Stile And Rail Question


From original questioner:

I've always outsourced my doors and had a couple router tables set up with stile and rail bits for the occasional replacement door that was ordered wrong. With this set up both stiles and rails were ran good side down, or the front of the door down. I've decided to start building all of our doors and have put in a couple more shapers and I got the stile and rail shaper cutters in today and got to looking at them and they are different. The stile cutter is meant to run on the shaper from right to left and good side down, but the rail cutter is opposite. The cutting edge is opposite direction from the other. This means that either I have to do the rail bad side down or put the fense on the opposite side and run them the other direction. This is a matched set of cutters and just seems odd that it would be this way. Or am I missing something?

From contributor Ge

That does seem odd.

I don't see why it would matter.

I run all style profiles from right to left, face up, clockwise rotation on shaper (aka climb cut).

I run all rail copes from right to left, face down, counter clockwise.

From contributor Mi

Hmmm, well maybe that's it Geoff. I'll look at the cutters again tomorrow. The way you describe doing it sounds like the way my cutters is set up. I'm the kinda guy that has to look at it before I can figure it out for the first time. Thanks for the response.

From contributor Le

If you are using a shaper then just reverse the rotation so you can use both face down.

From contributor Ge

If you profile your stiles or anything the way I mentioned, climb cutting. You have to use a power feed! Right?

From contributor Le

That would be the safest way to do a climb cut on a shaper.

From contributor Ne

A little casual conversation about climb cutting and reverse rotation on shapers makes me nervous if anyone doing a bit of casual reading and decides to try this without the proper safeguards.

First, no shaper spindle should ever be run clockwise without a safety anti-rotation washer properly set between the cutters and the spindle nut. This will prevent the cutters from coming loose with the cut pressure against the tightened nut.

Secondly, climb cutting should only be done on a shaper with a properly set up and sturdy power feeder. Even then, one must have their wits about them and be sure of the preventative measures so injury is avoided. It is not for first time users.

From contributor Mi

I will probably end up doing it the way Leo says. Climb cutting even with a feeder sounds dangerous to me especially on short pieces.

From contributor Ri

I got a set of shaker style cutters from a "bargin "place once...same way. I replaced them with freeborn cutters, never looked back.

From contributor Ke

Whatever cutterset you use, referencing the same face for both cuts will yield better results.

From contributor Ji

+1 for Freeborn
I use their insert cutterheads in 7 profiles. Cope/sticking run face down, panel raises face up.
Any cope or stick head can be swapped with zero adjustment to the spindle or fence, same with panel raise-loosen the nut, remove the head, drop the new one on, retighten the nut.

From contributor ch

Another Freeborn insert fan. I like to run rails and stiles both face down so any difference in material thickness will be on the back. My panels get ran face up with fence on one side and a bearing.

From contributor La

Climb cutting: Dangerous, but can be done by observing Nervous N's advice. I'll add this. Keep the table well waxed to keep the feed even. If you hear any sort of variation it is likely the feed intermittently loosing its grip. Shut the shaper & feed off. It may be not enough feed pressure, too much crowd angle on the feed or too much depth of cut. As the wax wears off you will get to the point where you hear a change, stop! re-wax. I wouldn't use the "baby" feeders for climb cutting.

From contributor Mi

I'm not going to say I can't be done or it shouldn't be done. But cutter and feeder both going the same direction...short rail going through leaving one wheel just as it gets to the next...just don't think I'll go that direction.

From contributor Ge

Climb cutting is only feared by those who haven't done it. Once you try it you will never go back.

If you ever want proof, profile some dry CVG doug fir counter clockwise. Than change your set up and run it the other way. Climb cutting gives you a better cut and no tear out.

The quality of cut is way better, it is no more dangerous then counter clockwise rotation and your cutters stay sharper longer.

Running short stock is dangerous regardless of rotation. Personally I won't profile stock shorter then twelve inches on my shaper. That is the distance between centers on first and third wheel on a four wheel power feed. Three wheels with contact, always. If I have to cope second step, so be it.

