This section of the book examines the framing techniques for building a typical frame-and-panel case. Remember, however, you need a careful design for the whole piece of furniture before you make the first cut on a project of your own.
Whether you will be using the standard mortise-and-tenon joint, the haunched version of that joint (right, top), or the cope-and-stick joint (right, bottom), calculate the number of rails and stiles you will be needing so you can cut them all to length and width at the same time. This permits you to use the same tool setup for all the cutting.
For the haunched mortise-and-tenon and the cope-and-stick, you must cut a
Haunched mortise-and-tenon joint
groove for the floating panel along the inside edges of the rails and stiles. The groove is typically V4 inch wide and Vi inch deep, and the panel is cut to dimensions that allow V4 inch of its edges to sit in the groove. If you opt for mortise-and-tenon joints, you also need to cut a haunched—or notched—tenon at the ends of each rail to accommodate the panel. For frames with no panels, such as the front of the case shown on page 59, you have to cut standard mortise-and – tenons. To produce this joint, follow the same procedures used in making the frame of a frame-and-panel door (page 104). Whatever type of tenon you decide to make, cut it 3A inch long and the same thickness as the groove in the stiles.
Cutting the tenons in the rails
Install a dado head slightly wider than the length of the tenons on a table saw, then attach an auxiliary fence and raise the blades to cut a notch in it. Set the width of cut equal to the tenon length. To cut the tenon cheeks, butt the stock against the fence and the miter gauge, then feed it face-down over the blades. Turn the rail over and repeat the cut on the other side. Test the tenon in a scrap piece of wood cut with a dado the same size as the grooves in the stiles; adjust the height of the dado head and repeat the cuts, if necessary. Next, cut the tenon
cheeks at the other end of the rail (above, left). Position the fence to leave a haunch equal in width to the depth of the groove for the panel; set the height of the dado head to cut about Уг inch into the tenon. With the stock on its edge, use the fence and the miter gauge to guide it over the blades. Repeat to cut the haunch on the other side of the tenon (above, right). For the rails of an assembly with no panel, cut standard tenons (page 104), making the shoulders equal to the width of the notch you cut into the haunched tenons.
Planning the mortises in the stiles
First, evaluate the appearance of the boards for the stiles and arrange them on a work surface with their best sides facing down. For a four-sided cabinet, such as the one shown on page 59, set the stiles in their relative positions—one at each corner—and number them in sequence, beginning with the front left stile. This will help you rearrange the stiles should they get out of sequence. Next, mark the approximate locations of the mortises, putting Xs on the inside edges and the inside faces at the tops and bottoms of the stiles (left). For stiles with a median rail, mark an additional X at the appropriate location on the edge of the stock.
Clamp the stiles together face to face, ends aligned. To mark the length of the mortises, use a rail with a standard tenon. Hold the cheek of the tenon flush against the edge of a stile so that the edge of the rail is aligned with the end of the stile. Outline the width of the tenon (above, left). Then use a try square to extend the marks (dotted lines in the illustration) across all the stiles. Repeat at the other end and for any marks for median rails. To mark the width of the mortises, remove the clamps and hold the edge of the tenon flush
against the edge of the stile (above right, top); repeat for the other stiles. Extend the marks along the edge of the stile (dotted lines). To outline the mortises on the faces of the stiles, first mark the length by extending the lines across the edges of the stiles to the faces. For the width, hold the edge of the tenon flush against the marked face of the stile and outline the cheeks of the tenon on the stile (above right, bottom). Extend the lines along the face (dotted lines). Repeat for the other stiles.
Secure a stile in a vise. Install a commercial edge guide on a plunge router, then screw onto the guide a wood extension as wide as the edge of the stile. Fit the router with a straight bit the same diameter as the width of the mortise you will be cutting, then set the cutting depth. Center the bit over the marks for the mortise and adjust the edge guide to butt the extension against the stile. Gripping the router firmly with both hands,
turn it on and plunge the bit into the stock (above, left). (If you are using a conventional router, carefully pivot the tool’s base plate on the stock to lower the bit.) Guide the bit from one end of the mortise to the other. Make as many passes as necessary to cut the mortise to the required depth. Then, square the ends of the mortise using a chisel. Cut with the beveled edge of the chisel facing into the mortise (above, right).
On the rails and stiles, mark locations for the grooves that will hold the panel. Then set up your table saw with an auxiliary fence and a dado head the same width as the groove. Place the edge of a rail or a stile on the table with the dado head aligned to run right along its middle, and adjust the fence to butt against the stock. Use featherboards to hold the workpiece against the fence while making the cut. To cut grooves on the faces of the stiles, keep the fence in the same position; use featherboards both above and to the sides of the stock (left), and complete each pass with a push stick.
1 Making the cope cuts in the rails
Insert a coping bit—also known as a rail cutter—with a ball-bearing pilot in a router, and mount the machine in a router table. You will be cutting tongues in the ends of the rails to fit into grooves in the stiles. Butt the edge of the rail against the bit and adjust the router’s depth setting so that the top of the uppermost cutter is slightly above the stock. Position the fence parallel to the miter gauge slot and in line with the edge of the bit pilot. Make the cuts with a miter gauge fitted with an extension and with the end of the stock butted up against the fence (left).
Adjusting the height of the sticking bit
Install a sticking bit—or stile cutter— with a ball-bearing pilot. This setup will, in a single procedure, shape the edges of the stiles with a decorative profile and cut grooves for the rails and the panels. To set the cutting height, butt the end of one of the completed rails against the bit, then adjust the spindle setting on the router so that one of the teeth on the bit is level with the tongue on the rail (right). Align the fence with the edge of the bit pilot.
If you do not have a miter gauge or if your router table is missing a slot, you can use a shop-made jig to guide stock accurately across the table. With the router table’s fence aligned with the edge of the bit pilot, cut a board that will overhang the edge of the table by an inch or two when it is butted againstthe fence. Screw a short support piece to this board, countersinking the screws.
Then, screw a third board to the underside of the support piece. This last addition will serve as a guide, running along the edge of the table. Before using the jig, cut a notch into it by running it past the bit.