How to Make a Raised Panel Cabinet Door Part 3 How to Make a Raised Panel Cabinet Door Part 3

What You'll Need
3/4-by-2 inch boards cut to length for stiles and rails
3/4-inch wood stock for door panel
Table saw with dado head
Drill with 5/16-inch bit
Measuring tape
Wood glue
Bar clamps
Handles and door hinges
Safety glasses/goggles

In parts 1 and 2 of this 3-part series on how to make a raised panel cabinet door, we discussed the tools and materials needed for the job, and then how the rails and stiles will be cut out. The previous parts also dealt with giving tenon cheeks to the wood and then cutting grooves into them. The end of Part 2 discussed how the panel will be made and how wood should be cut for it. This final part of the series discusses how all the pieces will be assembled and finished into a raised panel cabinet door. 

Step 1 – Cut the Coves 

After the panel is ready, it is time to cut coves into it. First, place the blade just above the surface of the table saw. Turn on the saw and ease the panel flat face down into the blade. The idea is to make cuts at the edge. When one cove has been cut, lift the panel and keep shifting it so as to make cove cuts to all four sides. When making coves, make sure you leave around ¼ inch of the raised panel edge so it can fit into the rails and stiles. When you reach a certain depth of the cove, test if it is the right depth by dry fitting it into the grooves in the stiles and rails. 

To adjust the shape of the cove to the desired shape you have in mind, keep adjusting the blade. A 90 degree angle will produce wider coves, while smaller acute angles will producer narrower coves. 

Step 2 – Sand the Panel 

Building a raised panel cabinet door with a table saw rather than with a rotary tool means that it will require a lot of sanding. You can do this either with sandpaper by hand or by using a random orbital sander. Sand the coves and their unusual shape by hand, however. It will be easier to do so. Sand all the other surfaces using the random orbital sander. You should start the sanding process with a coarse sandpaper and progress to finer ones. Finish your sanding with 300-grit sandpaper. 

Step 3 – Assemble the Door 

Assembling the door is rather simple. Apply wood glue into the tenon cheeks in the rails only first. The idea is to apply glue to only these four parts of the whole door assembly so that the raised panel can float in between the grooves of the rails and stiles. This will allow room for the panel to expand and contract during seasons. After you’ve assembled the raised panel into the grooves in the rails and stiles, let the glue in the tenon cheeks completely dry before you start giving a good final hand sanding to all parts of the door. You can then proceed to choosing the color of the finish you would like to apply to your self-made raised panel cabinet door!

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