Also, stating that running both cope and profile face down give better results (difference in material thickness?) is a...hogwash.

From contributor Le

Far from hogwash. Having a consistent reference face gives a better face lineup. The offset ends up on the back. While this isn't a big problem with shops that have a widebelt, it is for those who sand doors with only a RO sander.

From contributor Jo

We used to climb cut a lot until we learned to run our shapers correctly and started using good insert tools. We run a lot of VG fir and rarely need to climb cut that material.

The face down question depends on your tooling and machinery again. Early on, we did as Leo suggests out of necessity. As our methods and tooling improved face down or face up dosen't matter. Not a right or wrong way you just have to work to what your tools can do.

To the OP. Some multi profile cabinet sets from Europe use the same profile cutter for both the cope and stick. If this is what you have one part needs to run face up and the other cope or stick face down.


From contributor Mi

I really appreciate all the responses. I'll be running my stiles same as always. Right to left and face down with the feeder. I'll decide next week whether to run my rails face down left to right which would be a little awkward at first or face up and right to left. For me it's probably going to come down to machine placement, after all, a machine doesn't take up that much room but it takes a lot of space to operate it.

From contributor Br

When it come to running short stiles or rails thru the feeder I tape two parts end to end (tape top and bottom) and run them thru the feeder. A little bit of a pain but then I don't usually have that many parts that I need to do this with.

If I have a lot of short rails I will cope the ends first then butt several end to end and Fast Cap super glue (activate one side) a 3/4 x 3/4 stick to the back edge. This works well, just saw off the back up block.

From contributor ch

Bruce, do you just raise the feeder up and run it on the 3/4 X 3/4 strip?

From contributor Br

Chuck, I glue the strip on the back edge of the rail, not on top. It is the same thickness as the rail and just hold the short sections together. In this way it cuts off easily.

From contributor Mi

Pretty good ingenuity Bruce.

I got the stick shaper set up today and made a fense that has a cut out barely bigger than the opening of the cutter. Should work nicely even on short pieces, but I will keep your method in mind Bruce.

Another question for you fellers. Do you guys set up a feather board to assure the material stays against the fense? I have a set up in mind and I'm planning to do it just thought I'd see if you guys had any tips?

From contributor La

No feather board needed. With the feed set to about 1/4" crowd toward the fence the parts will feed fine. More is not better and may cause other problems. You could also run to an outside fence if your rips are inconsistent. Just be sure to set the inside fence halves very close.

From contributor ch

Thanks Bruce, that makes perfect sense.

From contributor Mi

I know what you're saying Larry, on my other shaper that I do edge details on I have the feeder set about 1/4" more toward the back side. The guys that used to build my doors though had their Weaver set up with a stop block on the edge and then had different spacers that they used between that and the homemade feather board. I can see how this would keep the piece running true especially the shorter pieces.

From contributor Ji

Whatever you do, be sure you buy the best cutters you can afford. When I got started with some of our products I fumbled with the cheaper stuff only to waste so much time, material, and money. The moment I switched to insert tooling for moldings with euro heads and Freeborn for C&S profiles I saved money from day one. Good brand name stuff pays off in terms of any cutter, whether it be a saw blade or shaper cutter.

As many said there are a few good ways to produce the same results, you just have to experiment to find what is good for your application. Personally, I do things my way, the way I learned in a very high end production shop and I wouldn't do it any way else, but it doesn't mean someone who does it differently is wrong, after all it's just mechanics there are no smoke and mirrors.

I run full length rips for stick profile, cut them to length +1/16" for the cope cut and then cope them taking 1/32" off each profile in addition to always have proof of depth and a square cut. Material fed face down, conventional cut with a feeder, and a sled/jig for copes with hold downs. I make a backer before raising the cope profile the height of the sled and rip it down thin to add to the sled to have no tear out.

Best of luck.

From contributor Mi

Hmm, very interesting Jim. I hadn't thought about doing full length pieces and then cutting to size. Something to think about.

From contributor Le

Doing it that way can cause chip out on the slot side which is inside the door. Depends on a lot of things, your setup, the speed you cope, the sharpness of the cutters. It's a good way to go.

