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Raised Panel Doors

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Please don't attempt this project with out a router table, and a router large enough to swing these bits properly!!!  Work safely and keep your fingers on your hands!!!

Rails and styles...which is which? The styles go up and down on the sides, and the rails go across, like the rungs of a ladder. 
This was my first attempt at making a traditional raised panel door. The router bit on the left cuts the slot for the panel to fit into, and trims out the inside of the door frame. The bit on the right only cuts the opposite profile in the ends of the rails. The setup of these two bits is probably the toughest part of the job. 
I started with the rail cutter, first using a straight edge to make the bearing flush with the fence of the router table.
 Second I made sure the top of the cutter was flush with the top of the stock. Since the other bit doesn't have an edge to line up with the stock, this just seemed like the way to go. I cut a test piece with this out of the oak, and also a 2' piece out of pine, for a backer to prevent chipping as the bit exits the oak. 
I didn't route the end of the rails yet, as I didn't know how long to make them.
This is the other bit, it cuts the slot for the panel and creates the decorative bead detail. I used the test piece i made with the other bit, and lined up the tongue with the slot cutter. Then I made another test piece, and viola! They mated perfectly! At this point I routed one edge of both the styles and rails.

Find raised panel bits here.

7/16'' - 11/16'' Frame & Panel Router Bit Set With Wooden Case
Frame & Panel Router Bit Set

Classical Stile and Rail Router Bit Set
Classical Stile and Rail Router Bit Set

Router Lift FX with Rockler Exclusive Tabletop & Fence
Router Lift FX with Rockler Exclusive Tabletop & Fence


I think this shows the best and safest way to use a router table. Feather boards hold the stock tight against the fence and the table. A push stick is used to move the stock, keeping my fingers safely on my paws. 
Ok back to the first bit again! Here my table saw miter gauge is ready, and I have one of the rails coupled with that 2' long pine backer. I forgot to mention that the rails and styles are all cut with the face side down. That is the side that faces out, is down when routed.
Ok, we're routing the ends of the rails here, one side the routed end is inserted in the pine backer as shone. The other end of the rail, a flat piece of backer is used. Just remember the face side is down while routing.

Feather Board

Four-piece router accessory kit and Featherboards
Four-piece router accessory kit and Featherboards

Sure-Loc™ Miter Gauge and Fence System
Sure-Loc™ Miter Gauge and Fence System

Router Sled

Raised Panel Router Bit - Ogee
Raised Panel Router Bit - Ogee

Speedmatic 3-1/4 HP Five-Speed Router, Model #7518
Speedmatic 3-1/4 HP Five-Speed Router, Model #7518

Note added 1/07:
Hartville Tools now carries a very nice sled designed to make these difficult cope cuts. I have one and I love it! No need to make sure the router fence is parallel to the miter slot. And the tennons are perfectly aligned with the stock every time! I have to recommend this jig very highly.
You can find it here!
Here is the 3 1/2" panel raiser bit. Bear in mind it takes a large router to spin this bit. Mine is a 3hp Porter cable. It has the soft start and adjustable speed. I ran this bit on the next to the slowest speed of 13,000rpms.  Freud, the manufacturer of the bit, calls for 12,000rpms. I couldn't use my router fence on this job, the bit is just too big. The pin directly in front of the cutter steadies the stock as it enters the bit. The hose is the dust collector. I removed 1/8" of stock with each pass, and 1/16" on the last pass. 
Here's the panel installed in the assembly. Remember to only apply glue to the joints between the rails and styles. No glue on the panel, it needs to "float" as it expands and contracts. To allow for this expansion, there needs to be 1/16" all around the panel after the assembly.
Door Lip Router Bit
Door Lip Router Bit

Porter Cable 3-1/4 HP Five-Speed Plunge Router, Model #7539
Porter Cable 3-1/4 HP Five-Speed Plunge Router, Model #7539

Dust Collection Hose and Fittings
Dust Collection Hose and Fittings

This is a door lip bit. It cuts the rabbit on the back so the door is inset into the face frame. It also rounds over the outside of the door. It also requires a router table and should never be attempted by hand. The bit is designed in such a way that the doors must be face down when routed. However this presents another problem, if the raised panel is proud of the styles as mine are.

Remember this is my first raised panel door.

As you can see the bit needs to be raised well above the table surface. I was told by some that these cuts need to be made before the door is assembled. But this just seemed wrong, to me anyway.
I decided to shim under the style to steady the door as I routed the edges. Simple enough to mill some scrap to the proper thickness.
I have since learned that the panel and the frame should be flush, i'll try to work that in later.

Feather Board

3/8" Inset Hinges
3/8" Inset Hinges

Rockler WunderCote Finish
Rockler WunderCote Finish

This pic was taken after all sides were done. Remember to route the cross grain first and sides last with a back to prevent tear out. You can see the shim poking out under the door. It's just there to prevent the door from rocking on the panel. 
Here's a close up of the detail. It leaves a perfect 3/8" space for the inset hinges and finishes out the front of the door nicely. A little poly and we'll be ready to install this vanity!
Not too bad for a first attempt, eh? Now you try it!

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