of an issue on our schedule to wait for them to arrive.

From contributor G:
I usually get my stock skip planed to 15/16" and straight line ripped. So I am not doing the first jointing. I rip stock to oversized widths and then cut to oversized lengths. Face, plane, joint, saw to width and length, cope and run stick.

From contributor H:
I do cross cut first then rip to rough width. I have a SLR so buy my stock 15/16. After the jointer I plane to .82, and then run the cope and stick. Sometimes I make more than one stick pass if there is a chip. After stick I rip to width and assemble the door. After the door is glued up I cut to finished size (1/8 all around) material quality is less than it was some years ago which is why I cross-cut first. In that way I am dealing with shorter lengths. Not as fast as one who just shoves it into a molder but works for me.

From contributor F:
This is something that only you can decide what works for you. I use pretty much the same method for making my doors. One difference is I usually try to joint longer pieces if the stock is fairly straight, instead of crosscutting first. This saves a bit of time and waste.

The benefits are flatter and thicker doors, I usually get close to 7/8" final thickness starting from 4/4 stock. Yes it is more work so you have to take that into account but I find maple has a tendency to want to move when you rip to size. A one shot process does not give you any way to counteract that.
So that leaves you a problem - do you charge for the time it takes to make the doors, or make the doors in the time you charge for? In this economy there's not a lot of room to charge for quality, everybody's shopping on price.

For a larger door shop I imagine they would just SLR all the stock and then through the molder it goes. Maybe if they're quality conscious they'll throw it over the jointer once before the molder. Then just take the stile stock from the straightest pieces, the rail stock from the bowed pieces, and use the rest to glue up panels? For them it's likely cheaper to have to re-make a door here and there than to slow down the construction process.

Then there are factory doors, some of the worst crap I've seen comes from the bigger manufacturers. You would think at that scale they could make a superior product for less, yet it seems just the opposite. Anyway, I try to make a decent quality product and hope my reputation is enough to get people to open their wallets a little more. It takes a little more time, but yes it does show in the end.

From contributor O:
To the original questioner: I would modify the process to this:

1. Rough length.

2. Rough width.

3. Face and edge on a jointer.

4. Plane for thickness, then width.

If you suspect or see stress in the stock, then wait a day or two before jointing. Stress will indicate at the ripping stage. This sequence lets any stresses in the wood present themselves soon after the wood is in its new width. Remember, wood moves only in response to changes in moisture content in service; or during manufacture, to internal stress that is present in the wood before you get it. The double jointing process is a waste of time. If you are finding a lot of lumber moving in the 48 hrs after ripping or S4S, then you need to talk to your lumber dealers.

From the original questioner:
I think I might test out my lumber supplier and have them mill it to 13/16" and see how it goes. We can get s3s from our plywood supplier and have done so on a few occasions (and been very disappointed each time).