When I have a short rail to do I'll make the pc long enough not to give me problems through the stick shaper. Then I'll cope one side and run the stick. Then cut it to length and cope the other side. Making sure that I'm pushing the slot side into the cutter first preventing any chipout in the profile.

From contributor Br

I crosscut stock, 1" over style length, before ripping the rough width which is 1/4" over final width. I flatten one face on a jointer and then plane for thickness (.82) I make my long stick cut then re-rip for width. In this way I can make two passes thru the shaper if necessary. The rails I get out of what doesn't make styles. Doors are built 1/8" oversize all around and then cut to final size after assembly. This might seem overkill to some but I build euro cabinets and need doors exactly sized and exactly square. This means I don't have issues with making them fit. I use a SLR for cuts so goes quick and they come out straight.

From contributor Ji

I do the same, I make my doors a little
oversize then trim when fully assembled.

From contributor Le

I make mine 1/16" taller and 1/32" wider. Just enough to adjust sizes and square up. I make sure when I glue things up the corner to corner measurements are within 1/64", so they are pretty square out of the clamps.

From contributor Ji


Not sure if your response was to mine, but as I said I use a backer which I make before I get started coping. I get 0 chipout, and almost no frizzies on the tip of the profile if the cutters are sharp. The advantage of doing it this way is you never get snipe. I even don't go nuts on clearing up the last 2" of snipe on the end of the 8-12' lengths I run because I cut it off anyways for checking/cracks. I know a lot of people stick after coping, but it always seemed backwards to me. One thing to also concern is in my small shop I only keep one shaper for one cope and stick set, so I run a batch of material and then we are good for a long while just cutting parts to length and coping with no other setup. If you did the same sticking after you would have to re-setup everytime you need to run a little more material. Each to their own, this is what works best for us after all the years and methods we have tried.

From contributor Le

I was. I guess I just don't have that good of luck with it. I make a coped stile and stick the stile profile in it and then cope it and I still get a little feather area on it that isn't crisp like you get when you push the profile into the cutter on the cope.

I don't have problems with snipe, just adjust the machine within .001". It's a pain, but once you get it there it works good.

I just found out that when I adjust my machine up and down it doesn't maintain perfection and I ended up with a bit of snipe. Had to push the outfeed fence out about .004" and it was back to perfect.

From contributor La

We are a commercial only shop now. Back in the day when we used frame & panel doors we had a shaper dedicated to cope. Used a sled with a bar of aluminum shaped to back the rail. Air clamps for the rail. It was reasonably cheap to make and worked well. The aluminum will degrade in profile after a lot of parts (1000s) but just taking a shave on it with the sticking cutter brought it back good as new. All of our sticking was run through the molder. One handling, slow feed 33'/min. Molder setup with digital readouts so it was quick to set up for more sticking. Much less time making doors!
A block of wood that was the length of the difference between the O.A. door width and the needed rail length was used at the cutoff saw so no math was required.

From contributor ch

Lots of really good info in this thread.
I'll second the good quality insert cutters. I have slowly been replacing my brazed cutters with insert from Byrd and Freeborn and am very happy with them, wish I'd done it long ago.
I used to stick profile a bunch of stock then change over to cope when I only had one shaper, I had pretty good luck coping last as long as I had a good backer that had been run on the cope cutter when doing the end where the cutter exited on the cope side.
I've also switched to using outboard fences with a feeder for stick cuts. I plan to make an adjustable outboard fence or dedicated fences that drop in/ index off the miter gauge slot when I get time. For now I just have a spacer for each finished width I use and clamp a fence to the table with the spacer between the stock out feed fence and the fence I clamp to the table. Hope that makes sense.

