Shaping the Top Rails for Half-Arch-Top Shaker Panel Doors

Tips on laying out and fabricating a tricky door part. March 25, 2008

I am building a cabinet that has doors similar to the ones in the picture. What is the best way to make stiles and rails for doors like these? I have a small shop and use a 3.25 router for door building. Not the most sophisticated setup. My big concern is the cope and stick joint.

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Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
Cope a larger blank, bandsaw/jigsaw the rails, make a template, trim with a patternmaker's router bit and stick. Getting a couple extra routers will save on setup time.

From contributor T:
Make the door taller. Make a half arch top rail. After assembly, band saw the outer top to desired shape.

From contributor C:
You make the top rail wider, not a taller door. That way you can cut it back to the arch and you will have a 2 1/4 rail left. You will have to make a pattern for the arch, but at least this way you will be able to glue up a square door before you trim it down. Make sure you save the pattern because as soon as you throw it out, you will need it.

From contributor W:
You need to make all the straight pieces first and make the curved parts as rectangles. Cut the cope and stick joints before you band saw the curves. When it all fits together, then cut the curved parts out and run the pattern bit on the curved surfaces, adding a plywood caul to carry the ball bearing for the router bit if needed.