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Making Flat Panel Door ~ Woodworking Resources

Article 1

How to Make a Flat Panel Door on a Table Saw

Although flat panel doors can look intimidating to a beginner woodworker, this article demonstrates how easily they can be built with a table saw.

Cut the stile/rail to the desired width.  A commonly used width for making the stiles/rails is 1 3/4".  Once you have decided on the overall size of the door, cut the stile to the exact length of the door.   For cutting the rail, donít forget that you must add 1" to the length because of the tenon.  The tenon measures 1/4" in width and 1/2" in length and will be inserted in the rail groove.  In order to cut the length of the rail properly and get the desired overall door width, you must subtract the width of both stiles (3 1/2") then add 1" for the tenon joinery.  Therefore, for a stile/rail  that measures 1 3/4" and a tenon joinery of 1/2", you would have to remove 2 1/2" of the total width of the door to cut the rails.

 Once you have obtained the desired dimensions, you make a 1/2" deep groove with the table saw in the stile/rail by raising the table saw blade slightly.  This groove will later accept the door panel.  For a good fit, you may need to cut the groove slightly deeper with another pass. 

 After you have made the groove in the stile/rail, you may proceed to making the rail tenon.  Using the table saw guide, raise the  table saw 1/4" to make the tenon.  Use the groove of the stile/rail as your measurement guide for adjusting the table saw blade height.

 Test your door by fitting the stile/rail and then proceed to the final stage, which consists of cutting the inside panel.  Make sure the panel is cut with approximately 1/16" clearance to permit for wood movement.  After testing that all pieces have a good fit, glue and clamp the pieces together. You do not glue the panel inside the grooves.  The panel must remain free to allow for any wood movement. Refer to the illustrations below for more details.

 Making the door joinery


Step 1: Cut the stile and rail groove into each piece. For table saws not equipped with a dado blade, multiple passes will be required. To center the groove, measure 1/4" from the fence.


Step 2: Cut the rail tenon into each piece. For table saws not equipped with a dado blade, multiple passes will be required. Do one side first and flip over to do the other side.



Step 3: Test all joints for a tight fit. Cut the inside panel slightly smaller to allow for wood movement. Assemble the pieces together with glue and clamp them.  

Flat Panel Doors (Maple)




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