From contributor Mi

I agree Chuck, lots of good info. Chuck you and Jim mention insert tooling. I'm fairly familiar with it and both of you mention that you saved money with it so I'll take your word on it. If I could turn back time I would go that route. When I started getting set up to do doors I planned on doing just the occasional replacement door for when I ordered one wrong, so I actually had to have a raised panel shaper head made to match the door shop. But now that I have all this set up we've actually decided we would just start making all of our doors. So now I kinda hate to get away from that shaper head because now I've invested in two of them, one for wood and one for mdf. How much does it cost to get set up with the insert tooling? For raised panel, how much would it be for the head and how much does the cutters cost?

From contributor Ad

Lots of good info. Definitely several ways to kill the beast.

Leo brought up machining to one consistent surface. This is possible 99% of the time. You should be able to machine all the parts so you can sand it with 150 grit on the RO with no wide belt. The wide belt is useful for ensuring a perfectly flat door, unfortunately they still have to be ROed to remove the cross grain scratches.

I've made a ton of doors both cabinet and interior/exterior and have never had to climb cut.

I would never tell an employee to do it, so why should I.

I always liked the trick of coping a 10" wide piece, then ripping and then profiling the pieces to make mutins. It always makes me smile when it works well with little setup time.

From contributor ch

Mike, the only raised panel insert head I have is from infinity cutting tools. The head and one set of tips in your choice of I think four profiles cost $200.00. The other profiles can be used in the same head and a set of two tips is around $70.00. Infinity, was less expensive than the more well known industrial brands so I tested the insert waters with them. They seem to be more geared to the hobby woodworkers but for RP I was satisfied with the cutter. Now I just use it for mdf. I also bought their one piece rail and stile cutter head, it also accepts four different profiles. I was not as happy with it for a few reasons.
Since then I have bought a set of Byrd insert Shaker stile and rail cutters with tips to do a regular square inside edge and tips to do about a 15 degree bevel inside edge, (which I think makes for easier spraying of the door than the square edge) for I think around $550.00 and a set of Freeborn insert beaded stile and rail cutters for about $635 and one Freeborn outside door edge cutter, don't remember what I paid.

I've been very pleased with both the Byrd and Freeborn cutters. You can get different tip composition, like carbide for mdf or t-alloy for lumber that works in the same head. You buy the head once and the tips can be sharpened some although I'm sure the rail and stile cutters will change the fit tolerance if they are sharpened much, or replaced with new tips, the raised panel cutter shouldn't be an issue.

This is for single cutterheads with one piece tips, I know freeborn is coming out with a set that has two cutterheads for I believe the cope cut so you can adjust the fit of the tenon with shims but it wasn't available yet when I bought mine.

I'm sure no expert but hopefully this helps some.

From contributor Mi

Chuck, I appreciate the info, I've been looking around at some of the insert tooling keeping your thoughts in mind. I bought my first raised panel head through the guy that sharpens my stuff and it was a Freeborn and have been real happy with it. It was a custom profile matched to what my door guys use because I was just going to use it for the occasional remake. But then I decided to start making my doors and dulled it on a set of mdf. When I tried to order another one I let my guy talk me into letting him rebuild a head that my door guys used and I did get it at a bargain but it's a smaller diameter and so now instead of just changing cutterheads when I go from one to the other I have to do fense and height adjustments...its a mess that I didn't want.
So I said all that to say this. (Referring back to like what you said on edge detail). I buy my edge detail cutters from Grizzly, they are about $23 if I remember right. I have about 6 of them. They cut great and for a surprisingly long time. I send them off 3-4 at a time to be re sharpened. I can't see how it could get any cheaper than that. And since I'm not as concerned with staying with the custom raised panel profile anymore, im looking at Grizzly raised panel cutters, if they cut and stay sharp like the edge detail cutters do then I know I'd be happy with them. I can get an ogee cut,
1 1/4" bore cutter for $65. That's cheaper than a set of replacement tips for the insert cutter head not to mention the cost of the head and I can get 3-4 sharpenings out of a head? I'm not saying you're wrong, you may very well be right. I'm just trying to understand it all before I waste more money.

From contributor Ma

i run long sticks like mentioned above, and cope after they are cut to length.Except I have have 2 different cope cutters.One runs clockwise, the other counterclockwise, that way I am always cutting into the profile, which eliminates blow out issues.