Panels to fit inside your frames can be made of either plywood or edge – glued boards (page 20). To ensure that a panel will fit snugly in the grooves on the rails and stiles, but still have a little room to move as the wood expands and contracts, it is made substantially thinner on the edges than it is in the middle. The shape of such a so-called raised panel is achieved not by adding material at the center but by cutting away thickness at the edges.
There are several ways of making a raised panel, depending on the visual effect you wish to achieve. A common method, examined in this section of the book, involves beveling the edges of the panel with a table saw (page 54) or router (page 56). Raised panel cutters for the
router are availabe in several designs, including cove and ogee, and in various diameters. Make sure your router has at least 2 horsepower to make such a cut.
Before raising a panel, cut it to size. As shown below, this demands precision, since there is little room for play in the fit between the panel and the frame.
Test-fit the rails and stiles of the frame, then measure the opening between them. For a frame assembled with cope-and-stick joints, measure the opening from the back, since the molding cut into the front of the frame makes precise calculation difficult. Add Уг inch to each of the dimensions for the opening to allow for the Va inch of stock along the edges of the panel that fits into the grooves in the rails and stiles (inset). (The dotted lines in the illustration represent the actual edges of the panel; the solid lines represent the frame opening.) Cut the panel on the table saw, ripping first, then crosscutting. For the crosscut, screw a board to the miter gauge as an extension, then hold the panel firmly against the extension and push them together, feeding the stock into the blade (left).
1 Cutting the end grain
To set the blade angle, begin by marking a cutting line: Draw a Vi-inch square at the bottom corner, then mark a line from the front face of the panel through the inside comer of the square to a point on the bottom edge Vs inch from the back face (inset). Rest the panel against an auxiliary wood fence and adjust the angle of the blade until it aligns with the marked line. Adjust the blade height until one tooth just protrudes beyond the front face of the panel, then clamp a guide block to the panel to ride along the top of the fence. Feed the panel into the blade, keeping it flush against the fence with your right hand while pushing it forward along with the guide block with your left hand (left). Test-fit the cut end in a groove. If less than Va inch of the panel enters the groove, move the fence a little closer to the blade and make another pass. Repeat the cut at the other end of the panel.
To raise a panel on the table saw without adjusting the angle of the blade, use the shop-built jig shown at left. Refer to the illustration for suggested dimensions.
Screw the lip along the bottom edge of the angled fence, making sure to position the screws where they will not interfere with the blade. Prop the angled fence against the auxiliary fence at the same angle as the cutting line marked on the panel (page 54). (Use a sliding bevel to transfer the angle.) Cut triangular-shaped supports to fit precisely in the space between the two fences, then fix them in place with screws.
To use the jig, position it on the saw table with the joint between the lip and the angled fence directly over the blade; ensure that the screws are well clear of the table opening. Slide the rip fence to butt against the jig’s auxiliary fence, and screw the two together. Turn on the saw and crank the blade slowly up to cut a kerf through the lip. Next, seat the panel in the jig and adjust the height of the blade until a single tooth is protruding beyond the front of the panel. Make a test cut in a scrap board the same thickness as the panel, feeding it into the blade and then testing its fit in a groove. Adjust the position of the fence or blade, if necessary. Then cut the actual panel, beveling the sides with the end grain first (left).
1 Setting up the router
Fit a router with a panel-raising bit, then mount the tool in a router table. To ensure that the cutting width is uniform, position the fence parallel to the miter gauge slot and in line with the edge of the bit pilot. With the router turned off, place a scrap board along the fence and across the bit to check the position of the fence. The bit pilot should turn as the board touches it (left); adjust the fence’s position, if necessary. Set the router for a Vs-inch depth of cut.
Raising the panel
Lower the guard over the bit and turn on the router. To minimize tearout, cut into the end grain of the panel first, beveling the top and bottom before the sides. While running the stock past the bit, keep it flush against the fence with your left hand and push it forward with your right (right). The outside face of the panel must be down on the table. Turn off the router, then test-fit the cut end in a groove. If the panel sits less than Va inch deep into the groove, increase the cutting depth by Va inch and make another pass.